SEGA’s puzzle platformer ‘Crush3D‘ on Nintendo 3DS is going to completely crush your mind and your sanity.
Originally released on the PSP back in 2007, SEGA and Zoë Mode have now introduced this mind bending puzzle game to the 3DS “with another dimension”. The main story surrounds a young boy called Danny who befriends an eccentric scientist called ‘Dr Doccerson’ who requires the young boy’s help in a series of new experiments. Danny will essentially become a guinea pig for a trial run with C.R.U.S.H. This is an invention that enables you to explore your own mind and subconscious.
After Dr Doccerson applies some modification to Danny’s brain, Danny is transported into vortex world, which is full of platforms, buttons, switches, marbles and giant bugs. Using the circle pad you simply move around and press A to jump. Dr Doccerson introduces you to a short tutorial which will explain how to play the game. The way you approach each level of the game is determined by angles and how to solve a problem. Using the directional pad you can switch between the views C.R.U.S.H. gives you, such as pushing up to get a top down view of the level, or left and right to rotate the view. Discovering the right view is critical to your progress as this has an effect on the world when you start “crushing”.
The crushing mechanic simply turns the 3D world into 2D. This removes the distance between things, so you can easily get to other areas which you couldn’t otherwise reach. Pressing the L buffer on the 3DS causes the environment to ‘crush’, which changes the perspective of the platform. It’s quite hard to explain, but it’s being able to view the level differently in order to solve the puzzle. Pressing L again uncrushes the world, returning back to 3D. Pressing R buffer and moving the control pad around gives you a wider view, which is handy as the levels become more complicated and advanced.
Throughout the levels you must collect a selection of marbles to open the exit. There are different coloured marbles on each level with varying points values, some of which are incredibly difficult to find. The exit opens when you’ve managed to obtain half the available marbles. The important thing to remember about this game, when it comes to both reaching marbles and reaching the exit, is the crushing process allows you to reach areas you couldn’t otherwise reach. So if you can see a marble or the exit, it can be reached but will require crushing the world from different angles to change the perspective and solve the problem.
There are different blocks used to make up the levels within the game, each of which have their own set of rules and behave differently when crushed into 2D. For instance, some blocks may appear part of the background in the 3D world, but transform the world into 2D and you can basically stand on them. You have to be careful because crushing in the wrong place will see you get squashed, but don’t worry, you won’t die or anything. Then there are blocks which you can fall through, such as ghost blocks, and they enable you to fall down to lower levels of a puzzle. The puzzles are quite complex as you move from each platform and crawl your way through different areas in both dimensions.
There are objects that can be collected throughout the game, such as a photo album, which is a memory. You can collect these to eventually unlock gallery images. Thought bubbles are scattered through levels that lay dormant, but are awaken once you’ve crushed the level and this will reward you with trophies. These unlock trophy mode which gives you a series of challenges. Some of the thought bubbles may help with completing a level, such as the lightheadness thought bubble, which allows you to jump higher and further.
Moving through each level can be quite challenging as you have to be aware not only of how the level looks in three dimensions, but also how it will look from each direction if crushed down to only two dimensions. If you get stuck within the game, you can simply press the Y button and this will provide you with a hint, which is always helpful and before long Danny will be making his way through the levels of his subconscious.
Dr Doccerson will teach Danny about all the different blocks, including the rollers and balls which will present Danny with both an obstacle and a solution in some areas. Again, these all have a set of rules to which they must adhere. For instance; you can move the push rollers by using the X button, but can only be moved along one axis. If used correctly, they can plug up holes and enable you to reach higher levels. If used incorrectly, they can stop progress. But don’t worry if you’ve pushed a ball or roller the wrong way as they will reappear again in their original position after a short while.
In later stages of the game you’ll be confronted by ugly bugs who seem pretty determined to stop you in your tracks, but with your thinking cap on you can easily crush them, turning them into some delightful green goo. You’ll also come across slugs that lunge at Danny and the only way of getting rid of them is to roll them out the way or push them off the nearest ledge so they plummet to their doom.
Crush 3D offers StreetPass, in which Danny can place gifts in the world and they can be shared with others. Exchanging gifts with friends that are playing the game gives you gift points which can then be used to unlock exclusive dressing gowns. Also Play Coins enable you to purchase gift points. Up to 20 Play Coins can be exchanged at once, and 15000 gift points can be used in the game, which is pretty decent.
Visually, there are no real complaints here. The game is fairly simple and as such looks fairly simple. The colours are strong and everything is bright and clear. Push the 3D slider to the max and you will be treated to eye-meltingly strong 3D as the game world pops straight out of the screen. It is possibly the strongest use of 3D I have seen in a 3DS game thus far, but I am not really sure that is a good thing given the adverse reactions some players get from 3D. Still, the 3D effect is not essential to the game and can easily be turned off.
I can’t really fathom why I like this game so much. On one side it is a fairly repetitive puzzle game which can be absolutely frustrating, but on the other side, it can be quite satisfying when suddenly everything slots into place and a level is solved. This is a game that seriously messes with your mind and challenges you to consider so many different perspectives at once. I think I have a love hate relationship with Crush3D, because it seriously stretches your mind, while at the same time pulling it to bits.