Intelligent Systems’ Pullblox was a compelling demonstration of how 3DS’s autostereoscopic display could effectively augment spatial puzzles, and while the sensation of depth isn’t quite as helpful here – though it has an undeniable visual impact – this curious mix of Tetris and Hole in the Wall proves a similarly smart and substantial eShop release.
Its central idea was first explored in Keys Factory’s little-seen WiiWare game ThruSpace, though a fresh aesthetic and some rudimentary story trappings lend this a more personable air than its rather sterile predecessor. Again, you find yourself hurtling through a series of tunnels, sectioned by walls with small holes to squeeze a simple 3D shape through. The piece is manoeuvred with the left thumbstick, with the face buttons adjusting its orientation, and the R trigger rotating it by 90 degrees. Match the hole early enough and you can squeeze the left shoulder button for a burst of speed to help you beat the clock or improve your clear time.
Beating a level is straightforward enough, though earning medals requires swift manipulation of your shape en route: you’ll need to align yourself with hearts floating in each gap before flying through it to keep the combo meter ticking over.
Where Pullblox steadily introduced new mechanics to add variety, Keys Factory opts for structural adjustments with endless stages, puzzle towers, hazard-filled labyrinths and a series of tense challenges where holes only appear once their outlines are completely filled. Yet in essence your task – to quickly manoeuvre shapes in 3D space – is unchanged. As such, SpeedThru is a game best experienced in short bursts, not least because the startling image depth may prove a strain for tired eyes. Still, this is further evidence of the eShop’s relevance in the face of strong competition from Nintendo’s peers.