Tag Archives: Picross 3D

Mining again with the perennial Minesweeper

Minesweeper GD thoughts

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that everyone, most likely, has played Minesweeper at one point in their lifetime. It’s been around for a long time, with its concept dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, its been written for a good number of system platforms, generally free to find, free to play. You name it, it’s there–basically, pretty unavoidable. And if I’m wrong and everyone hasn’t experienced what it’s like to be a mine-remover, they are at least familiar enough with the title to know what it is. Which is to say, a game of math.

I’m still enjoying my Windows 8 phone and not feeling guilty at all over picking it against an iPhone or Android thingy. But just like with other phones, there are a ton of free games to download, and Microsoft even offers a handful of Xbox Live ones that are tied to your Gamertag, which means Achievements, leaderboards, and so on. I’ve downloaded a bunch–Flowerz, Sudoku, Tetris Blitz, and so on–but the one I’ve actually spent the most time with is, perhaps strangely, Minesweeper, our topic du jour.

As always, Minesweeper for Windows 8 phone offers multiple grid sizes to play on: 7×7, 9×9, 12×12, and 16×16. There are also two types of play; Classic is your standard game mode of yore, and Speed has you racing against the clock to clear a minefield before time runs out. Each grid is secretly filled with randomly positioned mines. When you touch a square, either a number is revealed or a mine, which causes you to lose. The number indicates how many mines are next to each square, turning everything into a logic game of working out where mines might or might not be. Deduction is your best friend, but if you need a little more, there’s also power-ups. These include Verify, which verifies all flags are placed on mines, XP Bonus, granting a 25% bonus for completed minefields, and EMP, which reveals a large amount of squares, automatically flagging any mines detected, among others. Ultimately, you can equip up to three power-ups, but each one costs a specific amount of tokens to use, which regenerate over time.

It’s not a very hard game, even on its largest grid, and the really surprising thing is that I like Minesweeper. By that I mean to say that I hate math. I’ve never been good with it all my human life; in fact, just over the weekend, I saw my high school math teacher/tutor at my sister’s wedding, reminding me of how bad I am at figuring out averages and solving X for Y in place of Z and showing your work. Really, the other side of my brain gets more me-time, thanks to the day job of copyediting and everything else being artistically-driven. But for some reason, I love figuring out how many mines are touching a square, clearing out empty squares with confidence; I guess we could all see this coming with my quality time with Picross 3D. I don’t know; there’s certainly a satisfying feeling after clearing a minefield, even if the sound design is left wanting more. I’ve reached the highest rank and unlocked all the Achievements, so there’s nothing really left for me to do, save for solving more fields faster. Think I’m good.

Much like with zombie films, my favorite part of Minesweeper is the very beginning. The calm before the storm, you might say. An untouched abstract minefield brimming with badness, waiting to be unearthed. You click a square, and hopefully watch it open up the playing field. Sometimes it does this in a big way, sometimes a small–it’s never predictable. The worst is when your first unguided reveal is a mine. If you’re wondering, I’m a big corner guy, going for those first before seeing what I can open up in the middle of the grid.

Now to figure out what I’ll play next on my phone when I got ten minutes to kill. Or maybe I’ll just sit in silence, contemplating the meaning of life. Or the meaning of phone games. Yeah, one of those.


Filling the puzzle void left by polishing off Picross 3D last summer is a little piece of 3DSWare called Pushmo (or Pullmo if you’re from Europe), a game that tasks a young, wobbly Mallo with pushing and pulling colored blocks to rescue children trapped in them. It’s not the most exciting first thirty minutes of a game, with a chunk of it stuck in tutorials, but I can confirm that it gets better.

I’m now on the level two puzzles–I think No. 68 to be exact–and the difficulty has ramped up to the point of stumping me constantly. That’s a good, my dears. Many of the mural puzzles, the ones that look like fruit or animals or famous videogame faces, are actually quite simple, structured to be pleasing to the eyes and nothing more than fluff to the brain. However, a recent viewing of GiantBomb‘s Quick Look for Pushmo forecasts that the size of the puzzle grids are going to get bigger, and bigger, and then bigger again. Whoo boy. Those will be some doozies, for sure.

