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Alexandre Guimond

Picross 3D review

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Puzzle games are plentiful on the DS. There is no shortage of any types of vertical or horizontal mind-benders. It might be for some, attributed to a less interesting part of the console’s library, but there’s always that one puzzle game, which drags you in the dirt, and makes you ask for more. Whether it is a classic descent of blocks, or an English chap asking you to solve clues as his apprentice, those puzzle games really make you grind your gears. They come, as a raging cohort of doom, ready to take whatever brain cells you have left in your head, and make you feel, like a complete idiot.

To be honest, it’s hard to be constantly clever; we all make stupid mistakes, once in a while. And we have to thank puzzle games for reminding us, how simpleton, we really are. Now, imagine all of this sea of confusion, displayed in the third dimension. You’ll have to combine your brick-laying mastery, as well as a tad bit of the archeologist in you. Most likely, curses and blasphemes will be targeted at your DS. But it seems like everything can be easy as pie, is it? Sometimes, developers have to go one step further, in order to confuse the players even more. Hal Laboratory might have just achieved in all of the above.

Picross 3D is not an incredibly hard puzzle game. It has its share of challenges and mind-wrenches, but you’ll always find your way with clever thinking. The real appeal of the game however, is the brilliant yet simple concept behind it. Using the same principle as in Picross DS, 3D uses the third dimension as its new way of brick-breaking puzzling.

There’s nothing revolutionary in the whole idea, but it’s delivered in a way where, everything works wonderfully on the DS, from the controls, to the puzzle solving. The touch screen is probably the best tool you’ll ever have to look at 3D shapes. Picross 3D is relatively simple. You have to break bricks, in different shapes assortments while trying to guess which form or object will come out of the starting cast. Picross 3D is essentially sculpture 101, where you need to visualize your “statue” in order to solve the puzzle. But this doesn’t mean it’s entirely obvious either, most of the puzzles will be absolutely incongruous to make any sense at all, until the very last brick removals.

Upon the completion of a puzzle, you are given the final product of what the sculpture is. As stated earlier, some are obvious but a lot of them will let you mystified on what the object or creature you’ve carved is, until the blocks get colored. The overall patterns of the blocks are misleading and tricky in a lot of cases, and that’s what make Picross 3D a real thinking game.

You are helped by several columns of numbers displayed on each faces of the figure. Depending on the number’s height in the numerical order, you’ll have to break lines with acute care, or get rid of them entirely. (Columns displaying zeros (0) can be removed at will, while a column displaying 8 means that you need to conserve that amount of blocks, for that row). The concept was used in many puzzle games before Picross 3D, (such as Drop7 on the Iphone or the original Picross DS). Once again, the third dimension will play tricks on your mind, especially if you’re not used to seeing hidden shapes in 3D spaces.

There’s a nice complexity added to the rows numbers as well; you’ll find numbers with circles around them, that signifies that the row of blocks must be separated in two parts, (while numbers with squares around them, mean that there must be a least one space, between each blocks of this same row). Some rows don’t have numbers, in those cases; you must use your logic to solve the shape. Pretty much all the puzzles available in Picross 3D are easily solvable if you follow the correct order of removal. If you attempt essay and error, you will get penalized, as the puzzle rules are that you cannot break blocks that are part of the object body.

The game is forgiving on this part, giving you at least five tries, but there are some tricky puzzles that require one misstep in order for you to fail. There is a time clock that gives you the amount of time in which to complete the puzzles, but it’s easily counterfeited on the speed you’ll solve puzzles, once you realize that there are patterns in each shapes. Some puzzles are time-based, and depending on how you perform, the length of solving will change, which is a great incentive.

The stylus controls are not entirely accurate, depending on the camera angle; so, in terms of movement, the camera works exactly how it should however, when it comes to breaking blocks. You’ll encounter several unwanted block crushes, leading to an imperfect score or down-right frustration. The block punching is not entirely accurate, but if you relax and take your time (like I’m sure most of us do, when playing video games) you’ll most likely end up with the result you want. (You can move the camera at-will around the shape, and in order to apply different states to the cubes, you use the D-pad or the four front buttons of the DS). It might not be a whole lot of a feature for most players, but ambidextrous controls are always welcomed by left-handers, like me.

There are tons of puzzles to create and share with the “My Picross” mode, where you can build up your own hidden shapes for all to enjoy. Notably so, there is a lot user-based content especially on the Japanese side. Picross 3D will most likely keep you occupied for hours upon end, with a ridiculous amount of puzzles, spread over four difficulties. The game is perfect for portable play , as it requires no attention span over the majority of the puzzles , since you control the deconstruction, and can close the DS whenever you want , pausing the game.

If you own a DS, Picross 3D should be in your collection. It is a masterful execution of clever puzzling and mind-wrenching patterns. The game is packed with over 500 puzzles, and even more if you count the user-created feature. You’ll have plenty of hours to exercise your brain on, the game is challenging yet incredibly satisfying. Having gold-stars on every puzzle will be a colossal task; but you’ll feel incredibly rewarded every time you’ll figure out, a new one. Rarely has a puzzle game been able to provide a fantastic experience, while using such a
brilliant concept.

Simple and fun, challenging and easy to come by; Picross 3D is a must-have.

Alexandre Guimond
Assistant Editor

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Updated 06-09-10 at 07:40 by SteveSawyer



  1. miner2049er's Avatar
    Thanks for this review.

    I am on the last level of Picross 2 on Gameboy having just finished Picross 1 on Gameboy, both for the second time.
    I also have the SNES game but I want to play this DS version first.

    I just love the Picross gameplay and I'm really looking forward to it.
  2. Alexandre Guimond's Avatar
    I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Picross 3D was actually my first game in the series. I have to get all the other ones now. My fever can only be quenched by more Picross games!

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