Aside from its collection of infinitely recycled franchise characters, Nintendo has a secondary batch of lesser-known, but very unique and clever, abstract games. The Art Style games for DSiWare and WiiWare represent this side of Nintendo, and so does Picross 3D.
The concept of the game lies somewhere between Minesweeper and Sudoku: you chip away 3D clusters of bricks based on numerical clues to reveal the objects hidden underneath.
Deciding which blocks to remove becomes a game of deduction, and chiseling away blocks with the stylus gives a satisfying sensation of being a sculptor of hidden objects. That's mostly all there is to Picross 3D, but it's an addictive formula.
Few games are really able to capture our attention with such simplistic gameplay and visuals. We've seen it before in titles like Peggle and Brain Age, but Picross 3D truly impresses us because it works off a completely original game formula.
Perhaps it's the subtle brilliance of adding a third dimension to Picross that we instantly feel in love with. It's extremely satisfying to watch the evolution from 2D to 3D and how naturally it all fits in with the game's structure. The highly addictive puzzler does a great job at providing some initial hand-holding, but quickly lets you tackle puzzles on your own.
The game is arguably better than the original, as the need to rotate the puzzles and think three-dimensionally adds a nice extra challenge. Over 300 puzzles are included on the DS cartridge, and Nintendo promises another 200-plus more for free download over the next year. Users can also make their own puzzles and share them, although considering Nintendo's ham-handed online connectivity, we consider that option minimally interesting.
At $19.99, the price seems a bit high; but the quality of this puzzler is far above most. It's a great time-killer, and a perfect app for the Nintendo DS.