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Video Game / Picross

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Picross is a Nintendo picture puzzle series. In it, the player discovers hidden pictures by filling in blocks in a grid. The numbers along the top and left side of the grid provide clues as to which blocks should be filled in.

The puzzles in this game are just like Conceptis' Pic-a-Pix puzzles, and are also called nonograms and other names.

Most of the games were developed by Jupiter Corporation, with the exception of the Picross 3D games, which were instead made by HAL Laboratory.

The games in the Picross series are:

Tropes used in Picross:

  • Actionized Sequel: Picross X. Unlike traditional Picross games, which are focused around meticulously solving large puzzles, X is focused on rapidly solving waves of 5 x 5 puzzles in order to outrun the Uzoboross and then defeat it.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: In Picross X, you and your party of Picbits spend each stage running from the Uzboross, solving 5 x 5 puzzles in order to outrun it and avoid having your Picbits eaten by it. At the end of the stage, you and the remaning Picbits launch a counterattack on it, with the amount of damage equalling the number of treasures you found, the amount of power you got, and the number of Picbits in tow.
  • Allegedly Free Game: Pokémon Picross runs on this model with "Picrites", a currency that needs to be spent to do anything beyond just solving available puzzles. Picrites can be received for progressing through the game or by completing the daily challenges, but not very quickly; on average it takes about a week and a half to unlock each new set of puzzles. Unlike other games, Nintendo does put a cap on how much real money you can spend (after which Picrites are free), but that cap is around $30 when each Picross-e download is only $6.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • 3D Round 2 introduces a few:
      • There's a hint function that tells you what row or column you should work on next, with no penalty to your score.
      • The bomb automatically removes all rows and columns marked with a 0, saving quite a bit of time and the hassle of removing them yourself.
      • Unlike the first game where puzzles were sorted by difficulty, they're now sorted by themes and you can adjust the difficulty yourself, allowing you to play the game at your own pace.
      • There's no five-strike system anymore; you can mess up as often as you need without fear of losing (one-chance challenges notwithstanding).
      • Whereas the first game used stars to rank your performance in a puzzle (one for completing the level, one for doing it with no penalty, and one for doing it quick enough), the second uses plain points and jewels. In addition to making some puzzles easier to access, it removes a lot of stress when solving a puzzle, as you don't necessarily need to do a No-Damage Run to get the best jewels anymore.
    • In Picross S, if you turn on the Autocorrect Mistakes assist, it will only take away the No Assist star if you actually make a mistake for the game to correct, assuming you haven't activated any other assists yet.
    • In Picross X, the time limits and multiplier decay are made more lenient when using button controls instead of touch controls, to compenstate for button controls being slower.
  • Arrange Mode:
    • "Wario's Picross" in Mario's Super Picross is similar to the original Mario set of puzzles, but you do not get docked time for mistakes...but you also don't get any immediate feedback for mistakes either, so you're responsible for finding and correcting your errors. Later Picross games without the Mario branding call this "Free" mode. Picross S makes Free mode the default; "Mario mode" can be simulated by turning on the "Autocorrect Mistakes" assist, but you don't get time penalties for mistakes, instead losing the "No Assist" star the first time the game corrects a mistake for you (if other assists have not been activated yet).
    • The Picross-e and Picross S series have Mega Picross, which introduces double-width numbers. These big numbers mean "there's a run of this many filled blocks that is exactly two columns wide."
    • Some of the Picross-e games have Micross, where you start by completing an 8x8 "overall puzzle" and then each filled block has a 10x10 puzzle of its own to complete. The end result is an 80x80 picture.
    • Picross S2 introduces Clip Picross, in which you are given an assortment of sub-puzzles of varying size to complete and completing them all forms an overall picture. However, each sub-puzzle has to be unlocked first by completing end-of-row puzzles in standard Picross mode.
    • Picross S3 introduces Color Picross, which requires you to not only fill cells but also fill them with the correct color.
    • 3D Picross does this with some of the puzzle books:
      • Construction Challenges: You solve a series of puzzles that, when all completed to reveal the correct shapes, are put together to form one big arrangement of shapes, similar to Clip Picross.
