Picross S3 Review
Picross S3 is the latest puzzler from Jupiter and it’s exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. This third game in the S series costs a little bit more ($9.99), but it brings a new mode that I’m sure longtime fans will surely appreciate: color puzzles. While there have been plenty of “generic” rip-offs of Picross over the years, color is the one thing that some of them have beat Jupiter to the punch on. The thing is, most of these other titles just don’t feel as refined as the proper Picross games, so it’s great to see this addition finally make it into the official release.
If you’re unfamiliar with Picross, the whole series began as an original Game Boy game called Mario’s Picross. So it’s been around for quite some time! The objective is to solve each puzzle, which is a grid, by punching out square to create a pixel. Once you’re done you’ll have created a picture of an object or a place. The concept is similar to Sudoku, where you have an empty grid that must be processed in a certain way. The rows and columns feature numbers, which represent how many of the squares in that row or column that must be filled in. Some lines have multiple numbers. In basic Picross this means that there must be a break between the two numbers.
For example, let’s say you have a row that has 10 squares in it and on that row are two numbers, a 2 and a 7. That means there must be a group of 2 squares next to each other filled in and then a group of seven next to each other filled in. In this example, since the row only has 10 squares, the first two would need to be shaded and then a space and then the remaining 7, which would fill up the row. You place an X in the empty spot indicating that there can’t be a filled in square there. As you begin this process and check the columns that intersect those filled in spots, you’ll soon be able to fill in more spots and put X’s in areas where that can’t be a shaded area. This all becomes second nature as you practice and the game does an amazing job walking you through the basics. So don’t worry if you don’t understand the concept completely just by reading this review.
Picross S3 packs in a ton of content and includes 150 basic puzzles. These are just like I described above, and are basically in black and white. As you solve various puzzles in this mode you unlock panels for Clip Picross. This is a huge puzzle containing between 20 and 60 smaller clips that you can solve. This is an exceptionally fun mode because you’re working a bunch of smaller puzzles to solve the larger one. It also has the added benefit of feeling like you’re constantly progressing toward something and being rewarded for solving the puzzles in basic mode.
Mega Picross mode also makes a return to this game. It’s been featured in some of the prior titles and to be honest it’s not my favorite. That’s because it’s a bit more confusing than normal Picross. It mixes up traditional lines with Mega Lines. Mega Lines are marked differently and span two rows or columns. For example, if the number 9 is a Mega number it can weave between the two rows or columns as long as they’re connected. It’s a bit too confusing to try and explain in writing, but let’s just say it bends the brain a bit more and while I do enjoy this extra challenge from time to time, I prefer the fast-paced ease with which I can play the normal mode.
As stated in the opening paragraph, Color Picross is the main new addition to Picross S3 and it’s quite fun! The tutorials managed to confuse the hell out of me at first, but diving in and playing I figured it out rather quickly and it’s quite easy to play. There are four different colors to choose from and each row and column show how many squares should be filled in with specific colors. If two colors are next to each other there doesn’t necessarily have to be a blank space between those squares like in normal Picross. Many times it’s just as useful to know the squares where something can’t be. With Color Picross this becomes a great tactic because you might have a row that needs to have two yellow squares. You can then look at the columns and the ones that don’t show any yellow numbers means you can’t place the yellow squares there. Again, playing the game will result in a better understanding, but there are multiple ways to figure out which squares should be filled and which should remain empty.
From a presentation standpoint none of the Picross games have been exceptional. It’s difficult to make a game like this stand out from the rest, but adding in color does help the game pop a bit more. I do want to make special mention of this game’s soundtrack. Typically I turn off the music in the puzzles to allow me to think, but I must commend the composer of this game because I really enjoyed the tunes throughout. Each mode has its own soundtrack and they all really sound fantastic – to the point where I left the music on for once.
Picross S3 should be picked up by fans of the series in a heartbeat. It’s one of the best ones yet and will deliver hours of entertaining puzzles. The addition of color adds a new wrinkle to the formula and I was left wanting more of those puzzles to solve. The game still doesn’t support touch screen controls, which I find odd since all of the 3DS and DS games allowed for it. I rather enjoy the button controls, but I know some prefer the touch and I’m not sure why they haven’t implemented this feature thus far. If you’re brand new to Picross, there’s no reason you can’t jump right into this one. It’s the best yet on the Switch and does a fine job of easing you into the puzzles. This is a fantastic game to play right before bed to sort of flush the brain!
Picross S3 Review
- Graphics - 6/106/10
- Sound - 8.5/108.5/10
- Gameplay - 9.5/109.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8.5/108.5/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Picross S3 is the best so far on the Switch. It adds in color for some of the puzzles and the Clip Picross mode is a genius way to keep players engaged in unlocking new panels. Whether you’re new to the series or a veteran, this one’s a keeper!
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He’s currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.