Posted by Marcel van Duyn
Intelligent Systems is mostly known for its work on the Advance Wars, Fire Emblem and WarioWare series, but occasionally, when it's not too busy, it develops some unique games: it's created titles like Cubivore on the GameCube and Eco Shooter Plant 530 on WiiWare. Now it's back with another original creation for the eShop, and it can quite easily be considered one of the best games available.
In Pullblox — known as Pushmo in North America — you take control of Mallo, a strange dog-like creature wearing what seems to be a red sumo outfit. There are many similar creatures all over his world, and they seem to spend all their free time creating and solving the titular Pullblox (or Pushmo) puzzles and placing them around a park. Recently, however, some of the younger creatures have become stuck inside the puzzles, so it's up to you to climb to the top of every one to rescue them.
The game starts with a rather lengthy tutorial explaining the basics. Every puzzle begins as a flat image in the background, but you can grab any one of its colours and pull it out up to three notches into the foreground, or push it back in after doing this. In every level, a child will be stuck at or near the top, and you'll have to find a way to get up there by pulling out the picture's colours different distances, creating makeshift staircases and platforms that allow you to work your way up. You'll also quickly learn that once a colour has been pulled out, it can also be grabbed from the side and shoved in or out instead of having to be grabbed from the front, adding some more strategy.
The game's first few worlds after this tutorial are rather easy, with Challenge levels basically consisting of random shapes and colours, and Mural levels are basically spritework resembling things like animals and the like, much like Mario's Picross. Near the end of the game there's even a world that's sure to appeal to Nintendo fans. After a few worlds, you'll get another tutorial, which adds two more features that up the ante significantly: manholes, of which there are always two of the same colour, allow you to travel between each other instantly, and buttons will instantly pull out all blocks of the same colour in the current stage up to the maximum distance.
From that point on all puzzles can also be up to double the size, meaning you'll have a lot more things to take into consideration when plotting your path to the top. Thankfully, in case you make a mistake (and quickly realise it), the game has a time rewind feature, allowing you to go back in time up to about 30 seconds to do things over. In case your mistake happened too long ago, there's also a big triangular button at the bottom of every stage that will, when pressed, shove every colour back into the back wall.
As these features (manholes, buttons, double sized puzzles) make their entrance during the course of the main game, you will also unlock them in what is arguably the game's biggest draw: the ability to make your own levels. Using an easy to use grid on the touch screen, you can create a level using all of the features that appear in the game, give it specific colours and then share it with others through the use of a quickly generated QR code. If the main game's 200-ish puzzles aren't enough for you then this mode most certainly will be, as there are already several user-created puzzles on forums everywhere around the Internet.
Graphics-wise the game is incredibly charming, with cute characters and simple, yet colourful levels. As you can imagine, the game's whole concept is also perfect for 3D, and it works splendidly: having 3D on will make it much easier for you to see how far out you've pulled every block.
Up to this point, there haven't really been any breakout 3DS download titles; of course, the 3D Classics games are nice, but they're not completely original. Pullblox, deceptively simple as it may seem, features great gameplay, a lengthy main game, a simple to use level creation and sharing tool and, best of all, comes at quite a low price. It's far and away one of the best downloads available at the moment and a recommended purchase for anybody.