Tuesday, October 16, 2012

3RM @ NYCC 2012: Crashmo Impressions and Video


In December 2011, Nintendo released the downloadable title Pushmo on the 3DS eShop. Critically praised for both its ingenuity and challenge, the game revolved around pushing and pulling colored blocks to create platforms needed to climb up the puzzle to reach the ending. Less than a year later, Nintendo has announced a sequel to Pushmo, Crashmo, which was playable at its New York Comic Con booth. Deep down I felt I was prepared for anything Nintendo would throw at me in Crashmo given the hours I had spent with Pushmo. However, within moments of getting my hands on the game, I quickly learned that the rules of the game had changed, making what would be a simple puzzle in Pushmo into a far more elaborate challenge in Crashmo.

Continuing the Pushmo franchise, Crashmo retains Pushmo’s colorful visuals and simplified characters. This playful exterior hides the game’s more challenging nature.  The same goes for the game’s soundtrack, which again is claming and fun while not being too intrusive. This is important since a more intrusive song would have tested my patience while I tried to complete a puzzle for the fifth time in a row.

Much like the visuals, the game’s controls were nearly identical to Pushmo. Mallo, the game’s lovable sumo protagonist, walks, jumps, pulls and pushes just like he did in Pushmo, but there is now the added feature to rotate the camera 360 degrees. Although I did not have to do that with the puzzles I played, it was a sign of things to come.

Like Pushmo, the point of the game is to reach the goal usually located at the top of the puzzle. However, how Mallo gets there has changed considerably.  Unlike the blocks in Pushmo that can be stretched or squished to make platforms, all the blocks in Crashmo are solid and cannot change shape. This meant I had to create stairs and platforms using the blocks provided. Besides being solid, these blocks are also affected by gravity, falling straight down until they hit another block, the floor, or Mallo, who can hold the blocks up but cannot not do anything else while under them. Since Moe couldn’t pick the blocks up if I made a mistake, the rewind function became even more useful here than in Pushmo.

One factor that does not affect the blocks is fiction. No matter how many blocks are on top of or next to the block Moe pushes, he will push the block and move any blocks in its way. However, any block that is not in the way such as the blocks on top remain in place and fall down with gravity. This adds new frustrations and strategies to the puzzles. In one puzzle, I needed a certain block to remain on top of another block while at the same time getting another block from the top. In order to do that, I had to push another block in front so when I pushed the bottom block, the block I wanted to stay remained because it was blocked (no pun intended).

After playing a number of puzzles I can conclude that Crashmo is the prefect sequel to Pushmo. Crashmo retains the same push-pull game play of Pushmo but also changes the rules to the point where it requires a brand new approach to solving the puzzles. I look forward to screaming at my 3DS when this comes out this November.



I was not prepared for Crashmo.  I thought I was, having played through the vast majority of its predecessor, but I was still unprepared for the insanity Crashmo presented at Nintendo’s New York Comic Con booth this year.

Crashmo is the sequel to last year’s 3DS eShop hit, Pushmo.  Our sumo friend Mallo has returned again, but this time, the blocks he moves go in every direction possible.  The game begins with Mallo meeting up with Papa Blox who introduces him to his grandniece Poppy.  Mallo greets her with a sumo pose, but the force of his pose scares all of Poppy’s birds away, leaving Mallo to go find them for her!  Unlike Pushmo, however, the birds land on top of a very different type of block formation.

Crashmo’s goal may be similar, but the concepts behind the gameplay itself are quite different.  In Pushmo, Mallo had to pull out color segments from images so that he could reach the top and rescue the child trapped in the Pushmo.  In Crashmo, though, Mallo has to push and pull blocks which stack upon one another and obey the laws of gravity (for the most part).  This makes moving a single block much more complicated; one bad move could lead to the whole puzzle falling to pieces.  In Pushmo, puzzles could be taken one layer at a time, but with Crashmo, a bit more foresight must be used to correctly build the puzzle into a stairway to the bird.  It is this change that ultimately makes Crashmo even more puzzling than its predecessor.

Aesthetically, the game matches that if Pushmo very closely.  All of the characters and environments resemble that of Pushmo, and the music is just as cheerful and soothing as ever.  Building and sharing levels are still major elements of the game, but from the looks of it, the levels still need to be shared via QR codes.  Still, I cannot wait for the deluge of puzzles created from Pushmo puzzles and vice versa.  It just might be a little more difficult to produce these new puzzles initially.

I found myself having trouble grasping the fact that moving a block only moved that one block, regardless of whether other blocks were standing atop of the moved block.  I guess the blocks do not have any real friction in this world.  Either way, walking into Crashmo with Pushmo experience was partly ineffective.  I would say that anyone who thought Pushmo was too easy or too difficult might be singing a completely different tune with Crashmo.  It takes the idea of Pushmo and makes it unique again.

I just hope I will finally be prepared when Crashmo comes out November.  Or else I'll need to tape the 3DS to my hands so as not to throw it against the wall!

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