At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Matt Bailey Nintendo 3DS SEGA Zoe Mode 1
Requirements Also on... Buy from Amazon.co.uk
None. PSP (As Crush) Click here to buy Crush3D.

Crush3D review

Crush3D feels like it was designed for the Nintendo 3DS with its elaborate levels that make good use of that third dimension, and yet this is actually an update for a PSP game from the middle of 2007 - one we thought was rather good. So we're actually pleased to see SEGA and Zoe Mode's game get a fresh coat of paint and a new audience on Nintendo's latest handheld.

The game is all about "crushing" - the ability to crush a 3D environment into a 2D one. The story features Danny, an assistant to the somewhat mad Dr Reuban, who is put inside the doctor's Cognitive Regression Utilising Psychiatric Heuristics (C.R.U.S.H.) machine, which essentially means you're playing from inside Danny's mind. And a disturbing place it is too, with all manner of traps and a few creatures too, although generally he just seems to have lost his marbles. So you'll need to collect those in order to traverse the game's 40 levels.

Before crushingAfter crushing

Before crushing; After crushing

To make it to the end you need to "crush" levels, which open up new opportunities in a 2D plane which weren't possible when using all three dimensions. The direction you choose to crush from will change the 2D view available to you. When you tap L the three dimensional world is pushed together such that platforms that were previously far apart might be brought together, allowing you to reach new places. Because the outcome of the crush depends on the angle you are looking at the level frp,, you'll need to use the D-pad to rotate the camera and find the best way forward. Crushing from above will allow you to flatten levels, but you can't just roam anywhere - only the white blocks can be traversed when crushed, others will simply act as a wall, and therefore you can't stand in the way of one when the crushing happens. Grey blocks disappear, and there's a variety of other transformations that take place.

While the action-puzzle game staples of switches, balls to move, and other collectibles are all present, the crushing feature gives Crush3D an original feel, although it also makes the game rather challenging. It can take a while to figure out when and where to initiate the crush, and you need to be prepared to encounter failure many times before you enjoy success. As the game progresses new ideas are steadily added with useful short tutorial sections and it tries to avoid overwhelming you with ideas. However, the difficulty of the levels don't seem to quite achieve that same smooth curve, with some feeling surprisingly difficult, only for the next one to be much easier. This may partly be because there are times when you can complete a level through a bit of luck and guessing instead of actually solving the puzzle. However, it is hard to gain all the items on a level just by random crushing.

These creatures are nasty looking but easily defeated by crushing against a wall

These creatures are nasty looking but easily defeated by crushing against a wall

Another challenge comes from the platforming element which doesn't feel quite as precise as it sometimes needs to be. There are times when you can miss a jump, particularly if it is to a higher platform, and find yourself unable to progress despite figuring out a solution. Thankfully these occasions are rare, and you're certainly more likely to struggle with the concept than the execution. There are hints available if you're truly stuck, or you can even skip a level completely. Levels can be completed when a certain number of marbles have been obtained, but you can also go back later and perfect a level if you opted for quick progression. That's also the game's main hook to draw you back and keep playing after the story is over, and in those particularly difficult levels it can feel satisfying when you've figured out a way to collect everything.

The story itself feels a bit throw-away, and is curiously toned down since the original PSP release. The game used to have a much darker tone with an insomniac Danny essentially disappearing into his nightmares, but there's a more jovial tone this time around, although most of the concepts are essentially the same. The levels themselves seem to be identical in structure and theme, but look different with a much brighter palette and a more appealing use of graphics. It probably suits the 3DS audience more, and it is much better at conveying the shift from 3D to 2D. Of course, the handheld's own 3D functionality works tremendously in doing that, with the default view making good use of that third dimension with a 3D modelled Danny and big floating levels which work well to show off depth. Crushing the level gives you an actual switch to 2D right down to a flat sprite version of our hero.

The bottom screen is used exclusively for all the information about a level leaving the top clutter-free

The bottom screen is used exclusively for all the information about a level leaving the top clutter-free

If you were a fan of the original Crush there's a chance you'll be disappointed here; with the same levels in place it's really a remake rather than the sequel some will have hoped for. On the other hand, it has given a great puzzle game a new lease of life and a new audience. It also takes advantage of the 3DS with the naturally suited 3D graphics, and the ability to drop boxes into levels which are then passed on to other players via StreetPass. There's also another advantage of the game being a re-release; if you're really stuck (and rather naughty) you can even seek out solutionsadvice via YouTube.

Back in 2007, Crush was a PSP game with a wonderfully original idea, and while that sheen may have gone five years later it's still great to see the game return on the platform it was always going to be most suited to. Fans may wish for more, and the once discussed level editor has disappeared, but those coming at the game fresh will get an enjoyable and sometimes overly challenging puzzle-platformer.

Ratings

Overall The platforming may not be as tight as it could be, but the puzzles can be fantastic, if sometimes a little too tough. But Crush3D is a successful update to one of our favourite and most original PSP games whose dimensional shifting takes on a whole new meaning on the 3DS. 8/10

Click here to buy Crush3D from Amazon.co.uk.

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Smileys taken from Crack's Smilies.