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Customer Review

106 of 122 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great premise, great promise, should have been great for everyone., May 7, 2010
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: Picross 3D - Nintendo DS (Video Game)
I'm writing this review after about three hours of play. The first hour was spent on the tutorial - and, yes, it is necessary. (I'm not sure, but you may have no choice.) Though the manual is very, very good (thank you for that), the learn as you go feature was pretty well done.

I'm in my sixties and I have played the pencil and paper version of 2D Picross games for many, many years. I've also played virtually all of Picross DS. So, I was really looking forward to this.

Overall, this game plays as is described above. It seems to be addictive and it is fun. As you can see, I've given it 4 stars. I'm glad I bought it and will probably play it to the end. This is a game you can pick up and put down and it does let you save quite frequently.

It is, as is Picross DS, a great way to learn logical thinking. Do, however, start with the previous game. It will help you a lot in learning this one. I heartily recommend both games for that purpose (regardless of any faults they may have!).

Even though I gave it those four stars, I am disappointed. It could have been much better for a whole range of players. Unfortunately it does penalize the slower players and this also penalizes the younger players who are learning the logic skills taught by this game and older players who just don't do things as quickly anymore.

Had they made this as a step-up game to Picross DS, all would have been great. Unfortunately, they added some things that were not needed. It would have been incredibly fun without them. In doing so, they took a great, fun logic game and tried to turn it into a competitive single player video game.

Here is my "Unfortunately" list:

- the designers added bonuses based on speed. Well, maybe that's not the unfortunate part. That you can't play the game any other way is the unfortunate part.

- you are limited in the number of mistakes you can make before you 'lose'. Hint: if you make a mistake, pause it and choose to replay level. That way you can still earn the stars. It's a pain to start over each time your stylus slips, but since you have to earn the stars to play all the puzzles, it's a necessary - if ridiculous - evil.

- taking too long or making even one mistake costs bonus stars needed to 'earn' extra puzzles. (Didn't we pay for all the puzzles when we bought the game?)

- the needed tutorial took twice as long as it should have. You have to watch too many graphics before you can go to the next screen. And, the tutorial is broken into too many steps. If you are capable of learning the game at all, you are capable of learning it at a quicker pace. You can take as long as you want on the example screens, so why the slow progressions that add nothing?

- and the biggie is that you will rarely have any clue of what the shape is you are chiseling out of the stacks of blocks. This is true even after you have 'solved' the puzzle. The game does show you with added colors the item you sculpted, but that is of little help on too many of the items. That the game also prints out what you've made is the only way of identifying too many of the items. Label on screen: 'Suitcase'. Me: 'Oh, so that's what a suitcase looks like to a game designer.'

It would have been a huge improvement if the 'keeper' blocks were the colors of the finished product instead of their being all one color. Showing the finished product in all its colors is not a help in enjoying the solving of the puzzles.

The game can be fun if you like logic games and are willing to take the time to truly learn the rules - and can get past the 'Unfortunate' items.

This is a ten star game without the mandatory penalty items and unlockables. Due to those annoyance factors it's a three star game. I've added back in a star because I love Picross puzzles.

With the huge number of game players reaching their sixties, it's a shame that game designers haven't figured out that speed of play doesn't have to be a required feature of a game - especially a logic game. There's no goal that the players have to 'race' toward in this type of game - so why require players to race? Make it an option and make all the puzzles available for all to play.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 8, 2010 8:42:45 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 8, 2010 8:47:32 PM PDT
flowerchild says:
Dick Johnson: You are an awesome reviewer. You cover everything about a game, from soup to nuts, that I care to know. I pre-ordered this game two months prior to release expecting a pretty self-explanatory understanding of play, Yes, I have the first Picross and love it, but was excited that 3D would show color as you 'shaved and saved' blocks. I was wrong. I honestly haven't even played this yet because after starting the tutorial (I love having in-game instructions as opposed to just the game booklet), I was so totally overwhelmed, I decided to wait for another day. Also, I liked your comment about 'earning' more games. Why should the player have to work at opening more puzzles? If you're like me and don't work well under pressure (timer) or need a little bit longer than your average person to 'logicalize' things, then this game is probably not going to be enjoyable to many people. I will try to play it the best I can, but I'm sure this game will put a halt to my pre-ordering in the future! Thanks again, Dick. Fantastic review.

Posted on May 10, 2010 7:58:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 10, 2010 7:59:24 AM PDT
I would still give this game five stars, but yours is an outstanding review that will serve many potential purchasers well. You didn't comment on the puzzle creator... have you tried it?

