Puzzles galore? Check.
Having been introduced to Picross back in the 3DS days, it’s fair to say that the success of Picross has somewhat passed me by. It’s just by chance that I decided to purchase Picross S for the Nintendo Switch last year, and I fell in love with the simplicity of its premise, yet the challenge of the task at hand. It’s a no-brainer, then, that developer Jupiter’s Picross S2 was always going to be a must-have for me. Despite it just being more of the same, I’m just as in love with this masterpiece as I was the first.
For those not familiar with the concept of Picross, the aim of each puzzle is to identify what blocks on a grid should be filled out by using numerical values assigned to each row and column. Through the process of observing patterns and elimination, you’ll slowly uncover the grid unveiling a pixelated picture as part of a reward. To aid you in your venture, the game provides various options when filling out squares. These range from filling out a square should you believe it to be correct, marking a square to show that it’s a possible option, or instead crossing one out to show that this must remain blank. Coupled with an optional prompt of using a “Hint Roulette” at the beginning of each puzzle to aid you by filling out both a row and a column at random, the game ensures that it’s never daunting enough at the cost of its own appeal, and instead wants to invite you to complete one more puzzle, time after time.
You’ll need to come back time after time to complete all the puzzles, too. Featuring over 300 puzzles split across various modes, there’s plenty to come back to. Picross and Mega Picross return from Picross S, with the former being a bare-bones take on the classic and the latter throwing “Mega Lines” in, an additional challenge whereby two adjacent rows will contain a number that is split between them and therefore needs to be worked out accordingly. A new addition found in Picross S2 is Clip Picross, a mode where 5 puzzles are available but are instead made up of various smaller puzzles. These smaller puzzles are unlocked through your time in the standard Picross mode, which provides an incentive to complete these puzzles should you need any. Another feature that many may find welcome is the co-op focused multiplayer mode from its predecessor. With each player using a Joy-Con, they can work together whilst still retaining a somewhat-competitive nature down to the use of differently coloured squares, making each puzzle just that bit more exciting with company. Personally, I found this at odds to how I use Picross to unwind, but it’s certainly welcome on the harder puzzles found in the latter stages of the game.
With the music and overall minimalist aesthetic remaining largely unchanged from its previous iteration, it’s not entirely clear to see why a new game needed to be released as opposed to, say, adding substantial DLC on to the original. Regardless, I’m just as grateful to Jupiter for releasing Picross S2 in any format, and I’m not ashamed to say this has the potential to be my game of the year. Yes, really.
Picross S2 perfectly encapsulates the alluring “one more go” feeling that so many like-minded puzzle games aspire for, and does so with such masterful implementation. Jupiter show they are still the master of their craft, as they have always been in their 25 years of releasing Picross titles across Nintendo’s hardware.