One of the more pleasant parts of the 3DS is the large support for downloadable titles. As we move further through the age of Indie gaming, Nintendo has really done a 180 with their Indie developer support and lineup of great downloadable titles and they seem to be embracing the concept for the Wii U as well. But, as Nintendo also relies heavily on their own in-house development to sway gamers to their systems, we’ve also seen a large influx of Nintendo developed downloadable titles. One of the more recent triumphs of great downloadable gaming was Pushmo, a game developed by Nintendo’s second party developer, Intelligent Systems.
Pushmo was not only a great way to show off some of the 3D elements of the 3DS for a relatively cheap price ($6.99 is a very reasonable price compared to fully-fledged titles, especially considering the amount of content available). But aside from the simplistic yet addictive puzzle mechanics set forth in the initial release copies of the game, Nintendo really hit home with the game’s ability to easily create and trade levels with people all over the world (which helps to not only keep people playing the game but entice others to purchase it). And because of the ability to create images using the very blocks available in the game, Pushmo now has thousands of levels that can be added into your game by simply searching “Pushmo QR codes” on Google. Everything from gaming replicas to movies, pop culture, and anything else that can be scaled down to a small pixelled image can now be played if you own Pushmo.
Thus, it seems like the amount of levels and play style would not warrant the need for a sequel with similar mechanics to the original (almost all possible level designs have already been implemented and are readily available for Pushmo). But, for everything that Pushmo does well, its sequel Crashmo triumphs in a parallel universe where blocks can not only be pulled and pushed in one dimension but can also be moved left or right and fall; if Pushmo was a puzzle game that involved block movement in 1-deminsion (into or out of the screen), Crashmo allows for block movement in 3-dimensions and ultimately results in that much more complex of puzzles.
The controls are almost entirely the same as Pushmo. Pressing and holding B while up against a block allows you to drag it. However, as I mentioned before, in this game you can push blocks in or out of the screen as well as to the left or right. And, if a block is moved from below, everything that was resting on top of it falls downward. The puzzle strategies are thus much more complicated even for the simplest looking Crashmo puzzles; moving blocks in 3 Dimensions exponentially increases the amount of possible block pushing combinations 3-fold.
In order to help you see all angles of the puzzles, the camera controls have been improved. Now you can rotate the camera around the four sides of the puzzle field allowing you to see all angles of the puzzle (as opposed to one vantage point in Pushmo). Also, you can zoom in or out if you wish to capture more or less of the puzzle on the screen at one time.
On the onset, if comparing Pushmo & Crashmo, it may seem like there’s less content in Crashmo than in Pushmo initially, seeing as Pushmo has 198 levels in the main game while Crashmo only has 100. However, interestingly enough, Crashmo also has an entirely separate training mode with another 90 fairly simple levels to help you develop puzzle concepts as well as 10 3D puzzles that are more complicated than the original 100. Finally, there are an additional 40 levels that can be unlocked if you finish the main game. Thus, as a whole, Crashmo actually have more content than Pushmo and seeing that puzzles are so easily transferred via QR code, just as much replay value (an infinite amount if you want to keep searching for new puzzles or wish to create your own).
A minor complaint of mine, however, is that Pushmo seemed to have many more complex puzzles included in the game as well as more intricate shapes (and Nintendo characters for fan service) than most of the puzzles in Crashmo. Aside from the 10 3D “prototype” levels, there is only one set of levels made from shapes and pictures (20 total puzzles including the prototypes). Thus, the other 180 levels are all basic puzzles and don’t have the added sensation of scaling Mario, a cupcake, or a spaceship (though they still get more difficult as you progress). This is only a minor problem considering the majority of fan-made levels will all be made from recognizable shapes but it was noticeable as I was playing through the many included levels in the game. What I can say, however, is that the prototype levels, though not too difficult, are extremely cool and show off the capabilities of puzzle design from a giant 3D grand piano to a humongous castle to explore.
On the topic of 3D puzzles, I really enjoyed the 10 “prototypes” but was a little disappointed that we aren’t given the tools in Crashmo Studio to be able to make 3 Dimensional puzzles. Granted, I understand that creating 3 Dimensional objects can be quite complicated and time consuming and checking to see if they’re solvable may be even more difficult to regulate but I still wish there were some way to create smaller 3-Dimensional puzzles at least. Hopefully Nintendo will release either downloadable content or QR codes with 3 Dimensional puzzles so we can at least have some more to play around with.
Ultimately, there are more gameplay elements to take into consideration in Crashmo but that doesn’t make it any more or less enjoyable than its predecessor. Both games are equally delightful and neither should be held higher than the other in the grand scheme of things. If you played Pushmo and enjoyed it, you’ll find equal enjoyment in Crashmo. Or, if you haven’t played either yet, I think playing Crashmo before Pushmo would be equally as enjoyable (just two different ways to approach problem solving). Both games are great values for the money and like fine wines, they improve every day after their release due to the amount of downloadable user content. If you haven’t joined the phenomenon surrounding the quirky protagonist, Mallo, now is the time to buy both games; you won’t be disappointed.