A Shoutout To Picross 3D Round 2 – My Favourite 3DS Game
March 23, 2023
Written by Jamie Galea
I don’t know where I was when I discovered the original Picross 3D. While I’d been aware of the series via the sublime Picross DS during my uni days, the series’ first 3D iteration was a game I just happened upon and it utterly consumed me. While a sequel was relatively unexpected, especially considering it released years after the original game, Picross 3D: Round 2 might actually be my single favourite game on the Nintendo 3DS.
I’ve been revisiting the game thanks to imminent shutdown of the 3DS and Wii U eShops, something that may or may have happened by the time you read this. It’s a move that’s especially galling considering the absurdly inflated state of the secondhand games market at the moment. If you don’t believe me, look up the prices of Yo-Kai Watch 3 on the 3DS eShop and eBay and prepare to weep.
I’d originally planned to write a longer piece highlighting some of the cooler or more interesting games you should play on the 3DS, but to me, there isn’t a game I can recommend more than Picross 3D: Round 2. It’s a game that I find rewarding, rich with things to do, calming and just a great time all round.
In theory there isn’t much different between Picross 3D and any of the 2D games. Instead of filling out rows of squares, you’re given a cube to chip away it. As you mark what blocks you want to keep, a rough shape will begin to emerge before ultimately you’ve solved the puzzle.
Round 2 refines this by adding two colours to mark, adding a “bomb” icon to clear out blank squares at a puzzles start, and by altering the puzzle as you as you progress. What this means is as you mark and chip away at the cube, finished sections will change their ship to better suit the finished object.
These are absolutely small things, but ultimately I find it makes for a more satisfying puzzle solving experience than any of the 2D Picross games. While filling in squares is fine enough, it’s the constant chipping away that really works for me. It even keeps most of the same rules, so if you’re already familiar with how Picross works, you’ll be able to adapt to the 3D specific rules fairly quickly.
If you do click with the rules, there’s 350+ puzzles for you to work through. Most will require you to just clear them, some might require completion in a very generous time limit, and there’s even a few massive puzzles split into smaller puzzles. If that’s somehow not enough, there’s even nine Nintendo themed puzzles that are locked behind Amiibo tapping, but you won’t need to access to see the game’s credits.
Best of all, everything you get in the game is all there from the get go. There’s no need to connect online to get additional puzzles. Even with that, there’s still plenty of game here, especially if you’re like me and obsessed enough to getting the best rank on each puzzle.
Speaking of, I can’t talk about my obsession with Picross 3D: Round 2 without mentioning that it was the game that convinced me to hack my 3DS for the first time. For context, the game was originally released in Japan in 2015, with a Western release around a year later. At the time of the original release, there wasn’t any talk of the West even getting the game, something that was especially annoying considering the 3DS was the only dedicated Nintendo handheld to have a region lock.
Fortunately for me, a confluence of coincidental events happened. The first was that I happened to be travelling to Japan for the first time around the game’s release. The second was the release of a software hack that broke the region lock. It wasn’t the most elegant hack in the world, since it required an internet connection, but it meant I could purchase a copy of Picross 3D Round 2 and play it on the trip. Sure enough, I was that much of a fiend for Picross 3D that I bought a Japanese copy of the sequel, employed the software hack and spent far, far too much time solving puzzles whilst taking in the sights and sounds of Japan.
For as much as I love this game, loving it just happens to be incredibly cruel. For one, this a game that’s locked to the 3DS. While there was a seven year gap between Picross 3D & Round 2, it’s been over seven years since Round 2 and Nintendo haven’t released a follow up.
While there’s been plenty of Picross games released since Round 2, they’ve strictly been 2D Picross games, split into smaller games instead of massive collections of puzzles. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing, but it bums me out that every time a new Picross game is announced, it’s not a new Picross 3D game.
Even worse is the fact that nothing’s scratched the same itch since. Most of the indie games that riff on the nonogram style of puzzle that Picross has made famous have been 2D only. The few that have attempted the 3D style take it too far in a direction that doesn’t sit well with me and doesn’t feel quite right.
Luckilly, Picross 3D: Round 2 is inexpensive to acquire, and relatively import friendly too if you decide to go down that path. If the rest of this piece hasn’t made it clear, it’s a game well worth your time, especially if you’re craving a puzzle game at the moment. It’s something I can’t say about a lot of 3DS & Wii U games right now, thanks to the upcoming eShop closure.
While there are a lot of third party games locked to both systems that have yet to be ported to anything else, not even Nintendo themselves can escape from their decision unscathed. Bafflingly, once the eShop closure happens, the HD re-releases of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker & Twilight Princess will no longer be available to purchase from Nintendo directly. Unsurprisingly, they’re also some of the more expensive Wii U games on the secondhand market. The fact that two mainline Zelda games are going to be made unavailable for no actual reason is beyond any rational thinking.
I could go on about how this is the latest showcase of Nintendo not caring in the slightest about their legacy, but that’s a topic for another time. For now, if you’ve got a 3DS or Wii U lying around, I implore you to go get them setup and try check out the amazing libraries these systems cultivated. You may just find yourself falling in love with a favourite game all over again, especially if it involves chipping away at cubes to form a figure of Mario or Luigi.