7 Overall Score

Unique puzzle mechanic | Interesting StreetPass features

Lighter tone feels less substantial than original | Hint system is too forgiving

Written by on April 6, 2012 in [, , , , , , , , , , , , ]

Despite the problems the system had during its lifespan, it’s hard to deny that Sony’s PSP was the home to a few really great games. One of my favorites was an underrated gem from Sega and developer Zoë Mode called Crush. Despite being a hit with critics, the game still flew under the radar of most PSP owners. Now Crush is getting a second chance with a whole new set of gamers, courtesy of Crush3D for the Nintendo 3DS.

Crush3D tells the story of Danny, a human guinea pig for Doctor “Doc” Doccerson. Doc is testing out his most recent creation, C.R.U.S.H., a computer designed to explore and examine the human brain. Of course, anytime you’re dealing with a mad scientist, it’s a pretty safe bet that things aren’t going to go according to plan. Sure enough, it’s not long before C.R.U.S.H. goes haywire and Danny gets stranded in his own subconscious. In order to get back in his right frame of mind, Danny’s got to move through C.R.U.S.H.’s virtual dream world and collect all of his lost marbles.

If you’ve played the original Crush, you’re probably scratching your head right about now and wondering if I’m just making this stuff up as I go. After all, in the original Crush, Danny was a troubled patient in a mental ward suffering from chronic insomnia, the original scientist was a psychiatrist named Dr. Reubens, there was no goofy “Doc” Doccerson, and the Cognitive Regression Utilizing pSychiatric Heuristics (C.R.U.S.H.) device doing its best impression of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey while driving Danny deeper into his broken psyche. Apparently, while making the move from the PSP to the 3DS, Crush3D took a detour through that same road most classic fairy tales drive on their way to Disneyland. The result is a fluffy, lighthearted adventure that lacks the deeper emotional impact of the original.

Despite Crush3D’s complete tonal shift in plot and appearance from the original, the structure of the game remains the same. Crush3D is a unique hybrid of 2D/3D gameplay that combines platforming and puzzle elements into one nice, neat, mind-bending package. In each stage, players take control of Danny as he tries to recover his lost marbles to return to real world. Perspective is key here, though, as Danny has the ability to “crush” his 3D surroundings into a two-dimensional environment on the fly. This can come in quite handy when navigating the dream world. Depending on the angle you decide to crush from, you’ll be able to merge platforms, bypass large gaps, or even defeat some of the creepy crawlies lurking around in Danny’s subconscious. Like most good puzzle games, it’s a simple enough concept to learn but it still manages to challenge the player’s way of thinking.

Crush3D tries to add a couple of extra features (aside from the titular 3D visuals) to help distinguish it from the original Crush. For starters, Crush3D makes interesting use of the 3DS StreetPass feature. Players can stash gifts throughout the game’s levels and pass the information on to others. Those players can then hunt down the gifts and collect them for extra unlockables. It’s not quite the same as level editor, however it does make for a fun little treasure hunting element. There’s also a new hint system that allows players to trade in a few of their precious marbles to get progressively more direct instructions on how to get through different stages. While I can understand the desire to keep players from getting frustrated with the more difficult levels, it feels more like the game is coddling the player through the experience.

In the end, Crush3D is still a pretty solid puzzle game. The crush mechanic still feels fresh, even after five years. The levels are well designed and the scavenger hunt StreetPass option adds a little something extra to the experience. Plus, if you’ve never played Crush on the PSP, you’ll never realize how different this version is. However, the shift to a shinier, happier Crush might throw fans of the original for a loop and leave them feeling with a less filling experience.


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Author: David Chapman View all posts by

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