Four months after PICROSS e arrived on the Nintendo eShop, Kyoto-based developer Jupiter have delivered a sequel to the addictive puzzler in PICROSS e2.
Having originally begun life as Mario’s Picross on Game Boy, the series has seen numerous revisions through to this latest entry for Nintendo 3DS. Yet, its concept has remained constant throughout such changes.
Whilst most will surely have come across the series before, Picross is a “picture-crossword” puzzle game that requires players to fill in a grid of squares in order to create an illustration. Numbers atop columns and alongside rows are your only guide, providing hints as to where such squares must be placed and also helping to indicate where gaps may be present.
As you make your choices on the touch screen, the pixel art slowly reveals itself on the upper screen enabling you to not only track your progress but also guess at what object is emerging.
Illustrations range greatly, presented as pixel artwork with household items, furniture and creatures providing initial inspiration. Puzzles comprise of increasing sizes from basic 5×5 grids through to the colossal 80×80 grids that are present within the separate Micross mode, the challenge increases as you tackle the larger behemoths.
Players must take care to carefully consider where to place their squares, completion of the puzzle within 60 minutes rewarding you with a coloured illustration instead of the otherwise bland black and white. Sounds simple, right?
Well, place a square incorrectly and you’ll incur a time penalty adding invaluable seconds to the clock. Multiple errors increase the level of punishment, in places to adding eight minutes per mistake, so this is most certainly a game that requires patience and deductive skill.
If you’re finding everything too tricky, an optional “Navigation” hint system is at hand to help you. This highlights the numbers surrounding the grid in blue, then greying them out once you’ve successfully filled in the corresponding squares attributed to those columns or rows. Yet some puzzles block its use, challenging you to complete them with “only your own strength.”
Whilst Free Mode allows you to make mistakes without consequence, it also won’t notify when you’ve made them. Therefore challenging you to think laterally in figuring out your own errors, and again as to what image you’re piecing together.
The aforementioned Micross mode is the only addition over PICROSS e2‘s predecessor, players completing individual 10×10 puzzles that together form a much larger 80×80 image that is based upon works by famous artists that include Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Jean-François Millet, Rembrandt, and Diego Velázquez. Such a greater scope is welcome, and players will enjoy seeing their success slowly unveiling a larger reward.
Yet beyond this, there isn’t much new here. Whilst fans will enjoy the lengthy time it’ll take to make their way through the game’s extensive puzzles, which are in excess of 150 in total, we’ve once again reached a point where fresh ideas are needed to reinvigorate the concept.