It wouldn’t be unfair to say that five games in little over two years seems fairly excessive for the PICROSS e series. But, in answering an insatiable thirst for Jupiter’s popular picture crossword puzzler, it’s hard to deny the addictive nature that remains at its core.
Pixellated illustrations await you, as players carefully tap out individual pixels by successfully interpreting the numerical hints that line each grid’s border. Such numbers will indicate the amount of squares needing to be filled in, as well as any necessary blanks, with successful completion within 60 minutes permeating the secretive image with colour.
That’s the simplicity of the main Picross mode covered, but it is in Micross and Mega Picross that you will discover more enticing puzzle encounters. Micross tasks you with firstly working through an Overall Puzzle housed in an 8×8 grid before then challenging you with 10×10 Micro Puzzles spread across it. This more time-consuming challenge allows you to steadily chip away at the illustration, slowly revealing the more extravagant picture that it hides. Mega Picross, introduced in Picross e3, will see you run into Mega Numbers that hint toward pixel locations for two rows. These challenge you to think in new ways to tackle the perplexing puzzles before you, although complicate the experience for younger players.
The optional Navigation Feature continues to ease the strain of deductive reasoning when necessary, causing the hint numbers to glow blue where rows still require your attention. Whereas Normal and Free rules will either penalise you or ignore errors that you make respectively, dependant on the amount of pressure that you want to place yourself under.
Fifteen Special Puzzles await those that have PICROSS e, PICROSS e2 or PICROSS e3 save data – a token gesture for those that have loyally lapped up the hundreds of puzzles that Jupiter have thrown in their direction. Although, PICROSS e4’s omission from awarding such built-in bonuses is particularly strange.
I’ve criticised the series before for lacking any notable advancement in recent years, and PICROSS e5 suffers a similar fate. Those looking to fuel their PICROSS addiction will enjoy chipping away at the 150 new puzzles that it presents, but the many hoping to be struck by differentiated challenges will find none here. Whether that comes with PICROSS e6 is anyone’s guess, but they are certainly long overdue.