Push Me Pull You is a hilarious game about teamwork and taking friendships to weird places. Through a series of wrestling matches, stretchy two-headed bodies coil around each other and battle for control of a ball. At first glance, Melbourne studio House House may have developed something that looks and sounds more like what you’d find on an adult website. Trust me when I say that’s not the case at all. PMPU is good clean fun, with a heavy emphasis on fun.
Yes this squelchy-mess of human skin is a sports game for 2-4 players. There’s no single player or online modes, it’s couch multiplayer all the way. Push Me Pull You can be described as a cross between soccer and sumo wrestling, possibly inspired by Pushmi-Pullyu (the two-headed creature from Doctor Doolittle) or if it were played by the Nickelodeon character CatDog. The aim of the game is to wrestle the ball to your side of the court and hold it there until the floor changes colour. When the floor completely changes, you score a point. Rinse and repeat. If your team loses possession of the ball, the colour quickly fades away and you must start again from scratch. First to three points is the victor.
Joined at the waist, you control one end of the body, while your teammate controls the other. Teams can share controllers, with each player using one analog stick to guide their half of the body. Both players need to co-ordinate to guide the ball back to their side. At any time the monster’s body can be stretched or shrunken using the L1/L2 or R1/R2 buttons. The torso cannot grip the environment, thus is susceptible to being pushed. Using the two heads to guide the ball is recommended. PMPU is a simple game to pick up, yet quite difficult to master.
From the main menu, you can apply variants to the gameplay that shakes things up a little. ‘3 point knockout’ introduces a second ball, where each team needs to simultaneously keep their ball in the court and the opponent’s out. ‘Greed’ introduces a third ball and is easily the most hectic of the variants. ‘Sleepytime’ is a mode for just two players, where half your body is asleep and must be hauled around the court. The final mode is ‘Halfcourt’. Once the ball has been stolen, it must be dragged outside the court to ‘reset’ possession before the opposite team can score. If you’ve ever played halfcourt basketball then you’ll know what to expect.
Before each match, the warm up area can be used to practice movement and teach a newbie a thing or two. This area is large and quite interesting to explore. It features a soccer field, playground equipment, trees and plenty of open grass. For such a small game, it feels odd not to make use of this area in a meaningful way. There is a full-size soccer court. Adding a soccer mode seems like an obvious decision.
There are several basic customisation options available for you to personalise your character and team. Hair style and colour, skin tone, and team colour can be altered before each match. Try this – design a character that looks like you, then push its face into your friend’s long, fleshy torso. It could be as innocent as giving them a big hug, or as messed up as your imagination allows it to be. This is all part of its charm.
Push Me Pull You is bizarre, in a very good way. It’s unique in that no other game allows you to experience what it’s like to play ball sports with your small intestines. The art is adorable and soundtrack cartoonish, yet the mess of body parts and squelching sound effects leave it on the verge of being repulsive. There’s not a lot of content to keep you engaged for long. It’s the sort of game you will only pull out when a few friends are over, but is definitely worth your time for the laughs and awkward moments that will surely follow.
Push Me Pull You is now available for purchase on PlayStation 4, with a launch discount for PS Plus subscribers. Don’t have one? Windows, MAC and Linux versions are coming soon too.
Michael Vane is a freelance writer for PN2. Go say hi to him on Twitter @DrVane