Thursday, August 09, 2007


Picross is Back

On the one hand, ordering video games from Amazon saves me the trouble of calling around to video game stores to see which, if any, bothered to stock enough copies of my favorite little niche puzzle game to exceed their pre-orders. On the other hand, it's been a long, lonely wait from last week's release date until this afternoon, when Picross DS finally crossed the threshold into my home.

I have very strong feelings about this game. I would go so far as to say that I have an emotional attachment to the sport of Picross, the same way some people love tennis or chess. It's been a very long time since I've felt such a deep level of satisfaction over simply owning something. I've bought a great many ports, sequels, and remakes to video games that I've enjoyed in the past, but apart from maybe Super Mario Brothers Deluxe for Game Boy Color, none of them have ever really given me this feeling. It's like an old friend has finally come home, and we have so much catching up to do.

I wish I could say that I loved Picross from the very start, but it would be a lie. I greeted Mario's Picross with a sneer of contempt because I was a shallow, shallow teenager who thought he didn't need another lame puzzle game with a tacked-on Mario license and awful graphics that was trying to breathe life into the dying Game Boy. Oh, what a fool I was.

But just as it helped me to discover the magic of Game & Watch Gallery, a review on Game Boy Color Dojo pointed me toward the light. All it took was a screenshot and a description of the puzzle mechanics, and suddenly I had a playable demo sketched on a piece of graph paper. When my scribbled-in grid gave birth to a cute little pixel-graphic boat, I began to feel the full weight of what I'd discovered.

This was major.

It took me years -- years! -- to find a used copy of the game, but when I found it, I devoured it. I slaughtered puzzle after puzzle with reckless glee. There were well over a hundred puzzles in the game.

In other words, not even close to enough.

I went back to the game again and again, little caring that I was making the same old picture of an elephant over and over. It wasn't about the end result -- it was about the joy of the activity, the sheer thrill of making a picture appear using nothing but the power of my counting skills.

I later took up an interest in Sudoku along with the rest of the world, but I'll be honest -- it was largely to placate the part of me that still pined for Picross.

And now it's back.

If you have ever loved a logic game, buy Picross DS, and you will be happy for the rest of your life. I've spent precious little time with the various puzzle-creating tools that the game comes with, but preliminary tests have been very promising. It's a Picross that never ends. There is absolutely nothing else that I could ask for.

This game is destined to keep my DS alive for a very, very long time.


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