Game Review

Art Style: PiCTOBiTS Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Brody Olimar

DSiWare goes to bits and pieces.

Creating a killer puzzle game is a difficult task these days, mainly because pretty much all of the decent ideas have already been taken. However, Nintendo (along with developer Skip) have succeeded in cooking up an entirely fresh take on the 'falling block puzzle game' for DSi, and in doing so they've proven that there are still some good ideas floating around.

When you first hop into PiCTOBiTS you may feel a bit differently. The rules of the game can be hard to grasp at first, and there are six tutorial lessons that new players will likely have to sit through in order to understand what’s required. Not a good start, but oddly enough things all seem to fall in place once you sit down with the actual game.

The formula for PiCTOBiTS is not as simple as some other games of its kind, but it works well enough. The bottom screen of the DS is essentially like a grid, and when you begin there are several BiTS along the bottom corresponding with a square on said grid. By touching the BiTS you essentially absorb them into the stylus, and by touching a blank spot on the screen you send them back out. Soon variously shaped blocks will begin falling, and it’s your job to make them into a symmetric piece at least four blocks in size.

At first it will feel like an accomplishment to avoid letting the falling pieces touch the floor, but soon that in itself isn’t enough. To avoid filling your screen to the top and losing, you’ll have to add more BiTS to each falling shape in order to clear more. There are also permanent BiTS that can only be cleared as they fall, or in another very rare event. Considering all of this, you’ll find your screen filling quite quickly on harder levels, and if no more blocks can enter it’s game over. As a last resort, you can use the POW function, which clears a nice section of the field for you. However, doing so lowers the amount of BiTS your stylus can absorb.

As all of this is happening, the top screen will begin forming an image based on your results. For each BiT you clear, a similarly colored spot on a game sprite will fill in. In order to clear a level, you must clear the correct number of BiTS for each color of the sprite, and eventually fill it in. Doing so may seem long and grueling at first, but by setting up combos you are able to create the image quite quickly. PiCTOBiTS is easy to begin playing, but mastering it will require quite a lot of skill.

The presentation for the game is definitely its high point. Everything is arranged in a very retro fashion, similar to Tetris DS before it. Each stage will represent a different game from the NES era, from Super Mario Bros. to Ice Climbers. The game sprites you solve on the top screen are also ripped from the corresponding game. If that weren’t enough the music is also taken from the game each level represents. The remixed tunes are a blast to listen to, and you can even buy them for keeps and listen to them anytime you want using the points you earn in the main game.

The only real bummer in PiCTOBiTS is the lack of any multiplayer. No local, no online, no leader boards. It’s a shame too, because the concept lends itself well to all of these things. If topping your friend’s scores on one DSi is enough to keep you happy, then you’ll be fine. Otherwise, you’re left with a solely single player outing, so take that as you will.


The DSiWare service has been hard pressed for quality titles in its early days, but PiCTOBiTS could very well be the start of something different. The Art Style series is all about gameplay with minimal bells and whistles. PiCTOBiTS may reverse those roles to some degree, but ultimately the result is the same. It stands as a great game for a low price, and that’s something you really can’t complain about.

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User Comments (60)



thewiirocks said:

Great work on getting the review out so fast! I agree that this is a really fun puzzle game. It's not going to be the next Tetris franchise, but I imagine it will see its share of clones.



blackknight77 said:

I think I would have to play this to get the idea of what its about. But its on my wishlist for sure. I want this over any of the other Art Style games




Art Style haven't released a bad game yet and this trend has continued. This was already on my insta-download list as already IT had the strong, gaming wiff of a 8 or 9/10. Anticipation increased further for its European release

Please please please get this to Europe this Friday NoE. Don't make us suffer anymore stupid downloads of magic made fun parts.

Fracking love Art Style.



ReZon said:

I will definitely download this, but I'm hesitant because I want to have points handy for MFC when it gets released. Wish we knew how much it was going to be!

