Capsule Review: Pixel Puzzle Collection

A free Picross game featuring images from Konami’s extensive history of games. There are five hundred puzzles of varying sizes accompanied by music from classic Konami games.

Most of the puzzles are standard 5x5, 10x10, or 15x15 puzzles. However, there are also a significant number of Micross-like “Mid-Boss” and “Boss” puzzles - the Mid-Boss puzzles being made of four 15x15 puzzles arranged in a 2x2 grid, while the Boss puzzles are sixteen 15x15 puzzles in a 4x4 grid. In both cases, there is no initial “zoomed out” step - you just solve each 15x15 piece as its own puzzle.

Bizarrely, you don’t get to choose what puzzle to play next, or even what size of puzzle. Although you do have to play a number of 5x5 puzzles before 10x10s become available and then solve more puzzles before 15x15s become available, puzzles are selected at random from all unlocked sizes. The only exception are Boss puzzles, which unlike Mid-Boss puzzles are not in the same pool as the standard puzzles. They are still chosen at random, meaning it can be quite a while before you complete a full 4x4 image - especially since for some reason there’s a cooldown on them. Once you solve a Boss puzzle, you must wait multiple hours before you can start another.

Odd pacing aside, the gameplay is mostly standard Picross. Free rules are in effect, as is hint-number auto-check - by default, the game goes one step further and automatically fills in any missing Xs when you correctly color in a row or column, though this can be disabled. This seems designed to alleviate some of the disadvantages of buttonless play by letting the player just focus on coloring in squares without switching to placing Xs as often. The default control method allows the player to paint squares or Xs directly on the grid by tapping or swiping it - this works great for the 5x5 and 10x10 puzzles, but the 15x15 puzzles are difficult to manage this way on a phone’s small screen. There’s an alternate control scheme that instead allows for navigating the puzzle grid with virtual buttons; this often works better for the 15x15 puzzles but is still somewhat awkward, especially since there’s occasional lag and it can be unclear whether you missed the button or it’s just lagging. I’ve also had it fully freeze on me a couple of times.

It’s hard to complain much about something that feels like this generous of a gift to fans. It’s free and loaded with several hundred puzzles of nostalgia. But the bizarre pacing and inability to choose even the size of your next puzzle, along with the sometimes awkward controls and occasional lag, make this game difficult to recommend over other Picross titles.

I Stopped Playing When: Control frustrations and unpredictable puzzle sizes caused my interest to taper off and after 55 puzzles I’ve basically put the game down. It’s still on my phone and I might fire it up now and then when I have a few minutes to kill.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.