The cooler ones amongst us will require a little cult PSP title by the name of Crush, back in 2007. Forced to run a gamut of brain-breaking puzzles by shifting from a 2D to 3D plane at multiple angles, the game seems to have been made for Nintendo’s new 3DS tech. Buoyed by costumer feedback from the original version, Crush 3D appears to sports some changes that are certain to please , along with others that may do the opposite.
One of the lengthier E3 demos we were privileged to slide into this year, Crush took us through several levels of the updated portable puzzler. The basics are still the same here, both in story and gameplay. You are Danny, a young man sent into a world of ethereal platforms and marbles by a slightly insane doctor. It’s unclear whether this more family-friendly visual design will retain the original, darkly comic story of insomnia and exploitation, but Danny’s eyes do look like the creepy button ones from Henry Selnick’s Coraline, so there is hope.
In a concept that has since been popularized elsewhere with games like Echochrome, Danny has the ability to dimensionally “crush” platform fields, making them into more convenient pathways for the marble collecting and level completing. Each stage has five distinct angles from which to crush, both horizontal and vertical, all controlled by camera manipulation on the part of the player. Depending on where you focus your perspective, Danny can collapse reality to either flatten tall pillars or condense distance between platforms.
Like the original PSP version, each level will house a certain number of marbles needed to be collected before the portal to the next stage will open. Levels also house optional baubles placed at extra challenging places within the map. And in a 3DS exclusive, the handheld’s “Street Pass” feature will drop Mii/profile gifts into levels for other gamers to traverse through and retrieve. Sega was hesitant to clarify whether or not these levels will be unique to the “Street Pass” functionality, or just re-used maps from the game proper. 3D is still the most important nugget of this conversion, and while most levels in the demo didn’t seem to make the most of that extra layer, others gave us hope that the formula got the last leg towards flexibility it so desperately needed on the PSP.
The change in art style is both a blessing and a curse for Crush 3D. On the one hand, the rounding out of characters and environments increases the effectiveness of the 3D effects and the brightness of the palette is certain to reduce eye strain. On the other, what was once a rare visual blend of dark shades and sharply bright effects have been muted and softened for mass appeal. Granted, the result is still aesthetically pleasing, just not quite the node of diversity against the rest of the portable gaming’s design landscape.
Crush 3D may not please all with its new visuals, but the 3D does deliver enough to vindicate the port. Collapsing dimensions is still more fun that it should be, and the game promises to go the extra mile with the features Nintendo built into the system. Here’s hoping wider appeal doesn’t necessitate a weaker story. Crush 3D hits the Nintendo 3DS on September 6th.