Review: Picross 3D

Picross3D.jpg The DS, as I’ve said many times before, is so oversaturated with puzzle games that it takes something truly special to stand out from the pack and demand attention. Picross 3D is one of these special games.

Nintendo’s 3D nonogram successor to Picross DS is a puzzle game about numbers and deductive logic. You are presented with a block and must chip away at it cube by cube until you’ve carved out the shape hidden within — the stylus is your chisel, numbers are your guide.

Numerical clues surround each block indicating how many cubes in each column and row belong to the object you are attempting to uncover, and it is your job to crunch those numbers and recognize patterns to correctly break off the excess cubes. If you do so successfully and find the object within the bonus time limit and without any misses, you can earn up to three gold stars to unlock bonus puzzles.

This starts off easy enough, but gradually new stipulations are introduced and the puzzles get trickier and trickier, as you would expect. Clues begin to take on different forms, such as circled and squared numbers indicating that the correct cubes in the current row/column and separated into multiple groupings rather than in consecutive order as usual, and different rules force you to complete certain puzzles without a single misstep or add hard time limits that can be increased by quickly removing cubes.

There is a sameness to the game that may be misconstrued as repetitive, but similarly to genre classics like Tetris, Picross 3D shines at making a simple concept endlessly fun and replayable, thanks to intelligent puzzle designs, well-balanced difficulty, and one of the most precise and intuitive touch-based interfaces I’ve used on the DS. Every time you think you’ve finally mastered the tricks of the trade, a puzzle comes along and stumps you for 20-30 minutes, and even though you are repeating the same process over and over again, the game remains fresh and addictive.

That’s good too, because Picross 3D is so loaded with content that it demands a long-term commitment to see through to the end. According to the back of the box, over 365 puzzles are included. I’ve had an early copy of the game since last week and have played at least 2-3 hours a day in that time, and yet I’ve only finished 187 puzzles. So in 15-20 hours of play time I’ve completed a little over half of the puzzles, and in all that time my interest hasn’t wavered for even a second. I’ve laid in bed until 3:00 AM playing “just one more game” on multiple nights — only stopping because of eye fatigue and mental exhaustion — and even right now I’m fighting the urge to stop typing and go play another puzzle or two (or three, or four, or five…). That’s how addictive it is!

What’s more, Picross 3D comes with an editor you can use to craft custom puzzles with – simply place cubes to make a shape, give it a name, set the background graphic and music, click complete, and the game generates the rest of the puzzle automatically – and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support for future DLC and themed challenges users can participate in with their puzzle creations. A downloadable puzzle pack has already been released with five free puzzles, and the current challenge is looking for “Spring” themed submissions. Unfortunately, though, like with other DS (and Wii) games with user-created content, custom puzzles can only be shared locally with friends – there is no option for online sharing.

Best of all, Picross 3D, as part of Nintendo’s “Touch Generations” casual brand, is dirt cheap. Only $20 is separating you from what in my opinion is the current frontrunner for DS game of the year. Go play it, NOW!

BuyIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Unique and supremely addictive gameplay
+ Incredibly smooth and precise touch-screen controls
+ Intuitive puzzle creator
+ Infinite replayability

Cons:
– No online puzzle sharing

Game Info:
Platform: DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: HAL Laboratory, Inc.
Release Date: 5/3/2010
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1 (2-5 for local puzzle sharing and single-card download play)
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!