Picross 3D Hands-On

2D math is fun, but 3D math is even better in Nintendo's latest puzzle game.

Just one extra dimension adds a whole bunch of complexity. The original Picross was released for the Nintendo DS in 2007, and even though it had a mere two dimensions, it contained a ton of brain-stumping puzzles that were liable to suck players in for hours without letting go. The three-year interval since the original was released has given Nintendo time to bring an entirely new dimension into the mix, and this makes an already challenging game that much harder to wrap your head around. We took on the first six puzzles in Picross 3D today and came away impressed--with only a slight headache.

Picross plays a bit like Sudoku, but in Picross, your reward for solving a puzzle comes in the form of an awesome-looking picture you can admire yourself or show off to envious friends and family members. A grid of blocks lies in front of you with numbers along the edges that tell you how many of these blocks are important and how many of them must be destroyed. Sometimes, this is incredibly easy. If the number says "4" and there are only four blocks in a row, you know that everyone must be saved. But often times, the number will be lower than the total number of blocks, so you will have to do a bit of problem solving.

Because numbers appear along all sides of the puzzle, you will have to rotate your view to figure out how many blocks are important from every different angle. This is where the extra dimension makes things much more complex. Before, you needed to worry only about the vertical and horizontal planes, but now, you have to factor in depth as well, which requires careful thought to ensure you don't accidentally destroy an indispensable piece. Because of this fact, Picross 3D isn't quite as easy to jump into--even for players who have already spent hours on the original game.

There is one twist as well, which gives you a bit more to think about while playing. There are two different ways in which the numbered clues are displayed: with or without a circle around them. When the number does not have a circle, it indicates that the necessary blocks are all in a row. For instance, if the number is "4," you would have to save four consecutive blocks. However, if there is a circle, it means there is a space somewhere in that line. It seems like just a small detail, but when you're already trying to balance three different sides of this obtuse puzzle, that extra twist adds another layer of complexity.

What is your reward for all this complex problem solving? A lovely picture, of course. The early puzzles we played dished out only the most basic images, but it was still neat to see something emerge from our hard work. We meticulously destroyed blocks to reveal the letter T, a cell phone, and a rabbit, among other things. And it was pretty neat to see the picture take shape before our eyes. Like before, the pictures animate when you fully reveal them, but because they are now 3D objects instead of just 2D pictures, they rotate around, letting you admire them from every angle.

There are 350 puzzles packed into Picross 3D, and considering how difficult the original game got, it's easy to imagine losing tons of hours trying to figure out these devious puzzles. There is also monthly downloadable content planned that ensures the Picross devoted will have an inordinate number of puzzles available to suck up their time. And if that wasn't enough, you can create your own puzzles as well, though we were unable to try that feature today. Needless to say, this is one jam-packed puzzle experience. It should hit retail shelves on May 3rd.

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