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Have You Played... Pushover?

The domino effect

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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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Joe Donnelly

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