Console: Nintendo 3DS
Start Date: December 3, 2015
End Date: May 17, 2016
I already wrote about Pokémon Picross back in my 2015 wrap-up, and I wrote about a different Picross game just a couple of months ago. So at this point, I don’t know how much more I can say about Picross without repeating myself even more than I usually do.
Still, with the world still under the thrall of Pokémon Go fever, it’s a good time to remind 3DS owners that there’s another, much better Pokémon game that they can play for free right now!
Like most free-to-play games, Pokémon Picross sets up a system where you can either (a) play for very short amounts of time, and then wait forever until you can play again, or (b) pay real-life money for in-game currency that allows you to speed up the process. Sadly, we’re all familiar with this type of sleazy-ass approach. However, Nintendo does something here which most developers would never dream of doing: They put a cap on what the player can pay. Essentially, once you spend enough money to reach a certain threshold (about $30), you permanently gain unlimited access to the in-game currency. In other words, once you pay the price of a full game, you get a full game. That’s fucking great.
I resisted paying money for the most part, mostly because I actually enjoyed having the experience stretched out. I got in about ten minutes of daily Picross time, before putting it aside until the next day. I will admit that on a handful of occasions I got impatient enough to throw some cash at the problem, but my grand total ended up being less than $10.
Aside from all the mechanics put in place to separate players from their money, Pokémon Picross‘ main gimmick is the way it loosely incorporates Pokémon gameplay into Picross. Each puzzle in the game unlocks a different Pokémon, who can then be recruited onto your team to help you solve other puzzles. The little monsters all have different powers – some automatically fill in certain squares, some extend your time limit, some correct your mistakes, etc.
This is a fun little feature, but as a Picross veteran who takes pride in my ability to solve these puzzles without help, I didn’t really want anything to do with it. Unfortunately, if you want to unlock the achievements in each puzzle, you kinda have to. And I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to unlock every fucking achievement in this game.
After about six months of slowly playing, I finally reached the end of the main campaign.
The game also offers a full bonus campaign, called Alt-World, which focuses on the same “Mega Picross” puzzles that I whined about in my write-up of the Zelda Picross game. While I managed to use trial and error to power through them in that title, the more rigid restrictions in this one make such an approach nearly impossible. As a result, I haven’t made much headway in the Alt-World, and if I ever want to I’ll probably have to actually learn how to properly solve Mega Picross puzzles. We’ll see if that ever happens.
If you’ve never played a Picross game before, Pokémon Picross is a great starting point – and as long as you’re patient and can put up with playing in short bursts over a long period of time, then it’s also absolutely free. C’mon, play it. Get into Picross, dammit! JOIN USSSSSSSS!
Manos: The Hands of Fate