We've been singing the praises of Nintendo's hugely underrated Art Style games for a while now. When the first batch (ORBIENT, CUBELLO and ROTOHEX) appeared on WiiWare last year, we fell with each game's mixture of minimalist, stylish design and simple, addictive gameplay. PiCOPiCT is the sixth Art Style game to arrive in the UK, and the third on DSiWare (AQUITE and CODE being the others), and in our opinion it's by far the best of the bunch so far.
As with most of the other Art Style games, it's difficult to explain PiCOPiCT and make it sound fun without thrusting the DSi under your nose and saying "seeeeeeee" with high-pitched glee. But we'll try.
Basically, it's Tetris meets Picross. Various shapes are falling from the sky: no change there. At the bottom of the screen though you have a bunch of small blocks and you can tap them with the stylus to collect up to eight of them. You can then place these blocks around the falling shapes so they eventually make either lines or rectangular shapes. If you manage this, the shape will disappear and the blocks making it up move to the top screen, where they become pixels of an old NES sprite. The level ends when you clear enough shapes to complete the picture at the top.
While all this is happening there's some pretty funky music remixing going on. See, each level's soundtrack is based on the same game that the sprite's from, but much like the sprite the music reveals itself as you continue to make progress. It's a nifty trick and it's really satisfying to hear a level start with the Mario bassline and listen as it evolves into the main theme as the classic Mario sprite fills up.
Once you complete each of the game's levels you can use coins you've earned from building combos to buy harder versions with new sprites. And when we say harder we MEAN harder. The hard version of the very first level had us almost weeping.
For only 500 points this is an essential title for fans of either puzzle games or retro Nintendo. Stick some headphones on and this is one of the best experiences on the DSi.