Picross 3D – Review

What have I become, my sweetest friend? Full of empty thoughts, I lost deadlines, meetings. I lost possibilities, time. But when I’m playing this game, all feelings disappear. I am someone else. Picross 3D did this to me.

PICROSS 3D is a videogame developed by Nintendo and HAL Laboratory, published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS. It was directed by YOSHIKI SUZUKI and TERUYUKI GUNJI.

Picross 3D is one of the best puzzles one could hope for. It is genre great. If you know your puzzles, however, you already know this may not be good for you. As a Mephistophelian object for the current days, Picross 3D gives at the same time it takes – it doesn’t wait for you to grow old before collecting its debts. It gives what all men strive for. No, not love. It’s something deeper, more important than love.


In return, it takes your time. Makes you grow older faster.

These are great for honing
one’s sense of balance.
It also looks pretty darn cool
when you can ride one!”

Just like Tetris is a game where you always lose, Picross 3D is a game you always win. In Picross, there are lots of cubes. You chip away the cubes that don’t belong. Keep the ones that do, as they form a figure. You know whether a cube belongs or not by mathematical deduction. There are numbers on the sides of each cube hinting about the figure hidden within.

In other words, this is Minesweeper, sans offense against the victims of mines. However, unlike Minesweeper, which cannot always be solved with 100% certainty based on math alone, Picross 3D always gives its players enough hints. If you ever feel cornered by the lack of them, just look harder. They are there somewhere. If you are still unable to find out which cube to excisel, there is still the figure’s symmetry to count on.

Try to eliminate a cube that belongs, the game will become exasperated. The game’s mascot, a little yellow cube with cubist eyes, will act as if it just got punched. Five misses and you have to start the puzzle over. Therefore, when you return to that puzzle, you will already know the location of at least five cubes that belong. Keep playing and victory is unavoidable: if there is a figure to be discovered, then it will be – and that victory will never feel empty. Once you’ve tasted that feeling, you will want it again. So you start another puzzle. Another block of cubes to be chipped away. That’s the nature of Picross 3D‘s addiction.

Specialized defensive players,
known as “libero”,
must wear different colored jerseys
than their teammates.”

Taking the stairs
when the elevator is out of order
makes you realize just how tall
some modern buildings are!”

“Coffee Grinder
The type of grind can
affect the taste of your coffee.
Grinders can range in price from
cheap to very expensive.
It depends on your priorities!”

Behind every puzzle there is a figure. Well, not really. There are just the cubes that are left really. But once the puzzle is solved, these cube are abstracted into representations of objects. They gain an unique color palette. They are animated. They even get their own little description. In other words, in Picross 3D, your reward is the greatest of them all: meaning, art.

In itself, Picross 3D is not art. If someone ever claims all games are art, feel free to use Picross 3D as a counter-example. Picross 3D is just a game. It contains art, but that’s different. A museum also contains art.

Just like a museum feels like adding a description to all its paintings, so does Picross 3D, which is kind of amusing. After all, at one point during this game’s development, someone had to sit down and write a little text about each one of the figures Picross 3D showcases, like an Unicycle, a Volleyballer, Stairs, a Coffee Grinder, a Doorway, a Stethoscope.

Picross 3D is a game bound by optimism. This is not an unflinching opponent like, Canabalt and Tetris. This is a game that you feel is cheering for you. It’s like learning to ride a bike with your dad. If it’s so addicting, it’s not because Picross 3D is the cursed gift of Mephistopheles. That’s our curse. In our wretched little lives, filled with worries about stuff so mundane we actually create the illusion they are important, it’s so rare to find a naive game eager to grant us unlimited success that is only natural that we ignore the world we are from once we find one.

If those could speak,
I bet they would tell us of many
tearful departures, happy arrivals, and, of course,
unexpected guests!”

There are over 350 puzzles in Picross 3D. As I write this I’m at the number 305. In a very long time, I’m feeling hopeful for Nintendo. After playing Punch-Out!!, Metroid: Other M and so many other of their recent schlock, I was beginning to feel that old “Nintendo Magic” was beginning to grow stale. I’m happy to know the magic is still there – in the sound of cubes being destroyed.

Listen to your heart…” 


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