Hands-On With Crush 3D

Some games just cry out for 3-D.  While there have been quite a few 2-D classics ported to the Nintendo 3DS, many of them just use the 3-D effects for a bit of added visual flair, but others use this extra dimension as an integral part of the world.  Crush 3-D which just released a demo for the 3DS online store is one such a game.

It’s a platformer/puzzle game that was previously released in 2-D on the PSP, but the distinctive feature of Crush is the ability to “Crush” a 3D world into a 2D one.  On other systems this is a fun mechanic to puzzle-solving, but on the 3DS it is a perfect use of the system’s 3D capability.

The demo lets players go through four levels, one of which is a tutorial that also explains the story.  The story elements are by far the weakest part of the game; they use lame humor to explain that players will control Danny, a lab assistant as he explores a virtual reality simulation of his own subconscious, thanks to a machine created by Doctor “Doc” Doccerson.  This is mostly a failed attempt to recreate the witty banter between Marty McFly and Doc Brown from Back to the Future, and players are advised to just skip all of these cutscenes.

Once Danny has been zapped into his virtual subconscious, he becomes trapped and must recover all of his “Lost Marbles”.  This sort of pop psychology pun is yet another unsuccessful attempt at humor, and is reminiscent of some of the gags from another platformer, Psychonauts.  Every level has a specific number of marbles that must be gathered before the exit appears, but there are bonus marbles that can be collected for the extra challege.

Danny and the Player have three puzzle levels to explore in this demo.  Gameplay is a lot like what Nintendo fans might have seen in Paper Mario, in that navigating the levels and solving puzzles requires them to switch between 2D and 3D.  While the story is awful, the level design and puzzles are terrific.  It’s a bit of a mental challenge to solve even these introductory levels, and the demo is worth playing a couple of times because there are bonus objectives on every stage.

The extra screen displays some supplementary HUD information, such as the number of marbled gathered.  The touch screen capabilities get a little bit of use as well in managing the option of placing markers around the levels, and to activate a hint system, but touch controls aren’t really necessary for this game.  It’s the 3D effects that really make Crush 3D so well-suited to the system.

The demo should keep most players entertained for a good half an hour, and puzzle enthusiasts will probably want to replay it for the satisfaction of collecting everything on the four levels.  It is available as a free download on the 3DS eShop now.  Crush 3D comes out at retail on Tuesday March 6th, and this 3D edition is only available for the 3DS.