Thursday, March 6, 2008

Echochrome demo impressions

I have been waiting to play echochrome since Sony unveiled the title at last year's E3 presser. Thankfully a demo of echochrome for PSP was released on the Japanese PlayStation store today. The demo is very short and only last a couple of minutes worth of puzzles, but gave at least gave me a good impression on how well the game works on the PSP.

The idea of the game is difficult to put into words. It is far easier to watch a video, but I will still try my best. You can always refer to the illustrations and video below. echochrome's gameplay revolves around a mannequin figurine walking on geometrical planes. In order to guide the figurine through planes that may seem impossible to traverse because there is a gap, or a black hole etc., you rotate the camera to change the perspective. For example if you require a figurine to cross a gap you simply rotate the camera so that an adjacent vertical panel would hide the gap. Because we couldn't see the gap any longer, meant that the rules has changed and it simply doesn't exist for the figurine, and is allowed to continue its journey through. This set of rules were developed based on OLE Coordinate System engine.

A gap blocks the path for our simple fellow.

But a simple change of perspective 'erases' the gap through an optical illusion.

Figurine survives the walk, thanks to you.

The illustration above is nicked of the OLE site and actually features in the demo as the second tutorial. While the visuals are similar, the PSP's figurine is much more detailed. Not that it matters anyway for a game like this. Supplementing the demo's string solo was a calming English voice over that provides encouragement. The figurine walks at a short pace giving you enough time to think ahead. It can also be stopped if you require the additional time, or speed up. The important camera is solely controlled via the analog pad. Here lies the biggest problem. As you may know the PSP's analog pad isn't the greatest iteration of analog sticks. Being a pad and all, it isn't particularly accurate. It isn't a problem with the demo, but I can imagine it being a liability with later more complex puzzles. This should not be a problem with the PlayStation 3 version though as I have always found Dual Shock analog sticks to be pretty good.

The PSP version is rumoured to actually cost more than the PS3 PSN version, but it will also come with double the amount of puzzles. The PSN version however include a level-editor, if rumours are true, so that may be a more appealing purchase. Either way echochrome has a potential to be a great, engaging and addictive game, if Sony would give it a chance and market it well. Sending great games like Patapon out to die doesn't inspire confidence that they will. And whether or not echochrome will appeal to a fast changing video games market remains to be seen, but I hope it will.

You can download the Eboot file here and copy them onto your Memory Stick. Alternatively you can also download the PSP demo directly from your PSP's web browser through here, then later pre-order from your favourite importer. :) The Asian version (known as echochrome plus) has dual language: Mandarin and English.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where do I copy the demo to?