Picross 3D: Round 2 (3DS)

PICROSS_BOXYou may know HAL Laboratory best for their excellent Smash Bros. and Kirby series, but they’re no slouch when it comes to puzzle games either.  They made the downloadable 3DS BoxBoy games, the original Picross 3D on the DS, and old fart gamers like me may remember the NES Adventures of Lolo series, all done by HAL.  And now they’ve done it again with Picross 3D: Round 2, downloadable on the 3DS.

Picross 3D is like regular Picross, in that you use number clues to fill in and break squares to make a picture.  But this time you’ll do it with all sides of the cubes, and you use the stylus to rotate and mark and break blocks.  Round 2 adds a new feature.  Now you must mark blocks either blue or orange, depending on the number clues.  Blue blocks will turn into squares while orange ones will be other shapes.  When you mark all the correct squares, it’ll form a 3D shape of something familiar.

If it all sounds complicated, don’t worry!  The game does a way better job explaining how to play than I do.  There are plenty of interactive tutorials to get you started, and later you’ll unlock exercises meant to hone your skills.  Even the in-game written instructions are done very well.  The original Picross 3D was part of Nintendo’s “Touch Generations” line of games for casual players, and this one fits right in there as well.  So don’t be intimidated!

The game is set up like a café, and you tap on books on a shelf to select puzzles.  Each book has about 5 to 10 puzzles in them, and each book has a theme, like cooking or construction vehicles.  The shapes you make in the books will relate to the theme.  Some books add an extra challenge, like a time limit or no mistakes allowed, so only touch those if you think you’re up to the task!  But in most puzzles, you can make as many mistakes as you want, and are only penalized with a lower score at the end.  Every puzzle can be done in Easy, Medium, and Hard modes.  The harder the mode, the less number clues you get.  And there are hundreds of puzzles!

You can also scan amiibo figures to unlock puzzles that reveal familiar Nintendo characters.  Not all amiibo figures will work, but the ones that do include Kirby, King Dedede, and MetaKnight.  Of course all the Kirby amiibo would work, since this is a HAL game.  I’m surprised the Waddle Dee one didn’t work as well, but I think this game came out before that amiibo was released in Japan.  Other compatible amiibo include Link, Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, and Bowser.  And I think that’s all that works with this game.  I tried a lot of my other amiibo figures and none of them worked, and I have all the amiibo released in the US to this date.  Watch out, though, as the amiibo puzzles are more challenging!

There are a few problems with this game, and while they’re rather nitpicky, I’ll go through them anyway.  Some of the puzzles can be quite tough, and I felt like sometimes I had to guess to fill in the squares.  Also, if I was slightly off in tapping a square, it would count as a penalty.  I know that’s mostly my fault, but it was still annoying, especially on the larger puzzles where the numbers and squares are smaller.  The scoring system is a bit arbitrary as it shows your rank via different colored gems, rather than something easier to understand like ‘gold, silver, bronze,” or “A, B, C.”  Marking blocks for later was also a bit confusing.  And they took out the level editing and sharing feature from the first game, but I image it would’ve been too complicated to do that here.  But the biggest problems I had with the game was that it’s download only, and you can’t buy it as a physical cartridge like you could in Japan.

But other than that, this is probably the best puzzle game I’ve played this year so far.  It’s so addicting that one time while playing, I let my 3DS battery run all the way down, and I’ve never done that before!


Kid Factor:

Picross 3D: Round 2 is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Cartoon Violence.  I really don’t know how it got that descriptor though, because the game isn’t violent at all!  I guess you do break up blocks and some of the shapes end up being weapons like swords and ninja stars.  And the Kirby characters are shown either sucking up, hammering, or slicing blocks.  But that’s the only thing I could see that was remotely violent.  Reading skill is a must, as well as good number and logic skills.  But because of that, this game could be considered somewhat educational.

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