Picross has quietly been part of Nintendo’s puzzle library for more than 20 years. Picross 3D Round 2 marks Nintendo’s 12th Picross game to make it to North America, but it has never been able to find the ubiquity of Tetris or Dr. Mario. That’s a shame, because Picross is a fantastic and rewarding puzzle series, and 3D Round 2 is a high point.
Picross is a number logic game, but it’s not a math game. Knowing how to count is the only academic requirement you need to take with you, and if you fall short there, guessing is an acceptable (but much less rewarding) alternative. You have a big cube made of smaller blocks with assorted numbers on the sides. The numbers let you know how many blocks appear in each row, what color they are, and offers hints at their arrangement. Your task is to chip away the blocks that don’t need to be there and color the ones that belong. When you’re done, you get to take a step back and get to take a look at what you have crafted.
Every aspect of the build process, especially its final moment, is rewarding. Each block you delete or color requires faith in your own smarts, and since the game alerts you immediately if you make a mistake, every correct move is a small celebration. Acting correctly on each block, deleting the ones you don’t need, and solving a full row is all hugely satisfying. Finally zooming out to see what you created ties everything together for a fantastic final reward.
This reward of solving the puzzles is true for both the 2D versions of Picross, as well as 2009’s original 3D entry, but Round 2 changes the puzzle mechanics in meaningful ways. Instead of simply marking a block as keep or delete as you did in the prior 3D Picross, Round 2 mixes it up by tasking you with marking the keep blocks as either blue, or orange. The orange blocks change shape as you move through the puzzle leading to much more interesting final builds.