Occasionally, a video game comes along that makes you wonder how on Earth the developer conceptualized it. Push Me Pull You is one such game – a very simple, and utterly bizarre idea that's surprisingly entertaining.
It's basically a local multiplayer game for two to four players in which the participants control a pair of serpentine creatures that have a human torso at each end. Players each control a torso, so you have two people controlling one worm-like creature. As each end scampers around propelled by its hands, the conjoined body coils, stretches, and twists like some kind of nightmarish, elastic creepy-crawly.
The proceedings take place on a playfield that's split in two, and the objective is simple – wrap your body around the ball that's placed in the center of the screen and drag it onto your half of the court. If you do, your score meter slowly begins to fill up, and once it's full, you earn a point. Standard games are the best of three points, but you can adjust that in the options screen to extend games should you so desire.
There are a number of different game variants, all of which essentially riff on the default mode's theme. Halfcourt requires you to drag the ball to the edge of the screen and then back to the center to score a point, whereas Greedy follows the same rules as the default mode, but gives players three balls to fight over. Knockout has players attempting to drag their opponent's ball out of the court while keeping theirs safe, while Sleepy Time is a two-player only mode in which one half of the creature is effectively uncontrollable, essentially turning it into a snake.
Whichever mode you choose, the gameplay and objectives are extremely straightforward, and that's one of the most appealing aspects of Push Me Pull You. For a party game such as this, you want it to be easy to pick up and play to make it accessible to everyone, and that's certainly the case here. All you have to do is guide your end of your snake-like being around the screen and learn how to expand and contract your body using the shoulder buttons – and that's it. It takes a few seconds to learn, and then it's game on.
The other aspect of the game that adds to its appeal – in a weird kind of way – is that the creatures themselves are creepy and somewhat revolting. They wriggle and ooze around the screen in a fluid and somewhat disturbing way, and the action gets almost disgusting once the creatures start fighting over the ball, sliding against one another like super-slimy worms.
Still, while it all looks quite repellant, it's also pretty damn hilarious – which suits the action perfectly for a party game. Wrestling over the ball requires good communication between the players controlling each end of the creature, and this helps make playing the game a riot. Trying to coordinate your moves is often challenging, especially with both players trying to expand and contract their creature's body, and this can result in one player inadvertently going in a direction the other player may not want to go. Most games ultimately end up with both creatures getting in a messy tangle, while the players yell at one another to try to figure out what to do. In other words, it's a recipe for lighthearted, competitive local multiplayer fun.
And the emphasis is definitely on local multiplayer. Rather disappointingly, Push Me Pull You doesn't have a single-player mode or online multiplayer, which potentially limits its appeal. Still, credit to Australian developer House House for sticking to its guns and making Push Me Pull You a pure local multiplayer party game. As such, it works well to deliver simple, but enjoyable entertainment that's easy for anyone to pick up and play. It's at its best by far when four people are participating, so definitely bear that in mind if you're considering giving it a go.
Simple, but very polished and easy to use.
Catchy tunes and squelchy sound effects make for an ideal soundtrack.
The very basic graphics won't win any awards for visual excellence, but they work perfectly to give the game a slightly disturbing look.
Push Me Pull You is a simple, yet effective local multiplayer title that's a breeze to pick up and play. Its bizarre, yet competitive gameplay quickly gets players yelling at one another - whether they're friend or foe - making it an ideal, and potentially noisy party game. The lack of online multiplayer and single-player mode does limit its appeal somewhat, but if you're the kind of person who often hosts gaming parties, check it out.