Sunday, June 7, 2009

PiCTOBiTS Review (DSiWare)

Probably the best aspect of any puzzle game is the pick-up and play nature each one possesses. It doesn't take too long to learn how to play but it does require a lot of investment before you can say that you have mastered one. PiCTOBiT manages to give you an exciting puzzle experience for DSi owners but one that will take a lot of time to master thanks to its strong difficulty.

The objective in PiCTOBiTS is to group colored blocks together. Each level begins with three rows full of multicolored blocks which must be moved to different parts of the screen then combined with matching blocks that drop from the top of the screen. If you match up groups of three more, the blocks disappear and are transferred onto the top screen.

All blocks that go to the top screen begin to form an image. Once you have the right amount of blocks to complete the image, you've completed the level. Each level contains four different colors and you need to obtain enough blocks of each specific color in order to complete the image. You can continue to match blocks of a color you already have enough of, but it will not help complete the puzzle.

The groups of blocks that fall down vary in shape. Sometimes they are large 4x4 blocks other times they are shaped completely different and almost always contain more than one color.

If you manage to combine the right colors of blocks before they reach the bottom it will make each level significantly easier. In a situation where no colors are available, a simple tap on the falling pieces will drop them down and make those blocks accessible to use later on.

PiCTOBiTs starts off fairly easy and most people should be able to complete the first few levels without too much difficulty. As you progress though, the challenge ramps up fairly quickly thanks to the game's increase in speed, frequency of blocks and other special blocks that can hinder your progression.

For those who love puzzle games, this challenge will be a delight. You certainly will get frustrated with the increasing challenge, but it never feels cheap or that the game is cheating you. PiCTOBiTS is about quick movements and reflexes and you will really work your brain trying to find the best way to complete the levels. If you play a level enough times, you will begin to notice the patterns of the blocks as to where they drop, but the colors always change.

Thankfully, moving pieces is not 1:1. You can store up to 8 blocks and then use them when needed. The stylus works well that you can also slide across a few blocks to store them and replace them just as quickly. In later stages, you will begin to use the POW feature. This can be your friend if the screen begins to fill up as it will reduce the last three rows and spread out all the blocks on the screen. It can be helpful, but it comes at a price. You need to collect coins, coins that you obtain as you earn chains and break blocks, but once you use a POW, the number of pieces you can store gets reduced.

There are thirty stages to play and the most challenging ones occur when you begin to buy and unlock the Dark one. The Dark Stages are even more difficult than the Normal ones and will require extra precision and quickness if you wish to complete them.

The game uses very simplistic graphics but it works really well for a DSiWare title. Each of the game's images that you unlock to complete a level come from the NES days of games. You'll see plenty of sprites from your childhood and it each one looks really swell.

The music in the game also takes homage to the NES days. The chiptune and MIDI sounding tunes work well for the game and there is also the option to buy the music in the game to listen whenever you please. Also included are a few remixes of classic NES tunes which will only not appeal to those without soul or who have never experienced the Golden Generation of Videogames.

PiCTOBiTS is certainly not an easy game, but at a mere 500 DSi Points it is by far the best DSiWare game available right now. Yes, the challenge of the puzzles will throw off inexperienced players but there is nothing quite like it available right now. Considering DSi owners got 1000 Points to use, this is the best bang for the buck and should be in your collection without question.