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2010 9:55:31 AM PDT
Dick Johnson says:
flowerchild, thanks for your comments. It is very difficult to know which games will truly be as much fun as we hope. It's not that this is a bad game - it isn't at all. It just isn't as good as it could have been.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2010 10:01:44 AM PDT
Dick Johnson says:
byte_man, I was hoping for a slam dunk 5 star game. I'm afraid too many will find it too difficult very quickly. But, that's just my opinion and I hope lots of people enjoy it.

I have not yet tried the puzzle creator. I'm saving that for when I can devote some uninterrupted time to it.

Thanks for your comment.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2010 1:39:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 10, 2010 2:02:05 PM PDT
H. Nie says:
I found your review very thoughtful and interesting, though I did want to point out a few things:

- Time/mistake limits. I can see your point, but honestly, the max time limits + 5 mistakes per puzzle is pretty forgiving. Trying for 3 stars can sometimes be frustrating, but that also adds challenge and replayability to the puzzles.
- Unlockables. This is a fairly standard feature in most games, and rewards players for playing the game. Also, I don't understand your "Didn't we pay for all the puzzles..." comment - most of the puzzles (subsequent levels, higher difficulties) are locked at the start anyway, so why single out the gold&silver medal puzzles?
- Showing original color on the "keeper" blocks as you solve - sounds nice but (1) not very feasible - marking the keeper blocks is just making a guess; what color would incorrectly marked blocks be? (2) would reduce the satisfaction and WOW factor of the colorful "final reveal" when you solve the puzzles.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2010 2:59:28 PM PDT
Dick Johnson says:
notanexponent, you make some good points. I've recently returned to playing video games, and I now find myself at an age where I can no longer play many of the games I used to play. That's just fine if it's the type of game that is built around reflexes as an integral part of it and it is marketed to younger players. Pure puzzle games, to me, shouldn't require that of a player.

It is so easy for game developers to put in an option for those who want the time challenge to still have to solve the puzzles quickly. Others could still earn the bonuses by merely solving the puzzles (or not even having to do that). Isn't the fun of puzzle games often in just the fun of trying to solve them - all of them?

I have seen some shift to "relaxed" modes of play in some games. Perhaps some of those were developed by designers who can no longer play the games they wrote when they were younger.

Your question about what color would be used for incorrectly marked blocks made me think. One answer would be to use any color(s) not in the actual shape of the solution. Since the player doesn't know what all colors will be in the final solution, that wouldn't give anything away. This color could change from puzzle to puzzle. That could easily be a player option also. Everything is already programmed except the "dummy" color(s).

Thanks for your comments.

Posted on May 28, 2010 7:08:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 28, 2010 7:08:18 AM PDT
M. Lerch says:
Dick - thanks for your excellent review. After reading it, it sounds like it could have been 3 stars or 3 1/2. I completely agree with you regarding the time limits. It should be an option. When I do these puzzles I like to relax, sit back, work on them, perhaps look around the airport terminal I'm sitting at. I don't want to stress out and huddle over it to complete it within a certain period of time. When we do paper puzzles do we set a timer and when the timer goes off erase it all and start over? Of course not.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2010 11:05:14 AM PDT
Dick Johnson says:
Well, Mark, I guess the game designers don't understand the value of the market they are ignoring. It would have been so easy to give an option to the player to "Pick a puzzle and play it - any puzzle." What can be so tough about that? The rest of the game stays the same for others who want to have to race through. Everyone is happy - and (gasp) they sell more games.

Of course, if the game companies are making all the money they are interested in .....

I'm on the 4th "Hard" level and for some time now it's been nearly impossible to do some of the puzzles in time to qualify for the bonus puzzles - even if I work them over after solving it slowly the first time and trying to memorize the tough choices. On some levels you have to get 22 of a possible 24 stars for the second bonus puzzle. What fun is that?


Posted on Jul 3, 2010 7:53:57 AM PDT
Thank you, very good review. I will not purchase this due to the fact that I don't like timed games............

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2010 12:21:09 PM PDT
P. Francis says:
Great review. I don't mind timed puzzle games too much, unless it does in fact restrict you from doing later puzzles. And sure, it mustn't be terribly difficult to get more stars on a puzzle you've just completed, but where is the fun in doing a puzzle over again?

Additionally, I dislike when Picross or any similar type of puzzle game instantly tells you when you've made a mistake. I prefer to do the whole thing myself and then figure out where I've gone wrong if I have. That's kind of the point in puzzles.
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