Friday, May 7, 2010

Picross 3D (DS) Review

Ah, it's the month of May. Have you stopped and smelled the flowers yet? Go on. I'll wait. While we're waiting, why don't the rest of you check out my newest review. It's for a budget-priced puzzler called Picross 3D. I'm addicted to it!

Chisel Your Way to Victory

Picross is a pretty foreign game property to most gamers, and for good reason. It seldom crossed over the ocean from its homeland of Japan. However, it first appeared in North America with the Game Boy's Mario Picross featuring a Super Mario Bros. aesthetic to it. It would be over a decade until a new version of Picross would cross over with the 2D-focused Picross DS for Nintendo's dual-screened delight. But what is Picross to the unaware gamer? Think of it as a box that has blocks needing to be eliminated from it. You get clues to which boxes stay and which go via numbers located along the sides of the grids. Now in 2010, Nintendo is once again bringing Picross to North American gamers with Picross 3D. With a new dimension adds new challenge, but is it worth picking up even with a super-low budget price?

Picross 3D is played with with a three-dimensional box. The box has all sorts of numbers on it detailing how many blocks are in a given row or column. Your job is to chisel away the unnecessary blocks by using the numbers as clues. The end result of your chiseling is a shape whether it be a shape, letter, object, or animal. Be careful though, because you can't just chisel away blocks all willy-nilly. If you chisel away a block that is meant to stay in that puzzle, you'll get a strike on your record. Unlike baseball, it's five strikes and you're out.

Thank goodness this isn't baseball,
or this player would be out!

The very first step in solving a picross puzzle is finding all columns and rows that either be dismantled or saved. If a column or row has the number zero attached to it, then all blocks in that column or row can be destroyed. If there's a number five on a given row, and there's only five blocks in that row, you know for a fact that you can highlight all of the blocks in that row. The purpose of highlighting blocks is so you don't accidentally destroy them from the puzzle, thus costing you a strike.

There's three types of numbers in Picross 3D. A normal number by itself indicates that all blocks in that row or column are all place together consecutively. A circle around a number shows that the blocks needing to be saved are split up into two parts. So if you have a circled number six, then you'd want to narrow down the row to two separate groups of three blocks. Finally, a square around a number tells you that the blocks needing to be rescued are split up into three parts. All of these clues generate the solution to the puzzle, but don't feel bad if you're occasionally stumped. Later puzzles are true tests of your mental mettle.

Picross 3D begins with a very extensive and helpful tutorial that allows you to play the game while you learn new tricks and rules of the game. As you progress through the difficulties, you play more challenging puzzles with special stipulations. For instance, several puzzles give you a strict time limit and give you only one strike to work with, so it's one and done basically. Each level of puzzles rewards you with stars for performing certain actions during them such as beating a set time limit, completing the puzzle, and not getting any strikes. These stars are used to open up even more difficult puzzles within the game.

Almost there, just a few blocks to go!

Each time you solve a puzzle, you'll be rewarded with that object or item performing a type of cool animation. The item will also be saved to your collection for you to browse at any time. Pretty cool indeed. And with over 300 unique items in all, you'll be playing Picross 3D for months. But if that's not enough, you can download and design your own puzzles from either Nintendo or from other friends. This brings the total amount of different puzzles up dramatically. You have an infinite amount of puzzles to play around with.

Controlling Picross 3D is almost completely done with the stylus. You use the stylus to rotate the camera around as well as using sliders to cut the puzzles in half so you can see inside the labyrinth of blocks. Sometimes it can get frustrating wanting to move the camera only to slide the sliders instead. However, that's just a small amount of agitation. Meanwhile, the d-pad (or face buttons for left-handed players) are used to switch between highlighting blocks and destroying them. Overall, the controls work remarkably well and is perfect for casual players and the more game savvy.

As the puzzle is solved, your gray mass
of blocks will colorize and animate.

Picross 3D's presentation is pretty simple. As I stated before, your solved puzzles will dance around and animate quite nicely (these can be viewed at any time via the collections menu). The box-shaped objects are rather crude, but they fit the style of the game nicely. The music is passable with plenty of tunes you'll be humming to as you try to figure out which boxes stay and which go. There's been better efforts from HAL Laboratory in this department, but all in all it works well.

Overall, Picross 3D is a steal at $19.99 USD. It offers a robust amount of puzzles-- over 350-- plus the ability to download and create puzzles of your own to solve. If you have trouble thinking in three-dimensions, Picross 3D might feel more frustrating than fun, but for everyone else, Picross 3D is an excellent addition to any DS-owning puzzle-loving fan.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]

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