Crush3D Review: Marble Madness

Although sometimes wonky controls slow up the fun, “Crush3D” on the Nintendo 3DS is a puzzle game that will drive your brain crazy for hours on end.

In the best way possible.

Although it may not be remembered five years from now, it’s frugal price and amount of content will make any 3DS owner smirk. For the first time in a while, Sega has delivered a quality title that doesn’t feature a blue hedgehog or a baddie with a Ron Jeremy mustache.

On a system that already features Pushmo and a new Tetris, “Crush3D” finds itself with hearty competition. It is able to separate itself though and does so rather quickly. The platforming elements in “Crush3D” are silly, but create an environment few puzzlers can match. Switching between 2D and 3D, our main character has to crotch, jump and push things to find marbles (that he has “lost,” pun-intended) that allow him to escape to another level. If it sounds retro in approach, it is. But it works.

Still confused? Think of a 16-bit side scroller that can morph into a 3D one at will. Then mix in a bit of Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Pushmo and Marble Madness. Yes, it’s a weird concoction, but it’s awfully tasty.

There are problems though. Some easy jumps are made increasingly difficult due to controls that can be tightened up. Depth perception is tough at times especially when in a “crushed” view. Because of this, you may find yourself getting frustrated over routine walking and jumping.

The amount of text in the story can sometimes be annoying as well. The story itself is fun and weird, but can drag. The characters have a weird relationship and we never fall head over heels for them. At the same time, there’s a real pleasure at solving the visual riddles each level presents. It’s ultimately hard to explain why you’ll continue to play a game that has such a weird premise and is so simple, especially when the controls fight you at times, but that won’t stop you.

You’ll play through it anyway.

Much like other niche games such as “Warioware” and “WTF,” logic doesn’t mean anything. The core gameplay works and the main attraction, switching your dimensional view, works splendidly.

When combined with occasionally difficult puzzles and a wacky story, the game discovers a niche all its own.

The unlockables and Streetpass options add more depth to the game, but considering how long the main game takes to complete, possibly 15 hours for some, there’s plenty of things to see and do in “Crush3D.” Once it’s all over though, aside from replaying levels, there is much less to do.

At a time when reduced price usually means inferior quality, “Crush3D” offers a high quality game for half of what you’d pay for something else. Even if puzzles and platforming isn’t your thing, the sheer length of the game and visual premise are enough to warrant a play-through.

While Sega continues to milk its Sonic franchise on as many systems it can, “Crush3D” is a prime example that the publisher should add a few new pieces to their puzzle.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 9559 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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