Picross: My Recent Obsession


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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 really make you think, there is nothing more satisfying as 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 would be excused for thinking that Picross puzzles played out like a game of sudoku. You would however be mistaken. Picross, also known as Nonograms, 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. 1 – 5 – 3 lets the gamer know that the first section is 1 block wide the next is 5 and the last portion is 3 wide. Each block needs at least 1 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 and each one becomes 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 up 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. On 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 only be downloaded from 3rd party servers). A local video game store near where I work had an offer whereby purchasing 2 pre-owned titles will give you a 50% discount on the cheapest title. By chance they had Picross DS and Zoo Keeper (another puzzle game). Got both of them for under €10, fantastic.

Skip forward 3 weeks and I have finally slogged my way through all of the puzzles. Due to the sheer amount of puzzles I have finished I now find myself a lot more efficient in finding the solution. Harder puzzles have become a lot easier to manage and no longer take a good portion 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 that feature Nonograms. There are even books you can buy with puzzles in them.

I’m looking forward to my next Picross game!

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