Picross (“Picture Crossword”) is a series of logic puzzle games (nonograms) on Nintendo’s DS family of consoles, and it can thought of as an agglomeration of paint-by-numbers, Sudoku, crosswords, and good old Numberwang. You’re presented with a grid with numbers along the top and side, and using the numbers as clues, you fill the grid in to reveal a pixel picture. It sounds simple, but it can get ridiculously difficult in the later stages. Picross e5 is the latest 3DS download version of the game, and has 150 new puzzles, and includes all the modes of play from prior games. I try to fill in the blanks to bring you this review.
The thing about Picross is that it’s horrendously addictive. If you’ve not played it before, you are in for a brilliantly brainbending time spent in front of your 3DS. This isn’t going to be a long review, because there isn’t that much to Picross really. It’d be the same as if I’d be reviewing a sudoku game.
For beginners, there’s the standard Picross mode, with smaller starter grids and none of the difficulty that comes with the other modes. It’s a very simple “fill in the blanks” affair. What I did notice, however, is that the images are far more obscure and less likely to be of help than in earlier games. I recall playing Picross DS, and you could almost intuit the position of the missing blocks from the picture that was forming. You’ll have little such luck here. Like before, you’re penalized in time for marking a box incorrectly, and taking longer than an “hour” to complete a puzzle means that the picture doesn’t come to life in colour and 3D (provided you’re playing on a 3DS, not a 2DS). The next mode is called Micross, which uses a number of Picross grids inside an 8×8 grid to form a larger picture. While this mode is really time consuming (and can get fairly hairy at times), it’s probably the most rewarding of the lot. There are only three Micross grids to play, but they’ll still take a long time to finish. The last mode is Mega Picross, which adds an entire layer of difficulty to the game by spreading some blocks across two rows or two columns. I’ll say this: it takes a bit of getting used to, and if you’re a novice player, you’re better off first finishing the regular Picross grids to get a feel for things, because Mega Picross will make your head hurt if you’re not prepared for it.
To be frank, Picross e5 isn’t anything new over e4, although the puzzle grids themselves are all new. If you’ve never played Picross before, there’ll be plenty here to keep you entertained for a long time, and heck, Picross doesn’t need much to be fun. Loyal players will find that possessing Picross e, e2, and e3 will unlock a few extra puzzles as a thank you from the developers. The game’s music is largely forgettable, and the 3D effects aren’t really worth noting. It’s pixel art, after all. What I do miss from both Picross DS and Picross 3D are the little animations that played every time you finished a puzzle. That added so much more incentive to see it completed. Still, the game has such a faithful following now that I doubt anyone else truly misses it. More Picross is always welcome. I just wish that they’d bring the animation back.
Final Score: 7 pixel puzzle prawns out of 10
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Age Rating: 3+
RRP: R69 (eShop)