(3DS eShop)

Fallblox (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Fallblox Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mike Mason

Drop 'em like they're blox

Meet Fallblox – a game so clever that its very title could be a brand new synonym for “mindboggling”. Predecessor Pullblox / Pushmo remains one of the best titles on the 3DS eShop, an extremely smart puzzler that's fantastic value for money. Fallblox, known in North America as Crashmo, is no lazy sequel: it takes Pullblox's basis, tips in entirely new mechanics and completely outdoes its older sibling in the process. And if you thought Pullblox was tough, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Fallblox's setup is very similar to the previous game. Each puzzle is set on a grid, and you've got to arrange a series of coloured blocks of various shapes and sizes, from single squares to gigantic slabs and all sorts of complicated styles in between, in order to make a path to the goal – usually the peak of the tallest structure. This time adorable puppy-cum-sumo wrestler Mallo has accidentally released a bunch of pet birds, each of which has conveniently perched atop a puzzle ready for you to grab.

Though they use the same basic pushing and pulling mechanics, Pullblox's and Fallblox's puzzles are entirely different beasts, each game taking advantage of the general idea in unique ways. Where Pullblox had you tugging fixed-height blocks back and forth, Fallblox's shapes are prey to gravity and collapse towards the ground when separated from their supporting blocks. Much of the challenge this time around comes from preventing blocks dropping at the wrong time or place; let one descend too early - before you've got appropriate supporting blocks set in place - and the likelihood is that you'll have to start the puzzle all over again.

Blocks can be pushed on and off each other and shifted around the whole play area in four directions, rather than being rooted in one spot, which affords you much more freedom. As long as one square of an off-ground block is balancing on another piece beneath it, it'll stay raised in the air no matter how ridiculous it looks.

Only the single block that you push actually moves, so for example if you shove a shape on the ground, any pieces resting on top of it will remain in the same position. Push too far, removing the floor beneath them, and they'll come tumbling down on your head (thankfully, Mallo's a strong little chap and can hold up anything you drop on him). If you want to move multiple blocks at the same time, you have to 'link' them together: by putting one inside an enclosure on the other, for instance, or by pushing them along simultaneously with a taller piece. As you can imagine, pushing about puzzle pieces from four directions with all these things to consider can lead to brain-fry aplenty.

Since you can move blocks anywhere around each other on the grid, the range of camera options come in very handy. Clicking left and right on the D-Pad lets you look at the puzzle from any of the four sides, while up and down zoom in and out. You can continue playing from each of these angles; it can be pretty handy to switch behind Mallo when you need to hop up a staircase of blocks. There's also a free view: hold down R and you can use the Circle Pad to swoop around quickly.

It's a lot to take in, but thankfully Fallblox eases you in gently, carefully introducing each concept and slowly relinquishing its hold on your hand until you're standing on your own two feet. From the beginning it shows off neat tricks that make you smirk with admiration, and those smirks gradually turn into out-and-out awe-filled grins as the puzzles become more and more complicated.

A level can take you anywhere between 10 seconds and an hour; many of the stages are pure brilliance, and we lost count of the number of times our brains sighed with joy at working out a solution. Fallblox is filled with “oh!” moments and remains supremely satisfying throughout; there's a really decent mix of easier puzzles and ones that will have you scratching your head for a good while.

Often, just as a concept or certain type of block arrangement has clicked in your mind, Fallblox will throw in something new. Gadgets such as cloud blocks, which resist gravity to remain high in the sky no matter what, paired doorways that let you warp around the structure and blocks that slide when you jump on buttons are introduced throughout the 100-stage main campaign. Later levels mix and match gadgets to great effect. These elements ensure that Fallblox stays consistently fresh, even though the presentation doesn't evolve much until special stages are unlocked.

Fallblox can get extremely difficult, but it's hard to get frustrated at it because its attitude is just so positive; it knows it's tough, but it never rubs it in your face and only ever encourages you to do better. Experimentation is welcomed with the return of Pullblox's rewind mechanic, which lets you reverse a limited period of time in order to test out different possibilities and undo mistakes, and if things get too messed up you can reset a puzzle to its starting position at any time. There's always the option to skip any puzzle without restriction, too. There's simply no reason to get annoyed; it always allows you take things at your own pace and never keeps you glued to an insurmountable stage - the game is perfectly happy to let you move on and come back later.

If you're really stumped, there's ample opportunity to get used to all of the mechanics through tutorials that spell everything out and a full suite of 90 training levels. During training stages you can ask to see the complete solution at any point, but to progress any further you then have to remember what you were shown and pull it off yourself. It proves to be a valuable learning tool and the easier stages also act as a good palette cleanser to dip into when you're up against the campaign's most baffling brain busters.

