Remove. Mark. Reveal. The steps to success in Picross 3D: Round 2 seem so deceptively simple when broken down, but hide just how devious the cubic puzzles can be.
Six years have passed since we first had chance to chisel away at Picross 3D on Nintendo DS, and it has certainly been a long wait for a sequel to arrive. Jupiter’s Picross e series has at least allowed us to scratch that puzzle itch on Nintendo 3DS, but Round 2 should really be seen as the main event.
HAL Laboratory are back as the developer, who, Kirby Triple Deluxe and Kirby Planet Robobot‘s platforming antics aside, have surprised us with their unbridled flair for mind-boggling puzzle design in the sensational BOXBOY! and BOXBOXBOY!.
The cubes that you strike in Round 2 are less endearing than Qbby, but are shrouded in far deeper mystery as an unknown shape lies hidden inside each puzzle. Your objective is to uncover them using coloured numbers littered around the puzzle as clues. These are vital in helping players to work out which cubes to mark with paint and those that can be safely removed.
Cubes can be splattered with two paint colours: blue seeing them keep their simple, cubic shape; while orange will result in them transforming into all sorts of different shapes. That’s only if you correctly colour the right cubes, and that’s where the coloured numbers handily come in.
These show how many blue or orange cubes are in a row or column, although will have to be cross-referenced with other numbers for the player to identify them. Puzzles can be rotated in order to see them from a different perspective, and it isn’t long before Round 2 starts to throw dual, circle, and square numbers to challenge your logical reasoning in new ways.
It’s understandable that you may feel overwhelmed at first, but, as with other puzzle crazes such as Sudoku, it is only through regular practice that you will master the concept. There are three Puzzle Basics volumes with multiple tutorials that will quickly teach you everything that you need to know. With 300-odd puzzles to tackle, it’s important that you take the time necessary to learn the basics before the difficulty starts to ramp up.
As puzzles become more grandiose over time, players will have to use slicers in order to paint and remove cubes that are inside the block. These freely let you squash the block in either direction to paint and smash inner cubes, adding to the mental challenge that Round 2 presents you with.
Bombs and Help requests will alleviate the strain, clearing blank cubes or showing a row or column where there is something left to remove or mark with paint. If you’re really struggling you can lower the difficulty level, which, while the hidden shape that you are challenged to uncover remains the same, will increase the number clues to help you solve them.
In any case, you can’t immediately jump to trickier puzzles. Those that you complete will reward you with jewels that unlock new puzzle books, while more challenging tomes won’t become available to you until earlier books are cleared.
Once you have cleared enough puzzles, players will unlock the Your amiibo Album. When compatible amiibo are scanned, you will be given access to puzzles based on their respective Nintendo character. There are nine of these puzzles in total, but the scenes that you uncover are the best that Round 2 has to offer. It would have been nice to see wider amiibo support given how many are now available, but unlocking these dioramas will raise the biggest smile when playing Round 2.