When Nintendo of America announced they had localized and released Picross 3D: Round 2 a year after its Japanese debut, I was over the moon. The Picross series has been a stable time sink for me ever since I first played Picross DS. However, I was a little dismayed that it wasn’t destined to receive a physical release in the west. No, it was only available digitally and I’m one of those weirdos who’s reticent to purchase nonphysical copies of games, convenience be damned. Seeing as I didn’t have a reasonable option for a physical purchase, I willingly plunked in my credit card information and made the purchase. I’m glad I did.
Whereas its predecessor took the standard Picross formula and adapted it to three-dimensional puzzles, this entry merely added an additional color. That sounds unimpressive but it really does complicate matters. Puzzles were presented as three-dimensional cubes with numbers on the rows and columns. Manipulating the cube was intuitive and with the touch screen, I was able to “slice” cubes by rows or columns, allowing me to “look into” them. The numbers indicated how many of the boxes were to be filled in, with what color, and if in a circle or box, whether or not they were in a continuous run or split into groups.
With the available hints, I was able to complete puzzles with a varying degree of certainty. Being a Picross fiend, the ramp up to the more challenging puzzles was a little lengthy. The standard concepts and addition of a second color were over-tutorialized considering my prior experience, but will be very helpful for newcomers. At the outset, logic dictated beyond the shadow of a doubt how to complete a puzzle. As they grew larger and more complicated, I’d frequently have to rely on multiple hints, taking into account the surroundings of the slice I was working with.
The peak challenge occurred when I strove to complete each puzzle with the highest grade on the hardest difficulty. This meant completing them relatively quickly and with at most, a mistake or two. Completing the later puzzles often required making educated guesses, as there wasn’t an obvious next step. I restarted many puzzles begrudgingly, having made one mistake too many because of an incorrect guess. Missing out on the top grade was demoralizing but I felt this was a natural evolution of the difficulty. With the jazzy soundtrack, calming gameplay, and cute graphics, I never grew frustrated; this was a happy game.
After forty or so hours and having completed each puzzle on the hardest difficulty with the highest grade, I’m thoroughly satisfied with my purchase. The breadth of puzzles was immense and the logic-based gameplay was mentally stimulating. The series has always been great for short bursts or long sessions and this entry was no exception. It has been my go to game before bed and in the restroom since release and despite my completion, will continue to be for the foreseeable future. I will likely continue playing this, and alternating between its predecessors until a follow-up is released. In other words, comfort food.