I was a bit late to the party with Mario’s Picross, which came out way back in 1995 for the original Game Boy. I believe I finally got around to playing it about 10 years later when I bought it used for like 3 bucks. After I solved the first few puzzles I was hooked. I’ve bought every iteration of the series since then, so I was pretty excited to see Nintendo trying to broaden the user base with Pokémon Picross for the 3DS.
Unlike past games, this one is free to start. You don’t have to shell out a single penny to give it a try. Trying to explain how Picross is played can be difficult to do, but I’m always up for a challenge. The bottom screen displays a grid, the tiniest of which is usually five squares across and five down, for a total of twenty five spaces. Naturally, as the game progresses the puzzles become bigger and more complex. Along each row and column are sets of numbers. These represent how many blocks must be etched.
So, for example, say there is a column with ten squares, and the numbers above that column are four and three. That means that there’s a group of four squares and a group of three squares that must be filled in, and they cannot touch each other, thus there must be at least one space between the two groups. Since there are only ten spaces, one can begin to deduce some of the squares that must be filled in.
In this example, I’d count the squares starting from the top and working my way down. I’d pretend like the first four were filled in, then skip a square (there has to be a break between the groups), and then count down another three. That would leave me in the eighth square from the bottom. Since we know the second group is comprised of three squares, working our way from the bottom up we can deduce that, indeed, the eighth square from the top (or the third from the bottom) has to be filled in. Now that we’ve figured that out, we can do the same exact thing from the bottom, working our way up. Pretend like the first three squares are filled, then a space, then count up. Since that group has to have four squares, we can figure out that no matter what, the third and fourth spots from the top have to be filled in. At this point, we’ve taken this column as far as we can, but because we filled in some squares, we want to look at the intersecting rows to begin filling those spaces in. The entire game plays out like this and before you know it, you’ve created a picture. If you’re still confused, take a look at the video below, which shows how to play Mario’s Picross.
Needless to say, I’m not sure how the free to play model is going to work with this game. I hope one only has to pay to get hints for the puzzles, and that for those of us who have played the series can just keep plowing through levels. No matter what, it’s great to see Nintendo still supporting this franchise. If you haven’t tried it before, give it a shot when it comes out this December on the eShop for the 3DS. If you end up really enjoying it, you can pick up Mario’s Picross on the 3DS Virtual Console for like 4 bucks. It’s totally worth it. I’ll have a full review of Pokémon Picross once it releases.