Picross DS

Posted by staff | Posted in Nintendo DS | Posted on 01-11-2010


  • • Creating your own puzzles is a snap! Design your puzzle by hand or draw any picture you like and convert it automatically into a Picross puzzle.
  • • Trade puzzles with friends using local wireless or Nintendo WFC or download free bonus puzzle packs.
  • • Play with up to five friends in Picross-themed minigames over local wireless, or race to complete puzzles against other gamers on Nintendo WFC.

Product Description
Fill in squares using simple hints to reveal the hidden picture. You’ll need both puzzle-solving skills and creativity to earn your picture reward…. More >>

Picross DS

Comments posted (5)

The good news: Picross DS is a worthy follow-up to one of the best brain-teaser puzzle games I’ve played, Mario’s Picross. The bad news: despite a host of great new features, they’ve actually left out a great feature of that 14-year old title and even damaged the design (though only slightly).

Picross DS keeps the same Sudoku-meets-Minesweeper gameplay of the classic game, derived from the popular paper puzzles called nonograms. You are given the number and order of colored cells in each row and column of a grid. By logical deduction and good guesswork, you must figure out which cells should be colored in and which shouldn’t be.

Easy and Normal puzzles are time-limited and serve as an introduction to the game; Free Mode puzzles have no timer or warning that you’ve misplaced a tile. Free Mode is the bulk of the game, and a more satisfying way to play. There are a few minigames as well (a pair of “whack a square” games and a “reverse drawing” game, and possibly others), but these are rather dull and not the point. A change for the challenging: the largest puzzles here are larger than any I’ve played before.

In gameplay, you can either use the stylus (good for smaller puzzles, frustrating for large ones) or the d-pad and buttons (better for large puzzles, slower in competitive play).

Which brings me to one major addition: online and local wireless competitive play. You and another go head to head to finish two puzzles. I haven’t put much time into this mode yet, but it doesn’t intuitively seem a big draw – Picross has always been about contemplative mental exercise to me.

The next addition is more exciting: a “Daily Picross” mode, meant to test your speed at small puzzles randomly chosen. Five modes are available, only one of which is unlocked at the start. This mode has a great deal of potential and could bring some longevity to the game once it is finished.

The next major addition is one I’ve wanted for a long time. A puzzle editor allows you to create your own puzzles, either cell-by-cell or by automatically generating a puzzle from a free-hand sketch. I don’t like the automatically-generated puzzles I’ve done so far, but I may get used to it.

You can share the puzzles you create via local wireless or over the internet, and download puzzles made by others. Nintendo will be releasing multiple puzzle packs that provide puzzles from previous Picross games as well.

This would all be perfect except for two changes made to the basic presentation:

- Mario’s Picross had three save slots, to allow three people to use the same cartridge. This game has a single save slot – you can’t really share this with a friend or a family member. Expect to buy one per person – at least it’s cheap.

- More gravely, the picture you uncover by solving the puzzle is now displayed, both as a small icon on the puzzle select screen and at full size on the top screen. This hurts replayability – there’s little point in replaying a puzzle if you know what it looks like. I have not completed Free Mode yet, but a full random Time Attack mode, as the earlier game had, would go a long way towards making up for this last problem.

While the former problem can be ascribed to Nintendo’s desire to sell more copies of the software, the latter is simply strange. Nevertheless, the additions make this a superior title to its excellent predecessor and a downright bargain for its budget price. Highly recommended for those who like thoughtful, contemplative puzzle-solving.
Rating: 4 / 5

I am approaching this game as someone who is familiar with the pencil-and-paper (P&P) puzzles of the same type, such as those found in Games Magazine. This review will compare the P&P version to this video game.

I was looking for a DS video game that could keep me occupied on a transatlantic business trip, and had serious doubts that this game would work. The P&P version of this puzzle is somewhat fun but also quite tedious. If you’re on the fence like me, I can wholeheartedly say: you should definitely buy this game.

This video game version provides several features which make this type of puzzle much more approachable to the new player (and, frankly, it makes it a lot more fun, too, by removing a lot of the tedium). Many of the puzzles are setup to automatically tell you if you’ve made a mistake. No more grueling over a puzzle grid for an hour only to find you’ve made a horribly intractable mistake and have to start from scratch! Instead, you’re penalized via a time penalty when you make a mistake. Also, the game offers you a random hint on each puzzle before you start. So, new puzzlers will find these puzzles on the DS very approachable.

