“Argh,” I think as I watch the game trailer, “I can’t look away.” My brain doesn’t quite know what to make of the images on screen. Pink sausage shaped bodies writhe and twirl around each other. On each end of the bodies is a human head, in a similar vein to CatDog.
And yet the game itself is pretty innocuous. If they were going for innuendos, they’re buried a little deeper than, say, Mount Your Friends. Described as a videogame about “friendship and wrestling”, Push Me Pull You involves a court in which you’re trying to keep the ball on your side long enough to score a point. You can play from 2-4 players, but local only. With two players, you have the option of having one head of your body “asleep” so that you’re dragging it around like a sack of potatoes.
All players can control their body length on the fly. Growing your body has a sound effect in between stretching a balloon and going to the toilet. Shrinking it allows you to have more control, allowing you to push the ball or your opponent with more force. Push the ball into your court and a meter starts to fill indicating how much longer you need to hold it there for. If the ball is stolen though, the meter starts to shrink back down. If the ball goes to the edges of the court, it’s in no man’s land and the ball needs to be coaxed back a little before either team’s meter starts to fill again.
“It’s a bit like a big hug, or playing soccer with your small intestines,” the developers say. For me, this is just more encouragement to experience this. One thing that should be noted is that you really should have at least one controller to play. If that’s all you have, you can still go 1v1 with the other person by sharing one half of the controller. When it comes to keyboard support, there’s a rather buried thing called “Special Keyboard Mode”. By pressing ALT+SHIFT+TILDE in the character screen, you can use keyboard bindings instead of a controller. However, I wouldn’t recommend this mode unless you like playing finger twister on the keyboard.
Once you get going, it’s hard not to have a big dumb grin. The music is insanely cheery, the menus are in sugary pastels and the fact that you can customize your head somewhat is a neat touch. It’s everything you’d want in a couch co-op. It’s easy to pick up. It’s weird enough to elicit spontaneous laughter. And to top it all off, extra game modes!
I’m all for game modes that are as substantial as the original mode and Push Me Pull You doesn’t disappoint. Referred to as “variants”, one mode introduces two extra balls into the mix. Another has you knocking your opponent’s ball out while guarding your own. They’re all worth trying and I found that once I did, I actually preferred them over the original mode.
As a little indie game with tons of charm, Push Me Pull You has deservedly won a few awards. Although for me, it’s not one that I’d spend heaps of time on, it fits the bill for a party game and one that I’m happy to add to my collection.