although i haven’t gotten fully into it, it’s pretty clear that the DSi shop is an absolute treasure trove of addictive puzzle games. not too long ago i zipped through number battle in just a few marathon sessions, and this week i had a similar experience with art style: pictobits.
this was the first art style game i’d spent a significant amount of time with, and as most people know by now a trademark of the series is the top-notch presentation. with its NES trappings, including pixel art and classic remixed 8-bit tunes, the game is an easy sell for retro junkies like myself, but it was also fascinating to see how the core concept of the fairly forgettable early game boy title quarth has become completely reworked into an essential experience. you can read about the mechanics more in other reviews, such as this one at nintendolife.com, but suffice it to say that the combo system is quite nearly as satisfying as the puzzle league games.
i had a somewhat unusual trajectory with this game, where i really enjoyed the first half and mastering the mechanics, but playing through the hard mode actually made me less enamored with the overall experience (perhaps not coincidentally, i had a similar experience with the punishingly difficult pokemon puzzle league). in typical nintendo fashion the game isn’t artificially stuffed with levels, and although the game mechanics stay the same throughout, many of the levels, especially late in the game’s hard mode, provide wholly unique experiences. the problem was that the game’s “difficulty” started to become a distraction. it seems that other reviewers have also noted the game’s difficulty, and although it can’t help but sound a bit whiny to complain about it, in the final levels the speed at which you have to perform starts to erode at the game’s fun. the mental act of making chains (and getting higher scores) is already satisfying enough, so an option to choose a playing speed would have been welcome. if this had been a full retail title the inclusion of a vs. mode might have allowed for the single player mode to be a bit less obnoxious, so maybe we’ll see a better balance if there’s ever a sequel. in any case, although the game just barely missed a spot on my “greatest games of all time” list, i’m definitely hoping that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this gem of a puzzle game.
check out these stylish art style: pictobits links:
– page at nintendo.com
– craig harris’s review for IGN. i absolutely agree with his comment that it’s “an extremely unique action puzzle game that could only work on a system with precise, pinpoint controls like the Nintendo DS and its stylus driven touch screen”.
– entry at mariowiki.com
– video of all of the completed pixel art
– entry at wikipedia