Thanks to Nintendo's aggressive marketing to non-traditional players, it's easy to picture gray-haired grannies huddled over their handhelds, poking at pixels in amazement. But I have to admit, puzzle games like "Picross 3D" can suck you in - and suck away hours of your life - with their irresistible if simple charms.

Thanks to Nintendo's aggressive marketing to non-traditional players, it's easy to picture gray-haired grannies huddled over their handhelds, poking at pixels in amazement. But I have to admit, puzzle games like "Picross 3D" can suck you in - and suck away hours of your life - with their irresistible if simple charms.

"Picross 3D" is the latest in the Touch Generation series for Nintendo DS, DSi, Lite and XL. The goal is to use numbered blocks to chip away at a seamless monolith until you carve out a simple object buried within.

I imagine it's what a sculptor feels like when eliciting a masterpiece from a shapeless chunk of marble.

The puzzles begin simply and quickly become challenging. The game supports multiple levels of play and allows Wi-Fi-connected players to download additional puzzles.

Sort of like Sudoku or "Minesweeper," you're given numerical hints on certain blocks that indicate the number of blocks in each row or column that are part of the hidden figure.

Using the stylus, you tap away at the unused blocks until only the active blocks remain, and the puzzle is solved. There is a time factor as well, and players are rewarded with stars based on their speed and accuracy.

Each level also includes two unlockable puzzles that are accessed based on your accumulated stars. The bonus puzzles are not really more difficult, but as you're drawn into the game's addictive grasp you'll want to get all the stars and unlock every puzzle.

"Picross 3D" also makes it easy to create your own puzzle shapes and export them to other players.

The only frustration I experienced was the result of user error. I found it too easy to hit the wrong button while tapping the screen and accidentally destroy blocks I knew were active. Also, it's simple to pick up missing stars once you solve a puzzle, because the shapes don't change and you can replay them for extra credit.

Nintendo DS puzzle fans should definitely check out this game. For the price and long-term fun, it's definitely worth it.