Mini Review: Picross DS

Picross DS BoxPicross DS showed up in the mail today. After playing with it for the past 3 and a half hours, I feel like I can give it a nice little mini review.

Well first off, the last Nintendo version of Picross that I played would be Mario’s Picross. That was the title that got me hooked on Picross originally. I also own a copy of Super Picross for the SNES, but playing on the SNES just wasn’t as fun as on the Game Boy. Mario’s Picross was always the one that I went back to — I always had it in my GBA case along with a few other GB classics. But the DS Lite purchase changed that. No more GB compatibility anymore.

Well, thankfully, Nintendo came to the rescue with Picross DS. Currently, it’s only been released in Japan with no mention of a US or European release. Considering that only one Picross title has ever made it out of Japan, I don’t have high hopes for a US release of this one. But, luckily, since Picross is a game of numbers, playing the Japanese version is not too much of a hinderance.

The game has two main modes — single player and Wi-Fi. There are also modes for creating your own puzzles – I have not touched these, so I really can’t comment on them.

The single player mode is basically a lot of puzzles that you work through to solve. There is easy, normal and hard. The puzzle sizes are either 5×5, 10×10, or 15×15. The normal and hard modes are further divided into levels that are centered around a theme — for example, the normal level 1 is all about fruit (that’s where the box image can be found btw — what? you don’t think that is fruit? of course it is — it’s cherries… what were you thinking?).

The Wi-Fi mode (also known as the “You Lose” mode) is very fun as well — I was able to play in about 12 games quite quickly. Unlike other Wi-Fi games I’ve played, this one seems to have a lot of people playing and is very quick to get into a game. Of course, winning is another matter all together. A word of warning — the people that are playing against you are better than you can imagine. I don’t know how many of the 12 games that I played where I didn’t get to the second puzzle before they had finished both of them. Ouch.

Another cool feature in Wi-Fi mode is the ability to download add-on packs. These packs are 10 puzzles each, and you can store 10 of them at once. So far, there are 8 packs you can download — 1 from Mario’s Picross and 7 from the Picross NP series. This is a great way for Nintendo to keep the content fresh — you don’t need to be connected to Wi-Fi to play these puzzles. You just need to download them once and you have them until you remove them.

Now onto the controls — as a DS game, you would expect the stylus to be used. The good news is that it works great for 5×5 and 10×10 modes — you use the stylus to mark your spots and you can push the d-pad to change between the solid and the x marks. This is very quick and easy. But, for 15×15 modes there is an awkward scrolling system that is used when you are using the stylus. Which means the next feature is a really good thing — you don’t have to use the stylus. You can choose before the puzzle is started or even after it is started to change between the two modes. Very nice.

Picross DS Screenshot 1The graphics are very nice and polished — just what you would expect from Nintendo these days. Playing Picross on a color display is nice, especially after years playing the GB version. As for sound, I found it rather pleasing — it wasn’t very annoying, and the instruments actually sound very nice for what it is — background music for a puzzle game. One nice touch — when you play the download packs, the original music from Mario’s Picross (and I presume other versions as well) is used — jazzed up for the DS, of course.

As far as complaints — well, I wish there was bigger puzzles. Of course, there just may be some that I haven’t unlocked yet. So I can’t ding it for this one yet. Also, I wish there was Color Picross puzzles as well. Griddlers.net has them, and they add a new dimension to the genre. But, they can always save those for a future release.

If you are a fan of Picross, I highly recommend this. Picross was made to be played on a portable system, and it’s been awhile since a new Nintendo Picross game came out (SNES era). If you don’t know where to buy, I would recommend ordering from Play-Asia. I bought this copy on eBay, which can be another good source if you are careful. Expect to pay around $40 or more to get this game — but even at that price, I think it’s a pretty good deal.

Oh, if you happen to buy the game, you can add me as a friend — my friend code is located here. Just make sure you leave your friend code in the comment section as well.

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