The popular nonogram puzzle has been a fixture on Nintendo handhelds since Mario’s Picross on the Game Boy, and responsibility for this eShop release once again falls to regular series steward Jupiter. Though the developer’s Picross DS didn’t quite match the excellence of Hudson Soft’s Japanese-only Illust Logic, the former’s regular flow of downloadable puzzles meant it offered greater longevity. Picross E has less content – and, on 3DS, less competition – than its immediate predecessor, but it arrives with a much lower price tag and a refined interface to compensate.
As ever, each puzzle is a matter of teasing out a pixel image by filling in tiles on a square grid according to numerical clues along each row and column. A handful of 5×5 grids ease you in, while later puzzles offer optional assistance by filling in a single vertical and horizontal line to accelerate what can be a painstaking process. The game splits its conundrums in two, with 60 Normal puzzles that punish each mistake with a time penalty and an equal number in Free mode that offer no clue if you’ve made an error. A final set of bonus puzzles offers a more substantial challenge, though the gargantuan grids of the previous game are absent.
Beyond the sharper picture quality, there’s little here that couldn’t have been done on DS, though it matters little in the face of such ageless design. Picross E may not do much more than the basics, then, but sometimes that’s all that is needed.