Friday, May 7, 2010

"Picross 3D" is family fun on the cheap

"Picross 3D"

Developed by HAL Laboratory, Inc.
Available: NOW
Platforms: DS
Rated E
Price: $19.99

I am totally new to the Picross series. I like puzzles, but hate have to work hard mentally when I am playing a game. It's a game - it's not supposed to be complex or I'll drop the controller. "Picross 3D" has won me over as a fan.

Developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo, "Picross 3D" combines logical challenges with discovery - hidden objects, folks - for a way-cool experience.

The game starts off players creating a save file - you write your name with the stylus - and then, you can train or hop into puzzles. Initially, only beginner and easy levels are available. However, the more you train, the harder levels are unlocked.

The key to the game is to use your stylus to move the cube around and eliminating unnecessary numbers to reveal a shape. Before you realize it, you'll be sucked into the thrill of figuring out what shape is hidden within the blocks.

It is a very easy game to play - and as you reveal shapes, they are added to a gallery. You can scan your galleries to see what shapes you have discovered.

When you are ready, you will be allowed to play harder challenges. You will be timed, and for every wrong block you choose to eliminate, you'll be penalized. You have *5* chances - shown as blocks under the puzzle - to figure out the hidden object. If you exhaust your five chances, you lose the game. However, there's a button that allows you to back out of the puzzle and still retain a perfect score.

The game, only $19.99, contains more than 350 unique puzzles for all skill levels.

The graphics are fun - it's a DS, folks, not a 360 or PS3. The backgrounds are fun and the animated objects are cool. The sounds are good, though they can be changed to fit your mood.

However, what makes this game a must-own for anyone with a DS is the ability to send same puzzles to other DS owners via DS Download Play. And to play the puzzles, you don't need a second copy of the game. Sweet, huh?

The ability to share puzzles is the reason to buy this game. While the game is a time-waster like "Farmville" on Facebook, the ability to upload user-created puzzles for the masses is full of win. Players will be allowed to enter monthly themed puzzle challenges and the winners will have have their creations featured for a limited time.

It's a fun diversion that is challenging and will keep you coming back for more.

The verdict: 3.5 (out of 4 stars) Honestly, I was taken by surprise. The game is addictive - reminds me of Soduku or Solitaire - and is easy to pick up for anyone. I am no stranger to HAL - makers of my favorite SNES game of all-time, "NCAA Basketball." This offering is only $19.99 plus tax and totally worth it. If you own a DS and enjoy clean, family-fun diversions, check this title out.

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