We try to wrap our brain around these puzzles by moving from 2D to 3D in 3D.
Crush was a unique puzzle platformer released on the PlayStation Portable in 2007 where you switched back and forth between 3D and 2D planes in order to find a path to the exit to complete the level. At Sega's pre-E3 event in Santa Monica, we were able to go hands-on with the game to see what the game looks like on the Nintendo 3DS. The general gameplay remains the same, but Crush3D comes with a new story, enhanced graphics, and levels that have been updated based on feedback about the PSP version of the game.
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Not much was revealed about the story for Crush3D at this point, but you're playing as Danny once again, helping a mildly crazy doctor as you enter this strange world of floating pieces of what could have been a building. Here is where you can "crush" the 3D plane into a 2D one, to form a path for you to collect marbles and eventually make your way to the exit. For those unfamiliar with the previous game, the core mechanic is to use the camera that gives you five points of view--the four directions around you as well as overhead. From any of these angles, you can then use the L button to crush the plane (think of Super Paper Mario). Based on your perspective and where Danny is positioned, this flattens the level, so to speak, so that now you have a 2D path that you can hopefully traverse. By hitting L again to uncrush the level, you can explore the nooks and crannies in the 3D realm and check out the different sides of the platforms to collect marbles and hidden trophies. It's an interesting mechanic that takes some getting used to, but once you wrap your head around it, the level designs are challenging but satisfying to complete.
The look and feel of the game is not as dark as the previous version. Instead of a dark cityscape, you're climbing along the rooftops on a clear and sunny day with a few clouds scattered on the horizon. You'll see some green vines that add a bit of color to the cityscape and random floating traffic signs in the distance. In the levels we tried, we were hopping along tiled platforms and brick walls, which have unique properties when you crush them. For example, you can't walk through a brick wall when it's crushed, but if it's the gray cement (at least we think it's cement), you can move through it to jump on the darker blue lines that help you climb upward. You're introduced to new elements as you progress, like a giant soda can that you can push to help you cross gaps. If you do get stuck, there is a hint system that will show you what you need to do. It'll cost you marbles, but the option is there.
Crush3D will use the StreetPass feature, where you can insert a gift in a level and the other player will have to go through that level and figure out how to grab the gift. You'll also be able to use play coins to unlock items, since you'll be able to collect various outfits for Danny as you progress. There are other items to collect in the stages that will unlock a gallery and other goodies. Having the 3D on didn't make a huge difference, but it does emphasize when you're on a 3D plane and there are certain things that pop, like text bubbles.
We enjoyed our time with the game, so for those who missed Crush and thrive on solving mind-bending puzzles, be sure to look for Crush3D when it's released on September 6.
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