It's hard not to impulsively download Pictobits though.. I'm toughing through it though.



theblackdragon said:

a well-deserved 9. i like how you can buy the 'dark' versions of levels, too, extending the amount of levels in the game.



bboy2970 said:

See! I told everyone this game was great! Everyone buy this game! I'll be so mad if this game doesn't get ATLEAST into the top 4. It's easily the best DSi game yet.



Wiiloveit said:

Was NOT expecting this - although I'm gonna leave it for now since it looks like it'll hurt my brain. And also because Europe don't have it.



Doug_Funnie said:

Well I didn't expect such an AWESOME score; so its no wonder people like this game! Will be my first Art Style game ever; if I ever can afford to buy a DSi!



JonWahlgren said:

Yeah, this game totally deserves a 9. Outside of Cubello, it's my favorite Art Style game.



Cheezy said:

This is by far the best DSi game. It's fantastic, I can't put it down. The difficulty is just right, it easily deserves the 9 it gets.



Shortay said:

These Art Style titles are still the only DSiWare games that interest me, so I'll need more incentive than that before investing in a DSi. I'd love to try the Art Style games though all the same.



Kenji510 said:

This game is great and so cool... worth to buy.. now we need to get now is Artstyle D-CODE!!!



Kid_A said:

I had never played an Art Style game before, but I'm really glad I gave this a shot. Its a fantastic game--but there's a steep learning curve



Bahamut_ZERO said:

Music is a huge part of games for, they can either make or break it (I don't know why, it just does for me), so I'm really glad good ol' Retro tunes are in here. I presume of course it sounds 8-bit? Everything does sound better 8-bit after all

I'll be DLing this when Pop Plus comes out (speaking of that, where is it anyway?), this way, I can get 1000 DSi Points, and spend them at once without spending the remaining 500 on something stupid and then have Pop come out right after (like it always does for me ).



worrybomb said:

Great review Olimar! In my opinion, the game would've gotten a perfect 10 from me if it included a multiplayer mode and/or online leaderboards. But overall, I really enjoyed PiCOBiTS a lot and I can't possibly imagine people still holding on to their free 1000 Nintendo Points with PiCOBiTS now available. Trust me, I was one of those people.



bboy2970 said:

WOW! Has anyone tried stage 7's dark level? Holy s**t! That was the hardest level iv'e seen thus far! Beat it eventually though




This is the type of game that DSiWare needs more of (enough of the partial games of games). I just completed the Normal levels, now to unlock the Dark levels and the awesome YMCK remixes in the music jukebox.



WeeGee said:

I bought this monday. I`m on level 12. It`s pretty tough to explain but if you buy it it`s pretty easy to understand. I was never a puzzle fan but this is extremely fun and addicting



sirgrim said:

I hear ya WeeGee. I'm not a huge puzzle fan, unless it's a puzzle-platformer. However this one is great. The old school feel alone makes it worth having. The coins, and buying options are a great bonus too. Everyone I've showed it to has loved it. I may have sold a DSi for Nintendo just so they can get their own copy



astarisborn94 said:

9/10 for this game? As soon as I get DSi Points, this game is mine! I rather have one excellent game then two sorry for excuse math games, wouldn't you?



theblackdragon said:

@bboy2970: holy crap, you are not kidding! DDD:

I beat all the normal levels by last night, and then today I've been working off and on to get coins to buy all the dark levels. this game is way more fun than Aquia. :3



Pegasus said:

The only real bummer in PiCTOBiTS is the lack of any multiplayer. No local, no online, no leader boards. It’s a shame too, because the concept lends itself well to all of these things.

That shouldn't be at all surprising. All the Art Style games are like that.



Metroid133 said:

I have to agree with this review. While the lack of multiplayer is somewhat disappointing, but not surprising as, Pegasus pointed out it is in no way a deal breaker. The score fits this game perfectly. One of the if not the top DSiWare games thus far. Nice to see Devil's World (Japan Only D:) pop up again. Also great review, Oli!



LinktotheFuture said:

Has anyone got to a Zelda stage? I was just wondering what stage number Zelda is so I know how much farther I have to go. Right now I am on Stage 10.



Olimar_91 said:


I think Art Style Rotohex had some multiplayer if I'm not mistaken. So far no DSiWare games support it though, unless it's via one handheld. Unsurprising that this one didn't have it, but still worth noting I guess.

