There are a lot of puzzle fans out there that cannot get enough of Picross. Even if the next release is merely a bunch of new puzzles to tackle, many simply don't care that the series might not be doing much different with each subsequent game; they just want their fix and the chance to get the mind gears working in this addictive game once more. Jupiter doesn't look like stopping with its current Picross e puzzle projects, as Picross e3 lands on the 3DS eShop.
The usual Picross formula is back: playing on grids of varying sizes, the numbers to the sides of each row and column indicate how many squares must be filled in, forming a picture once completed. With 150 all-new puzzles for Picross e3, this will once again last for quite some time.
Anyone that's bought a Picross title in the past will know what to expect, and whilst that's acceptable for the diehard fans of the series, many might be wondering just what new ideas have been thrown into the mix, as something else to look forward to. Whereas Picross e2 had the great "puzzle inside a puzzle" Micross mode, what is introduced to Picross e3 is rather disappointing.
It's fair enough that what can be done with this game is likely rather limited, but the new Mega Picross mode has replaced Micross for this edition. Mega Picross uses "Mega Numbers" to provide hints that span two rows, instead of the usual one, making for some more challenging puzzles that require an alternative kind of logic to find the solution. Some might lap the arrival of this mode right up, but the change-up takes some getting used to and is more difficult than first thought, which could deter others that prefer the traditional single row hints of regular Picross puzzles. That said, the choice is there to try something different, but it's a bit of a shame that the more frustrating Mega Picross comes at the cost of Micross; would it not have been an idea to keep Micross in this version, too, as well as making way for the new mode?
On top of the usual varying difficulties of the many puzzles tucked away in Picross e3, Mega Picross is the only notable change made over its predecessor. Only fans will be able to decide for themselves whether the update is enough, but the fact that Picross e4, which has just come out in Japan, looks like it's made a few more interesting changes than what has been made to Picross e3 gives hope that there's still some freshness in the series that this edition could have really done with itself.
Whether using the preferred stylus and Touch Screen method or the button controls, the beauty of any Picross game is how easy it is to play. As always, a selection of difficulties for puzzles means both beginners and advanced players alike can dive right on in and get solving from the off.
Designed around the touch interface for easy interaction, Picross e3 is very easy on the eye, with no unnecessary colours and distractions during play. It's got a slick, welcoming feel to it, which goes hand-in-hand with the aim of not turning away newcomers, although it's definitely a straight copy-and-paste job from the past two Picross e games.
Using the exact same background music as in the previous game, as catchy as it might be, is rather dissatisfying. Surely there is room for a selection of other music to play? Even Tetris had that.
Hours can easily waste away in attempting to complete the larger and more difficult puzzles, and the sheer number of them means there's enough to satisfy the long-time fans and new players. Removing Micross Mode seems like a pointless move, though, and it really needs some other fresh ideas to keep the series from going too stale.
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Even as a simple update with 150 brand new puzzles, Picross e3 is always going to be a guaranteed great purchase at under £5 for both those who are already addicted to this simple but testing series, and to people that have never tried a Picross game before. Removing one game mode for a new one that isn't as fun and bringing barely anything else to the table to mix it up some more only gives the impression that minimal effort was put into Picross e3, though.
Jupiter Corp Publisher
I am one of those puzzle fans you mention in the first sentence that cannot get enough Picross.
For me, this game is a 10/10, but i appreciate the points you make in the review.
When you first learn how to play Picross, you learn some basic rules to help you solve the puzzles.
As you continue to play more and more, the basic rules become ingrained, and you notice other more subtle rules.
An you continue to play even more, all of this becomes automatic to some degree.
Mega Picross was a nice change in that regard.
It forces you back into the early days of learning the game, when it was more difficult.
One other thing I will say is that i have purchased many iOS Picross clones over the years.
They are never as fun, and confusing to play, as compared playing Picross with a d-pad.
I use the d-pad to count squares, but i can't do that on iOS.