Crush 3D Hands-On Preview -- Free Your Mind by Crushing ItBy Stephen Johnson - Posted May 19, 2011
For the last few years, the platforming genre has lead video games when it comes to innovation, whether it’s the haunting chiaroscuro of Limbo, or the cotton-candy perfection of Super Mario Wii. Novel little Nintendo 3DS title Crush 3D from Sega fits in well with that respected company.
Like the original Crush, this game takes a familiar platforming trope – jumping and climbing from platform to platform in order to collect goodies – and crushes it, literally, by giving players the option to switch the world from 3D to 2D at will. You’re not switching your perspective from two to three dimensions; you switch the world itself, crushing a fully fleshed out level down to a world with no depth at all. Suddenly, an impossibly distant platform can appear right before you by changing your perspective, conversely a 3D world offers a ton of places to explore that are invisible in the 2D world.
It’s a mind-bending mechanic, that made my brain feel similar to the sensation of playing Portal for the first time—the constraints of time and space you’ve relied on you entire life don’t apply in the world of Crush 3D, forcing you to open new neural pathways to solve puzzles. The ability to remove an entire dimension at once takes some getting used to, but once you get it, you’ll find yourself “thinking with crushes” in order to solve the game’s puzzles.
While the game’s “hook” has a passing resemblance to both Echochrome and Paper Mario, storywise, Crush 3D is a bit like cult classic Psychonauts. The story concerns the relationship between a (seemingly mad) doctor and a teenager. The teen must enter the mysterious recesses of his own mind to solve problems in his personal life.
In the tutorial level I played, the internal world is represented with a bright, grid-like setting, but I imagine later levels will explore darker recesses of the teenager’s internal frontier. My personal internal teenage mind was filled with banana peels and issues of Hustler magazine, but I’m sure Crush 3D’s protagonist is more interesting than I was.
The original Crush was a PSP game, but it makes sense for the sequel to be released on the Nintendo 3DS instead, not only for the instant visual representation of “crushing,” but also for the fact that the 3D actually helps you judge distances when your game-world is in 3D. While you can play Crush 3D with your slider set on “flat,” the depth really helps you judge distances.
A game like this works about as well as its puzzles are clever, and I wasn’t able to play the entire game at the preview event I attended, but the mechanics provide for limitless possibilities, so if the level design lives up to the core mechanic, Crush 3D will be one to watch when it comes out on September 6.
Crush 3D uses StreetPass, too, giving 3DS users the opportunity to give gifts to passing players – should they be able to traverse a level. I hope that Crush 4D will allow you to remove yet another dimension (I’ve always hated width) and really crush the world… down to a single point in space in which all goals of the game could be completed at once with the push of a single button.