Crushing? Or just Crushed...
Posted 1 year ago By Vince - Vincent Deshaies
Released almost 5 years ago on the Sony PSP, Crush was met with critical acclaim by the gaming press. Most of that praise was due to its clever puzzles, original concept, and dark atmosphere that made it easy to excuse its shortcomings. Is this new entry in the franchise, Crush3D, still just as good, or does it get crushed by the competition? Let’s find out.
It is no secret that the original game wasn’t given the attention it deserved. Following its disappointing sales, Sega began to think of a way to revive the franchise. The arrival of the Nintendo 3DS sounded like a great opportunity to give this series a second chance, and that’s why Sega asked Zoë Mode Studios to get to work. In this installment, the mechanics and premise remain very much the same. You still take control of a young teenager who is paying a visit to his own mind (thanks to a crazy scientist’s new machine called the Crush). You still have to go through 40 separate levels. And the goal is still to find a certain number of lost marbles to complete each of them.
"While Crush3D has plenty of good ideas, and has a great concept on paper, it simply doesn’t offer a very compelling experience."
While the simple story isn’t exactly the game’s forte, the developer thankfully recognizes that, and lets it take a back seat to the gameplay itself. The game mechanics are pretty complicated to explain. The gist of it is that the player is given control of various dimensions. Using the d-pad, gamers can choose the angle they want to see the action in, revealing hidden marbles that need to be collected in classic platforming sequences. Where it gets interesting is when the player has to switch between 2D and 3D. Following a simple button press, your character can find himself in a flat, 2D world where everything is stuck to one surface and clearly in reach. In other situations, players will have to switch back to 3D to avoid obstacles blocking the way. Sounds fun? It definitely is...at first. Once the novelty factor starts wearing off, the levels quickly start to feel repetitive. The game’s steep difficulty curve doesn’t help. Completing a level can be a uniquely rewarding experience sometimes, but this rewarding aspect is overshadowed by the sheer headache-inducing frustration most players will experience while playing through the game’s most complex levels. The action unfortunately delves into the trial and error realm once your brain gets confused among the various obstacles the game throws at you.
Another thing that is sure to annoy players is the tedious tutorial the game offers. It would have been nice if Crush3D taught its gameplay through clever level design and an appropriate difficulty curve, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. The difficulty is all over the place, with some later levels being much less complex than the earlier ones. On top of that, the tutorials require a lot of reading, and are not engaging enough to keep the player interested. The integrated hint system was a good opportunity to make things less frustrating, but instead of offering actual hints to help gamers progress, they simply give away the answer. At this point, why not just skip the level? Despite all that, it would be unfair not to mention that the gameplay does manage to shine several times throughout the experience. With such an interesting concept and clever mechanics, it’s easy to see the potential. Unfortunately, most of it is left untapped.
Another problem with the game is the bland visuals. Rather than offering gamers a set of varied environments and appealing, cleverly designed levels, Crush3D prefers to leave players in an uninspired series of stages that always utilize the same color schemes. Look at the screenshots in this review and see for yourself; it simply looks boring. Why not stick with the original game’s somewhat appealing, darker design? We’ll probably never know. The 3D capabilities of the system, however, are well used and does add a fair share of excitement to the experience. Toggling between the 2D and 3D surfaces will also switch between stereoscopic 3D and classic 2D, which is a nice touch. The musical themes of the game are pretty discrete, and not particularly memorable, but they fit in their role pretty well without being distracting. All in all, the presentation of Crush3D is pretty disappointing, although not a catastrophic failure.
In terms of content, Crush3D is honest. The title offers 40 different levels that don’t necessarily offer a lot of replayability, but do offer plenty of collectibles for the most patient gamers. The StreetPass feature that lets you send and receive gifts from other players is a nice addition, but it doesn’t provide that much additional value. With a suggested retail price of $19.99 (though I’ve seen it for much more in some stores), Sega does hit the right mark to give Crush3D a bit more appeal for puzzle game fans. However, a game like PushMo on the eShop still has more content for less than half the price.
It’s disappointing to see a title with so much potential fail to deliver on almost all fronts. While Crush3D has plenty of good ideas, and has a great concept on paper, it simply doesn’t offer a very compelling experience. Puzzle game fans are sure to find something to like about it, but there are better and cheaper alternatives. If you’re looking for a challenge, feel confident enough to tackle the frustrating levels, and don’t mind the bland art style, this game might still be worth picking up at this relatively low price.
+ Good use of 3D
+ Budget price
+ Can be uniquely rewarding
- Too much trial and error
- Bland visuals
- Poor tutorials
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Release Date : 2012/03/06
System : Nintendo 3DS
Publisher : SEGA
Developer : Sega
Category : Puzzle
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10