But you're right, it's still well worth it without multiplayer.



Iggy said:

This game looks fun if its as good as Aquia then im defentally getting it.



bboy2970 said:

@linktothefuture: I believe the zelda levels are around level 10. There are 15 levels in all plus 15 dark levels. So far i have beaten all 15 normal levels and 7 dark levels. Warning: this game gets tough quick!



StarDust4Ever said:

One bug that I have found in some of the higher levels when things get frantic, every now and then, adding a block to a stack while it's falling in midair will sometimes cause it to merge into the piece rather than eliminate a big chunk of it. Overall, that's my only real complaint about it. I made it to level 13 before some of the bizarre shapes become so convoluted that they stretch across the entire screen, and one tiny block in the wrong place will brick up half the playing field Seriously, once you get to level 10 and beyond, you will see some wickedly demented formations

BTW, I made it to level 13 (the Mario underwater level) on normal mode, and I also managed to also beat level 1 on DARK mode. I'm currently playing through multiple passes to unlock all of the music in the store to buy with my coins.



bboy2970 said:

@stardust: i noticed that also but i think it's like that on purpose. What i do if there is a prime spot to place a piece in the top of a shape is delete something from the bottom of the shape first then in the few seconds they give you when blocks are flying to the top, place the blocks on top where i wanted them. Bottom line, you can only delete from the bottom for the most part. Oh and thanks to everyone that bought the game, it currently stands at 11th place out of 16 titles available. One sale at a time....



Gizmo said:

It is a must-buy for me, hopefully it comes to Europe this Friday =).



Oni-Ryuk-The-Apple-L said:

@ bboy2970 : Have you beated the dark lvl 7 ?? im stuck ! i did every stage, now im making the dark but i can't complete lvl 7 (dark) :S i will try to beat it this night... hope i will beat it ^^



MasterWill said:

So far I have all music and dark levels unlocked, and everything beat except dark levels 9, 12, 13, 14, & 15. So if anyone has any hints for those that would be great. Is there any point for coins after unlocking everything?
@Oni-Ryuk-The-Apple-Link: For dark lvl 7 just pow when you need to, and focus on getting those stuck pixels and you should be making enough coins you will never run out slots on your palette.



StarDust4Ever said:

Okay, the IGN review (score=8.5) is a classic example of the fact that NintendoLife actually plays the games, however IGN just looks at them:

"Art Style: Pictobits Review
A really great, challenging Match Three puzzler with a fun old-school focus. For DSi.
Closing comments:
PictoBits isn't easy. In fact, it's one of the toughest Match Three games I've played in quite some time..."

Hate to burst your bubble IGN, but Pictobits is a Match Four Game! Do yourself a favor and get it right next time Sometimes I visit IGN every now and then to get a second opinion, only to realize I'm wasting my time. Gotta love the unbiased reviews on NintendoLife




I have been playing Pictopict and it is truly awesome (though quite hard for me). I rate it equal top with Cubello and Orbient as my favourite Art Style game



Crunc said:

This is a great game, but do agree that multiplayer is an unfortunate, and maddeningly standard for DSiWare, omission. Fortunately it is a fantastic single player game, but you have to hope that there will be a sequel (or update? Yeah, right) with online and local multiplayer.



LinkGalaxy said:

It is a very adictive puzzle game, with Nintendo nostalgia in it!
At first you may not see its magic, but give it a little time and you'll see! ; )



supa said:

I love playing that game its easy and complicated at the same time, i got it last month and i just completed all the stages including the dark ones yesterday. i love typing on the dsi



Jazzem said:

Finally dusted off all the remix levels! I've had a blast with this game Now to get all the music tracks!



Moochr said:

This is one of the best DsiWare puzzle games. Highly recommended for anyone with 500 points,



Arrdeear said:

This game is very well put together, but BEWARE — it features NO COLOR-BLIND option and many of the levels feature blocks that will look identical to 5% of the population. This is a game I would love, but it is literally unplayable for me. Wish I had researched more before I bought it.

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