Get to the end and a few more ludicrous challenges open up. Prototype stages mix elements of Pullblox and Fallblox together excellently. We don't want to spoil anything other than to say that though they are few in number, they're the biggest tests by far; intricately designed, inventive and - occasionally - overwhelmingly huge.

One area that Fallblox doesn't really differ from Pullblox is in the presentation. Just as before, it's all bright colours, storybook backgrounds, round friendly characters and chunky lines. It looks great, and though the 3D effect is never necessary it can help give a better perspective; we found it best to alternate between 2D and 3D modes. The music can get repetitive as each piece is used in a large number of stages, but it is very pleasant; the victory jingle is particularly addictive. There's some neat use of pseudo-surround sound too when playing through 3DS's speakers: try to move a block beyond the edge of the stage and a far-off sound in the appropriate direction will signal that you can't shift it any further.

To round things off there's a level creator that lets you use any of the block types to build your own wonders. User-created stages can be as small or gigantic as you like, and once you've made and tested a level – to prove that it's solvable – the game generates a QR code so that you can share it with others. We've only built a couple of simple levels so far, but it's clear that there's a lot of scope for cool creations with some practice.

Conclusion

Mallo's second outing is another massive success; Fallblox constantly surprises, impresses and challenges in equal measures. Even in its difficult moments – and there are plenty – it encourages players to have fun and never significantly punishes errors. Fallblox boasts level design and creativity that many games can only dream of; developer Intelligent Systems' name has never seemed more appropriate.

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User Comments (52)

Uriel_PikpikVII

#1

Uriel_PikpikVII said:

Glad to hear that this is as the original. Sadly, I will most likely get this along with fluidity: spin cycle later this year

Tsukun

#2

Tsukun said:

I laughed a little too hard at "Drop 'em like they're blox"
....Either way. definitely looking forward to downloading this.

rippedwhiteguy

#4

rippedwhiteguy said:

Never got the first one. Not a big 'puzzle' fan. I have a feeling I would fall asleep after a couple levels

WesCash

#5

WesCash said:

Awesome! Can't wait to download this.
And now I have Snoop Dogg stuck in my head, thanks.

TheInvisibleTor

#7

TheInvisibleTor said:

Picking this one up around christmas. just hoping it reached a 10, it fell short to a still pretty good score of 9.

Retro_on_theGo

#9

Retro_on_theGo said:

Awesome. Sounds like a good sequel. I absolutely adored Pushmo so I'm definitely picking this up. Glad they decided to turn it into a series. And I hate puzzle games, hah. That's how good Pushmo is.
May I ask what kept this a nine instead of a 10 in your mind?

Lunapplebloom

#10

Lunapplebloom said:

What? It's already here. Great review, I think I may just wait on this one though until I have more money.

TheDreamingHawk

#13

TheDreamingHawk said:

Wait.. D-pad only does camera this time?

Craaaaap. If that's that's true, then that's ANOTHER broken circle pad on my 3DS. (Pushmo broke my circle pad last year, so I used the D-pad to move mallo).

So CAN you play with the D-pad, or not?

Void

#16

Void said:

Same question as above, and I'm certainly getting this when it comes out.

SheldonRandoms

#17

SheldonRandoms said:

"A level can take you anywhere between 10 seconds and an hour"

I think a couple of months should be added somewhere, but regardless, i'm still gonna get crashmo/fallblox.

SheldonRandoms

#21

SheldonRandoms said:

@Zach777 I didn't even notice, that makes it even better, we can eat turkeys and other things, then later get frustrated on a difficult level of crashmo.

and while typing this, I also realized that the Macy's thanksgiving day parade is also on that day, Nintendo should have made a Mallo hot air balloon to celebrate.

True_Hero

#23

True_Hero said:

This sounds really good. My brother will probably pick this up.
@SheldonRandoms - Yeah, I do hope to see some more Nintendo themed hot air balloons. I know that Pikachu and Sonic have been in the parade (Reshiram and Zekrom also made a special appearance), but have any other video game characters ever appeared?

SheldonRandoms

#25

SheldonRandoms said:

@True_Hero - I remembered that they had a classic Sonic hot air balloon many years ago, but there hasn't been anymore since............UNTIL THEY MAKE THE ANGRY BIRDS HOT AIR BALLOON, THE KIDS WILL LOVE IT!?!?

Mason

#29

Mason said:

I was very close to a 10, but something wasn't quite there to elevate it to the top score. I can still see ways the series can be improved — better level sharing, for example. I don't give out 9s lightly though, so rest assured this is a very strong recommendation. It's one of my favourite games of the year.

