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Pushover (Atari ST) artwork

Pushover (Atari ST) review

"When I first came on this site I wasn't surprised that no one had reviewed this obscure little game. I wasn't even surprised that the Atari ST didn't show up on the list of machines. But that doesn't mean that I liked it. "

When I first came on this site I wasn't surprised that no one had reviewed this obscure little game. I wasn't even surprised that the Atari ST didn't show up on the list of machines. But that doesn't mean that I liked it.

So, I thought I'd kick off the Atari ST set with a decent game - Pushover.
Made by Ocean, This little gem is possibly the strangest puzzler ever, and is none the worse for it. Not only does it have an interesting (and downright challenging) set of 100 levels, it manages to turn a fairly dull task into an addictive and time (if not soul)-consuming game.

The concept is simple: Pushover, a little ant is on a quest to get the girl-ant (as you do), but the anthill he has climbed in has a rather clever security system. The only way you can proceed to the next room is to topple a chain of domino-like blocks, making sure a special block is the last to fall. The player has to use all blocks, too.

So by positioning the dominos in the right order/location, the chain is completed, and the door opens. Job done, level code given, next level. Repeat. Sounds simple?

Well, it is horribly simple to begin with - the first 10 levels are more like tutorials to give you a "feel" for how the game works. Afterwards, the domino chains get to borderline Einstein-only complexity in about 20-30 levels.

The reason? There are 'special' blocks, colour-coded to denote specific properties. For instance, a solid red block will not actually fall, but act as a wall, which the dominos rebound off in an opposite direction. There are also blocks that rise as soon as they are used, rise and hit the ceiling and *then* fall over. There are loads of other blocks (about 8 in total).

As I said, it can get complex. Soon you will be dealing with setups that take a minute (yes, a minute) to actually finish, Ally that to a time limit, and you may end up unjustly seeing the Game Over screen a little too often.

Although this can frustrate at first, the unparalleled elation of successfully completing these chains is huge. First playing this as an 8-year-old, my parents got distinctly worried by the whooping and thumping in my room after seeing the 'level complete' message.

Now, the bit you are all waiting for - the gripes, and unfortunately, there are a few. First of all, the control system is a little awkward, and is a bit of a pain in the ass until you get used to it. Next, the learning curve is woefully inconsistent. At the start, it is borderline boring and, at first, it is tempting to just walk away/put something else on. If you just bear through, then you'll start to notice an increasingly large learning curve that, expectedly, gets obscene towards the end. For people who are not in for a big challenge, or just want to blow stuff up, it may be less enjoyable than anticipated. Furthermore, the storyline itself is tiresome (save the girl, get the bad guy, like most other games of the time, and arguably, today as well), and the addition of the Quavers dog in certain places (having some sort of association with Ocean's game developers), is distinctly random.

However, there is a saving grace to finish out: the sound, for it's time, is pretty damn good, and the theme song is really catchy (Ok, it doesn't affect the gameplay, but it is a nice touch (especially when you appreciate how music was *programmed* into the ST's MIDI card), and one worth noting.

Summing up, there is word of caution with this game: do NOT get the PC version. The sound quality is awful and actually annoys the hell out of you. If possible, buy an original copy somewhere, If you are fortunate enough to have an Atari that works and a copy of the game, one can only wonder why you are reading this and not playing Pushover, or finding an emulator (there are loads), and try your hardest to find a disk image of the game to have fun with instead.

ghostdog_688's avatar
Community review by ghostdog_688 (December 05, 2005)

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