Like Clockwork

Maybe just one more before calling it a day…

I’ve pretty much run out of screenshots, yet Picross 3D just keeps on going. It seems to do that in an extremely punctual fashion, too, as after its tutorial and easy levels stole 24 hours of my life, its normal challenges pilfered another 24. I really should’ve knocked on wood after the previous status update, though. That same evening, I was almost ready to give up due to a couple of puzzles that felt just plain impossible. Still, I guess listening to your own advice occasionally works, as the very next day I managed to solve them with minimal fuss. Picross 3D is a game where banging your head against a wall is usually only good for getting a headache. Give it a little break every now and then, and the move you previously missed might suddenly be clear as day. I’ve had some very tense moments with ten-minute puzzles that didn’t open up until the last few seconds but after over 200 of them, going through them now is mostly relaxed, mechanical work where your brain kind of rests, only giving your hands minor stimuli to make them transform those lumps into eventual shapes.

Picross 3D is pleasant, too. Its controls take a little while to get used to, but the basic gameplay is solid. Pretty much my only gripe are the zero columns, which always need to be cleared out before actually starting to solve anything. At first, I removed blocks with a zero one by one, until the manual (or the tutorial, which I inadvertently skipped) told me to just hold down on the touch screen to remove an entire column at once. Still, even that style requires you to have more or less a direct view to the end of the column, so in the end you have to slightly adjust your viewpoint for most of them. Also, some of the bigger challenges have so many zero columns that merely getting rid of them all can take closer to a minute. Once you’re done with them, then make a mistake, and then start all over again… It’s not exactly fun. Sure, getting rid of all the pointless columns is an empowering start into any puzzle, but I’d much rather have a button that would simply remove all cubes obviously serving no other purpose than needing to be removed.

My other little niggle is actually more about the hardware than the game. Instead of a feathery DS, I’m playing this one on a New 3DS XL, which has a weight of 329 grams and is pretty darn heavy to be held with one hand for long periods of time. Even if the game is very much about solving “just one more” puzzle, sessions with it usually end in the finger joints of the hand holding the console screaming mercy. As a handheld, the New 3DS XL is perfectly fine for games played while holding the console with both hands but if one of them has to use a stylus, it gets mighty uncomfortable after an hour or two. Still, as the 3DS so lovely tracks the time spent with each game played, I’ll stick by it. Anyway, all normal challenges are now faultlessly done, so surely the remaining hard ones won’t be impossible, either (although this time I’m banging my fist on wood, just in case). Onwards!

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