Thanks to Abylight Studios for the review code
Title: Qbics Paint
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 07/27/2017
If you take a look at this game’s eShop game, you can be forgiven for thinking that it’s a shameless clone of Picross 3D, with the whole “break blocks to reveal a pixel art image” concept. Heck, during the actual levels you even get to move the camera around the cube, which continues the trend of Picross déjà vu. Luckily the actual game is nothing like Picross, but the similarities in the artstyle and menus are apparent, which could make you feel right at home if you’re used to these types of puzzle games. It should also be noted that this game is exclusively played on the touch screen due to the control scheme, with the game refusing to function if you attempt to play it in TV mode.
Unfortunately, the music is a really weak part of the game. The menu theme is a bland instrumental track, while the main theme that plays as you’re solving puzzles is an obnoxious assortment of “do, do do” that led to me muting the music after the first loop. It’s not too big of a loss since I found that the sound effects were all I needed to focus on the puzzle solving.
Upon starting Qbics Paint, you’re tasked with clearing a few stages from the Farm Animals Category to gain stars to unlock the other game mode along with the other worlds. When you enter a stage, you’re presented with a big, white cube, and your main objective is to tap on every white block to reveal the hidden image within, while trying to not touch the actual image too much. You can get up to three stars depending on how many times you’ve refrained from touching the hidden figure, and overall the concept to beating each level is really simple.
Once you beat a level, you’re free to goof off and recolor the figure you just found however you like, (or you could just skip and leave it completely white. Sadly there’s no option to just give it the default color scheme you see as a reference, at least none that I could find) while also getting the option to place it against several different backgrounds to share via the capture button. If you’re here just for the game aspect like I am, then this bonus section is rather insignificant, and does little outside of allowing the player to show off their paint skills.
Unfortunately, despite this extremely easy concept that should lead to a simple puzzle game with a few painting elements for artists to mess around with, (which also includes a level editor where you can make your own designs from scratch) Qbics Paint suffers from two fatal flaws, one of which isn’t really the fault of the game itself. That flaw has to do with the quality of the Switch’s touchscreen.
This is the first Switch game that I’m aware of which uses multi-touch, in the form of allowing you to zoom closer into a figure while working on breaking it apart, which is very helpful for getting those last few blocks of a design. However, for some baffling reason, you can’t tilt the camera around too much while zoomed in, which means that if the figure you’re working on is rather big, and you need to clear up the blocks that are around a lower area, you’re forced to zoom out and try desperately to touch those blocks without touching the actual figure. Several times I’ve been so close to getting three stars on a level, only to be forced to zoom out to clean up the area around an animal’s paw which leads to me accidentally touching the figure due to how small the remaining pixels are.
If the Switch had a stylus like the 3DS, this wouldn’t be much of an issue, since styluses are meant to reach tiny spots for extra precision, but on a tablet-esque touch screen? Good luck getting three stars on every level without the ability to zoom in on every block. (especially if the remaining blocks are UNDER the figure you’re trying to reveal) That’s why I can’t blame the developers for the difficulty of trying to touch the tiny blocks without breaking the figure while zoomed out, (the switch just doesn’t allow for the precision that a 3DS touchscreen would provide) but I CAN blame the developers for not allowing the player to zoom in wherever they wanted to on a figure to make up for this technical flaw. Seriously, if the game would just let me zoom in on an animal’s paw or look underneath the figure to get rid of those last few blocks without making a series of stupid mistakes, the levels would be so much easier to complete and the game would actually do a good job of being a stress reliever instead of a stressor.
In conclusion, Qbics Paint feels like a game that’s on the wrong system. The concept of breaking apart blocks to create images has been done before, and while this is a much easier game to grasp than Picross 3D, it’s nowhere near as fun thanks to the limitations of the Nintendo Switch touchscreen, along with the bad camera. What could have been a simple game with a pixel art creator as a side bonus, ends up being a game that really feels frustrating to play. In all honesty, you’re probably better off buying this for the creation aspects, since the artistically talented can make some really impressive recreations of old video game sprites.
Sadly, when only one aspect of the package works as well as it should, it doesn’t lead to the overall experience being worth it in the end, so that’s why I give Qbics Paint a 5 out of 10, and only recommend it to pixel artists wanting to tinker around with the custom level creator, despite the lack of a stylus or any online level sharing. It’s just an average game at the moment, and when the game aspect doesn’t really work as well as it should, then something isn’t right.