I’ve been devoting a little time each day to solving a few puzzles in Picross 3D. It’s a perfectly good puzzle game for DS, similar to the original Picross DS. (Which I understand isn’t the original picross, of course.) The basic rule of picross is that you have a large grid of empty squares, each row and column labeled with a series of numbers. These numbers tell you how many squares in that row or column need to be filled in. With keen observation and the application of a little logic you can eventually fill in all the correct boxes and solve the puzzle.
Picross 3D works much the same way, except with three axes instead of two. Instead of coloring in the correct boxes your job is to destroy the incorrect ones, but the methods of deduction are very much the same. The experience is still very pleasant and any fan of casual games would be able to jump right in.
The most major difference between Picross DS and Picross 3D isn’t the third dimension, though. In DS you played with perfect information; the game told you how many boxes to tick off in every single row and column, so you had two pieces of information about every box. In 3D some rows are left blank. I suppose they figured giving three pieces of information about every block would make the puzzles too easy. It does change the flavor of the puzzles though, since instead of attacking the puzzle from any angle you’re kind of led to the solution. It’s more remniscient of sudoku than picross, really, since instead of taking what you know and applying it you’re trying to work around what you don’t know. The side effect of this is that some puzzles will bottleneck until you find the “magic 1” you’d been overlooking, the one single block which is still holding the puzzle together.
The puzzles are broken up into levels which are structured very loosely by difficulty. You have to complete all the puzzles in one level before moving to the next, which I feel is too constraining. I’ve heard folks complain that Easy drags on way too long, which I imagine is frustrating. I’ll also bet there are folks out there who have just gotten plumb stuck on a puzzle and therefore unable to advance at all. Neither of these things have happened to me, but they’ve happened to someone, and that someone’s Picross 3D experience was lessened because of it. If they’d just required, say, 70% completion both of those players would have their problem solved.
Oftentimes the solved puzzles don’t look like the things they’re supposed to look like. This was an issue in Picross DS as well, and I assume every other version of picross ever created. Which is to say, it’s not an issue, at least not for me. I don’t approach these as “make the picture!” puzzles, but rather simple abstract shapes. The puzzles aren’t designed so you identify what they are and then make decisions based on that identification. Rather, you make decisions based on logic and calculation, and the picture at the end is just a nice bonus.
I think Peanut picked this up for $20. I’d have spent twice that. It breaks down to something like a nickel per puzzle, which is well worth it.