Touching is good. That fact has already been well established. The Touch! Generations series of non-games has attracted many non-gamers to the Nintendo DS dual-screen portable, but many of them have grown weary with all the brain training exercises, the sudoku puzzles, and the brain training exercises in combination with the Sudoku.
Picross DS is the name of the new kid on the block. Its title is derived from the words “picture” and “crossword”. It’s hard to imagine how the two could meld together, but the results here speak for themselves. There’s a grid: 5x5, 10x10, 15x15 – you get the idea. Alongside the vertical and horizontal axes there are numbers. These denote how many squares need to be filled in for their respective row or column. If you want to know more, too bad – that’s pretty much all there is to it!
Picross is a very simple-to-learn puzzle game, but as with other similar games in this genre, it can be brutally difficult on the grey matter once you really dig into the depths it has to offer. There are plenty of puzzles here to keep you going for a very long time indeed. Beginner level puzzles have small grids that anyone will have no trouble breezing through. As you move onto the intermediate and advanced levels, the seconds that it took to previously complete the little 5x5s now turn into longer minutes.
The puzzles are categorised into different subject matters, for example: fruit, animals or musical instruments (as expected, this lot of puzzles is very difficult!). What this means is that the pictures you generate upon completion fit in with these themes.
But it’s all in good fun, and you can even challenge friends via wireless or WiFi to see who can finish a random selection the fastest. While it’s not the most gripping multiplayer experience, you never know how many short “just one more time” phrases will carry you and a couple of friends, your kid sister or dear old grandpa for longer than you’d expect. With WiFi access you are able to download additional puzzle packs, consisting of puzzles from past Picross iterations (yes, the DS wasn’t the first on the boat here), straight from Nintendo headquarters as they are made available.
I can safely say that Picross DS is one of the best puzzle games out there, whether you’re a casual gamer or not a gamer – it doesn’t matter. Its simplistic charm coupled with some of the most testing, but super-addictive puzzles ever conceived makes this a solid well-rounded package that’d make a great gift for anyone with a DS.