Nothing but block puzzles! It's sweet, though...
Push It is the best of Konami Mobile's three original IPs the company is launching this spring. It also stands a good chance of being recognized as one of 2006's best mobile puzzlers, when year-end awards are doled out next January. I love action/combo-oriented Tetris-style puzzle games as much as the next guy, but I have a soft spot in my heart for slower-paced, logic-focused puzzle experiences, and Push It is an excellent addition to a long line of block-pushing brain benders.
The game contains about 100 puzzles, all displayed in an isometric 3D point of view. Like all other puzzle games, the puzzles start off easy enough for even the most uninitiated to solve them. I like to believe that I'm fairly adept at the genre, but the hardest puzzles were too difficult for me to solve.
Push It's focus is on, well, pushing. Think about the block puzzles in a game like Legend of Zelda, ratchet up their difficulty and complexity by several notches, then jam 100 of them into one package. That's Push It. Blocks are pushed around the grid-like play field, and when they're pushed over the edge they make a new square for your character to walk on. Gamers are tasked with using the blocks available to them to open up or create a path to the exit, as well as fill specific lighted squares on the grid.
The number of steps you take to solve each puzzle is recorded, creating an additional layer of depth and re-playability. When I got stumped by harder puzzles I would go back and to solve previous puzzles in fewer steps, to get closer to (or match) the number shown as the fewest steps possible.
Later on additional elements are introduced, such as enemies that follow a predetermined pattern, and the ability to create blocks of your own to push. The puzzles become mighty hard, but the mechanics themselves never felt overwhelming. The difficulty comes from the logic itself, not through the addition of two-dozen mechanics and game elements to keep track of and worry about.
Push It's biggest drawbacks are the elements outside of the puzzles themselves. Your character has no face, and every level he completes gives him a new body part. Rabbit ears, robot legs, bear claw hands and many, many more body parts will be earned and swapped out, as you earn more. Why is this happening? What's the point? This is never even addressed, let alone explained. Do these body parts mean something? If they don't, shouldn't they at least be brought up in the game's (sparse) documentation? He seems happy to earn them, but I can't be sure. There is absolutely no explanation within the game or on the web as to what's going on. It seems as though something was lost in the game's translation from Japanese to English.
The instructions themselves were equally sparse. As you are introduced to enemies, new types of blocks, or other game elements they are explained on-screen, usually with one brief sentence, and then never explained again. Sometimes things introduced 20 levels ago will come back up and if you want to know what they do or what they mean you'll need to go back to that first level you saw them to see the explanation again.
Both these issues are minor, and in the case of the unexplained body modifications actually fairly amusing. Push It is a no-brainer purchase for puzzle fans, and for anyone looking to expand their library beyond reflex-oriented puzzle titles like Zuma or Tetris.
What's Hot: 100 block-pushing puzzles of varying difficulty
What's Not: Your character has no face, and the game could use more documentation