We first covered 3D Picross over a year ago. Back then Hairyarse worked his Japanese language skills mojo through the game before it had a year’s worth of localisation applied to it. So what’s happened in that year? Not really a lot, in fact it’s extremely difficult to add much to Hairy’s original review but I’m going to try anyway.
Picross, for those of you who dwell under exquisitely carved pieces of sandstone out in the middle of the Mojave Desert, is a tricky puzzle game where you have to make pixellated pictures out of a blank grid. You are given reference numbers around the edge of the grid that hint at where solid pixels should be placed. Fill in all the solid areas correctly and you’re rewarded with a cute little animated design and the chance to unlock more puzzles.
Picross 3D (or Rittai Picross as it was known in Japan) actually starts you with a block of 3-dimensional solid matter made up of tiny cubes. This time, rather than filling cubes in, you’re deleting the “filler” around them, thus leaving you with a solid recognisable shape that’ll leap to life and prance around your DS screen.
In theory it sounds pretty easy, and due to the gradual learning curve you should rattle through the first few levels with ease. Picross 3D gets a lot more complicated later on and when you’re faced with a gigantic mass of cubes laid out regimentally as part of a giant whole, you’ll find it a lot more challenging to pick the bones out of the intended design.
Picross gives you several control aids to help you isolate the core design at the heart of each puzzle. You can temporarily remove layers in any plane to get better access to cubes you want to remove. You can also spin the object around freely in 3D, so if you’re the sort of Picross player that takes wild guesses when they get stuck, you can do so with ease.
Whole rows or columns of blocks can be removed at the touch of a stylus, though I’ve carelessly removed blocks accidentally using this method, so caution is advised. Doing so places an immovable red cracked block in your design and pretty much ruins your chance to “perfect” a level.
There’s a huge selection of puzzles to solve in single player mode. In multiplayer modes you can design your own Picross 3D puzzles, and it’s surely only a matter of time before the English Language version gets the sort of ritual abuse that the Japanese Language version got, with people swapping 3D block penises, tits and whatever depraved filth they can model given the game’s grid spaces.
True Picross fans might find the 3D version a little on the easy side. Sometimes a design is all too obvious, and you can pretty much make guesses based on symmetry if you have a basic idea of what a puzzle’s outcome is. It does get trickier the more complex the shapes are, but it’s nowhere near as brain-twistingly difficult as traditional 2D Picross can be at its best.
With the DS currently snowed under with tedious movie licenced games, and the usual shovelware fodder that infests the release schedules, Picross 3D is a genuine slice of originality that should have you playing into the wee small hours. It’s a bit annoying that it’s taken so long to arrive, but it’s definitely worth picking up if you fancy something challenging and long-lasting to get you polishing the dust off your long-neglected DS.