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Critical Reception: Nintendo's  Picross 3D
Critical Reception: Nintendo's Picross 3D
May 5, 2010 | By Danny Cowan

May 5, 2010 | By Danny Cowan
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This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Nintendo's puzzler Picross 3D, which reviews describe as "just too clever for a DS puzzle game fan to pass up." Picross 3D currently earns a score of 81 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

1UP's Ray Barnholt gives Picross 3D a grade of A-. "[Nintendo] made nonograms extra fun with the Picross series, where you literally chip away at logic puzzles to reveal pictures made of dots -- pixel art, in other words," he begins. "Now Nintendo has rethought Picross entirely with Picross 3D, which is hard to imagine just by the name alone, and unfortunately, even harder to describe."

"In 3D, you're picking away masses of cubes to reveal a cube 'sculpture' of anything from animals to electronics," Barnholt explains. "Not too different from Picross, but Picross 3D reverses the rules of 2D Picross."

"In the original game, you're given rows and columns of numbers that indicate how many blocks you must reveal (five in a row of 20, for example). But because you're dealing with cubes rather than squares, numbers on the faces of a cube in Picross 3D indicate how many cubes you mustn't destroy. A stack of eight blocks but with a big "5" at the top? Time to start surveying the surrounding blocks to see which three blocks you can safely get rid of before you take a time penalty."

Tutorials ensure that the new gameplay concept is easy to understand. "Picross 3D has more than a few tutorial lessons with effective visual aids," Barnholt assures. "In practice, it's easy to grasp how to play the game and eventually become absorbed in it."

"For a freshman effort, Picross 3D deftly reinvents the nonogram concept in a way that might only be accomplished in videogames, but there are some iffy parts," Barnholt says. "Chipping away tower after tower of zeroes starts to feel like a chore. Another thing is a questionable lack of hints. Nintendo's previous Picross games offered hints that randomly revealed rows and columns to get you started, but there's no such pre-puzzle help here."

"Regardless," Barnholt continues, "with hundreds of puzzles, even more available for download over wi-fi, and an editor to make and share your own, Picross 3D is just too clever for a DS puzzle game fan to pass up."

Daemon Hatfield at IGN scores Picross 3D at 8.5 out of 10. "The experiment was a success and Picross 3D is another addictive collection of satisfying mind games," he writes. "Only the visuals, which took a dramatic turn for the worse, keep this sequel from sitting alongside the original Picross DS."

This new visual style marks a significant shift from the aesthetic seen in Picross DS. "The first Picross had very cool pixel art that paid homage to Nintendo's past," Hatfield explains. "The color scheme was also cleaner and more unified. Picross 3D can't seem to decide on a style and the backgrounds are a mess of ugly, generic clip art with pastel tones."

Picross 3D introduces several interesting gameplay mechanics. "In order to deal with these extra layers of complexity," Hatfield notes, "Picross 3D gives you new tools called Slicers that let you look into the guts of a puzzle and determine which blocks can be removed from the inside. One Slicer allows you to adjust the width of your view and the other the depth, and once you get the hang of it you'll be happily slicing away at your puzzles."

"It's a more difficult game and one that I don't think has the immediate appeal of the first," Hatfield says, "but it is nonetheless still very amusing."

At GamePro, Tae Kim rates Picross 3D at 4 out of 5 stars. "The emphasis on three-dimensional perspectives is far more challenging [than Picross DS], and the format works well on Nintendo's handheld, resulting in a nice little puzzle title that perfectly complements my usual puzzle rotation of crosswords and Sudoku," he praises.

Kim admits that the 3D viewpoint is initially challenging. "It's fairly intuitive, and the best compliment I can pay the game is that the physical mechanics never got in the way," he writes. "The only real roadblock to solving the puzzles was my own ability to wrap my head around the concept of a 3D puzzle."

Kim claims that the game includes enough levels and challenges to make a purchase worthwhile. "There are a large number of puzzles," he says, "and even though the replay value is limited -- the puzzles will never change so once you've beaten one, the only real incentive is to go back and try to do it perfectly or to beat your original time -- I felt like there were enough that I wouldn't get bored anytime soon.

"There are also bonus stages that require a set number of stars before they're unlocked -- you gain three stars if you solve a puzzle without making any mistakes in the allotted time -- which is a nice incentive as well."

"Picross 3D won't exactly set the world on fire with its explosive graphics or its thrilling action but it's a competent and fun puzzle game," Kim notes in conclusion. "It's definitely one I'll keep around for those times when I need some quiet time."


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