Exclusive to the My Nintendo rewards program comes a new chapter in the Zelda series. For hardcore Nintendo fans only, this game takes place in a dark timeline where Link dies and the player never continues the game. Midna gets bored of waiting, and starts carving out numbers on the spines of soldiers. “Hold still!” Midna insists, as the frightened guard screams in agony from the Twilight Realm. He can’t even see what Midna is doing, as she chuckles from the realm of light. Convinced he’s gone crazy, the guard kills himself with his spear, plunging it straight through his heart.
“Aw, you ruined my puzzle!” laments Midna. The spear went right though some of the numbers, but it gave Midna an idea. “I could combine numbers and lines to make interesting pictures!” Hooray! Welcome to My Nintendo Picross.
This was my first ever Picross game, and it proved to be an easy way to get my Picross career started. Midna’s sassy instructions feel more like a dare than a tutorial. Can’t you fill in squares? Are you useless? Hurry up! As it turns out, the rules to this game are way simpler than they look and you can pretty much start playing straight away. Just fill in the correct amount of squares in each row, slowly eliminating ones that can’t be filled. Roland (seasoned Picross expert) gave an excellent rundown of the rules here in his Pokemon Picross writeup.
I found Picross pretty engaging right away, and excitedly did puzzle after puzzle until I was onto the 3rd page of basic puzzles. It’s engaging because there’s always something to do. For a puzzle to actually be possible, there’s always a dot you can check. It’s like life, your soul might feel empty but there’s always an 8 you can partly fill on that lonesome night. You might not be sure you’ll get that new job, but tick all the boxes you can, and you’re likely to get somewhere. If the 8 doesn’t appear for you, you’ll see an opportunity on another line from somebody you met on the train. You might be up late at 2am, because you’re so depressed you didn’t get that job. Then suddenly you find a job you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, on the 17th page of fuckmylife.com. Picross taught me a valuable life lesson that there is ALWAYS a dot you can fill in. You might not see the whole picture at first, but you can see the progress.
Unlike life, Picross is daring and exciting all the time. The intensity of Picross can not be measured or drawn, only felt. I was on record Picross pace one time and tapped the wrong square, destroying my high score hopes and throwing havoc and doubt onto the outcome of the picture. I couldn’t see where I was going in life anymore and had made a big mess of everything. With too much damage to undo, I hit reset. I felt a prickling sensation on my spine as I was about to close the 3DS. NO, Midna! I will try again!
This brings about two flaws I had with this game. Firstly, the touch screen feels a bit small. That’s half my fault since I have a regular New 3DS and I think an XL would be fine. It also highlights a flaw in Picross itself, that once you make a mistake (either by tapping the wrong box, being stupid, or both like me) it’s very hard to undo something if you don’t notice. Even though a puzzle is technically always beatable, you can just make it waaaay harder with a single wrong tap which happened to me a lot. Since you have to scan every line to find out what’s wrong, I usually just started again. Furiously mashing the “easy” lines of 10 or 0 can often lead to a missed input or lack of awareness, and it’s something you have to do with a controlled amount of passion. You can also turn on button controls if you want to play it slow and cautious. When it comes to Picross though, I like to live on the edge.
After all the basic puzzles there’s an ADVANCED form of Picross called Mega Picross that uses one number across two lines to make the math a little more complicated. It adds a bit of depth but I wasn’t a big fan of this to be honest. Life doesn’t have to be so complicated to get what you want, and it felt like I was just doing an extra step here to get the same feeling. I also got a bit annoyed by the “hard” puzzles that have a million 1s and 2s. The game never really gets harder, just more convoluted as you find 1 dot at a time, instead of a bunch. It can still be rewarding, but by a certain point I had just memorised the patterns where a dot is going to appear so the challenge just boiled down to doing it fast. The record times are so pointless too, when you can just remember where the dots are and turn it into a poking contest.
Overall I had a good time with this and I think Picross is fun in small doses each night. I don’t think the game is good enough to take too seriously, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just a good way to engage your brain and make a few neat little pictures. This fun little package taught me something about bonding with games. After putting a lot of time into it, I’ve grown a bigger affinity for Twilight Princess in my heart. Constantly seeing Midna and hearing the chill remixed music just made me think about the game a lot. It’s basically doubling as an advertisement for Twilight Princess HD. I don’t think that’s a bad thing since I greatly enjoyed my time, but I think this is something Nintendo should try with lesser known franchises. A big strength of Nintendo series is that they ALL have good music and a unique theme. Metroid or Star Fox Picross would be a good way to get their awesome music stuck in people’s heads and spark a bit of curiosity into those universes, with the same level of Picross fun. A My Nintendo series of Picross would be great and I hope they keep coming. I also hope Midna finds something healthier to do after the last soldier is gutted.
“Oh hey. Look at all these goats…”
NO. NOOOOO. MMREEEEHHHHHH!! GOAT IN!~ GOAT IN!~ GOAT IN!~