Though a PSP game from 2007, Crush has been given the 3D treatment for the Nintendo 3DS and manages to come across as a fresh and fun title to mash your brains up.
Back in 2007, SEGA presented Crush, a tale of a young man called Danny, trapped in his own mind trying to cure his insomnia by traveling to numerous parts of his psyche in a dark and sombre puzzle game. With the 3DS version the darker tones of the PSP version have been washed away with a brighter colour pallet, with Danny also now looking less of a pill popping insomniac and more akin to an outpatient in for some sleep therapy, instantly making it a lot more accessible and upbeat.
This time around Danny is helping his friend Dr “Doc” Doccerson in some trail runs for his new experiment; by using C.R.U.S.H, (Cognitive Regression Utilising pSychiatric Heuristics) Danny is able to explore his own dreams. All seems to go well at first during the trail run, however, C.R.U.S.H starts to form sentient thoughts of its own, trapping Danny in his own mind until he has collected all his marbles and all of his fears have been confronted.
Reminding a little of a blend of Echochrome and 3D beach ball puzzler Kula World, the aim is to traverse a world of floating platforms, collecting his marbles that will finally unlock the final exit door, allowing you to proceed deeper into Danny’s mind.
As you play as Danny, caught in his PJ’s in this messed up world, you can walk and jump around connected platforms and also climb up the steps that represent his mind. In the 3D mode everything is solid, with platforms dotted around allowing him to gather his marbles, in fact it’s similar to a basic platform game; but with the clap of his hands a shockwave is sent through the world, flattening the surrounding platforms against the current camera view and creating a flat 2D land to venture even further. With this power, an inaccessible platform in the distance in 3D view can be flattened into the forefront in 2D world, allowing easy access, whereas in 2D you may come across a blockage, with a simple switch to 3D meaning you can just walk around it.
Though everything is solid in the 3D world, there are a variety of blocks to look out for in the crushed 2D world, solid blocks cannot be walked through, creating walls for you to manipulate, hollow blocks allow Danny to walk through and also stand on top of them, allowing him to reach higher areas. Finally there are the ghost blocks, which are completely transparent, along easy movement through them. Each block has its own unique pros and cons to consider as you switch from 3D to 2D, with some crushing you in the 2D world, causing you to drop to your doom. Mix these with a few ramps that are only traversable from certain angles or sheets that can be invisible from one angle but create a wall in others and there is plenty of thinking required to collect a small fraction of the marbles in the levels. It’s not just Danny in these mental worlds but also his nightmares are constantly lurking around corners, making it just that little bit harder for him to get to safety, with cockroaches, slugs and nasty Blockwalkers that, once defeated can be used to get to other areas.
To complete a level all you need is to collect half of the marbles in each level, however there are plenty of other collectables to try and locate, with all marbles collected unlocking a new set of PJ’s to wear, Memories unlock artwork detailing the creation of the game and Thoughts also unlock special powers like the Thought of Light-headedness granting a better jump whilst it is on the screen or the Thought of Dimension that blocks Danny’s ability to crush and also Trophy Thought which unlocks the same level in the very challenging Trophy Mode which combines a speed run with how many crushes it takes to complete a level, unlocking even more items.
The constant switching never tires as it is carried out quickly and allows for many different approaches to the puzzle worlds presented before you, these levels are however a real challenge to complete and so a hint system has been introduced and with a small cost of a few marbles you can have the game point out what to do next; most of the time you will kick yourself for not seeing it but at least it stops you wandering around Danny’s mind for hours on end, completely lost.
The environments are pretty much the same through the 40 levels on offer, with little more than the backgrounds and a few of the interactive items changing, but from funfair to the seaside, nursery to the city, you know what to expect, keeping the game fresh in looks but not really offering any more depth other than a few extra nightmares.
Of course being on the 3DS, the graphics allow for even more depth to the game world with plenty of tricks of the eye for you to figure out. The 3DS controls also make it very easy to manipulate the camera with the d-pad plus moving Danny around for the platform action with the thumb nub and easy to find jumps and crush buttons.
Whereas Crush on the PSP was a great game, its gloomy visuals didn’t strike the right market; not so here. With a more jovial approach and more in keeping with the sort of games you come to expect on Nintendo’s handheld this is a great puzzle game that will entertain and perplex for some time.
Rating: GoodReview Policy(version tested: Nintendo 3DS)