Friday, March 7, 2008

echochrome First Impressions

echochrome is nearing its Japanese release date of March 19th and the pre-release demo is now available for PS3 (if you have a Japanese PSN account) and PSP, which you can get here.

Both demos start you off on a five stage tutorial that explains the basics of what you will be doing over the course of the game's many puzzles. The tutorial is over very quickly and then you are faced with three progressively more complicated puzzles where you put what you just learned into action.

The analog control for manipulating the stages work well enough, but could use a little tweaking for speed and smoothness. I'm surprised the PS3 version doesn't support Sixaxis motion control as the design of the game practically begs for it. The graphics being as spartan as they are look very similar on PS3 and PSP but still look surprisingly nice in HD on the big black box. On a bigger screen, the levels have a lot more substance, which is lost a bit on the PSP's small screen. What look like thin twigs on the PSP are thick girders on PS3 which really helps to convey the optical illusions that are the basis for the gameplay.

Unfortunately, the entire demo can be finished in less than 10 minutes. No sooner than you wrap your head around how the game works, you are stopped dead in your tracks, thanked for playing by the nice disembodied female voice, and requested to stop by the world of echochrome again.

It's definitely a great teaser demo as it gives you just enough to make you want more. Problem is, with a tentative US release date of Summer for the PS3 and no word on whether the PSP version will make it over here, it's going to be awhile before we get our chance without importing. There is very little text in the demo, so if the final game is the same I may do just that. echochrome is one of my most anticipated games of 2008 so I don't want to have to wait until the Summer to keep playing.

It's a shame Sony is distributing the game separately on both formats; they missed a great convergence opportunity here where you could buy the game for PS3 and transfer it for portable play on your PSP.

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