I’m just pleased to have a time-killer again. Picross 3D was perfect in that if I had five minutes or so between something, like waiting for Tara to get ready, I could do a puzzle. That same theory applies now to Pushmo. I mostly do my puzzling while waiting for artwork to be scanned and Photoshop to open on my slow-as-slow Macbook. If I’m good enough, I can get through two or three before it’s time to get back to making them comics. But yeah, it’s pretty good, and if you have a 3DS, well, it’s a no-brainer to get it, even if you feel like $7.00 is too high a price, it’s not. Not at all.

Games Completed in 2011, #15 – Picross 3D

Puzzles–this game’s got ’em. Certainly over 350, which is the total number I’ve completed at this point, which includes all the main in-game puzzles, as well as a chunk of downloaded puzzle packs. Either way, at this point, I’m calling Picross 3D completed, especially because my sister Bitsy wants to play it when she’s home visiting family over the summer. I let her take it for a test drive over the Christmas holidays, and she took down around 75 puzzles so far, but has plenty more to chip away at.

I’ve talked about Picross 3D in the recent past here at Grinding Down. It’s a really fun game that, despite being very mathy, is amazingly addicting. Each puzzle takes anywhere from five to twenty minutes to complete, and it was easy to just say, “Oh, well…one more puzzle.” Hours would slip by, and my Nintendo DS would suddenly need charging. You get into a sort of groove with this title, a title that was released at $20.00. I’m now seeing it on sale for $9.99. If you see this for either of those prices or lower, just pick it up. You won’t regret the decision, I assure you. There’s a lot of content here in an easy, friendly package, with bouncy music and simple controls.

The last few puzzles from the final section of Hard mode were a bit maddening, requiring me to use Quick Saves to not constantly lose 15 minutes of progress. I did not unlock every silver and gold puzzle from each section, and that’s okay. Sure, that means one less shape to guess over, but the desire to unlock everything here is not as strong as in other titles. It’s rewarding enough to complete a 10-minute puzzle all on your own, using your brainpower and math skills and twirling the hunk of blocks around with speed and control, with ferocity. And now to just sit back and wait for the horribly named Picross 3D 3DS. You know it’ll happen.

Vitally important question time: do you pronounce it PEE-CROSS 3D or PICK-CROSS 3D or PIE-CROSS 3D?

The Nintendo 3DS battery life is seeing red

I played a lot of Picross 3D yesterday on my Nintendo 3DS, closing the lid when I needed a break, opening it up when I wanted to break something into a blocky but adorable household item. This meant never powering down or placing the system in its charge cradle–I packed it away for the previous Easter weekend trip down to see my father and sister and didn’t feel like setting it up again just yet. So it was little bits of gaming here and there. Also, please consider that the majority of the puzzles I’m currently doing in Picross 3D average about 10 to 15 minutes each, sometimes more if I have to redo them because I suck at math and deduction.

In short, I went from having a fully charged battery to near power loss in only a couple hours. Around three if I was to guesstimate. But here’s where it got interesting. When my DS Lite would start to lose its charge, a red light would appear on the top right of the handheld, indicating that, if possible, charging would be greatly appreciated. The truth is that one could keep playing their red-limned DS Lite for at least another twenty to thirty minutes so it was not super vital to rush over and plug that baby in.

When my Nintendo 3DS flicked on the red light, I assumed the same. And you know what they say about assuming, right? I couldn’t have glanced away for more than a minute before that red light changed chaotically–it began blinking, and not a slow, steady blink, but one that signaled something terrible, like a countdown or a malfunction or something on the fritz. I was amazed to see how quickly this system was signaling that it needed a charge; I used a Quick Save for my current Picross 3D puzzle and hurried over to set up the 3DS charge cradle. The thing was still blinking like a madman when I returned it to its home so I don’t know exactly how long that blinking goes on for, but my guess is certainly not twenty to thirty minutes.

We’ve all known the battery life sucks for the Nintendo 3DS. I mean, I wasn’t even using the 3D slider or any crazy apps, just playing an ol’ regular DS game, and it still sucked away more quickly than normal. I really just need to not rely on the 3DS as my main traveling system, and only keep it around to show folks some of its neater aspects, like 3D pictures, Face Raiders, and my collection of Lord of the Rings Miis.

P.S. Isn’t it simply hilarious that I’m playing a game called Picross 3D on my Nintendo 3DS…and it’s not in 3D? Send in the ROFLcopters to take me away.

