E3 09: Hands on with echochrono

echochrome was notable for its style and puzzle game play, and some of the visual style carries over into a related offering, called echochrono (working title).

echochrono comes from SCE Japan, and is what they’re calling a “self co-op” game. This PSP puzzler lets you play with yourself, I’d guess you’d say. You still control a mannequin-ish figure on a line art style playing field, but this time around you’re moving on a 2D plane, working to solve puzzles with ghosts of your mannequin. Bear with me if this doesn’t make sense yet.

Each of the levels, or puzzles, is impossible to beat the first time you take control of your mannequin. But you have ten copies of yourself to use as you please to finish the level. Each of your copies has a limited amount of time to move, too. You’ll use your ghosts to meet the requirements and take out the obstacles each level sets, with the overall goal of getting through the level as fast as possible, using the least number of ghosts possible.

When you use up one mannequin, you’ll actually see it as a ghost as you start your next one. You’ll “use” that ghost to take out one obstacle as you tackle the next. For example, first level has you running into a barrier on a path. A stairway below this barrier leads to a switch, that when depressed, releases the barrier. Of course, by the time you make your way down to push the switch, your time runs out. As you take control of the next mannequin, you’ll see that your first ghost moves to get the switch, leaving you free to move forward past the barrier to the level’s goal.

In my hands-on time, I managed to play through a few of the game’s worlds, with each having five levels. They start off with the basic switches and holes in the floor, but slowly graduate to brain busters that had me using most or all of my ghosts.

The graphics are simple, and very similar to echochrome. Almost all of it is just black lines on white backgrounds, aside from some color-coordinated puzzle barriers and switches. 

Sony says that there are 30 puzzle types and 45 levels in all, and add-on levels will be added after launch as downloads. While the name echochrono isn’t final, whatever it will be called will be released late in 2009. 

Dale North