I don’t know how closely you’ve been following this series of articles, but near the end of the last one, I suggested that I would like it if picross puzzles always came in Mega flavour from then on.
I didn’t get my wish, but Picross e4 found it appropriate to place a very significant amount of its puzzles into the Mega category, so I’m pretty happy about that. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s take a few steps back and start at the start.
Picross e4 is just another game in the Picross e series. It doesn’t redefine the formula, add any spectacle, or try to pull off any other kind of dramatic thing. If you’ve played any one of the three previous games, you know what to expect as far as the general feel goes.
Because I’ve made a big deal out of it the last three times, I suppose that it’s worth mentioning that e4’s colour palette is an orangey-yellow. I’m not a fan of yellow, but I do like orange, so it evens out there. I certainly prefer it to e2’s green yuck, but it still doesn’t look anywhere as nice as the blue and pink themes of the first and third games.
The first thing you’re likely to notice about Picross e4 is that it no longer separates the regular puzzles into the “normal” and “free” categories. The last game let you set the rules to your liking under normal mode, so it seemed a bit silly that they bothered to split them up at all in that game. Here, all 105 gimmick-free puzzles are lumped under the simple “Picross” banner. It may seem like you’re getting fewer game modes, but really they’re just streamlining it and giving you free reign over how you want to play. It’s a nice change.
Next up on the menu is… sigh… Micross. Yes, Micross is back, and it’s as boring as ever. Fortunately, there are only two Micross puzzles to solve this time around, so it’s pretty easy to get in and done there pretty quick.
For newcomers, Micross is a Picross puzzle that when solved, turns each chiseled block into its own little puzzle. So you’ve got a several dozen little puzzles that all form a single picture. The drawback is that some of these mini-puzzles are dreadfully easy and are nothing but a waste of six seconds.
The one saving grace of Micross is that it retains the stuffy museumey music from e2. It’s not really an interesting tune or anything, but it fits Micross’ classical art theme nicely.
On that note, the basic music in e4 is a chipper tune that I actually don’t mind. I couldn’t tell you for sure if it’s the same music that Jupiter used in any of the previous games, because it’s not at all memorable. But I did play the first page of regular puzzles with the sound on, so that’s quite an achievement. Normally I just turn the music off right away.
The last category of puzzles is, like we talked about earlier, Mega Picross. In e3, Mega Picross was a completely new way to play, and it stumped me good. I got stuck on several Mega puzzles for over half an hour, and while it was a bit distressing that I was having so much trouble solving them, I loved every minute of it. It was a welcome change to be playing puzzles that were actually challenging me to think again.
As of e4, I have solved the riddle of the Mega Picross, and now I can complete them at a much more reasonable pace. It really can take a while to understand the intricacies of trying to solve two lines at a time, but when it clicks, it clicks, and the world becomes your oyster.
The best part about it is that while I understand Mega Picross now, it doesn’t make them any less challenging. I still have to really get my mind in gear to solve these babies, and it feels so good. Regular Picross almost feels trivial now that I’ve gotten the hang of how the Megas work. Now, having absolutely crushed e4 and its slew of Megas, I truly to wish that all Picross from now on was in Mega form. I won’t say that Mega Picross has ruined normal Picross for me, but that’s only because I can’t fathom a world in which I’m not hopelessly addicted to Picross.
On top of all that, Jupiter saw fit to reward its most loyal Picross e fans, and threw in a little bonus content: for every cleared Picross e game on your 3DS, five more Mega Picross puzzles are unlocked. It’s not a lot of extra content, but I’m pleased as punch to get them all the same. Conversely, I don’t know if there’s any other way to unlock these puzzles, so it might be a kick in the nads for people who haven’t been buying these games like they’re going out of style.
You know what really bugs me about the Picross e series though? There hasn’t been a single Nintendo-themed puzzle yet. Not one! It’s not really a big deal, but I’m so used to having a selection of fun Nintendo puzzles to tucked in there somewhere. You can only carve out the same old flowers and household objects so many times before they start to wear on you.
They don’t even have to be Nintendo puzzles. The Super Famicom’s Picross NP series had a section of “Special” puzzles in each game that were all based on things like fairy tales, folklore, history, and landmarks, all with a short description of each solution once you solved the puzzle. Of course, those games are all in Japanese so I didn’t know what I was creating most of the time, but I think that a mode like that would be really neat.
At the very, very least, Picross e5 could have its puzzles split into categories (food, birds, flowers, etc) like in Picross DS. The haphazard way that Picross e just throws it all together bothers me. I like order. I think I may have gone on a similar rant in one of the other Picross e reviews.
Anyway, that’s all just petty whining. Picross e4 is my favourite of the series, as it’s got the most Mega puzzles. Otherwise, they’re really all the same. And don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing, because the level of polish is very high, and picross is always a good time.