Puzzle games had a truly great year — on the 3DS, and only the 3DS — and solidified the role of the genre as the reigning champions of the short burst. None of the best games were made specifically for longer play, but all are addicting enough to warrant consecutive plays when circumstances warrant it. Anyway, let’s get to our choices!
Best Puzzle Game of 2016: Picross 3D: Round 2
Picross 3D isn’t Picross, a distinction that has made itself clear over the years as the latter has seen myriad releases while demand for the former grew ever greater. Thankfully, Round 2 lives up to lofty expectations, adding a new layer of complexity to the puzzles — two types of blocks to discern — while maintaining the accessibility and addictive nature that made the first game so great. – Graham
HAL’s other brilliant puzzle game sequel that takes the original’s concept and compounds it with a second set of blocks, BoxBoxBoy! had a higher degree of difficulty. After all, the stark simplicity of the first game was its hallmark. It acquits itself well, though, delivering a game that doesn’t quite stand on its own but frankly doesn’t need to. It’s a sequential adventure for those who’ve challenged the first, and it embraces that wholeheartedly. – Graham
Runner-up: Animal Crossing Puzzle League
It’s been almost ten years since we’ve received a new Puzzle League game. Ten. That’s quite a drought and rather unacceptable. Fortunately, Nintendo righted that wrong in a rather unconventional way. Animal Crossing Puzzle League was among the inclusions in the Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Welcome amiibo update, and it was a wonderful surprise. This is a fully fledged Puzzle League with multiple modes and difficulty levels, as well as rewards for your avatar for good performances. It gives us a whole new reason to head back to our towns! – Jenni