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Art Style: PiCTOBiTS

by Nick DiMola - June 21, 2009, 2:16 pm EDT
Total comments: 6


The latest addition to the Art Style series delivers the same simple, addictive fun found in most of the other titles.

When downloading Art Style: PiCTOBiTS from the DSi Shop, I didn't realize that I'd be getting far more than I bargained for. Now don't get me wrong, this is great. I didn't expect the classic 8-bit Nintendo theme and graphical style, as well as the remixed chiptune music.

Overall, Art Style: PiCTOBiTS is a small game with a small scope. There are a total of thirty levels, fifteen of which are dark levels that must be purchased with in-game coins. Each level has its own unique theme with accompanying song, and the levels become progressively harder.

The game is displayed across both of the DSi screens. The top screen is initially a blank slate, which is subsequently filled in as players perform the puzzle gameplay on the bottom screen. Arrangements of different colored "bits" (blocks) fall from the top of the screen. Their descent is not a smooth one as they seem to fall along a grid, stopping every two or so grid spaces. This gives players the opportunity to perform their task: eliminating the bits before they make contact with either the bottom of the screen, or already present bits located higher up on the bottom screen.

Eliminating the bits is an interesting procedure. Players must first collect bits by touching the stationary bits on the touch screen. These are then stored in a reserve column that is visible on the left side of the touch screen (or right if you're left-handed). These reserve blocks are dispensed (last in, first out) when players touch parts of the screen where there are no stationary or descending bits. Typically, players will want to lay down bits so that when a falling bit formation makes contact, it clears the entire falling block of bits. Bits are cleared when at least four of the same color are arranged in a straight line, square, or rectangle of some sort.

In later levels, this becomes impossible to do, so players must attack the falling structure in pieces. However, once the structure is modified it makes a very fast, immediate descent to the bottom of the screen. Thankfully, while a set of bits is being cleared the action on the screen pauses, allowing players to prepare for the upcoming event. This pause is also used to systematically clear all of the other falling bit formations elsewhere on the screen. Doing so will start a multiplier that will earn players more points and coins for purchasing in-game content (i.e. Sound Test songs, and Dark Levels).

As players start tackling these levels, they will quickly notice that they are extremely hard. They will also notice that their screen can fill up quite quickly with just one slip up. The game accounts for this by allowing players to "POW" the level. This will cause all of the straggling bits to fall to the bottom of the screen, and eliminate the two bottom rows. This sacrifices a slot in the bit reserve, which increases the challenge over time. Players can remove this restriction by buying the spot back with five coins, which must be earned in the heat of the battle.

As hinted at earlier, players are doing all of this in order to fill in a picture on the top screen. In keeping with the theme of the game, this picture is a different 8-bit character that corresponds with the game featured in the level. During gameplay, all of the different colored bits that are cleared from the bottom screen are subsequently transferred to the top screen where they begin to assemble the picture. The level will not end until players complete that picture. Often times this means clearing many unnecessary bits while you wait for the one bit formation of a specific color you need to complete the picture.

The gameplay of PiCTOBiTS is quite frantic, stressful, and challenging, but most importantly it's fun. Given the high challenge level, the game pushes you with each progressive level to become better at managing the madness. In the dark levels, it isn't a rare occurrence that you'll POW away your entire set of reserve spaces and need to buy them all back multiple times. The only real frustration with the game is the finicky touch screen. At times you'll think you grabbed a block, only to find that it didn't register when you touched. Other times you'll place two blocks instead of one, messing up your chance to clear a formation. But overall, the controls work fairly well most of the time.

The game's entire presentation is fantastic, but the true standout is the chiptune remix music. Because each level is themed for a different NES game, the music and sound effects from that game are taken and remixed into catchy tunes that really fit the mood of the game.

Art Style: PiCTOBiTS is easily one of the best entries thus far in the Art Style series, and is without a doubt one of the best games currently available in the DSi Shop. Players looking for a fun but challenging title can't go wrong with PiCTOBiTS.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 10 8 9 8 9

Though the game features an NES theme, the actual gameplay and menus all look slick, and given the purpose of the game, the graphics couldn't be more fitting.


The music in this game is absolutely amazing. Because each level is themed for a certain game, the accompanying chiptune music works in both music and sound effects from that game producing a catchy remix that you won't soon forget. Furthermore, as you earn coins you can purchase these songs in the menu, allowing you to listen outside of the action.


While the control works perfectly fine most of the time, the few instances where it fails usually means redoing an entire level. It's a frustrating occurrence, particularly in the tougher dark levels towards the end of the game.


Though the concept of PiCTOBiTS is an odd one, it translates well into a game. Even without the picture creation on the top screen, PiCTOBiTS would work well as a straight-forward puzzle game.


The game's thirty levels won't be breezed through in a day thanks to the incredible difficulty in the dark levels. Players will also have the luxury of replaying any level to earn more coins and higher scores.


Players looking for a phenomenal DSiWare title needn't look further than PiCTOBiTS. The game's theme will introduce younger players to the games of yesteryear, and will provide a sense of nostalgia for older ones. The puzzler gameplay is completely unique and is easy to jump right into after you learn how to play the game.


  • Catchy chiptune music
  • Frantic, fun puzzler gameplay
  • NES themed
  • Can be extremely challenging
  • Touch screen occasionally will fail you
Review Page 2: Conclusion


kraken613June 21, 2009

Nice review! It is a great game and one that I keep going back to on my DSi!

yoshi1001June 21, 2009

The music alone is worth 500 points. I've managed to "Star" (no pows) all the regular levels. Still working on the dark levels.

GoldenPhoenixJune 21, 2009

The DSi service actually has a few good games on it, so far I have Mario vs DK: Minis, Pictobits, Mighty Flip Champs, and I even heard that American Popstar Game is good.

PeachylalaJune 21, 2009

More Skip WiiWare/DSiWare games, plz.

This game rules.  I agree, the music alone is worth the price of admission.

ejamerOctober 16, 2014

5 years later, and the chip tunes in this game are still awesome.

Recently played through a few levels again and had a fun time. Then set up the in-game "sound system" to listen to the chip tune remixes and remembered why I loved PiCTOBiTS so much! Especially nice that you can just close the system and have them keep playing.

It would be great to see this game revived via the Wii U eShop.

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Genre Puzzle
Developer Nintendo

Worldwide Releases

na: Art Style: PiCTOBiTS
Release May 18, 2009
jpn: Art Style: PiCOPiCT
Release Jan 28, 2009
RatingAll Ages
eu: Art Style: PiCOPiCT
Release May 22, 2009

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