You would think that the match puzzle game genre would have spent itself by now, as there are only so many original ideas contained within such a specific puzzle type, but Nintendo and Skip (Chibi Robo, Captain Rainbow, Art Style series) show us that they have at least one more idea up their sleeves in the form of Art Style: PiCTOBiTS. This is the second match puzzle game on the DSi Ware service, and like its cousin, Art Style: Aquia, there is almost nothing else like it on the market “" kudos to the developer for pulling that trick off twice in one month plus.
In PiCTOBiTS, you have a set of blocks on the bottom screen, and larger, solid falling blocks as well. The falling blocks are incomplete shapes, and you have to pick up the same color block from your pile of individual ones and then place it on the incomplete piece, before it touches any other blocks and breaks into more individual pieces. You can pick up one block at a time, or slide the stylus across multiple blocks for a more efficient and faster play-through.
May 18, 2009
If the blocks reach a height that impedes the progress of additional falling blocks, you lose. This isn’t a problem early on, but the difficulty ramps up toward the middle and never looks back. This is a puzzle game you can spend a significant amount of time playing without fully mastering, which gives it some serious replay value. You can knock the blocks down towards the bottom by using the POW feature “" the game is steeped in classic Nintendo history “" but that takes away one of your slots for holding individual blocks. These slots can be reopened by purchasing them with coins, which you earn for each shape you make disappear.
To finish a level, you need to create an image of a classic Nintendo character. The obvious example I will give, in order to avoid spoilers, is Mario from the original platformer. You use orange and brown blocks, with some shades of green as well, in order to create his picture. Each time you clear a shape, whatever number of squares you cleared becomes the number of “bits” (essentially, pixels) that go up to the picture. Clearing a few shapes in succession “" up to nine in a row “" multiplies the number of bits that go up to the top screen. Learning how to chain these combos together can cut down on your clearing time significantly, and add to your score.
You take the coins you earn from clearing the levels, and use them to unlock “dark” versions of the levels “" these are basically your hard mode, and they live up to that reputation. The first level’s dark mode is exponentially more difficult than its normal version; this is a game you will play a long time in order to clear completely. If the dark levels aren’t your thing, or you play so much that you have so many coins you don’t know what to do with yourself, you can also unlock the music in the game “" these are classic Nintendo tunes, by the way, in their 8-bit form “" and listen to that at your leisure.
Like the other Art Style games, it’s almost criminal how much value Skip and Nintendo have put into this thoughtful little title. It’s just 500 Nintendo Points “" if you haven’t spent all of your free 1000 points yet, this is easily the best purchase you can make. If you have, it’s more than worth popping another few bucks onto your handheld in order to acquire it.
Art Style: PiCTOBiTS is a DSi exclusive, on sale for 500 Nintendo Points at the DSi Ware store.