Top Critic Average
Solving Picross puzzles with the reward of gaining new Pokémon is a great hook, but the free-to-play mechanics hold the game back from being something special
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.