@TheDreamingHawk I will double check this for you later, but I believe D-Pad is camera only. There could be an option; I know you can switch camera rotation to the shoulder buttons.

grumblegrumble

#30

grumblegrumble said:

Yay!! I can't wait for this! The original was fantastic, too, and barely a few months old. Can't wait to play the sequel ;)

KoiTenchi

#31

KoiTenchi said:

Pushmo is still not only easily my favorite eshop game but among my favorite 3DS games in general! I'll definitely be picking this up as soon as it his the US eshop.

WaveBoy

#32

WaveBoy said:

I'll probably download this eventually, but I'm not exactly hopping out of my Captain N undies over it. :o Besides, i still haven't finished Pushmo. Curse that devilishly tricky Omelette Puzzle. :p

Dreadjaws

#33

Dreadjaws said:

I loved the original Pushmo, and while I still haven't finished it (as SheldonRandoms mentioned, some puzzles had flabbergasted me for more than just hours, but actually days and even weeks, and, to be fair, my new job schedule made things harder), I'm really close to do it and I'm getting this one as soon as I can.

Hybrid

#34

Hybrid said:

Like many gamers here, I also still have to finish Pushmo/Pullblox, but I'll be downloading this anyway ^_^
Been playing a boatload of Pushmo/Pullblox for the last week though :-)

ChibiJib

#35

ChibiJib said:

Oh my gaaawwwdd! I'm so excited! I'm sure people are going to be REALLY creative with their puzzles, way more than pullblox! The problem is, how much is it going to cost in Australia?! I only have $11.10 in my account...

Taceus

#36

Taceus said:

Love the caption. Love Pullblox. Looks like I'm gonna love Fallblox. Thanks for the review. Now hurry up Friday.

RetrogamerFan

#37

RetrogamerFan said:

Great review, loved the original so this sounds like it will be at least as good, if not better. Will be downloading later after work.

Froggievilleus

#39

Froggievilleus said:

Day 1 download for sure. It will definitely be a treat to sit and relax with the game after finishing up 10 days of work in a row. :)

Geonjaha

#41

Geonjaha said:

While I enjoyed the first one, the concept became dull before I finished the game, so I wont be buying this one.

Mason

#42

Mason said:

@TheDreamingHawk As promised — I've triple-checked for you and Mallo's movement is locked to the Circle Pad in either control scheme. The default set up has rewinding and free-look on the shoulder buttons, the second option switches camera rotation to the shoulder buttons and maps rewind to Y, the free-look button to X.

RetrogamerFan

#46

RetrogamerFan said:

Played for just over an hour and first impressions are really good, the puzzles work very differently to Pullblox so it's definitely worth playing even if you already have that, or even if you don't. Even some of the tutorial puzzles (i haven't finished them all yet) made me think quite a bit. I did the first 'ideas' puzzle (light bulb design) from Papa Blocks, that had me stumped for a while, although the bit that falls off the puzzle turned out to be a big clue...

Henmii

#48

Henmii said:

The reviewer said nothing wrong about the difficulty: I already am experiencing it during the early levels! Oh dear!

But it's good, so I won't complain!! Lovely game!!

alvieao

#50

alvieao said:

I loved playing Pushmo and I couldn't wait to download its sequel Crashmo. After spending some time with Crashmo, I was hooked into the gameplay. Although the sequel uses the same mechanics from Pushmo, the puzzles felt different and were really more challenging. The controls are even better this time as Mallo can now move any blocks in all directions; the camera controls are more in-depth as well. The presentation in Crashmo is just as charming as in Pushmo with its colorful visuals and art style. While the music is repetitive, the tunes remain upbeat and it's great hearing the victory jingle upon overcoming these difficult puzzles. It's also nice to see the return of the level creator mode, in addition to receiving new puzzles via SpotPass. Once again, Nintendo and Intelligent Systems have made an outstanding 3DS eShop game as Crashmo is a brilliant sequel to last year's Pushmo.

Bluerobin2

#51

Bluerobin2 said:

idk if im gonna get it because i think pushmo is enough for me. a while ago, i considered waiting for crashmo to come out so i could get it but i was impatient and got pushmo right away lol if i beat pushmo completly, i might get it though... anyway review was awesome! and the trailer looks tempting! :)

––bluerobin2

P.S. don't bug me about the grammer, im on my 3ds right now. lol™©®

Noboty

#52

Noboty said:

I've been wanting Crashmo. After hearing about the differences between the two, I think I'll get both.

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