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Nintendo DS Review: Picross 3D

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This extensive puzzle game series expands to more than 365 3-D solutions. This game has interesting elements similar to a combination of Sudoku, the Wii game Boom Blox, and the basic PC classic Minesweeper. Players must follow simple rules for each 3-D block puzzle grid, which are marked with numbers on the rows and columns. Nintendo developers add plenty of appeal as players smash unneeded blocks away and take some occasional risks.


The puzzle work requires educated guesses based on themes, background, and shape symmetry. Players alter a block assembly with the touch stylus combined with specific buttons. Players should calibrate the touch system on their Nintendo DS/DSi before starting this exciting game. Developers consider right-handed and left-handed people here as players mark blocks using a green paintbrush icon (right or Y) and take cubes out using a red sledgehammer (up or X). The creation mode includes a third action, placing cubes using a purple cube icon (left arrow or A).

Number markings on the rows and columns remain as players alter the puzzle. These markings eventually change to grayscale when they have the entire chosen row or column marked correctly. Players must unmark the cube to take it out – a great failsafe to prevent players from accidently erasing their work. It is not necessary to mark every box, but it helps, especially in the more complex block assemblies.

A circle on the number means the given row or column contains two non-consecutive groups. A square on the number means separate block groups of three or more in the same row/column.  Simply remove the extraneous squares to uncover the hidden animals, food, vehicles, letters, figures, or other items, which follow special themes. Each solved puzzle also becomes part of a collection.

Blue and red “slicer” handles can be chosen to pull and push through each row and column – a helpful option requiring some visual and spatial recognition skills. Developers add appealing elements such as cube destruction sounds and touch rotation capabilities, which work well even in 10 x 10 x 10 puzzles. The 3D objects animate after they are solved and a separate animated character reacts to gameplay and guides players through the tutorial.

High star ratings (fast times and few mistakes) unlock bonus puzzles, including no mistake and time challenges. Players can usually clear a level and get a bonus with one high rating in the beginning levels. Each level contains about eight puzzles and players do not get any hints so they may have to eliminate some blocks on rare occasions

The options and settings include music and sound effects with 14 different themes. The sound is sharp, but none of the music themes are particularly memorable, so the random sound mix setting is perfectly fine. Auto saves and quick-save data can be mantained in four profiles which players can customize with their signature and a nickname.

In the My Picross mode, players can create their own puzzles and store up to 240 of them. The creation process automatically populates inputs on height, width, and depth, then players can add details using a color palette and stickers (up to 10). This mode also features considerable multiplayer game and sharing capabilities.

The Nintendo DS wireless communication options support two to five in single or multi-card (each player needs a game) play. Players can share puzzles or a trial version of the game with up to four other players. After players clear a shared puzzle they receive, they can then edit the puzzle if they like. Players can challenge others through the Wi-Fi connection mode, which allows up to three connections. Created puzzles can be submitted into a weekly contest where winners are featured in free downloads. Players can find even more challenge with additional online packs.

Nintendo has reenergized this game series that began with Mario's Picross on the Game Boy and the most recent Picross, originally released on July 30, 2007 for the Nintendo DS. Yet another essential game for the Nintendo DS library, especially for a $19.99 suggested retail price.

Picross 3D is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for comic mischief.

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  • Lisa L

    Love this game! Perfect for the DS. Thanks.

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