Friday, 6 April 2012


I purchased a game a couple of days ago for the first time in many moons, and for my 3DS no less. I was browsing away on the Nintendo eShop and came across a few 3DS Ware titles that looked interesting - Pullblox especially, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and purchase some Nintendo Points. This was my first experience of doing so, and I was disappointed with how the Points system works. Instead of just paying the £4.99 for the game itself, I was forced to buy £10 worth of Points as the minimum incremental purchase. Unfortunately all the other games are more expensive than £5.01, or are just downright terrible looking. Alas, I've now got that remaining cash just burning a hole in my 3DS wallet for the immediate future. Oh well.

Anyway, on to Pullblox (which it is known as here in Europe - Pushmo otherwise).
It's a charmingly simple game, which is something that I'm extremely fond of now in my old age. The fewer buttons I need to use and the simpler the gaming mechanic, the more I enjoy games these days it seems (hence my affinity for mostly sports titles currently). In Pullblox, one needs only to use the control stick and the A and B buttons to do everything in the game, rendering the touchscreen (mostly) unused. The aim of the game is to manipulate blocks by push(mo)ing and pull(blox)ing them in order to create a complicated set of stairs for yourself as you aim to reach the very top. Here's an example of a very simple puzzle:

Every stage is three 'spaces' deep, meaning each block can only be moved backwards up to three times. So as seen in the above example; the bottom block has been pulled all the way back, or three 'spaces', while the middle one has only been pulled twice, leaving the top block just being pulled the once to create the stairs needed to reach the goal flag. Our hero can only jump the height of one block, thus our progression of depths. And this is where the 3DS really shines too, because the 3D is - while not completely crucial - extremely beneficial when dealing with all the different depths of the various blocks. The first few levels of the game offer different variations of these simplistic puzzles, but it doesn't take long for the difficulty curve to kick in:

The puzzles become extremely non-linear, requiring you to go back and forth to create space for yourself to pull out higher blocks. The above photo shows the introduction of the warp-pipes (basically) which need to be uncovered before they can be used - and they only add to the confusion in later levels. The photo also displays the 'rewind' feature, which works much like it does in (the excellent) Braid - you can rewind a specific length of time in order to undo a push or pull that may just have screwed you. If this doesn't work, you can always jump down and onto the 'reset' switch, which will push all blocks back in and let you start from scratch. These features help you keep your sanity somewhat in the later levels when you're stuck on the same puzzle and keep pulling the damned second block all the way out, meaning you can't possibly jump up from the ground again - an infuriating and common mistake. The game does get hard, but you never feel like it's impossible - something else which puts me off a lot of games - and so you never feel like just packing it in.

I'm not typically a puzzle game guy, but I really enjoy Pullblox. It's the type of game you can turn on for 20 minutes, do a handful of puzzles, and then leave alone for a while, as you calm down after an especially fiendish one. I've done around 120 of them so far, and I think that isn't even half. I dread to think what the later stages will contain, but I'm up for them nonetheless. It's really handy that the game is always there, waiting on the console, so when I'm bored of Super Mario 3D Land I can quickly switch to Pullblox without worrying about changing the cartridge - yeah, that's how lazy I am. You can't beat a game of this quality going for under a fiver either. I just wish Nintendo would release more original 3DS content on their eShop that's worth a download, because I really enjoy these kinds of pick-up-and-play games. Pullblox has been a nice introduction to what the 3DS can do for the jaded old games players like myself.

1 comment:

  1. I'm about the read this proper but I wanted to say before I forget that you can in fact buy games without buying a minimum amount of £10, both on 3DS and PS3's shops, which I discovered after years of lingering credit in my wallets.

    I just can't remember how to do it, but it's totally doable.