Posts by Tag / GAME: Pokémon Picross (2)

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Gotta solve 'em all

The first Picross game I played was Pokémon Picross over five years ago. I’m curious how many people followed this pattern: when the My Nintendo loyalty program launched, its most intriguing reward was an exlusive game, My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I was only dimly aware of Picross and wasn’t sure I wanted to plunk down 1000 Platinum Points to pick this game up, but Pokémon Picross had come out fairly recently and was free-to-play, so I used it as a Picross demo. I quickly learned that I liked Picross, abandoned Pokémon Picross, and started in on the many non-F2P Picross offerings on 3DS: the Twilight Princess one, Mario’s Picross on the virtual console, the PICROSS e series, Pic-a-Pix Color, and Picross 3D Round 2.

Between those and some other Picross games on mobile and Switch, I’ve now solved somewhere in the vicinity of two thousand Picross puzzles. And I can confidently state that the 3DS is straight-up the best place for Picross. The combination of buttons, touchscreen, and stylus in a light handheld are perfectly suited to the gameplay. Using just a mobile touchscreen or just buttons on Switch is so clunky by comparison. A lot of Picross games on the Switch don’t even support touchscreen controls, which is baffling to me.

When I got a Switch and basically stopped using my 3DS, I also basically stopped playing Picross games because they just weren’t as enjoyable anymore. This is one of the biggest reasons I’m sad about the loss of the DS/3DS/Wii U paradigm.

But I’ve been picking my 3DS back up recently and have been tucking back into Picross there. I still have three more PICROSS e games to get through (apparently there’s a final Japan-only one? and the 3DS is region-locked, so I can’t just sign in to the Japan eshop to pick it up? how expensive can it be to localize a friggin' Picross game when you’ve already localized all the UI for it? sigh) plus Sanrio Characters Picross, but that’s about it - there were a couple other Japan-only games and nobody’s putting out new Picross on the 3DS anymore.

So I figured I might as well take a second look at Pokémon Picross too. And it definitely lands a bit differently with me now. When I was using it to learn Picross, I considered its time targets aggressive - five minutes for a 10x10 grid stressed me out. Now I solve those puzzles in about one minute. I also wrote that “the Pokémon are mostly just a way to cheapen the core puzzle gameplay” since their abilities were either just assist features or shortcuts to solve part of the puzzle for you and “[i]f you don’t want to solve the puzzle yourself, why play Picross?” Now, after solving thousands of puzzles, I find those features add some interesting variety and flavor to the game, where before they were a crutch that robbed me of much-needed practice.

But the fact that I now actually enjoy the game only makes it that much more frustrating that, a couple days in, I’ve run into the monetization wall. The game quickly got a lot less fun to play and I have no desire to monetarily reward a design that so clearly sacrifices the quality of the experience to persuade me to open my wallet.

Unlike most F2P titles, there at least is a cap in how much you can spend, after which the “fun pain” goes away. But my understanding is that while the game is about twice the size of a PICROSS e title (about 300 puzzles as opposed to 150) that spending cap is five times the cost of a PICROSS e game ($30 in the most efficient method and of course the IAP structure is confusing, compared to $6 for a PICROSS e title). The non-spending alternative makes use of a daily reward (which I dislike) that has to be earned every day for about a year to unlock everything, and that’s if you are careful to optimize rewards in ways that make the game less fun to play.

So, ultimately, my review of Pokémon Picross stands. It’s best used as a demo to see if you like Picross before moving on to better-priced and more-respectful options.

But being honest with myself, I think there’s a real possibility that once I exhaust the other options on 3DS, I will sigh, roll my eyes, and plunk down the $30 to be able to enjoy Pokémon Picross. Because it’s still going to be better than Picross on Switch.

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Capsule Review: Pokémon Picross

A downloadable Picross game for the 3DS themed on and structured as a Pokémon RPG. Catch Pokémon by solving puzzles to reveal their images and then use their various abilities when fighting more Pokémon solving more puzzles. The standard assist features are available here as Pokémon abilities instead, generally themed by type - for example, water Pokémon tend to have “Blue Force”, which is the ?

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