Battling the darkness with my Nintendo DS

Last night, after I got home from a grueling day, the power went out for around 30 minutes. The storm was mostly to blame. I listened to the rain for a bit, then strummed a few songs on the guitar, and then, magically, found my Nintendo DS in the darkness. I was actually trying to find my cell phone, but this worked out much better. After safely making it to my bed, I passed the next 20 minutes or so blissfully, doing puzzle after puzzle after puzzle in Picross 3D. That game is so simple yet at the same time equally hard and rewarding. Perfect for blackouts.

They should add this feature as a bullet point though on the Nintendo 3DS or whatever: Perfect for blackouts!

In fact, I was so immersed in my block-breaking that when the power did flicker back on, I was kind of annoyed. The lights made Picross 3D less colorful, and did not help make the 0s pop as well as before. And somehow, the music seemed lower. I’m sure it’s all in my head, but there really was something special about cozying up in the darkness with the Nintendo DS to really let the system shine.

For those curious, I’ve completed over 175 puzzes in Picross 3D at the moment, as well as downloaded like 30 more thanks to WiFi wizardry. I really can’t stress this enough, but this $20 game is going a long way.

The guessing game within Picross 3D

There’s not actually a “guessing minigame” in Picross 3D, but this is rather just something I do as I play along. It’s silly fun, and more or less leads to wrong-if-amusing results, but it’s a compulsion, I guess, sort of like when people yell out answers to TV shows like Wheel of Fortune and Deal or No Deal. They want to be right, and they want to hear themselves being right before the point is proven (or not).

Basically, once you successfully complete a puzzle, you’re shown the basic blocky outline of the item before color and details are added, as well as the name of what it is below. During this time, a mere three seconds, I like to guess as to what it is that I just created. I’ve been wrong many, many times so far. Some examples:

I guessed helicopter; it was a bunch of grapes.

I guessed throne; it was a hand giving the peace sign.

I guessed calculator; it was a travel suitcase.

See? Pure fun. Many of the puzzles fall into themes; like, you will ultimately make all the letters of the alphabet or items that belong in an office or, much to my extreme happiness, items from Japanese culture. The backgrounds can help clue you in on things, but sometimes my mind forgets they are there and I just see what I see. I’ve done about 65 puzzles now, still on level one difficulty, but I’m enjoying them more and more as I progress, getting better and quicker at figuring out their tricks. I just gotta work on my guessing…

PURCHASES OF THE MONTH: Picross 3D and The Saboteur

Well, I caved over the weekend. Had to pick up something new before May ended, and so I nabbed Picross 3D for a cool $20.00 and a used copy of The Saboteur for $15.00. Yeah, not two games I’d really ever think of pairing together, but good deals nonetheless.

Picross 3D is a unique puzzler that, a bit to my dismay, relies heavily on math skills to solve. Me? I’m no good with the multiplication tables and such. But I’m getting the hang of it despite have trouble on some of the Beginner and Level 1 puzzles. There’s over 350 in the game, and I’ve gotten through about 50 or so at this point. Presentation is nice and unobtrusive, and you can change the game’s overall soundtrack to whatever you want…Latin, twinkly (?), calm. I locked it down on the 8-bit selection. Doot doot doot beet boot…

Also, evidently there’s a commercial for the game. And it shows a group of girls playing the game, having a blast, solving puzzles. Is this being marketed as a girl’s game and easy one, too? I should hope not. I think anyone can play it so long as they have patience.

Oh, and one puzzle solved resulted in creating a blocky dachshund. Tara liked that.

As for The Saboteur, it’s an open-world game set in Paris, France during World War II. Yup, a WWII that is not a first-person shooter. Crazy, right? What it is though is stylish and arcade-like. You play an Irishman named Sean who hates Nazis and ends up in France due to an earlier run-in with the Aryan race. He meets some other fellow Nazi haters, and the plot is on: uh, kill Nazis. Haven’t gotten too far in this one yet, but it seems like there’s a ton of things to see, do, and collect. Looking forward to exploring the world a bit more, but I can already tell that I like the map in black, white, yellow, and red much more than in full color. Once color returns, the game world sort of loses something.

Also, I ended up buying one month of Xbox Live Gold for $1.00 thanks to a spotlight advertisement. I mean, that’s a pretty rockin’ deal and so I figured to give it a shot. Now I have exactly a month to try and get some more multiplayer-only Achievements in some of my games and maybe try out co-op in Borderlands. Will have to plan accordingly.

Either way, that’s it for May. No more purchases until the end of June hits with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4.