I love puzzles. When I think of puzzle video games I generally think of a few different styles of puzzle: brain melting, creative/artistic, and relaxing fun. These styles can be (or be a part of) any genre of game. Picross games fit squarely into that third type and are some of the most relaxing games I’ve ever played, striking a near perfect balance of requiring thought while never being frustrating.
Picross S3 just came out on Switch and I am really looking forward to picking it up and diving into it. Picross S3's newest function is color based puzzles, which sound like a blast and a great addition. Picross S1 and Picross S2 are already on Switch and there are several Picross games on the Nintendo DS that I, unfortunately, never played. Or not unfortunately, because in a way there’s no harm in missing a single Picross game. While they all iterate on each other there is always the core game of number based puzzles and there’s no real harm in missing any, yet they will all bring you joy if you want to get them.
The brilliant simplicity of Picross games is the nature of its puzzle. This Wikipedia entry sums it up better than I can:
Nonograms, also known as Picross or Griddlers, are picture logic puzzles in which cells in a grid must be colored or left blank according to numbers at the side of the grid to reveal a hidden picture...For example, a clue of “4 8 3" would mean there are sets of four, eight, and three filled squares, in that order, with at least one blank square between successive groups.
If that sounds complicated, it’s not, but it’s kinda hard to explain a puzzle which is why I opted to quote! Look at the numbers on a grid, slowly but confidently block or fill all the squares, and at the end you are rewarded with a cute pixelated image. Repeat this and you have hours upon hours of pleasant wholesome puzzle fun. I’m not sure what it is about this specific type of puzzle but it’s juuuuust the right amount of complexity and juuust the right amount of simplicity to have universal appeal.
That universal appeal is why I think Picross games are the best purchase you can make for your Switch. I say you because I genuinely mean YOU - anyone reading this! It’s like Tic-Tac-Toe or completing mazes. There’s just this natural simple fulfillment that I think anyone can enjoy.
What makes me even more confident in saying pretty much any Switch owner should purchase a Picross game is that they may have the best cost to play time ratio of any game out there that isn’t free. Picross games are generally $9.99 and below and contain hundreds of puzzles that will take dozens of hours to complete. They are also often on sale and when new ones come out the older ones tend to drop in price by a dollar or so (or maybe they were always cheaper? I don’t know! Everything is a happy blur of Picross!)
Picross games will not blow your mind. They will not make your game of the year list. They are not the best games. What they are is the game you can always go back to. They are warm clean laundry. They are fresh sheets on a bed. Picross games are reliability. So go pick one up! Any one! None are better or worse than others and by the time you finish one another one will be there waiting.