This is basically a demo, if you like it the purchase is almost mandatory.
This is a neat little game that can be downloaded freely from the 3DS store, though you can hardly play it without paying. Unless you are extremely casual and play something like one or two puzzles a day just for fun the purchase is almost required. This is extended demo at best, not at all free to play. The game features 30 locations which require the in-game currency to unlock; the Picrites.
Each puzzle you complete a Pokemon image will be formed, that Pokemon is the one you just caught. So by just completing the puzzle you’ll have access to that Pokemon and its skill. Pokemon skills make the journey a little easier since they can offer help like Scatter Reveal which reveals correct blocks scattered around the puzzle.
The puzzle system is basic picross, very hard to put into words to be frank. Basically each square has an ‘image’ hidden within. This image in the case of Pokemon Picross is a sprited image of a Pokemon. On each corner hints of how many rows of filled small squares there are in each. So in a ’10 x 10′ type of puzzle there will be 10 rows and 10 columns, resulting in 100 little squares. If a hint on the side/top says ’10’ it simply means that all of the little squares in that row/column are filled. Tread with no fear and fill those little squares without any regret.
If the hint says something like ‘3 6’ then it means that you have from the left to right 3 filled small squares, an unfilled small square, then another row of 6 filled small squares one after the other. You can easily know that because you need to have an unfilled square in the middle of broken numbers, and since the result including the unfilled one is 10 then you’re good.
The problem begins with hints like ‘1 1 1 1′ which means that one certain row/column has 4 unfilled small squares and 6 unfilled ones. It’s not quite clear where they are located so you must climb your way from easier hints to get more hints within the square to clear it out. For example, since a column of ’10’ will invariably cross the row of ‘1 1 1 1’, we can deduce that that one filled small square from the column is one of the 1’s, and we can also conclude that in each side of that 1 there are two unfilled small squares.
Nice fun to be had really. Nintendo DS has quite a collection of those nifty puzzles that serve way too well to pass some time. The Pokemon skills that ease things up a bit aren’t mandatory as far as the puzzles go. There’s evolutionary Pokemon that make the skill stronger along with longer cooldown period and a puzzle size limit.
The total number of puzzles is 300 and the total Pokemon count is also 300. You can only have 5 in your party at a time. You start with one party slot and need to buy the remaining slots. Picrites are very limited and unless you pay the price to receive 5000 and the removal of time limit the pace will be incredibly slow.
There are two ways of receiving Picrites, one is completing the daily challenges which only hand out a few number of them and can be played once a day. The other one is from completing missions in each puzzle you play. These missions range from completing it under a certain amount of time to using some Pokemon skill during the playthrough. There’s also missions that are completed only if all the other missions are completed at once.
Again, what you get from these missions and daily challenges can get you so far into the game. Stage 5 or 6 for example. You’d have to be incredibly patient and earn a handful of Picrites daily during a very long time to advance without paying. At least you get to be addicted to the game before you’re bashed in the face with the price. Be aware that there’s a price though, there’s always a price.
In addition, a system of achievements is also present. It hands out Picrites as well, though very few of them to tell the truth. You get them from filling certain number of squares (100, 1000, 5000…) or stuff like unlocking a new destination. There are 100 of them waiting to be unlocked.
I guess the worst thing about this demo is that you have an energy gauge and each time you fill a small square in some puzzle it goes down by one. It doesn’t matter if its right or wrong. X’s in unfilled squares don’t affect the energy bar. It takes a few hours for it to refill and during that time it’s completely off-charts, no gameplay for you. Again, if you make the purchase the countdown clock disappears.
This is a pretty fun game. Nintendo did what they did with many other stuff really. They took a well-established franchise and built a game that has absolutely no connection with that and made it work a bit different to welcome fans of that franchise into a well-known game. We’ve seen multiple companies try that throughout the years with stuff like Tetris-themed stuff or Pokemon Pinball and Pokemon Puzzle, for example.
All in all, Pokemon Picross offers some Pokemon-themed mechanics that overall don’t have anything to do with Picross but might get audiences that aren’t exactly the targeted ones into the game. The pay-to-play masqueraded as free-to-play system is debatable at best. Since there’s no free lunch we might go with that, if you liked what you saw in the first few hours go ahead and make your purchase. A fair deal in some weird twisted way.