Crashmo

If you have a 3DS and don’t have Pushmo, you have WASTED YOUR MONEY. It’s as simple as that; the critically-adored puzzle platformer is one of the coolest things on the system, what with the ability to scan in puzzles that you find on the internet and the fun of using old game sprites as the basis for puzzles. As soon as I heard that the sequel was coming out, the incredibly-named Crashmo, I cleared my calendar because there was only one game that I was looking forward to for the rest of the year. Is it possible for Crashmo to be better than one of the best reasons to own the 3DS, a sublime mix of puzzle, platformer, and nostalgia that transcended age and gender? You’ll have to read on to find out!

But the answer is yes.

Gameplay

It really doesn’t matter if you’ve played Pushmo or not- the way you have to think about the puzzles and the strategy is so different you’re probably better off having not played Pushmo in the first place. Although if you haven’t played Pushmo, your SOUL isn’t better off, and you need to go and play it right now.

Crashmo doesn’t throw a wrench into the gameplay so much as it completely destroys half of the rules and brazenly puts in its own. Where Pushmo had a collection of puzzles that could be pulled out of a wall with no regard to gravity, Crashmo’s puzzles are completely reliant on gravity and fall apart as soon as they’re no longer supported from below. While it seems like the goal of “climbing to the top to get a thing” would be ruined by just being able to bring that top down to the floor, the developers have crafted a series of puzzles so fiendishly difficult that it takes all of your brainpower to solve even the two- star puzzles.

crashmopuzzle
crashmopuzzle

To mess with your brain even further, a number of gadgets have been include to make you more carefully have to consider your piece movement and jump positioning. These include ladders and doors, which can be placed as essentially teleportation zones- you enter one, exit the other one of the same color. There are also switches, which shift the block you’re standing on one space in the direction they’re pointing. The last are float blocks, which are blocks that float—gravity doesn’t affect them, and though you can move them around like a normal block, they’ll never fall to the ground no matter what you do.

The goal is to reposition the puzzle so you can reach the small bird that perches at the top, and the mix of platforming and block manipulation on your way up offer you a huge challenge. The game comes pre-loaded with over 100 levels, including prototypes that have their own separate ruleset. The QR code scanning also makes a triumphant return, with more slots to save things in because Intelligent Systems loves you. Making levels for Crashmo is definitely a much more taxing experience—I’ve seen someone’s intensely designed five-star puzzled, and then I solved it in three moves. Gravity really does make all the difference.

Graphics

Crashmo is a sharper looking game than its predecessor. The colors are deeper, and the blocks all have a nice dark border to them that are somehow very comforting to look at. Even the shadows seem sharper as you rotate the camera around, viewing the puzzles from all sides to search for a hint of a solution. Mallow continues to animate very well, too—he’s so squishy and blobby, and the art is so intrinsically bright and happy, that it’s impossible to be upset about anything while playing Crashmo.

Fun Factor

Yo. You should buy Crashmo.

Usually with a statement like this I’d dial it back and give you some kind of caveat. Not this time. There are none. Unless you want a lifetime of eternal sadness knowing that you failed to buy one of the best games for a system you own, you should buy Crashmo. Just remember to keep in mind- it IS a puzzle game, and you know if you like that or not.

crashmomallow
crashmomallow

In a word, this game is fantastic. It took one of the most sublime puzzles games available and turned it into something more fun, challenging and with even more variation than Pushmo could ever dream to have offered. With all of the QR codes you can scan in, this game has the potential to last forever.

I guess if there is one problem, it’s that the community support might not be there like it was for Pushmo. Like I said before, it’s much more difficult to make a Crashmo level. Where some of the best puzzles were just a bunch of sprites in Pushmo, it requires tons more thought than that in Crashmo. At the same time, I’ve seen some incredibly creative puzzles that completely reshape themselves with gravity, creating entirely different puzzles from what was originally seen, or others that have puzzles inside of them that you have to solve before you even get to the part where you put Mallow inside of the puzzle. These puzzles are nothing short of incredible, and I look forward to more like them.

Even if the community doesn’t take hold as much, though, Nintendo itself has been pushing out puzzles on their official Twitter, and even to Spotpass, and with more than 100 levels already loaded in, you’ve still got tons of blocks to push around.

Overall

Despite the fact that it came out last year, Pushmo was going to be on my Game of the Year list for this year. After all, I barely played it last year, and that’s all the matters. Now that Crashmo is out, though, which features not only better gameplay and production values, but also a better NAME, I’m happy to place it in the position that Pushmo had been occupying in my list before—and probably in an even higher position.