Make cool pixel art while solving puzzles!
Picross is a simple puzzle game concept that has been around almost as long as video games. Given the current popularity of Sudoku, many people will draw comparisons between the two games. Firstly, both games don't require any sort of electronics. Traditionally they can be solved using just a pencil. They also both take place on a grid of squares. That is where the similarities end though. In Picross you never actually write a single digit. Instead you use the clues given to fill in certain squares in the grid. When completed, a pictures of some sort is revealed. Interestingly enough, Picross DS is not Nintendo's first release to feature the puzzle game. Mario's Picross was released in 1995 for the original Game Boy. Picross DS will actually feature some of the puzzles from that original game.
Picross is a simple game that can be confusing to new players. As you can see in the picture on the right there are a series of numbers above and to the left of the main grid. These numbers are the clues you need to solve the picture. In this example, the grid is 15 x 15 squares. You'll notice that one of the horizontal rows is labeled “3 4". This means that, working from left to right, there will be exactly one set of 3 filled squares and another set of 4 filled squares. There could be any number of empty squares between those chains. In the example, the row is already solved. So, expanding that simple concept to all of the rows and columns, it becomes possible to deduce which squares should be colored in. This process is aided by being able to mark which squares you are sure shouldn't be colored in. Those squares are represented by the Xs in the example. That is basically all there is to know about solving Picross puzzles.
The DS game will feature several different modes of play. In the standard mode, players simply solve the puzzles as fast as possible. These puzzles vary in size. Incorrectly filling in a square will result in a time penalty. If the puzzle is solved in under an hour (including those time penalties) the player is rewarded with an animation based off of the picture they revealed in the puzzle.
In My Picross, players will have the ability to create their own puzzle using the stylus. These puzzles can then be shared over local wireless or over Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection. Presumably because it is possible that some homemade puzzles might be unsolvable (without randomly guessing), the game will automatically correct any issues before sharing occurs.
Daily Picross is a mode similar to the Brain Age games. It is designed to be played daily in order to improve Picross skills. Activities in this mode are opened up over time, so the longer people own the game, the more puzzles become available. These puzzles can be played in several ways, like nonstop time attack, no X marks, and find the error.
Besides the single player modes, there are also several things that can be done over local wireless, all of which require just one Picross game card. The player with the game card acts as the host and can design challenges for up to four other friends. Therefore, the host acts as a game master that challenges the players with home made puzzles.. Any DS unit can also receive a standard demo puzzle from someone who has the game.
The developers added an online mode as well. There, players can race against others to solve puzzles as fast as possible. It is unknown if this mode can be played with anyone or only people on the player's friends list. It is confirmed that sharing of puzzles created in the My Picross mode can only be done with people from the friends list, presumably to protect people from receiving potentially offensive puzzles.
Picross DS follows Planet Puzzle League as another popular puzzle game packaged up on a DS cart. It ships in just a couple of weeks. Stay tuned to NWR to see if it will receive similar critical acclaim.