Picross S3 (Switch eShop) Review

by May 3, 2019

Ah, Picross. To me, you are perfect. Mixing the number puzzling of Sudoku with something actually interesting, it’s been a staple of my gaming diet for a decent number of years, starting with Picross DS, encompassing the 13 3DS entries, and then the first two Picross S games on Switch. S3 is brand new out and it comes with some welcome new changes.

But not too many. Jupiter Corporation has made every single one of these games and they’ve polished the core experience to a mirror finish. You don’t want to fix what isn’t broke so this (bar some minor colour scheme changes as is customary) feels essentially the same as the previous two Switch releases. It’s got 150 puzzles in its regular Picross mode, which is the meat and potatoes of every game. You’ll be filling in rows and columns with squares according to the numbers on the sides, letting you know how many fit together but not where the gaps are between them. At the end you wind up with a cute little picture that apparently resembles a real world object, although you sure can’t tell half the time. Puzzles start at a tiny 5×5 which will take under a minute to complete, and escalate nice and smoothly through to 20×15 monsters that can suck up an hour of your time each. Assists such as autocorrect or correct line highlights are still intact to help, but you get a nice little medal if you don’t use them. You can also suspend an in-progress puzzle and go work on another one if you’re hitting a brick wall.

This is meant to be a power outlet, not Boxboy with food poisoning.

Clip Picross has made its way back and is a perfect ‘another one’ to do – rather than each puzzle being a picture, this mode has multiple puzzles combine to make a larger image. You’ll unlock the pieces as you complete regular Picross mode, and they’re generally easier than your standard puzzles. There’s 150 here across five images too, same as Picross S2, and the five pictures follow a classic fairytale narrative. Game of Thrones this isn’t, but it’s nice to do something to work towards a larger goal, complementing the individual nature of the basic mode.

Brand new is Colour Picross. This mode has up to four different colours of square to mark out, and new rules governing the gaps between squares. I absolutely loved it – I’ve played a lot of Picross and having the opportunity to think in a brand new way was great fun. It reminded me a bit of the brilliant 3DS title Picross 3D, which also had you working in multiple colours. The final product gets charmingly animated, and this section has the most bangin’ background music, kind of a Final Fantasy meets Irish jig feel. It’s a great addition but sadly only has 30 puzzles and is over so quickly.

Mega Picross is here as well. Still 150 puzzles… but they’re actually the exact same puzzles as Picross, just presented in a way that’s more difficult to understand and way less fun to solve. Who keeps including this? It’s been in every S-series game and I just don’t get what’s to like. Rather than solve for rows and columns, some of them will be arbitrarily combined and it just turns into drudgery. I’m not going to lie, I played a handful of these, but the instant you realise you’re doing the same puzzles in a different order to the basic mode it becomes tough to keep going.

The numbers can get a little hard to read in Colour Picross.

There’s not much else to criticise here. Like the last two Switch titles, there’s still no touchscreen controls, which seems weird given the series’ huge presence on the 3DS. Plenty of customisation is available in the button controls… just give me some touchscreen action! Multiplayer is the same as the previous two as well. Imagine relaxing on the couch, filling out a crossword, and you ask your spouse for some help. They come over with their own pen and start filling out letters at the same time as you and your pens keep hitting each other and you have no personal space and your whole zen is RUINED. For some reason your cursors in the Picross S series have collision detection and it leaves multiplayer feeling aggressive and uncomfortable. I guess it makes sense to include multiplayer on the Switch but trust me, you don’t want this. On a positive note, you can now preview a puzzle before you start to help you make a call on if this is one you have time to tackle right now. The tutorials cover advanced techniques alongside the basics, and can be summoned from within a puzzle. And the confusing ‘Stop’ and ‘View Tutorials’ menu options of S2 have been renamed to a clearer ‘Suspend’ and ‘View Tips’. All welcome features, if inessential.

Picross S3 is a welcome addition to the pantheon of Picross games. Colour Picross is great fun, there’s some nice quality of life improvements, and for the same $15 you’re getting 30 more puzzles than S2 and 180 more than S. Jupiter have always presented these with much more charm and polish than lesser companies and this one’s no exception. Improvements could be made, but there’s certainly nothing getting in the way of enjoying this one the same way you have enjoyed (or maybe will enjoy?) the 15 that came before.

Get this one for Colour Picross – it’s great fun and worth a bash if Picross is your thing at all. If you’re new, get this for the great amount of content. It’ll keep you busy for 30+ hours and it’s only $15! No-one’s going to judge if you skip Mega Picross though.

Rating: 4/5

The Good

- Polish
- Great amount of content
- Colour Picross

The Bad

- Mega Picross still sucks
- No touchscreen controls
- Zelda Picross 2 when?

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Get this one for Colour Picross - it's great fun and worth a bash if Picross is your thing at all. If you're new, get this for the great amount of content. It'll keep you busy for 30+ hours and it's only $15! No-one's going to judge if you skip Mega Picross though.

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About The Author
Ben Szabadics
Former child, current RPG & puzzle game obsessive. Terrible at social media.

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