Giant Bomb Review

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Picross 3D Review

5
  • DS

Picross 3D's twist on the traditional picture crossword takes a bit of work to learn, but it's terrific fun.


The numbers on the cubes are the key to figuring out which blocks stay and which blocks go.
The numbers on the cubes are the key to figuring out which blocks stay and which blocks go.
Nintendo's Picross games mostly stayed in Japan, but Mario's Picross for the Game Boy was enough to get me hooked on this type of logic-based number puzzle. If you're not familiar with it, it's easiest to say that it resembles Sudoku with the way you must take a logic-based approach to completing "picture crosswords." Nintendo released Picross DS back in 2007, which continued on in much the same way. But Picross 3D, as you might ascertain from its name, is different. It takes the same basic idea from the flat, 2D Picross puzzle and applies it to collections of cubes. The extra dimension packs in a lot of extra challenge, too, making this collection of over 350 puzzles a great, long-lasting choice for anyone looking for DS-based puzzles.

Before you can solve puzzles on your own, you'll need to know the rules of the game. Essentially, you're chipping away cubes that don't belong while marking the ones that do, and you'll eventually form some sort of object. Numbers on the sides of the cubes clue you in about which ones are which, and you'll have employ your powers of deduction to come to the right answer. While it seems extremely complicated at first, Picross 3D breaks each facet of play down into its own tutorial segment. Between learning new techniques and then trying them out yourself, you'll probably spend the first 30 or 45 minutes just getting up to speed. No one rule is especially tricky or difficult to understand on its own, and the pace sets you up and teaches you the rules really well. Once you're turned loose, the game simply presents you with one puzzle after another, broken out into levels, which are further broken out into difficulties.

As you chip away at blocks and form identifiable objects out of them, you'll be racing against the clock and attempting to avoid mistakes. Completing puzzles quickly earns you one bonus star, while completing a puzzle without making any errors earns you another. Stars are used to unlock bonus puzzles, which appear at the end of each normal level. Whenever you complete a puzzle, the revealed object colors in and animates a bit. So you'll see a whistle make a blowing animation, or a flip-style cell phone flip open and shut a few times. It's a minor addition that makes completing a puzzle feel like a bit more of an accomplishment.

The block colors don't appear until you've completed the puzzle. 
The block colors don't appear until you've completed the puzzle. 
Though there's a bit of time-related pressure in Picross 3D, the game definitely lets you play at your own pace with a quick save option that lets you quickly get out of a puzzle in case you need to turn your DS off. Of course, the DS' built-in sleep mode works pretty well for this, too.

There's some basic online functionality in place to let you download regular puzzle updates from Nintendo, as well as upload puzzles you make in the game's puzzle creator as contest entries and so on. Locally, you can exchange created puzzles with other players, as well as send over a trial version of the game.

Soothing music helps round out the package. There's a decent variety to the background audio, but whenever I'd get extremely serious about playing Picross 3D in long stretches, I eventually had to turn the volume down and play some music of my own. Maybe I just like to be on edge when I'm getting my logic on, I don't know.

Picross 3D is one of those great examples of the "easy to learn, difficult to master" philosophy of puzzle-solving. You'll pick up the basics easily via the game's great tutorials, and solving the easy puzzles quickly becomes second nature. But once you have to start using the game's tools to cut away sections of the puzzle so you can mark and blast blocks on the inside, it starts to require more and more spatial awareness. In other words, Picross 3D gets hard. But it never feels impossible, and it's the sort of game that causes afternoons to simply vanish. If you're looking to do a little time-traveling, Picross 3D is a great way to do it.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+

68 Comments

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netfluffyG

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Edited By netfluffyG

This looks awesome. Can't wait to pick it up!

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themartyr

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Edited By themartyr

serious...

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deactivated-58c3985c661d1

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wow 5 starts..interesting

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Sil3n7

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Edited By Sil3n7

Not surprised at all to see Jeff rate this 5 stars after he pretty much was nothing but positive in the QL.

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Shane

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Edited By Shane

it's incredibly addictive

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kishan6

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Edited By kishan6

wow 5 stars this might be worth picking up

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Minus

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Edited By Minus

its really good, id reccomend :D

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hinderk

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Edited By hinderk

Great Review! Might pick this up later if I can.

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Legend

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Edited By Legend

I knew this would get five stars when I saw the quick look.

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billysea

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Edited By billysea

Puzzle/Rhythm Game of the Year, if not Overall Game of the Year.

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citizenkane

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Edited By citizenkane

If I had a DS, I would so pick this up.

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CharleyTony

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Edited By CharleyTony

Yes this is a great game. Some people might miss some things that the traditional Picross (2-D) games did, but it is for the better. 
After playing all of the content that was available on the Japanese release (and not knowing how to download new puzzles), I felt the same way about Picross 3-D than when you compare Super Mario Bros 3 with Super Mario 64. In a way, it is too different to be able to say wihich one is the better one but none of them feel like a lesser product.
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SaturdayNightSpecials

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I love this game. Never got into Picross before, but the 3D angle just makes it somehow.

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Junpei

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Edited By Junpei  Online

nice review, I loved the original Picross game and have always enjoyed finding these puzzles (albeit rarely) in crossword books. Glad to see they've upped the ante with success

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Phototropic

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Edited By Phototropic

Would like to see this come to XBL.

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DrPockets000

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Edited By DrPockets000

I couldn't decide between this, Deadly Premonition, and SMT Strange Journey.  It might have to be this.

