Title: Picross S4
Developer: Jupiter Corporation
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: PEGI 3
Release Date: 23/04/2020
Price: £8.99 / Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Representing a graphical tour-de-force with each new entry in the series, a benchmark to set the industry standards for bleeding-edge technology, with far and away some of the most hardware stretching, GPU-shredding, visually stunning techniques, not limited to real-time ray tracing and full-screen particle effects, all somehow packed into the Switch’s stock Tegra X1 chip, Jupiter’s latest is something that will have experts marvelling at for years to come.
This is Picross.
Don’t Be Cross
If you lament the parody introduction, please spare a thought for those of us tasked with outlining the differences between Picross S3 and S4. They are few and they are minimal. The goods news is it matters not one whit.
Taking the purest of the series’ formulaic structure, Picross S3 continues its Switch predecessor’s clean brand of nonogram puzzle with the thorough polish that often escapes its eShop peers. Jupiter’s best shines in simplicity and ease of its user interface. S4 continues the tradition.
Aside from the standard puzzles, Picross S4 brings back Mega Picross, which introduces mega numbers that span two rows or columns; Color Picross, a more complex arrangement of hints and solutions that contain colour variations; and Clip Picross, where smaller puzzles are solved as part of larger picture. That is to say there’s nothing fundamentally new found here.
The uninitiated are well-looked after with a tutorial for each game type that guides you through the basic premise of how to tackle a Picross puzzle; a task that involves marking the correct squares on a blank grid using number-based clues. Completing one of these ‘picture crosswords’ reveals simple pixel-art images.
Giving a helping hand through assist functions makes those massive 30×30 puzzles more accessible for newcomers, impatient veterans or those who are just generally having a tough time. These functions can be used in a puzzle of any size and extend to all game modes with the only exception being the last level of each page. That said, every puzzle completed without the aid of the autocorrect, navigation cues or ‘hint roulette’ (a function that completes a random horizontal and vertical line automatically at the start of a puzzle) nets you a lovely gold star.
For players familiar with the format, Picross S4 is just another anaemic offering of comfort and continuity. Said players, will know what they’re getting into. However, if you’re the type of Picrosser who enjoys the gameplay quirks of sub-series favourites like Pokémon Picross, there are better options available, including some outside of Jupiter’s franchise (not least the seminal Murder By Numbers with its excellent blend of Ace Attorney and solid nonogram mechanics).
Of course, it’s important to note that for every missing gimmick, there’s an irreplaceable sense of tranquillity that accompanies an unaided completion of a tough 20×15 Mega Picross puzzle. And the at-your-own-pace leisurely marathon can always be ditched for a sprint to beat your personal best.
It would be remiss of me to mention the two problems I had. The first background theme is, frankly, grating and the usual issue of ‘not enough music’ continues in this entry. Add that to the fact that, yet again, the Picross series fails to make use of the Switch’s touchscreen. It might be a tad cumbersome, especially for the larger puzzles (though a stylus would resolve this), and the option would be a boon for accessibility.
Jupiter’s headline boast for S4 is one everyone can understand: 485 puzzles. Indeed, this is the highest count in the series to date, marginally outpacing the gargantuan Picross S3’s 480. As a bonus, owners of Picross S, S2 and S3 get a few bumper sized extra puzzles; a nice nod to fans but modest enough to not feel unfair to everyone else. Simply put, there’s more than enough to keep even the most of obsessive satisfied. Just don’t expect the world for a budget price, this party’s a bring-your-own soundtrack kind of deal.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Picross S4 from the Nintendo eShop now.