Push & Pop is an arcade puzzle game that combines elements of Sokoban and match-3 into a challenging high score chaser. Players control a totem trapped within a 5x5 grid where black cubes spawn and slowly fill up the board. The totem can slide around this grid and push the cubes as it moves.
Creating a row or column of five complete cubes will cause all five to disappear, opening up more space for movement. Blue gem cubes appear in empty spaces and act as points, and sliding the totem or a cube over these gems will add them to your score total.
The goal is to survive as long as possible without becoming trapped in the limited, cube-filled space and to keep increasing your score while you do so. We've put together a few tips below to hopefully help you do both.
Take your time
While Push & Pop is set to a steady rhythmic soundtrack that can encourage sliding to the beat or speeding up your moves, there is no time limit on turns. You're free to plan your next movement for as long as you like, thinking through the possible outcomes of heading in each direction.
Use this to your advantage and strategize before you swipe. Try lifting your hand away from the screen if you have an itchy swiping finger, or slide into a wall if you'd like something to do while thinking.
Don't worry about the gems
The blue gem cubes that appear around the grid are how you earn points in Push & Pop: sliding over a gem with your totem or a cube will add one point to your score, and matching cubes doesn't actually award any points in and of itself.
Despite this, don't worry about picking up the gems. This will happen naturally over the course of a game as you slide around the board. While you may lose a few points as cubes spawn and replace gems, it's much better to focus on matching and freeing up space over picking up a few straggling points.
Watch what's "Next"
After you level up for the first time at the beginning of a game, you'll see "Next" appear below your current score along with an icon. This icon displays what type of item will spawn after your next movement: a blue cube means gems, a black cube means a movable cube, and a white cube means an unmovable white tower.
If gems are on deck, there's no danger of being trapped on your next move and so you can use it freely to set up a future position. If a black or white cube will spawn next, you need to be more careful about not putting yourself in a potentially inescapable spot.
In the image above, we can see that a gem will spawn next, so we're free to move without worrying about being trapped in the next turn.
Remember cubes' traits
When you slide into a black cube, you will push it across the grid until it hits a wall of some sort, whether that's the edge of the grid or a row of cubes. You can push multiple cubes at one time, so sliding into two cubes in the same row—right next to each other or even with space between them—will push both until they hit a wall.
The less common white towers cannot be moved at all. They act as a wall and will stop anything that slides into them, whether that's a cube or your totem. When they are matched in a complete row, they disappear but a ghostly white tile remains: sliding over or onto this tile will remove all cubes and collect all gems in the row and column (clearing in an X pattern) where the tile exists. When a white cube shows up, prioritize removing it as soon as possible.
Positioning pays off
The one strategy that helped us the most when improving our high score: always assume the next block is going to appear where you were last standing. This isn't guaranteed—the place black cubes spawn is "random"—but it happens frequently enough that this tactic is extremely beneficial.
So, for example, let's say you're standing in a row with an empty space to your left that you want to fill and room to move right. The icon on the "Next" deck shows a black cube, meaning when you move, a black cube will appear somewhere. In this case, you should slide right, because it's likely that the cube will spawn where you were just standing, and you'll be able to then push it from the right into the empty space on the left.
In the image above, we'll assume that next black cube is going to spawn where our totem is currently standing. If we wanted to slot that cube into area A, we would slide to B so we could push the block from that direction (into A) on the next turn. If we wanted to move it to C, we'd slide to D.
Because of this system, you should try to fill in the corners of the grid before they blocked off. If you can't reach a corner, it's unlikely that a cube will spawn in the empty corner space. And prioritize moving into the space that you want to push from, not where you want a block to go as a cube can never spawn where you end up.