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Darkstar614

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Edited By Darkstar614

It really is a lot of fun, but my problem is the occasionally you'll get to a point in some puzzles where you just straight up have to make a guess. I thought I was missing something, but I stared at one puzzle with like 4 blocks left for a good 5 minutes and couldn't finding the solution without guessing on one of said blocks.
 
I mean with 5 strikes, it's not THAT big of a deal. But seems unfair.

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Lukeweizer

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Edited By Lukeweizer

I love squares.

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Romination

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Edited By Romination

Picross better than Alan Wake! You heard it here first!

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ColinWright

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Edited By ColinWright
@Romination said:
" Picross better than Alan Wake! You heard it here first! "
dammit beat me to it :P
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wolf_blitzer85

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Edited By wolf_blitzer85

I am completely hooked. Picross DS was really fun, this just takes the picross mechanic to a whole new level. 

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zombie2011

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Edited By zombie2011

I should really get a DS, i feel like i'm the only one who doesn't have one.

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RobotHamster

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Edited By RobotHamster

5 stars? 5.... stars? Really? I need to get this!!

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landon

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Edited By landon

I wish I had a better understanding of how to play these games. I think I'll go look up a tutorial online or something now.

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listerfeend

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Edited By listerfeend

Duders. It's so good. And its $20 GD dollars. Buy this.

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Lambert

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Edited By Lambert
@wh4tshisface said:
" @Romination said:
" Picross better than Alan Wake! You heard it here first! "
dammit beat me to it :P "
It is also better than Heavy Rain, Final Fantasy 13 and Halo:ODST =.
 
You heard it here... second.
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Diamond

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Edited By Diamond

I feel like that's about right.  I played it for like 6-8 hours yesterday.  Addictive game.

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Daveyo520

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Edited By Daveyo520

I am really interested in this game.
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wfolse1

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Edited By wfolse1

Picked this up yesterday and I'm absolutely loving it.  I also loved Picross DS, but this game is on a whole different level I think.

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BionicMonster

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Edited By BionicMonster
@Phototropic said:
" Would like to see this come to XBL. "
it won't,its too reliant on a stylus interface.
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tweetspot

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Edited By tweetspot

woooo!

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rook538

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Edited By rook538
@BionicMonster said:

" @Phototropic said:

" Would like to see this come to XBL. "
it won't,its too reliant on a stylus interface. "  
 I think that it could totally work with dual joystick, but Nintendo probably isn't going to be interested in releasing something on their competitor's system.  
 
This game looks really fun, and $20 is really cheap. I may pick it up sometime. 
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BRINKTheMovieMyFavoriteMovie

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I'm so fuckin' glad that this game is getting such a great response. I must have said this at about 30 different places on this site at this point, but I've had the Japanese version for like a year now and have played it more than any other game in the time since. I've gotten full stars on every level in all four profiles. It's the most addictive game I've ever played and, again, I'm just so glad that the response is so positive.

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cjmhockey

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Edited By cjmhockey

After watching the quick look and reading the review, I am definitely intrigued to get this.

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Crono

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Edited By Crono

I really enjoy 2D picross so maybe this is right up my alley.  With a glowing review and a lot of positive responses I feel like I can't go wrong - that and it seems like the perfect 'on-the-go' game.

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cichy69

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Edited By cichy69

looks interestingly addictive ;]

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JJOR64

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Edited By JJOR64
@listerfeend said:
" Duders. It's so good. And its $20 GD dollars. Buy this. "
It's only $20?  Dude, I have to get this game.
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bonbolapti

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Edited By bonbolapti

gawddamn. I got myself into the normal picross on the DS some time ago. This is just asking for me to buy it.

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Milkman

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Edited By Milkman

Man, I knew Jeff was way into Picross but THIS into Picross? 
 
Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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virtorio

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Edited By virtorio

Looks pretty cool, but would confuse the hell out of me. 
 
I'd probably get it if I had a DS XL, as I can barely read/see the stuff on my DS Lite.  And I aint buying a DS XL

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Trilogy

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Edited By Trilogy

Not many games make me wish I had a ds. Maybe I should pick up a lite for cheap...

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c_rakestraw

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Edited By c_rakestraw

Hm, sounds good. Think I'll check out that demo on the Nintendo Channel to see if it's worth checking out.

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jeffk38uk

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Edited By jeffk38uk

Tried it despite being confused at the quick look vid. Guess I shouldn't doubt the wisdom of Jeff, as i've been horribly addicted to it. Still on easy but its so stupidly long and challenging, i shudder what normal and hard are like.

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xxNBxx

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Edited By xxNBxx

the 5 star pic of jeff fits this game to a tee.  my mind has been blown!
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rjayb89

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Edited By rjayb89

What the?  A game with no killing?  Yo, F that.

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JohnTheGamer

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Edited By JohnTheGamer

Really loved Picross DS, like, a lot and thus far I've enjoyed Picross 3D as well.

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cravins90

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Edited By cravins90

Well, it looks like you answered my question, Jeff. I'm gonna pick this up for Mother's Day. 

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ApolloBob

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Edited By ApolloBob

Jeff sure writes a great review.  Or maybe I think so because I bought this on launch day and agree with everything he says.  You know those "just ONE more puzzle" games?  You feel me?  This is one o dem.

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KamasamaK

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Edited By KamasamaK

I loved Picross DS -- finished every puzzle. Looking forward to checking this out.

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jerrkat

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Edited By jerrkat

 Wouldn't  Minesweeper be a better description  then Sudoku, at least that is the impression I got from the video.