The Nintendo 3DS has become a treasure trove for those with an unending appetite for picture crossword puzzles. Uncovering hidden shapes in HAL Laboratory’s Picross 3D: Round 2 will be remembered as one of many memorable releases for the handheld last year, but we can thank Jupiter for keeping us regularly occupied with a string of mind-boggling titles.
When not dabbling in Pokémon Picross and My Nintendo Picross – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the Japanese studio has largely dedicated their time to developing the Picross e series.
As the Nintendo 3DS prepares to blow out six birthday candles, Picross e7 lands on the Nintendo eShop to remind us just how much we enjoy wracking our brains to reveal hidden illustrations.
For those that haven’t come across Picross in any form before, it is both simple and addictive in design. With numbers lined along the sides of a puzzle grid, players must use these numerical hints to determine which squares to fill in. The numbers indicate how many squares must be filled in each row or column, whether they are connected or spaced slightly apart.
Pitted against the clock, your immediate goal is to successfully uncover the pixellated illustration hidden within. It is important not to be too hasty in your approach, as you will receive a time penalty if you fill an incorrect cell. That risks minutes ticking by far more quickly than you would like, and if you complete the puzzle before the 60-minute mark the hidden illustration will be revealed in colour.
Younger players and newcomers will take comfort in the optional Navigation Feature, which will layer the puzzles with a generous helping of glowing blue hints. There is also the chance to play with Free Rules, removing the worry that repeated mistakes will heavily penalise your eventual completion time.
Once you have gotten the hang of the main Picross mode, the more high-level Mega Picross and Micross modes await your deductive puzzle solving. Mega Picross has the same standard rules as Picross, the main difference being that it adds Mega Numbers. These are hints that cover two rows, switching up the way that you approach each puzzle. Micross puzzles, on the other hand, are one gargantuan puzzle that is made up from several Micro Puzzles.
These are an absolute time sink, first requiring that players complete the Overall Puzzle to reveal the general outline before enlarging squares to discover another puzzle layer that lies within them. Continued progression will ultimately result in revealing a large 80×80 pixel illustration, but these are the lengthiest and most rewarding puzzles that Picross e7 contains.
That pretty much covers everything that the game has to throw at you, apart from Special Puzzles which are exclusively made available to those that have played previous games in the Picross e series in thanks for their loyalty. That bonus content is a nice gesture, but shouldn’t be a concern to those stepping up to the picture crossword puzzle challenge for the first time – the few hundred puzzles proving more than enough to keep them occupied.