Puzzle games and the Nintendo Switch go together like Sonic and speed or Ash and his cute little pal Pikachu. The genre basically feels like it was made for the hybrid console – being able to play with friends on the big screen or fit a couple of puzzles in on your commute to work. We’ve already seen a number of great examples show up on the device putting our brainpower to the test including the excellent Puyo Puyo Tetris and the solid Picross S. Now Pic-a-Pix Deluxe looks to add to that growing list with its own take on the grid shading formula.
Pic-a-Pix Deluxe is a logic-based puzzler that not only requires players to decipher which squares on a grid need to be filled in but also their colour. How you go about figuring that out is down to the numbers that appear on both the vertical and horizontal rows. For example a row on a 5 x 5 grid that has the number 5 in red means every square along that row needs to be coloured red. If however, it has a 3 in blue and 2 in red then as you might have predicted you’ll need to colour in the squares accordingly in that order. Of course, these are very basic examples and as you progress through the game these grids increase in both difficulty and size.
For those new to these types of games, the difficulty curve eases you in nicely kicking things off on smaller grids where the finished answer is never more than a couple of minutes away before then moving through to ones as big as 35 x 25. As you can imagine the latter puzzles, in particular, will have you scratching your head for long amounts of time as you create the pixelated image section by section. As I mentioned in my Picross S review, a large part of these puzzles’ satisfaction come from the picture you end up creating. Sure sometimes you may figure out what it is you’re gradually filling in but most of the time it’s a mystery. Sadly Pic-a-Pix Deluxe just doesn’t feel as rewarding with most smaller grids looking nothing like what they’re supposed to and even the bigger ones disappointing in appearance thanks to a limited colour palette.
While the game includes 150 colour specific puzzles in total, those looking for something a little simpler will be happy to find black and white specific ones too. These are a decent extra that in effect double the content of the game, but again the finished products lack punch especially since these remain in their monochrome state. Part of the fun of Picross S was seeing your creation come to life with a range of colours and shades, a missing factor here.
One feature worth noting is the “fix” button – an option that alerts you of how many mistakes have been made on a grid, while also making those alterations if you wish as well. It’s a great extra that helps in those tough situations where you may have guessed one or two areas.
A major aspect where the game falters is in its presentation. For starters, the pixelated look and feel of the game aren’t restricted to just the grids with menus too very simplistic and lacking polish. The puzzles themselves can also be a little confusing to make out especially when the surrounding numbers blend in so easily with the grid itself. While you might argue puzzle games are never about looks, at the very least you expect them to be clean and clear. Pic-a-Pix Deluxe doesn’t always succeed in this area.
Surprisingly the game includes a four-player option that on paper might sound like an ideal addition, but in practice makes for a rather chaotic mess. While it’s certainly neat to be able to work on puzzles as a team using single Joy-Con, the way the game displays each player’s cursor can lead to confusion especially on the larger grids.
Pic-a-Pix Deluxe offers two control types – buttons and the handheld only touchscreen. The former works perfectly fine making choosing squares very easy and efficient. The latter meanwhile, while effective on smaller grids proves too inaccurate on the larger ones. I’d often find myself accidentally selecting the wrong squares and resorting back to standard buttons.
Pic-a-Pix Deluxe is another Picross-style game for Switch that plays exactly as you might expect. Unfortunately, it also lacks the same level of polish as other attempts like Picross S. If you’re hungry for more pixel shading puzzles though, Pic-a-Pix Deluxe delivers a reliable if somewhat clumsy option.