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Jun 24, 09 at 2:21am ^Review of Picross 3D (Japanese edition)
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Since this is a 3D game, you must use the stylus to move the cube around on the x, y and z axes. The game itself has not changed from the Picross sense in that you are given a set of numbers, and you must figure out how many blocks in each row or column must remain to complete the puzzle. Blocks that do not fit the puzzle must be hammered away by tapping up on the D-pad, and tapping the block you wish to knock out with the stylus. Blocks that you feel need to remain should be painted (this is not mandatory, but certainly helps in solving the larger puzzles) by tapping right on the D-pad and tapping the block with the stylus. The challenging factor this time around is that you have to work with a puzzle that has three dimensions, meaning you have to be able to see the inside of the cube somehow to be able to solve the entire puzzle.
In order to see the inside of the cube, you are allowed to temporarily slice away layers of the cube vertically or horizontally by grabbing the corresponding arrow on the cube, and sliding the stylus left and right, or up and down, depending on which arrow you select. You are only allowed to move one axis at a time, so if you grab the x axis and move it around to work on the inside layers of the puzzle, you have to move that arrow back to it's original place, in order to start slicing away rows on the y axis. It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is, and once you get the hang of it, the easiest way is to work one axis by slicing each layer away one at a time until you reach the last, then bringing all layers back, and switching to the other axis, knocking away or painting blocks to solve the puzzle.
The numbering for rows this time around is a little different. Each row only has one number corresponding to it, but this time it could be a plain number, a number in a circle, or a number in a square.
The plain number means that the number of remaining cubes in that row will all be connected, with no breaks in between.
(this means that a row of 5 cubes with a number 3 on it will have 3 cubes connecting, meaning you have to knock away 2 cubes. The 3 means that at the very minimum the middle cube will remain, and must be painted. It would be impossible to have three cubes connecting in a row of five without the middle cube, so logically the middle cube will remain.)
The number in a circle means that the number of remaining cubes must equal the number inside the circle, but that number will be split into two groups, adding up to equal the number in the circle.
(If you have a row of five cubes, and a number 4 in a circle, this means that four of the five cubes must remain, but they cannot all be connecting. Logically, you would have to paint each of the end cubes in the row of five, because if you took off one of the end cubes that leaves 4 connecting cubes, but since the number 4 is in a circle this time all of the cubes cannot connect with each other, there must be one break in there somewhere.)
The number in a square means that the number of remaining cubes will not necessarrily be connected to each other, and there are more than two groups of blocks to add up equalling the number in the square.
(If you have a row of 5 cubes with a number 3 in a square, that means that each of the remaining cubes cannot be touching another, so therefore only the end cubes and the middle cube will remain.)
The easiest way to go about solving the puzzles in my opinion is to look for numbers not in a circle or square, and start marking the cubes that cannot be knocked away. From there you can start knocking away the circle and square numbers that don't fit logically. (say you have marked a 2 in a circle square, this means that the other remaining cube will not be touching the painted cube, so you can knock away each cube on either side of the circled 2.
There are 4 levels of difficulty to this game (Tutorial, Amateur, Novice, Expert), and in order to proceed to the next level, you have to finish the previous. So in order to get to the middle Novice level you need to complete all of the puzzles on Amateur first. The only exception is that you don't need to complete the Tutorial levels to start on the Amateur levels, but it certainly helps you to get used to playing. Each difficulty level consists of 10 levels with 12 puzzles each, and there are extra levels featuring "No Miss Challenges", "Time challenges", and "Big Picture" puzzles where each separate puzzle is one piece of a larger picture.
Each puzzle has a ranking of 3 stars, depending on how many mistakes you made, and how much time it took you to complete the puzzle. You can make up to 5 mistakes in each puzzle, before the game ends and you have to start the puzzle over. If you make a mistake you will know by sound, and the block will be automatically painted, with cracks on it letting you know you messed that block up.
There is a set time limit for each puzzle, with the length of time depending on the difficulty. There is a timer to let you know how long you've been working on the puzzle, and the timer has two different time segments on it. The red time zone is the time you have to complete the puzzle if you want to achieve 3 stars, and the green time zone is the time you have to complete the puzzle until the game ends. You usually get an ample amount of time to complete each puzzle, but sometimes the amount of time given to achieve 3 stars can be challenging, especially on the Expert levels.
- If you make no mistakes, and complete the puzzle in the red time zone, you get 3 stars.
- If you make no mistakes but do not complete the puzzle in the red time zone, the maximum amount of stars you can achieve is 2.
- If you make one mistake, but complete the puzzle in the red time zone, you get 2 stars.
- If you make one mistake, and complete the puzzle in the green time zone, you get 2 stars.
- If you make 2 or more mistakes, you can only get 1 star, regardless of time.
(I'm not 100% certain about this, but I don't remember ever NOT getting any stars for any of the puzzles.)
These stars add up for silver and gold bonus puzzles on each level, where achieving more stars unlocks the puzzles. For example if you achieve a total of 15 stars on any of the 12 puzzles you'll be able to play the silver bonus puzzle, and if you achieve 18, you'll be able to play the gold bonus puzzle. (the number of stars necessary to unlock the bonus puzzles depends on the difficulty level)
*The bonus puzzles do not come with star rankings, and only one time frame to complete it, so you can make up to 4 mistakes, and not worry about being penalized.
If you complete and unlock every puzzle in a level with a minimum of a 1 star ranking, then you get a bronze star next to the level number.
If you complete and unlock every puzzle in a level with a minimum of a 2 star ranking, then you get a silver star next to the level number, and 3 stars for the gold.
Each completed puzzle becomes animated, so if the puzzle is a dog, then after you complete it the dog might bark, or start running around. Each puzzle has its own unique animation, and after you finish a certain amount of puzzles, you can unlock certian animations to view at your own pleasure. Each puzzle you unlock will be saved to your memory slot (four slots available), and when you start up the game one unlocked puzzle will be chosen at random for the intro animation.
Each unlocked puzzle fits into a category of a certain type, and once you complete a certain amount of puzzles in the same category, you'll finish a painting or montage (I'm not sure what it will be called in the English version). These finished paintings or montages can be viewed at any time from the options screen. For example a turtle, a rabbit, a sprinter, and a horse might all be grouped into a "Speed painting". This doesn't have anything to do with completing the game, but is rather just a bonus feature, or something to help aim for 100% completion.
There is also a "Random" level, where you can play a random puzzle out of any of the ones you have already unlocked.
There is an edit level feature, where you can create your own puzzles, or go online and download puzzles other people have created. I have not yet utilized this feature, so I can't explain any further on this option.
This time around there's no daily games option, where you'd be tested on a time race to complete simple puzzles like there was in Picross DS.
Some of the puzzles in the Japanese version are of Japanese items or cultural related, so I'm not exactly sure how much will be translated over, or how much will be understood by non-Japanese speaking players. But that all depends on who picks it up for international release, and how they propose to go about translating it. Just keep in mind that even though you might not think some of the puzzles fit in the same category, somebody had a reason for sticking them together....
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