Picross S is the first game in the series to appear on the Switch; several iterations have been available on Nintendo 3DS, with the occasional Nintendo-themed spin-off appearing too such as Pokémon Picross and the slightly ridiculously named My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. On the surface, Picross looks like a very simple puzzle game (perhaps reminding you of Sudoku), but it can actually get rather complex and is a different game entirely.
For those who haven’t ever played a Picross game before, let me explain how it works. Your task is to fill various sized grids (from 5×5 all the way up to 20×15) to create a picture. To do this, you’ll need to pay attention to the numbers around the edge of the grid; these tell you how many squares should be filled within that particular line, and also if any gaps should be left between these filled squares. It’s a rather tricky concept to write down on paper – the best way to understand it is to just jump into a puzzle yourself – but in my humble opinion, Picross is one of the better puzzle types out there. The harder levels really make you think and there is always a logical solution to be found.
There are 150 levels in all (which are all unlocked from the start), with another 150 Mega Picross puzzles available too. These are a harder version of the game which sees some numbers account for two lines rather than one – in these cases you must link up the specified amount of blocks in different patterns within those two lines (this is even harder to explain on paper!). In all honesty, I actually found the main game to be more enjoyable than this mode so, whilst it is nice that these puzzles are there, I wouldn’t deem them to be essential. Also, the pictures that you reveal on these puzzles are actually the same set that you unlock in the original 150 which is a shame.
If you’ve played any Picross game before you’ll be well aware of what to expect here – if you liked it before, you’ll like this one; if you didn’t like the earlier ones then this won’t change your mind. The game features a new-to-the-series multiplayer option (where players can work on a grid simultaneously) but that isn’t really what Picross is all about. There is something that I should point out for Picross veterans, however: despite it becoming a staple of the series through the game’s release on Nintendo DS and 3DS, the touchscreen functionality has been dropped from this title. The game is completely playable without – using the D-Pad and face buttons works just fine – but it is strange that the option has been removed as it suits the nature of the game perfectly.
Picross S is extremely welcoming to new players; there are lots of tutorials to explain the game and you have the ability to utilise some in-game help should you need it. Before you play a level you have the option to perform a roulette spin which fills in two lines for you automatically – giving you a helping hand from the start. You can also toggle an option on or off which tells you when you make a mistake – meaning that you’ll never get to the end of a complete board and have no idea what went wrong. If you’re an expert, though; don’t worry! These are completely optional and if you’d rather complete all puzzles using your logic alone, you are very free to do so.