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CONSOLE: Nintendo DS (DSiWare) DEVELOPER: Intense PUBLISHER: Gamebridge
RELEASE DATE (NA): June 6, 2011 GENRE: RPG/Puzzle
// review by SoyBomb

Pic dun goofed.

I'm a personal fan of the picross puzzle game concept. Based on nonograms (large grid squares), numerical clues are given in a field of rows and columns, and you have to figure out based on that knowledge alone which squares should be filled in and which should be left alone. The end result would be a picture, albeit a pixelated one in most cases. This type of puzzle originated in the 1980s but was later popularized by video games such as Mario's Picross, Mario's Super Picross, and Picross DS. So when I first downloaded GO Series: Picdun, knowing full well it was a puzzle game and having seen screenshots prior depicting a grid-style image on the upper screen, I had high expectations that it would have something to do with picross. I was incorrect.

"Picdun" is short for "Picture Dungeon". Isn't that what an art gallery is? That description doesn't help anyone. Picdun is, surprisingly, half first-person dungeon crawler, half RPG. On each floor (and there are at least sixty, possibly more if you maintain enough mental stamina to continue), your goal is to walk through the many hallways and step on every tile in the dungeon. The layout of every floor coincides with a picture you're drawing on a grid on the upper screen; every step on a new floor tile reveals a new square in the picture. Travel everywhere in the dungeon, and only then will the full picture be revealed and the floor be declared complete. Luckily, should you venture to the next floor without completing the previous one, there are elevators on every fifth floor to take you back. Of course, this requires going through all five floors...

The game is not all walking, though. As you shuffle that shuffle you do so well, monsters will appear in your face. A power meter slowly charges up, and, using the stylus, you can stab them directly, preferably in its weak spot, which you'll have to discover through trial and error. You can also charge up the power meter more quickly by tapping it with the stylus. Of course, enemies are enemies, and they seem to have the strong ambition to fight back. Defend yourself by holding up a shield and blocking their jabs by using the D-Pad (or the stylus, if you have the reflexes of an arctic fox). As an added bonus, if you whip out your shield at just the right time, you'll perform a vicious counterattack that can practically devastate your opponent and likely defeat it right there and then.


Why do I always get picdun?

This all sounds simple, and in essence, it is. Or at least it should be. Filling in all of the picture squares can be a troubling ordeal, and this is due to the blatantly opaque clues you read on plaques or as told by monsters with a penchant for excessive riddlemaking. Sadly, a legible walkthrough is not readily available online for Picdun, so you're left with three options: try to muddle through a Japanese walkthrough (with a translation bearing the quality of YouTube closed captions), force yourself to check everything through extensive trial and error, or (and this is the method I ended up taking) adopt a "screw this" attitude and just move ahead. Worse yet, improved weapons and new shields are hidden in these labyrinths, and I could never find many of them because they are so well-cached. Anything that gave me advice as to their locations spoke in enigmatic tongues.

So now I am relatively weak (though I can still survive battles, surprisingly), but I can't find much new equipment to work with. Furthermore, as I try to make my way through these labyrinthine dungeons, groups of enemies are bombarding me with their inane deathwishes on a frequent basis when I would much prefer to simply GET somewhere. The fun factor wears off rather quickly, and many dungeons become a chore rather than a place worth visiting. On the plus side, there is more colour in this game than normally exists in the wild and in the lucid dreams of oxygen bar enthusiasts. That should keep your eyes happy and dancing in their sockets for a while. The audio isn't particularly notable, as songs have a tendency to repeat over many floors, though your mind will be focused on navigating your way to freedom and the pursuit of pixelated yet picturesque results.

The concept is great, and I applaud the developer for their unique attempt at first-person adventuring on the small screen, but its execution isn't for everybody. Picdun will last you a long time, but after a while, I simply wanted to see the ending sequence and breathe a sigh of sweet relief. Bring patience by the bucketful if you ever wish to see the end of Picdun.

I'm picdone with this game.


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