More on Crush

Two people expressed interest in Crush (a PSP game) when I mentioned it in a previous post, so I felt I should address it in some more detail. I've been trying to figure out if I would recommend it to somebody else and that's a more complex question than it should be. Parts of it are brilliant but parts are pretty annoying and I wasn't sure until today how to express that.

Here's what it comes down to: this game is part puzzle game and part platformer. The puzzle part is fairly clear - given the tools in the levels (switches, balls, whatever) and the ability to crush 3 dimensions into 2, how do I get from point A to point B? This is pretty cool. The platformer part is that sometimes you see how to get from point A to point B but it requires a tricky set of jumps, or something where you have to work in and out of 3d quickly. The problem is that the platformer controls just flat-out suck and that sucks the joy out of this part. For instance the level I just finished had a sequence where there was a string of crumbling boxes that you had to jump from top to top. There's no digital control and the analog control gives you really poor control of velocity. This ought to be a simple basic level one sort of challenge, but because of the controls I had to repeat it 10 or 15 times because it's difficult to jump across the gap, hit the box and then STOP to regroup for the next jump. Adding insult to injury every time I failed I had to run back to the start point, uncrush into 3d, wait for the boxes to reappear, crush back into 2d, and try again. Even worse is that the game gives you a grade and it's based on A) how fast you complete the level, and B) how many crushes you used. So this whole sequence directly impacts your grade. I've given up worrying about the grades - I usually get a 'D' or lower.

So, would I recommend this game? Well, if the puzzle portion sounds interesting you should check it out but I don't know that I'd say "Oh just go buy it." I'd also note that it's not a quick-playing game. Maybe somebody with better 3d visualization skills could play faster but most levels take me between half an hour and an hour to complete. You can't save mid-level and the levels are complex enough that I can't set it down and return later and still remember how to get around effectively. So if you are the sort of gamer who can't commit an hour uninterrupted, then I'd urge some caution before picking up Crush. I'm going to finish the levels (and I'm totally ignoring the "Trophy Stage" mode where you're rewarded for speed playthroughs of the levels.) but I think I would have been somewhat disappointed if I had actually purchased the game.

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