Originally scheduled for autumn last year, SEGA announced a delay in the launch of Crush3D back in July without offering any reason as to why they chose to postpone the release. For any keen observer of the videogames industry however, it was easy to see that it was a simple marketing decision: avoiding the big names of the winter line-up and arriving early after the busy holiday season to take advantage of the increased userbase of the most popular console of the moment. However, as a new intellectual property (IP) taking on board the unique features of its host system, Crush3D is a title that deserves to be recognised for its creativity more than most, regardless of when the publisher chooses to let us get our hands on it.
The story of Crush3D, as superfluous as it may be, casts the player as a young lad who is best friends with a particularly eccentric scientist, Dr. Doccerson. Danny, our wilfully keen adventurer, agrees to aid the good doctor in a new experiment, but doesn’t really know what he’s letting himself in for. C.R.U.S.H., Dr. Doccerson’s invention, allows the participant to explore their own subconscious, analysing their dreams and fears from within. However, with this being the trial run of C.R.U.S.H., it soon becomes apparent that Dr. Doccerson hasn’t worked out all of the kinks, and Danny becomes trapped within his own mind.
As a remake of the PlayStation Portable release, Crush, Crush3D offers a revamped aesthetic and a number of other new additions, including new levels and of course, the stereoscopic 3D presentation. Alongside Super Mario 3D Land, Crush3D is one of the first titles for which it could be said that the Nintendo 3DS’ unique selling point adds more to the videogame than simply a presentation quality: the stereoscopic 3D truly adds to the player’s experience with an added degree of depth perception, a central aspect of Crush3D’s gameplay.
What might seem a fairly generic platform experience in the screenshots is actually anything but: Crush3D is a smart, involving logical puzzler, closer to Lemmings than it is to Mario or Sonic. Each level is a self-contained experience, in which the player is tasked with collecting enough marbles to unlock the exit. In order to gather these marbles players must engage in both 3D platform action and the traditional 2D side-scrolling format, however in Crush3D, both must be done in the same level.
In Crush3D, players have full control of the 3D camera. They can move it into any position the like, so long as it’s parallel to the layout of the level. And that in itself is Crush3D’s first masterstroke: there is never an instance in which the player will find their experience cut short at the fault of an unwieldy camera. Every aspect of Crush3D’s challenge has been based around the tools given to the player, with the camera being one of the most important. That being said, it’s certainly not the most striking. That job is left to the titular ‘crush’.
As stated above, the 3D and 2D platform action co-exist within a single level with a simple press of the L button the player can switch the layout from 3D to 2D, and back again. Upon activating the crush, the levels will immediately become a side-scrolling layout, in accordance to what angle the camera was positioned when activated. For example, if the camera was side-on, the level will shrink in the same side-on pattern, however if you crush when looking down, all the different height platforms will immediately become that of just one tier. It’s a simple concept, but one that lends itself to some fantastic brainteasers.
Using the rules established by the camera and crush mechanic, Crush3D establishes its challenge by the inclusion of different surfaces. There are the basic platforms, those which only provide stability in one of the dimension settings, surfaces that can be damaged and moving blocks, amongst others. Arranging these in various distances, tiers and depths allows for a variety of both mental and dexterity challenges. Each level features a specific route that will allow the player to collect every marble in a relatively short period of time, and in order to complete the Crush3D in its fullest players must find every direct route.
While the quality of the graphics isn’t Crush3D’s core selling point, it’s not exactly a slouch in this regard. The in-game visuals play into the stereoscopic 3D arrangement well, and the subtle texturing of the various surfaces manes the player will rarely be confused as to their unique priorities. Additionally, the depiction of the characters in Crush3D’s story sequences is top grade material, equally as humours as any Saturday morning cartoon.
As one of the earliest releases of 2012, Crush3D does a very good job of kick starting the year’s release schedule. It’s an enjoyable, challenging, unique experience that thrives on the Nintendo 3DS’ unique features, despite essentially being a revision of a PlayStation Portable videogame. Crush3D may have been delayed to take advantage of the lessened competition, but gamers searching for true quality would jump at the chance of experiencing Crush3D on Nintendo 3DS at any time of the year.