Have You Played… Pushover?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

If you’ve paid attention to any of my ramblings here at RPS over the last wee while, you might’ve spotted I’m a sucker for puzzle games. It’s a passion that stems from a childhood sat steadfastly in front of my family’s Atari ST, you see, mastering (hah!) games like Lemmings and Antago and Atomino until my mind bled. I came to Pushover a wee bit later, but it’s perhaps my favourite of the lot.

I say later – it was probably 1993 or 1994, but two or three years when I was a young ‘un seemed like an absolute lifetime. So too did the amount of time I reckoned it’d take for me to best Pushover’s century of levels and, having jogged my memory with a YouTube video just now, I realise I might not have come quite as close to completing it as I thought I did back then.

For reasons unknown, Pushover is an ant whose job is pretty simple: navigate a series of domino puzzles in order to find its way back home. The catch? Each brick is colour-coded and behaves differently within the bounds of each puzzle, and you’re required to shift bricks in and out of sequence so as to nail the correct order. Clear as ant poo? It gets better. Yellow bricks, for example, fall over when pushed. Stripy yellow and red ones mark the last brick that must fall in order to unlock the next stage. Red bricks are buffers and can’t fall; but they can deflect yellow-tipped red bricks – the latter of which will continuously roll once set in motion.

As you can probably gather, things get complicated fast, particularly as new bricks enter the fold and you’re forced to figure out how the bloody hell you start here and end up there. It can be really challenging but really rewarding too – as you can see here.

Now, I’m going to sound like a bit of a pompous, overly profound arsehole for a second, but I genuinely believe it was Pushover that taught me patience in videogames, how to think about them logically, and how to overcome obstacles within them methodically and systematically. Having watched it back there, it’s also a game that’s stood the test of time and I’m surprised more clones don’t exist today.

Fun fact: Pushover was born into an era where games occasionally contained obnoxious and irrelevant in-game advertising. Pushover’s was Quavers crisps.

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  1. c-Row says:

    I actually prefered its sequel One Step Beyond over this, most probably because I played that first, but both were pretty neat puzzle games.

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    Harlander says:

    I had the demo of this on a ST Format cover disc back in the day.

  3. Robmonster says:

    I remember Curly Colin! This game was really fun, some of the domino types were pretty strange.

  4. Author X says:

    Goodness, this sounds so familiar I’m sure I played it before, but had completely forgotten about it. I’m going to have to look this up and give it another try.

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    basilisk says:

    Yes I have. Seems to be mostly forgotten these days, but I have very fond memories of it. I even think I have a re-release CD sitting in a box somewhere around here.

    I don’t think I ever finished it, though. It gets pretty damn difficult for a kids’ game.

  6. Kefren says:

    Did you like Bombuzal? I played that quite a bit on the Amiga. link to ellosnuncaloharian.com
    In fact, I think I won it from one of the computer mags for a letter or tip or map or something I sent in.

  7. t0astie says:

    This is one of the first games I played, this and Putty on the Amiga. I feel I am always chasing how these games made me feel, the first time. Its like chasing the Dragon though, you can never catch it.

  8. vorador says:

    I remember playing it together with my father.

    The latest screens where a pain. It really pushed us over the edge. *ba dum tsss*

    I will see myself out.

  9. fabrulana says:

    What nice nostalgia, remember playing this as well. Never finished it though… like most of my games.

  10. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    I never played Pushover, but I played One Step Beyond, having got the PC version off a shareware disk or something. That game was my first introduction to Quavers. I tried some when I moved to the UK many years later, and was quite disappointed.

  11. Phasma Felis says:

    Watched some of that longplay, and wow, the advertising was even more obnoxious than I’d guessed. So the entire first disk is devoted to an animation of a dog dropping his crisps down an anthill and an ant volunteering to go get them? Is it at least skippable? I’m betting not.

    It’s hilarious how obviously tacked-on it is, since the set-up is retrieving stuff from an anthill and every few levels there’s a cutscene where he emerges from the anthill with a packet of crisps, but the actual levels are all in power stations, Aztec ruins, castles…

    • LionsPhil says:

      It funded the development of the puzzle game they wanted to make, and they didn’t let it sink too deep into it, I guess.

    • Falcon says:

      I didn’t even realize this game had advertising! I played it on the SNES as a kid and that version didn’t have any of the advertising the various PC versions did.

  12. Targaff says:

    A little surprised no-one’s mentioned Ishisoft’s lovely remake?

  13. PixelsAtDawn says:

    Almost certainly my favourite puzzle game, and the Amiga had some great ones.

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    phuzz says:

    I had utterly forgotten about this game until you mentioned it.
    I don’t think I owned the full game, but I think I had a demo from a magazine coverdisc. (I’m going to assume the Amiga version was better than the ST one, just because)

    RPS should totally put together a monthly collection of demos and stuff. I doubt you’d be able to fit much in 1.44MB though (or the 880k of an Amiga disc), perhaps 32MB?

  15. Ztox says:

    Many fond memories of playing this on my uncle’s Amiga as a kid. I played through a chunk of it a few months ago even, great game.