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At its core, Pokémon Picross is a clever execution that injects the Picross formula with touches that make puzzle-solving more directed and ultimately more alluring. The Pokémon IP has not been used superficially, which in itself is commendable. But most surprising is that even with the suspect microtransactions, it's not as bad of a money trap as it could have been. What's more, the standard established at the outset is great for its transparency, which, when coupled with measures to ease the player in without feelings of obligation, make for a relatively comfortable entry point. At the same time, it's sad to see that the support systems are so restrained that it dulls a sense of reward, causing microtransactions to overpower the further you get into the experience. Ultimately, reflecting on the game's defined variables and fun, experimental mechanics will work to disarm the future battle against microtransactions, should you decide to continue with it.
Pokemon Picross is a fun and interesting way of playing Picross, but I can see how some elements might turn a player off to the game. If you opt to not spend any money, the experience can get rather boring as you can only do so much at a time before you have to wait a while to continue. Still, the fact that you can get close to a third of the way through the game at no cost makes it worth at least checking it out, but I feel that things could have been done better.
But to me, those few issues are worth wading through because moment-to-moment puzzle gameplay in Pokémon Picross is dependable and excellent. It's a perfect gateway drug to nonogram puzzles if you've never tried them before. And if you're a Picross vet hankering for more, this is well worth diving into as long as you're okay with the fact that, if you want to play this free-to-start game without mindlessly repeating puzzles ad nauseum, you're going to have to spend some money.
Picross with Pokémon. That's all this needed to be, and that's what this appears to be at a glance, but further inspection reveals much more. The murals provide long-term motivation. The missions provide short-term reward. The mega rows encourage nonstandard nonogram logic over rote processes. Aside from the strangely disguised pricing scheme, the new additions to Pokémon Picross exceed expectations.
Pokémon Picross succeeds flawlessly with its goal of making an easily accessible Picross title with additional appeal for people who are used to the puzzles. Optional stages and challenges are sure to keep veterans on their toes, while newcomers can be perfectly happy with the main puzzles that will keep their minds stimulated without being too difficult. Nintendo even succeeded to implement Pokémon into the game in a natural way, as more than just pictures. This, mixed with a fair roof on the optional purchases, makes Pokémon Picross a wonderful game to play, no matter the desired play style or former experience with the puzzles. It's a title that is recommended for everyone with a 3DS to try out!
Pokémon Picross is still a very competent Sudoku game and the added layer of "catching 'em all" is fun and offers a bit more to the core experience. The "free to start" angle is an interesting one and one that I really don't mind. It's all up to the player if they want to play more, and I enjoyed what I did play. It's free to try and if you enjoy what you play, there's a ton of content to be had and puzzles to be solved. You have nothing to lose to begin with and if you end up enjoying the game, I say drop the cash down on it. Just remember, you have to hit the money threshold to fully get it.
At the very least, I happily recommend that everyone with a 3DS give it a shot. It's free to download, and you'll get an idea of whether you dig it long before you'll feel any pressure to spend money.
However, Pokemon Picross is massive, so longevity certainly isn't lacking. It comes with 30 areas, two large-scale murals composed of smaller puzzles, special stages to help your Pokemon Mega Evolve, and randomized encounters that appear occasionally on the map to catch rare creatures.
Pokemon Picross takes two familiar things and combines them into something new and fresh. The 3DS has no shortage of great puzzle games, yet Pokemon Picross can easily stand out among the crowd, especially if you're a fan of either of its two elements.
Ultimately, Pokémon Picross is a very satisfying experience, but it can come at a great cost. The introduction of missions, skills, and achievements greatly expands upon the base of number puzzles, but the stingy free-to-play aspects do hold it back from its full potential. If you're looking for a game that you can play casually without paying, look elsewhere. If you're willing to pay up, this is the best entry in the Picross e sub-series yet.
Pokemon Picross is a fun take on the picross formula, which has you solving puzzles that combine Sudoku elements with pixel art. The freemium formula it uses is admittedly a Catch 22 that will leave a bad taste in some gamers' mouths unless they spend the requisite $30 to access the full game experience without having to worry about timers and content gating. The puzzles themselves, however, are well done and can be addicting for folks who love brain teasers.
In order to get the most out of Pokemon Picross, you have to appreciate both series. While it's a free-to-play game, it's an extensive puzzle experience designed specifically for those who want a challenge. If you don't fall into either category, it'll be hard to enjoy the game nearly as much as you could have otherwise.
If you love Picross but don't want to spend over $32 for the full experience, check the Picross e series which are from the same developer. Each of the six titles cost $5.99, and you will have a bigger and better experience for around the same price.