Pixelogic for iPhone Review


 (I wrote this review for my blog, SuicidalSnowman Gaming, and would have posted it to GB, except this apparently doesn't qualify for the wiki)

For the uninitiated, Picross is a number puzzle that crosses the logic of Sudoku with cross referenced clues from Crosswords.  The gamer starts with an empty grid that has a series of numbers next to each column and row.  These numbers indicate how many squares are filled in, as well as how many are touching.  Players are then able to indicate which ones are filled in, and which are certainly empty, and finally discover the solution.  Solutions traditionally are pictures.

Picross generally draws comparisons to Sudoku and Crosswords, which makes it an ideal time-waster game.  Perfect for short bursts during a commute, while waiting for an appointment, a few minutes over your morning coffee.  Therefore, it makes an absolutely ideal iPhone app.  The problem with iPhone and Picross is the board sizes.  Picross doesn't really get challenging until you are on AT LEAST a 15x15 grid, and once you are advanced, 25x25 seems like a fun challenge.

Different Picross games handle this limitation in unique ways.  Pixelogic, for my money, has an elegant solution.  The game auto-zooms to a 5x5 grid, and then must be un-zoomed to look at the entire puzzle.  The game WILL NOT let you mark tiles without being zoomed into the 5x5, the first time you touch the puzzle it zooms you in.  At first, this is very disorienting, but after 5 minutes it feels entirely natural.  I also found that it lowers mistake taps caused by 'pinching' zoom systems on most other Picross apps.

As for the game itself, it features 5x5, 10x10, 15x15, and newly 20x20 puzzles.  Each section has about 20 built in puzzles, which is a fair amount.  They aren't anything new or groundbreaking, but will take a few hours for even highly advanced Picross solvers (Note: I consider myself a very advanced Picross solver).  The games real reply value, however, comes from its Puzzle Editor.

That's right, an iPhone Picross app that lets you make your own puzzles.  Rare indeed, the editor is simple to use.  You simply select a board size, mark squares, and the game sets up the rest.  You can then title your creation, and even upload it to the Pixelogic servers.  You can also go back and play your created puzzles at any time.  I haven't found a way to edit them a second time as of yet, but that is a minor setback.

Uploaded puzzles are then distributed once a day as the "Daily Puzzle." This occurs automatically, and puzzles are sorted naturally into folders by date.  You can, of course, prevent this from happening.  The advantage of this is that you no longer had to sort through thousands of user uploads to find good ones.  The daily puzzle has already been vetted by someone working for Pixelogic.  Also, there is currently backlog of almost 2 years, all of which are available, plus new ones are made everyday.  Therefore, this game has unlimited re-playability.  This is what pushes Pixeloigc to the top of the iPhone Picross pile.

Otherwise, the game offers the usual Picross options, including timed high scores and an option to allow unlimited mistakes while solving.  My complaints are few indeed, although it should be noted that the daily puzzles occasionally require some trial and error solving.  Like a Sudoku, a Picross should be solvable from logic alone, but occasionally a user submitted puzzle sneaks through that requires a few guesses.  When you consider that this is less than 5 of several hundred puzzles, it is a minor complaint.  Also, the interface is a little bland and boring, but if nothing else it is functional.

Pixelogic is simply the best iPhone Picross game out there, free or paid.  The $2.99 price tag is well worth the price for an awesome game that constantly updates with new puzzles.  While some may complain about the auto-zoom feature, after 5 minutes of practice, it provides a simple and functional solution to allow full Picross on the iPhone.  This game is a must buy for fans of Picross, and anyone with an interest in Sudoku or logic games should give it serious consideration.