What got me through E3 this past week was, surprisingly enough, my 3DS. No, I didn’t get Ocarina of Time 3D early, and while cool in its own right, one can only extract so much joy from the new Pokedex 3D app. (Those 3D models are pretty damn cool, though.)
Instead, it was a DSiWare title that I happened to pick up on a whim. This library was incorporated into the 3DS eShop launch early on in the week, giving all of those who skipped out on the DSi an opportunity to sift through a rather large pile of crummy games. But there are a handful of stand-outs, for sure.
One by the name of PiCTOBiTS — or PiCOPiCT, depending on your region — belongs to the acclaimed Art Style series. It’s so remarkable that I felt compelled to give it an extended shout-out here on the site. I almost never do that!
This game is the result of a collaboration between skip Ltd. and Nintendo, which is why you’re seeing classic Nintendo sprites up there. NES gamers are going to feel right at home with this blast of nostalgia.
Without delving too deep into the mechanics, colored blocks fall, and you’re tasked with making matches of four blocks or more using the stylus. Upon each successful match, all falling blocks stop moving momentarily — and then any leftover blocks from the formation you just cleared begin rapidly dropping to the bottom of the screen.
There’s a small window where, assuming you’re quick enough, you can make yet another match to completely clear this falling formation — or even make separate matches — during the pause, or immediately following it. Doing so starts up a multiplier, so to get the truly high scores, you’ll need to plan ahead and make a rapid chain of matches. This is important, because all cleared blocks are applied to the system’s top screen to create retro game characters.
Yeah, your overall goal is to finish “drawing” the level’s iconic sprite (or sprites), pixel by pixel, using these matches. It’s SO COOL. Such an appreciated take on the crowded genre.
The end result is an easy to capture but hard to execute idea. Tremendously addictive, challenging stuff. Rounds are often quick, and successful runs are rewarded with spendable coins. (Of course they’re coins. They always are.) These can be spent on harder “dark” versions of each level, and also on music in the game’s jukebox mode. Oh yeah, about that music …
It’s crazy good. The soundtrack is a bunch of remixes by the Japanese chiptunes band YMCK. Expect to hear tracks from Super Mario Bros., Balloon Fight, Devil World, The Legend of Zelda, and more. I tend to never mess around much with jukebox modes in games, but more than a few times this week I caught myself leaving PiCTOBiTS on repeat for background noise.
So yeah, there it is. Hopefully you’ll give PiCTOBiTS a proper look. Need more to go on? My boy Jonathan Holmes has your back with a full review. Be a good friend, and spread the word. It’s, like, five bucks or something. Total impulse material. As for you, Nintendo, you best get to making a sequel.