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Crush – PSP

Crush – PSP

CRUSH PSP Cover artPlatform: PlayStation Portable

Developer: Zoe Mode

Publisher: SEGA

Release Date (NA): May 29, 2007

Genre: Puzzle, Platformer

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Insomnia is a bitch. What’s real? What’s sleep? It’s too hot yet it’s too cold. Why won’t my brain shut off? Now I’m angry that I can’t sleep. Maybe if I roll onto my right side. Let me try watching a movie. Perhaps I can roll onto my back? Grrr! Someone kill me now! Or maybe I should just play CRUSH on my PlayStation Portable?

Play inside the mind of Danny, an insomniac, in this wacky puzzler. Manipulate the landscape of Danny’s dreams from 2D to 3D and back again in order to help him conquer his impossible past. Every enemy and obstacle you overcome brings Danny closer to a full night’s sleep.*

In 2007, IGN.com called CRUSH “One of the most original games yet created for the PSP system…” And that is quite an honor for both Zoe Mode and Sony with their very first handheld gaming system. Granted, the PSP had only been out in North America for approximately 2 years, but nonetheless, CRUSH was achieving serious recognition. With a then-unique concept on a system that was slowly picking up steam, CRUSH was destined for success! Or was it?

The story is narrated with awesome visuals

The story is narrated with awesome visuals

As we already know, Danny is an insomniac. The sleep deprivation has taken such a toll on him that he had to be hospitalized. With a desire to be cured, he contacts a mad scientist, Dr. Reubens, who coincidentally has “just the cure” with a new device he has been working on. Dr. Reubens hooks Danny’s head up to the Cognitive Regression Utilizing pSychiatric Heuristics (C.R.U.S.H.) device, which places him under hypnosis. The device allows Danny to consciously wander throughout his dreams and rediscover his repressed memories. Throughout the game we learn of Danny’s fears from his dark past, going all the way back to his childhood. These fears represent themselves in the form of monster bugs.

Crush PSP

In each level, Danny must collect his lost marbles (get it?) in order to regain his sanity and draw closer to conquering his fears and repressed memories. Through a series of forgotten events from his past, including being dumped by his girlfriend Tina, his parents leaving him home alone as a child, and being bullied at the fair, we get closer and closer to finishing the game, AKA sleep. The ultimate goal of CRUSH is to help Danny fall asleep through uncovering the root behind his insomnia via C.R.U.S.H.’s hypnosis.

The Basics

We start the game with an introduction to the basics of gameplay. Danny must “crush” the world around him, and each time he does, the perspective is altered from its current dimension to the other. For example, the environment will change from 2D to 3D or from 3D to 2D each time you crush (by pressing R). Sounds simple right? Not in the slightest. You are given the ability to switch camera angles (by way of the d-pad) in order to change your perspective. What might be an impassable location from a side view in 3D is actually completely wide open from an aerial view in 2D.

2D perspective

2D perspective

A gameplay example, if you will: You are currently in 3D and you find yourself standing on a floating island platform with seemingly no place to go. But in the distance you see another floating platform with a bunch of marbles on it. You press R to crush the environment into a 2D perspective. Now that distant platform is on the same visual plane with the one you are standing on. You walk over to the new platform, crush back to 3D, and voila. You are now standing on the platform with the marbles, and the original island platform you started on is now in the distance.

Trying to understand the logistics behind it is half of the fun, and the tutorial will teach you literally everything you need to know.

CRUSH controls

The Meat and Bones

CRUSH’s 40 levels are fueled by intricate puzzle design, which is driven by the distinctive “crushing” mechanism necessary to complete any level. If you get stuck, the game will let you choose to use a hint if you wish, but the hint doesn’t outright give away the solution either. The learning curve is steep and frustration abounds within only a few levels. I found myself not only struggling to find ways to get from one end of a level to another, but the tiny mechanics necessary to get there had the feel of an arduous assignment instead of an exciting new adventure.

Crush PSP 3

One of CRUSH’s biggest problems is a complete lack of incentive to continue playing the game. Aside from advancing the story, there is no real reason to keep playing one puzzle after another. While extremely innovative in concept, CRUSH just isn’t very fun to play. The graphics are superb (some of the best I have yet to see on the PSP), the sound effects are amazing, the story is great, the gameplay is unique, the controls are above-average, and the music is appropriately excellent (just a little glum, which fits in well), but those can’t make up for the all-around boring game that CRUSH is.

Conclusion

Overall, CRUSH is one of the most unique games I have ever played. It is wildly characteristic and innovative with exceptionally dark undertones and a great story. The way the story progresses and grows is presented with style and flare. CRUSH is all about perspective and using your brain to think outside of the box. But starting a new level can feel like a daunting task instead of a new and exciting adventure, and I think that is where CRUSH falls flat on its face.

crush psp 2

I was extremely excited when I found this little gem at a local shop in North Raleigh, NC. It was only $4 for the UMD complete in box with manual and all. The cover is mesmerizing and intriguing, plus it bears the famous SEGA moniker at the bottom right, so you know it’s probably a unique experience. I got home, inserted the UMD, powered on, and started the game. I watched in awe as the story was introduced, and I was beyond pleased with the first-rate voice acting. I was further blown away when I began to play and learn the nuances of crushing into 2D, crushing into 3D, changing camera angles, rolling cylinders and balls to create a new moving platform, overcoming obstacles by switching perspectives, and so forth. But I soon found the melancholy music paired with the repetitious monotony of gameplay lulling me to sleep. YAY! INSOMNIA CURED! I kid, I kid.

More 2D action

More 2D action

Seriously though, folks, this game is unusual in the fact that everything about it is near perfect yet something about it is amiss. CRUSH received almost universal praise, yet if you asked anyone today if they’ve ever heard of the game, they would likely say “Huh? CRUSH?” I find the original concepts to be the most intriguing components to CRUSH’s overall achievements. But I just cannot find a reason to say, “Wow, I just can’t put this game down!” It’s great to pick up and play from time to time, but it’s not very enjoyable for extended gameplay. The further into the game you get, the harder the puzzles get, thus taking longer to complete. However, for only $4, maybe more at your local game store, I DO highly recommend buying it. It’s an excellent bargain buy, and its uniqueness is worth trying out even if only for novelty purposes.

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

*Excerpt from the back of the game’s box

Member BioArticles by MemberMember Blog

 

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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