Pushing blocks in video games feels as though it shouldn't be an act of aggression. The likes of Sokoban and the many games it inspired do not exactly encourage acts of crate-based violence. Much of the time if you see a box, it's probably got something useful inside.
Of course, there are outliers, and Pushy and Pully in Blockland is one of them. Despite its sugary-sweet exterior, this is a game in which blocks are used to crush enemies with extreme prejudice. Its closest companion is the somewhat obscure Don't Pull segment of Capcom's innovative arcade game Three Wonders, which Pushy and Pully in Blockland is reminiscent of both aesthetically and in its gameplay. Unfortunately, it doesn't capture the joyful kineticism of that title.
Pushy and Pully in Blockland has you (and, optionally, a friend) take on the titular roles and head out into blocky battle across a host of single-screen arenas, each filled with both enemies and blocks. Facing a block and hitting the A button will push it, sending it careening across the screen until it is intercepted by another block. If it hits an enemy, it'll crush them. You get it, you've seen this type of gameplay before. Each block is graced with a symbol and if you match three, you'll transform the blocks into something new – a bomb that can destroy multiple enemies, or a valuable gem, for example.
So far so breezy, and the fact that levels can be cleared either by destroying all the monsters or destroying all the blocks means that even the occasional puzzle-based stages can be skipped if you're struggling to figure out how to nail every last one of the critters. And that's the major problem here – there's little challenge, especially with two players. Sure, there's a difficulty spike around halfway through the second world but with essentially no punishment for running out of lives (you can continue immediately), there's almost no lasting difficulty to speak of, so Pushy and Pully in Blockland can quickly feel somewhat rote.
The art is appealing and has charm – the way Pushy and Pully wrap up warm for the ice world is especially adorable. Though the sprites are somewhat amateurish and lacking in definition, they're cute as a button, with a pastel-ish look that's evocative of bright, colourful arcade games; it's surprising, then, that a chiptune soundtrack wasn't used. Instead, there's somewhat unfitting and generic piano-synth music which, while pleasant and well-composed, doesn't inspire any urgency whatsoever.
Boss battles sprinkled throughout the game add a touch of variety, but the decision to only save your game after beating them means you'll be playing many stages in a row before you can quit, which isn't ideal. Of course you can just put your Switch into sleep mode, but if you want to dive in and play a handful of levels then hope back onto Astral Chain or something, that isn't an option. It's a bit of a strange choice, because in every other respect Pushy and Pully in Blockland is extremely friendly stuff.
It's not without fun to be had, but we wish there was a little more to it. You'll sail through it once, and you may enjoy yourself. But any further playthroughs would be pushing it.