71% More echochrome PSP, Coming Tomorrow

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Hey, PlayStation Blog Readers!

Just when you were close to beating all your clear times on all 56 echochrome stages on your PSP, we have even more challenges coming your way!

Echochrome Expansion Pack - Oct. 9, 2008

An expansion pack for echochrome is coming to the PSN on October 9th for $4.99.
You can almost double the fun of the original with an additional 40 new stages to master. For those of you who don’t have the original version, not to worry. We have a bundle pack ready for you guys and gals too, so you can pick up the game and expansion pack all at once!

Also today, I have a message to you from my buddy (and counterpart) back in Tokyo.
Check out what he has to say to get a glimpse of what makes echochrome as fun and interesting as it is! echochrome wouldn’t be what it is without its core philosophy.

Hello, echochrome fans! This is Tatsuya Suzuki, Producer at JAPAN STUDIOS for this project. I hope you have been enjoying your experience so far.

Five months after our release in May, we are happy to bring you a whole bunch of additional stages for echochrome PSP/PSN. In an era when crisp, photo-realistic graphics are a pre-requisite for games, one may look at echochrome and perhaps question its artistic design choices, namely the modernistic approach of its monotone color palette and line art style.

Echochrome Expansion Pack - Oct. 9, 2008

However, you may be surprised to learn, this look was only made possible with modern
day technology.

First and foremost, there is the high quality wide screen LCD that is standard to the PSP. All of the artwork in echochrome is based on straight lines, thus clarity and resolution is a very important aspect to our game. The mannequin figure is also drawn just with lines, so it’s important that its outline is smooth. Another important aspect of the screen is its responsiveness. Since the core of the game’s design relies on rotating the stage, clarity and visibility plays a key role as you try to find the best perspective for your next move.

Echochrome Expansion Pack - Oct. 9, 2008

And then there is the all-important CPU that feeds the images to the LCD screen. Again, at first, echochrome may not appear to be such a CPU-intensive game. However, in the background, the title is pushing the processing power of the PSP to its limits. It’s like a swan swimming on a lake. It looks graceful to our eyes, but beneath the surface of the water that swan is actually kicking its feet pretty hard to just to move around.

Anyway…

The core of the graphics rendering and the calculation and rendering of the transformation of the stage as the perspective changes are two separate operations. Jun Fujiki, the creator of echochrome, originally designed it as a PC-based application, thus it relied heavily on the PC’s processing power. So, when it came time to bring this game to the PSP, there was a need to dig deep into the source code and fine tune the code to maximize the performance of the PSP processor. Without the PSP’s 333MHz mode, the game would not have been possible.

Music was another aspect where the PSP hardware performance shines. Not only were we inspired by the works of MC Escher, the father of optical illusions in art, but also for his love of strings quartet consisting of 2 violins, 1 viola and 1 cello. All of the in-game music was written and recorded with a string quartet. Only the PSP’s ATRAC support could have allowed for the streaming of such high-quality sound, faithfully reproducing the original studio recordings.

All of these elements are core elements in bringing the world of echochrome to life on the PSP.

The team took extra care in creating all of the intricate stages. The design team consisted of members who worked as planners and stage designers for puzzle games in the past, and even then they had difficulty during the initial stages of development. There was a learning curve because of how radical the designs and game rules are.

We also turned to some graphic designers who had no previous experience with game design. They were given a mission to explore the limits of their artistic skills and imagination, without worrying about how they would work when the rules of echochrome were applied. Obviously not all of their creations were suitable for play in echochrome, but it certainly was an eye-opener seeing their creativity and the beauty of architecture they were able to create. And these were eventually converted into playable stages.

It was a moment all of us realized that “it is when common sense and assumptions are let go of, that the hidden path opens up”. This later became a philosophical mantra for the development of echochrome.

With that said, we are happy to bring these 40 new playable stages to you as an expansion pack. There are plenty of new puzzles and challenges waiting for you inside, and maybe some of these new stages will inspire some new level creations in your own imagination.

Echochrome Expansion Pack - Oct. 9, 2008

Now, it is your turn to be tested with our echochrome mantra: “it is when common sense and assumptions are let go, that the hidden path opens up.”

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