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3DS  header logo

Crush 3D

For: 3DS

Subconscious conundrum

Product: Crush 3D | Developer: Zoe Mode | Publisher: Sega | Format: 3DS | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Crush 3D 3DS, thumbnail 1
There are some games that you just can't stop thinking about after you've stopped playing them.

They tend to do this in a handful of ways: a moving plot, deep reward systems, loveable characters, or - as is the case with Crush 3D - systems of play that force you to reconsider your perception of the world around you.

Of course, Crush 3D isn't a totally new game. It's a remake of the PSP title Crush by Zoë Mode, adorned with autostereoscopic 3D visuals. Nintendo's handheld feels like the system the title was made for thanks to the game's central premise: altering viewpoints to access new areas.

You play as Danny, a boy who – rather fittingly – has a lot on his mind. He's a human guinea pig in Dr Reuben's experiments with the unconscious. These are facilitated by a machine dubbed C.R.U.S.H., which allows the user to dive into his own mind. Once inside, the test subject takes physical form in a representation of his innermost thoughts, working through physical barriers to unblock psychological ones.

After a brief tutorial things go awry and Danny is trapped inside C.R.U.S.H., working his way through increasingly complex environmental platforming puzzles. He's not an athletic sort and he can't jump very high or far, so to get from A to B he has to take advantage of one very special ability.

With a tap of the L shoulder button you can change the landscape from 3D to 2D. Depending on which angle you're observing him from, Danny will then inhabit either a side-scrolling world or a top-down one.

If a platform is far off on the horizon but you'd like to use it as a stepping stone to a higher area near you, all you need do is activate the power and - hey presto - the two planes become one.

Mental block

You're not given much time to grasp this concept before Crush 3D starts piling on the play modifiers. As well as the malleable Hollow Blocks that are the game's base building material there are also Solid Blocks that you can't pass through when the world is crushed, and Ghost Blocks that disappear when in this flatter state.

Fragile Blocks disintegrate when you stand on them, Sheets are very thin and only appear on one axis, while moving platforms that are often triggered by switches come into play from around the second area. There are also items that you have to roll out of the way or into specific positions to progress, and enemies to avoid or crush.

Then there are the power-ups that allow you to leap higher, place a trophy to collect in the world, stop time, or prevent you from being crushed entirely. You'll need all of these to gather the Marbles scattered about a stage, opening the exit portal.

All of these factors add up to an increasingly difficult series of challenges that will have you scratching your head as you warp your mind around the need to relearn the standard logic of perspective.

There's a hint system on hand in case you're really stuck, which proves invaluable but reduces your score with use.

Figuring out the solution to a particularly devilish puzzle is immensely gratifying, even if you've needed a nudge in the right direction to reach it.

Stumbling block

The wrapping around this gift of a game is unfortunately lacking. Though characters move well, and the effect of flattening and expanding the landscape never fails to delight, it's not a very exciting game to look at for 90 per cent of the time. There's no individuality to the style of anything on screen - everything has a stock quality.

The writing is equally uninspired, setting out for kooky gag-smithery but arriving at derivative tedium.

But if you're in the mood to give your brain a workout, Crush 3D is an excellent choice. Unravelling and making sense of its Escher-esque landscapes inspires the kind of light-bulb-being-switched-on moments that are so uncommon in an age of games that want to hold your hand for the whole experience.

But there's not enough thought paid to its – potentially interesting – story and uniformly bland aesthetic. Crush 3D is an elegant game. It's just a shame that its elegance isn't more visible.
Crush 3D
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 20 January 2012
It ain't pretty, but, by gosh, is it clever. Crush 3D's use of perspective is rare and intelligent, providing ages of synapse-teasing, neuron-firing fun
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