Can Intelligent Systems deliver another puzzle hit?
Crashmo, known as Hiku Otsu in Japan, is the direct sequel to last year’s eShop puzzler, Pushmo. Released October 31 in Japan and coming to Europe and North America soon (November 15 and November 22, respectively) Crashmo is similar to Pushmo, but has enough new elements to make it a fresh experience.
Those familiar with Pushmo should feel right at home with Crashmo. The game is all about pushing and pulling blocks to reach the top of a structure. This time around, though, protagonist Mallo isn’t saving trapped children, but collecting 100 birds to help a new character, Poppy, get home. New to Crashmo is the element of gravity, which makes blocks fall if nothing supports them. This simple addition changes how you solve puzzles, and keeps the gameplay fresh despite the familiar look.
The camera, fixed to view the front of a structure in Pushmo, is unbound now in Crashmo. By using the D-pad, players can view a puzzle from its back and sides, and even zoom in and out. By holding the R button and moving the Circle pad, players can also set up different views on the puzzle. This is extremely helpful, and necessary since the new levels in Crashmo almost require you to look at puzzles from different angles to solve. Players can also now take in-game pictures by holding the pause button and pressing X. Not a huge addition, but definitely welcome.
The controls in Crashmo are those of Pushmo, but with a few additions. Mallo can pull blocks forward, backward, side-to-side, and even onto areas where he stands. He can also balance blocks on his head, but as Daan Koopman mentioned in his impressions, this limits his movement. I found myself pleasantly surprised by these new gameplay elements; even so, the game is still incredibly difficult. Certain infuriating instances made me want to throw my 3DS in front of a bus. Crashmo’s puzzles are fair, but increasingly demanding.
This time around, there isn’t as great a variety. An overwhelming majority of the levels are block based, with only one section composed of the mural puzzles I found so interesting in the previous game. However, there is still quite a bit to do. For practicing different puzzle types, Intelligent Systems has introduced a training mode with 90 unique puzzles, in which players can practice with each new puzzle element. Stumped players can opt to watch Collin, the rascal who imprisoned the children in the first game, complete puzzles.
Switches and ladders from Pushmo return in Crashmo, as do new elements like doors and cloud blocks. These two new elements area a ton of fun and offer a greater variety to what Mallo can do in the puzzles. Later in the game, players can also unlock a new puzzle type built by Papa Blox called 3D Puzzle Blocks. The pieces to these puzzles can be up to two blocks deep as opposed to normal puzzle blocks that are one deep.
New 3D Puzzle Blocks from Papa Blox
User-created content also returns in Crashmo, allowing players to create their own puzzles and share them with others via QR codes. Even though the game has only been out a few weeks in Japan, there are already a number of top-notch puzzles available for players to try. Intelligent Systems will also release new puzzles for free via SpotPass for the next few months. Even though the game doesn’t have as many puzzles right off the bat, this attention to detail should extend the life of Crashmo and should keep players coming back.
Crashmo builds off the simple gameplay and puzzle elements of the original title. While the game is definitely familiar, there are enough addition to keep the game fresh, and players engaged and coming back for more. I was worried at first with the excessive amount of tutorials in first few levels, but the game pretty much leaves you alone to enjoy all it offers afterward. Crashmo is a fine upgrade from an already great game; you owe it to yourself to pick up it up.