Procrastinate Better

The Video Game That Came Between My Boyfriend and Me

From time to time, a Slate staffer or critic offers up a favorite cultural pick for Procrastinate Better readers. Today’s endorsement is from Slate associate editor Torie Bosch.

A new tension developed in my relationship with my boyfriend soon after I got my hands on the brain-teasing video game Picross 3D . Until that point, the Nintendo DS was never something we argued over. I used to play so-called casual games —those easy-to-pick-up titles that are meant for players who don’t want to devote hours to the flickering screen—like Style Savvy , Rhythm Heaven , or Scribblenauts . My intermittent use never conflicted with his greater dedication to the DS. But when Picross 3D came on the scene, we began to have showdowns over the game console.

The puzzle game is a follow-up to Picross DS and Mario’s Picross , for the old-school Gameboy. In each, you’re presented with a large block, broken up into smaller cubes, with numbers on rows and columns to indicate that, say, only one cube from that row of eight will remain standing. You’re given just five chances to eliminate unnecessary blocks before you have to start the puzzle over. Once you’ve whacked the superfluous cubes, a hidden image—say, a rabbit or a garden—is revealed. Picross 3D challenges your spatial reasoning further by, as the title suggests, adding a new dimension to the puzzles, increasing both the challenge and the payoff. ( See how the game works here .)

Beyond the challenge of the game, Picross 3D is wonderful because it allows you to create your own puzzles and swap them with friends ; You can also download new puzzles using the DS’s Wi-Fi capability. You’re not limited to the puzzles that came with the game—there’s room for 240 more. I’m so addicted to the game that when I close my eyes after a long session, I see blocks.