Picross: My Recent Obsession

January 19, 2017

I adore puzzle games. From classics such as Tetris to more recent games like Pushmo and Professor Layton; I just can’t get enough. Whether it be games with simple mechanics or ones with involved, complicated rules that make you think, there is nothing more satisfying than finally working out a puzzle after working on it for up to an hour or more.

The Picross series of games from Nintendo had I missed out on. Due to the grid-like look, you may think that Picross puzzles played out like a game of sudoku. You would, however, be mistaken. Also known as Nonograms, they are completed by filling in spaces in a grid down to the probability of it needing to be filled in or not. Numbers are displayed next to or above every row and column, telling the player how many spaces they need to fill in. β€˜1 – 5 – 3’ lets the player know that the first section is one-block wide, the next is five-wide, and the last portion is three-wide. Each block needs at least one empty space between itself and another. While it may be confusing to explain, once you have completed a couple of puzzles, it all starts to make sense.

I found each puzzle a joy to complete. While filling in the puzzles, you are also completing a picture made out of the filled-in spaces. It could be something simple such as an apple, or something more complicated like a rocket launch. If a player is stuck and has a large portion of the board already completed, it can be possible to work out a few of the extra spaces by taking a look at the not yet finished picture and making a guess.

One of the current rewards on My Nintendo is a Twilight Princess version of Picross for Nintendo 3DS. Being that I had enough points and nothing else taking my fancy, I decided on giving it a go. Due to the popularity of the series and the numerous entries available on both 3DS and DS, this would be a fantastic opportunity to experience Picross for myself and to see if I should invest in more titles.

It took me around 20 hours to get to and finish the last puzzle, of which there being 45 in total. Once I got to grips with working out where I needed to fill in squares, completing puzzles became mostly a breeze. In some later stages, it took a bit more working out. Luckily in Picross, you can also mark squares of which you believe do not need to be filled in, thus eliminating them from that row and column.

After finishing off the Twilight Princess version of Picross, I was eager to purchase Picross DS. Fans of the series tend to agree that Picross DS is the best purchase for a newcomer. This is due to the 165 puzzles to complete and the plenty more available to download (note: puzzles can now only be downloaded from user-made servers). A local video game store had an offer that if you purchase two pre-owned titles, you will receive a 50% discount on the cheapest title. By chance, they had Picross DS and Zoo Keeper (another puzzle game). I got both of them for under €10, fantastic.

Skip forward three weeks, and I have finally made my way through all of the puzzles. I now find myself a lot more efficient in finding the solutions. Harder puzzles have become a lot easier to manage and no longer take a good chunk of an hour to finish.

I thoroughly recommend Picross for all puzzle lovers. If you do not have access to a 3DS or DS, there are some mobile apps with Nonograms. There are even books you can buy with puzzles in them.

I’m looking forward to my next Picross game!