Puzzle fans, have I got a game for you! We’re going to be reviewing Picross 3D Round 2 for the Nintendo 3DS today, so get your thinking caps on and let’s get going!
Picross is Nintendo’s version of a logic puzzle game called a nonogram (we reviewed Picross e5 here). The object of the game is the decipher the numerical clues to discover the picture hiding in the grid. Think of it as a paint-by-numbers where you have no idea what the picture is at the start. Picross 3D is the exact same concept applied to solids, and if Picross can be likened to paint-by-numbers, then Picross 3D can be thought of as sculpt-by-numbers. The original Picross 3D released on the Nintendo DS back in 2010, and it was one of my personal favourites. Naturally, I was really excited to see the announcement of Picross 3D Round 2, so I attacked the game with a fair amount of gusto.
The original Picross 3D had you using a brush to mark out blocks and then sculpt away what wasn’t part of the puzzle. If you were a Picross veteran, you’d have most likely found the game simple at all but the highest difficulty setting. Picross 3D Round 2 pushes the difficulty meter up a bit from the start by tasking you with figuring out which blocks are orange and which are blue. The blue blocks act like the old ones from Picross 3D, but the new orange ones change shape once they’re solved, allowing for more complex structures in the puzzle. To assist you in solving the puzzles, you’re given a “pencil” tool in each colour that doesn’t fully mark a block, but simply helps you outline what colour a given block should be.
Solving a puzzle earns you a gem that equates to a rank of sort, and the type of gem you earn depends largely on how well you did. Make too many mistakes or take too long, and you’ll earn a lower-ranked gem. Lower difficulties furthermore have a cap on the gem you can earn, so to get the very best gems you’ll have to play really well on higher difficulties.
The game contains around 300 different puzzles, with around ten more if you own the correct amiibo figures. The various puzzles are arranged by theme into “books”, most of which contain a set of around five to eight puzzles, depending. Some books switch things around by making you solve one huge puzzle broken up into eight or ten smaller ones, and others present challenges such as ridiculous time limits or solving the puzzle with no mistakes. To unlock books you have to complete tasks such as finish a certain number of puzzles or obtain a given amount of a type of gem. This adds a good incentive to actually go back to older puzzles and play on a higher difficulty.
I really enjoyed Picross 3D Round 2 because it scratches that puzzle itch I have. The game presents the concepts well, and all the clues are there for you. If you make a mess, odds are you weren’t understanding the number clues properly–which is exactly the same reason that mistakes are made in regular Picross. I found the game fairly forgiving, possibly because of the dual-colour nature of it. Four or five books in, and you’ll have a decent grip of the logic of the game. For example, any block with an orange number on one face and a blue number on another can be safely chipped away (not to be confused by sections where a row is designated as having both orange and blue blocks in it, shown by two coloured numbers on the block’s face).
On the other hand, the game’s difficulty is all over the place. The progression of puzzles inside a book is not necessarily an indication of how puzzling the puzzle is. You’re as likely to find a simple one at the end of a book as you are to find one in the start or somewhere in between. Sometimes, the nature of what you’re sculpting is fairly obvious very early, and will take less than three to five minutes to solve, but some of those amiibo ones can be a complete pain, running me almost half an hour on “medium” difficulty.
As far as casual puzzle games for the Nintendo 3DS go, you can’t steer wrong with a Picross game, and Picross 3D Round 2 is definitely something made to please the crowds. The sculptures (which, when solved, are stylized as little wooden figurines) are truly delightful, and feel rewarding to solve. I feel that a little Picross under someone’s Christmas tree will definitely brighten up some puzzler’s life!