Crush 3D is a clever "new" puzzle game by SEGA, for the Nintendo 3DS. Why quotation marks? The game was actually released, largely in the same form, for the PSP back in 2007. While it received much critical acclaim, that positive buzz didn't translate into significant sales volume — much to the chagrin of developer Zoe Mode.
Not one to walk away from a clever idea, SEGA and Zoe Mode are revisiting the concept — hoping no doubt that it finds an audience on a Nintendo device where it failed to on a PlayStation.
So how does it all work? At its most basic level, it's a platformer. You control this guy who's stuck in an artificial environment as he attempts to find his way to the exit, level by level. Sounds simple, right? But it's far from it.
In addition to sporting numerous challenges in the 3D version of the level, you can press a button at any time to "crush" the level into 2D. This turns the game into a strictly side-scrolling affair, allowing you to move to platforms that, in the 3D version, aren't accessible — and vice versa. Combined with the ability to turn the camera around in the 3D version, which results in a different structure to the crushed version, this core mechanic is the crux of the concept.
It's a complicated concept to explain, but you instantly understand it when you see it in action. To that end, check out the story trailer that we posted a while back:
The execution of the platforming action, while perhaps not up to Mario levels of perambulatory polish, is still very much up to the genius of the concept. It's very clear what options you have, no matter the number of dimensions in play, and you have no problem instructing Danny by way of the controls.
The actual puzzles, while we only had access to a sampling of them, are more than capable of crushing your brain cells just as readily as they crush dimensions. The variations on the theme managed to keep things fresh throughout, too, with all sorts of twists and situations that stretched your understanding of what's possible via the clever gameplay mechanism.
Crush 3D, despite its surface-level similarities to other titles, is quite unlike anything else we've ever played. If the full game is well-ordered and manages to avoid overt frustration by way of awkward difficulty spikes, this could be something very special indeed.
Crush 3D is expected to hit NZ retail in February 2012 - look out for our full review around that time.
The Good: Inventive mechanics.
The Bad: Your brain needs to be capable.
The Ugly: It was ignored the first time around.