There are also plenty of features that simply blow away what you can do with P&P. These include:

* great visual themes

* nice music

* cute animations as reward for solving the puzzle

* automatically keeping track of which bars have been fully filled in

* nice variety of mini-games to break up the monotony

* multiplayer, both local and internet

* make your own puzzles & share them wirelessly

* convenient way to try out an assumption then accept/discard it

* stylus allows for brilliantly fast gameplay — much faster than P&P

My primary complaint is that the game doesn’t serve the needs of the hardcore player very well. Specifically, these points bothered me:

* no way to disable automatic checking for errors on easier levels

* the assumption-checking system doesn’t allow for layered assumptions

* it also doesn’t show you which spot was your initial key assumption

* arbitrary notation (e.g. custom notes & scribbles) is not possible

* puzzle grids are initially limited to 15×15 in size

I debated rating it 4 stars because of the hardcore limitations, but decided that the game really isn’t trying to fill a hardcore niche. It does what it tries to do perfectly, which is to make “picross” puzzles incredibly fun to play. Rather than spending an hour grueling over a single tough paper puzzle, making complex notations possibly even using layered assumptions, you can whip through a “tough” puzzle on the DS in about 10 minutes. All the tedium is gone. You can fill in the grid on the DS as fast as you can think, which is an order of magnitude faster than you can fill in a paper grid. So, while there was a certain satisfaction in conquering the hardest of hardcore “picross” puzzles on paper, it was precisely those frictions which turned me off from them in the P&P world.

Bottom line: the P&P variety of this puzzle was never particularly compelling to me, but the DS version is a joy to play.

Rating: 5 / 5

Picross DS is an addictive and fun puzzler that puts a nice spin on the puzzle genre on the DS, and provides a wonderful amount of challenging fun as well. The ridiculous amount of puzzles are solved by attempting to form a picture as grid boxes are punched out by determining various numbers. Yes, the formula may sound a bit familiar for some, but make no mistake that Picross DS is still a blast to play regardless. The game is made even better by the fact that online Wi-Fi play is included and is where the real meat of the game is to be found. The only real downsides of Picross DS are that as the puzzle grid increases, the more often the game zooms in and out, which when using the touch screen of the DS, becomes quite annoying. However, considering the budget price of Picross DS and how much fun you get for your money, you really can’t go wrong here. All in all, if you’re looking for another more than solid puzzler for your DS and are on a budget, look no further.
Rating: 4 / 5

I bought this game after hearing people gush over it on podcasts and after playing a demo downloaded from a gamestop kiosk. I am sure glad I did.

This is a puzzle game where you uncover tiles to create a picture. For each row and column there are numbers indicating that there are x tiles in a row followed by at least one blank space, followed by y tiles, and so on and so forth. Using deductive reasoning you eliminate choices (by switching to the X mode) and see where you must punch out a tile. This is fairly easy when you are on a small grid (Easy mode generally is between 5×5 and 10×10) but it gets harder when you move to bigger grids (15×15, 20×20, 25×20).

Once you start playing normal mode, there are different levels, all sharing a common theme. For instance, there is a frozen/cold theme one where you might be punching out pictures of a snowflake, or a snowman for that matter. Each theme also has a color theme for the maps, or you can choose to play with a default background and punching sound.

This game is a phenomenal value for $20. I have been playing it for at least an hour a night before I go to bed almost every day for the past month at least, and I am not finished level 10 yet.

In addition to Easy mode and Normal mode, there is free play mode which I have yet to try. From what I understand, the game will not tell you if you make a mistake, whereas in normal and easy mode you immediately know when you make a mistake and have a substantial time penalty imposed against you. This makes it much more difficult.

There is also daily training (sort of like brain age in that it keeps track of your best times and displays them in graph form). As you play x number of days, new modes unlock.

Even if you are not planning to go online (as I haven’t) or play free mode, this game absolutely deserves your purchase.
Rating: 5 / 5

I heard a lot of good things about this game but didn’t know what to expect. Not being a big Sudoku I was worried if I would like it, but for the budget price it was worth a risk. After two days I have to say that am completely hooked. It’s gotten so bad that I have been having dreams about Picross tiles :(

There’s incredible value in this budget title. Even if you manage to burn through the bundled puzzles, you can jump online and download free add-ons from Nintendo. At this time of this writing there are four Mario puzzle packs available. Plus it has “Brain Age” inspired “Daily Picross” that keeps you coming back every day for new challenges.

My only complaint is that the interface for 15×15 puzzles is incredibly clunky. It takes a lot of getting used to but it’s not a show stopper.

This style of game is the exact reason I purchased a DS.
Rating: 4 / 5

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