Publisher Nintendo Developer Intelligent Systems Format Wii U Release Out now
You’d think the children of Pullblox Park would have learned their lesson by now. Another 250 of the little blighters have navigated a complex tower of interlocking blocks and trapped themselves at the summit. And once again it’s down to Mallo, our portly, scrotum-nosed cat-cum-sumo wrestler protagonist, to set them free. We’re only too happy to oblige, but really, this town doesn’t need a hero so much as a fastidious health and safety officer.
This, the third game in the Pullblox series but the first on Wii U, returns to the 3DS original’s template: there’s no room here for sequel Fallblox’s central conceit, which saw brickwork tumble downwards if there were no supporting blocks directly beneath it. It is, once again, a game of pushing, pulling and sliding coloured shapes to create a path to the imperilled infant at the top, a simple premise that is, after a gentle introduction, put almost instantly to brain-melting use.
The fact that no block can be pulled out more than three times is the key to how this conceptually simple game rapidly becomes a devious one. You frequently have to go back down before you can go up, moving around the blocks that got you to your current position and obscuring the path back down. You frequently box yourself in by making bad decisions in the rush to get that one mission-critical block pulled out to its full extension, making the rewind function not so much a safety net as a godsend, a tool every bit as vital as the jump button. Things are further complicated by manholes, which you can warp between so long as two of the same colour are exposed; and switches, which either fully extend or retract all blocks of a certain colour.
If you’re struggling – OK, when you’re struggling – with the puzzles on the critical path, a Training Area holds a selection of less exacting challenges. Mysterious Pullblox, meanwhile, play fast and loose with the rules by, for instance, having all blocks of a certain colour move in tandem. That the sparse mechanics can be used to such an extent without ever feeling like they’re repeating themselves reinforces the sense that Intelligent Systems is an aptly named studio.
There’s a whiff of trial and error at times, but no puzzle’s Eureka moment comes by accident. It might take 15 minutes of back and forth, and the odd trek to the reset button when all seems lost, but at some point everything will click into place. If the measure of a great puzzle game is in how it makes you feel like an idiot right up until the moment you feel like a king, then Pullblox World is quite the success. The 3DS games’ stereoscopic effect may be absent on Wii U, but Pullblox has lost none of its depth.
The right trigger zooms out the camera – here, for instance, you’ll need to do so to see where each manhole leads. Some puzzles are so large that even that won’t be enough to bring them fully into view, however