lower case = cruise control for classy

echochrome ii has no need for capitalization, therefore neither do we!
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: January 5, 2011
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I can still remember the first time I saw the original echochrome. It was shown off as barely more than a simple montage entry at Sony's E3 press conference a few years back, and if not for the fact that I was sitting next to a Sony producer at the time, I probably wouldn't have thought much of it. Thankfully, I was sitting next to a producer (hi, Kyle!) and he helped explain the basics before Sony could do the same. Once I understood the basic idea that perspective became reality, my head nearly exploded.


The problem with the original game is the same with its lower-case sequel: Sony isn't really pushing the game properly. Yes, they've shown it off at various PlayStation Move-oriented events, but it just kind of... sits there. Maybe you'll get a little coaching, maybe you'll just go through the in-game tutorial (which takes all of about five minutes and largely explains every single concept the game has to offer, though doesn't begin to hit at how complex they can become under the right conditions).

Perhaps that's why Sony doesn't feel the need to sell the game like they do with bigger-budget affairs; it's incredibly simple to grasp the rules -- there's only one button used during gameplay, and only two if you count moving forward and back through the menus. What done with those rules is the real kicker, though. Like the original echochrome, the puzzles are borne out of perspective changes; using the Move (and only the Move, a DualShock 3 would have worked just fine, but it's not an option here) as a flashlight, you simply shine it on some floating blocks to create a path for the familiar posing dummy to allow them to reach the exit.

Very quickly, some basic complications are presented: find a floating sphere and place it in the auto-walking dummy's path and it'll reverse direction (ditto for when it makes it to the end of a platform; the only way it can fall is if nudged when changing perspective by the shadow of something like a wall). Bury the sphere's shadow halfway into the ground, however, and it becomes a bounce pad. The same goes for things like archways (they become teleportation pads) or holes (so long as they're visible, the posing dummy will fall through them) and even the exit itself must be formed by forcing the perspective of a sphere's shadow sitting atop a rectangle's to form the exit.

What starts out simply becomes increasingly complex -- both from a sense of how detailed the shadow shapes you're forming are and how much control over that shadowed perspective must be taken. It's a passive sort of act at first: line things up, watch the little figure clumsily make its way to the exit, win. As the game goes on, though, there are moments where direct, real-time control must be taken to avoid hazards or change the perspective of the level to "catch" or "nudge" the posing dummy. Anyone who played some of the more advanced echochrome levels will understand how much of a mind-bender this can be, though by and large echochrome ii is orders of magnitude easier than the first game.

To help offset that ease of completion, echochrome ii actually operates in three distinct flavors at once. The "normal" mode is the straightforward Guide option, but two others exist on every single level (and even before considering the user-created content, those levels number in the triple digits). Echo is carried over a bit from echoshift on the PSP where flickering shadow versions of the posing dummy must be collectied, and Paint lets you splatter color passively by way of multiple walking dummies that paint what they walk on, helping you to paint a percentage of the level.
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