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Review: Picross 3D


I hate picross. I've never been able to figure out the "trick" to the traditional square picross puzzle, driving myself to frustration any time I try to teach myself how to fill in the correct number of squares on a grid to draw a picture. As a result, I've had to let games like Picross DS pass me by while others raved. Picross 3D, then, seemed like something of a nightmare: the same idea as picross, but applied to three-dimensional structures, adding another layer of complexity.

And that's why I was very surprised to find myself hopelessly addicted to Picross 3D. And I mean addicted, in that way that only a puzzle game can hook someone. I've been up later than intended every night since I got it, in unintentional marathons of "one more puzzle."

Gallery: Picross 3D | 28 Photos

There are two aspects of Picross 3D that contributed to me being able to play it at all. First, as it turns out, the 3D gimmick makes it easier, not harder. Whereas you interact with a picross puzzle by adding marks to a blank grid, Picross 3D requires you to chip away blocks from a cube. Sure, it's the same action, but it's a lot easier to visualize whittling pieces away from a structure, and marking those you want to keep, than building a picture out of nothing but numbers.

Second, the game starts with a detailed tutorial that not only teaches how the controls work, but logical rules for eliminating unwanted blocks when it isn't obvious. I was delighted to find that careful application of these rules actually did help me get through puzzles, allowing me to complete them through careful observation rather than guessing.

Chances are, if you're already all about picross, you may find the tutorial and the early stages of the game a bit too simple. It would have been nice for people of advanced skill to be able to jump ahead in difficulty, but that isn't possible. Ten puzzles are unlocked at a time in sequential order of difficulty, meaning that if you understand the game right away, it might be boring at first.

Including the few early throwaways, the game sports over 350 puzzles that progressively grow in complexity. And should that not be enough, there are downloadable puzzles and even an editor. And don't count on figuring out what the shape is supposed to be beforehand -- the charmingly blocky puppies, suitcases, cars, etc., are so charmingly blocky that, in many cases, I had no idea what the image was supposed to be until the game told me.

It seems like people are always in need of DS puzzle game recommendations. From now on, whenever someone asks me to suggest one for a family member or a plane trip or something, I'm going to lead with Picross 3D. And I'll likely show it to them. Right then. Because I'll probably be playing it.

This review is based on a retail build of the DS version of Picross 3D provided by Nintendo.

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