      • Time Challenge: You start with a time limit of 3 minutes, but there are progress checkpoints where you will gain extra time.
      • One-Chance Challenge: If you make a single mistake, game over.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The Alt-World in Pokémon Picross rehashes all of the puzzles into Mega Picross puzzles. Keyword is rehashes; all of the puzzles are more or less the same, just with a Mega Picross gimmick. In addition, Mega Picross doesn't give any Picrite rewards like the main puzzles do. (There are achievement medals for unlocking the mode, solving one puzzle, and solving all puzzles including Alt-World, and these do give you Picrites, but not nearly enough to make up for what you spent unlocking it.)
  • Bowdlerise: The Japanese version of Mario's Picross had pictures not seen in the North American release. These mainly depicted alcoholic beverages, Japanese Youkai monsters, and on one occasion, tobacco. All of these were changed due to Nintendo of America's strict censorship policies.
  • Breaking Old Trends: For the Picross S series in particular:
    • It lacks a mode where filling in incorrect cells will apply a penalty to the player's completion time or give any sort of immediate feedback on mistakes, which was previously the default, instead running only on "Free"/Wario's Picross rules. While there is the "Autocorrect Mistakes" assist that notifies the player if they misfill a cell, the only penalty is the loss of the "No Assist" star, and that's if the player has not lost it through using other assists yet.
    • Despite being released on the Nintendo Switch, which has a touchscreen, there were originally no touchscreen controls available unlike Picross DS and the Picross e series, which were also released on systems with touchscreens (Nintendo DS for DS and Nintendo 3DS for e).note  However, Picross S9 brings back touch controls, which were also backported to previous Picross S games via software updates.
    • Pausing doesn't completely hide the current puzzle anymore; you can still see the parts that aren't obscured by the pause window. In fact, you even get a preview of the puzzle when selecting it from the puzzle select, on a screen where time doesn't start counting up just yet.
    • It marks the return of Picross to what can be considered home consoles (the Switch can be officially connected to a television set, but can also be used as a handheld) in 17 years after having spent some time being released on handhelds only, with the last home console game before that being the Picross NP series that ran until 2000.
  • Call-Back: Check around the room in 3D Round 2 when you complete a puzzle or view its description, and you'll see one of the puzzles from the first game as a toy.
  • The Cameo: Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, and Wario's transformations from Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 appear as backgrounds for the stage select in Super Picross.
  • Colorblind Mode: Picross S5, as well as post-launch updates for S3 and S4, add a "high contrast colors" toggle that normalizes Color Picross cell colors to a fixed set of easily-distinguishable colors. This is helpful for non-colorblind players as well, since some puzzles use colors that are very close to one another.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: Picross S allows two players to work on the same puzzle together. Picross S8 increases the number of maximum players to four, with the earlier games in the S series getting updated to feature the same.
  • Console Cameo: Both Mario's Picross and DS include puzzles of Nintendo systems (Mario's just has one of the Game Boy, DS has a whole series in the unlockable Free Mode "Extra" set).
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • 3D only has options to destroy blocks or mark them to prevent them from being destroyed by accident; marking was optional and didn't yield any penalty if you marked a block that's supposed to be broken. Round 2 spices things up a bit by having two colors of paint, and this time marking them with the right color is mandatory; it's easy to forget about it and mark a block with the wrong color by accident, thus earning a penalty, until you get used to it.
    • Picross X:
      • A puzzle labeled "Fill In Xs Too!" means just that — just regular-filling in the correct tiles is not enough. This not only means a puzzle may not be completed when you think it is, and also finished lines will not automatically fill in Xs.
      • There's the occasional Erase puzzle, where instead of filling in squares, you start with a completely filled puzzle and have to X out incorrect fills. This means one has to completely rewire their logic, and avoid instictively X'ing '5' lines among other things.
  • Exact Words: In Pokémon Picross, some of the missions state "Only use" some type of skill. To complete these missions, you can't just not use any other type of skill- you have to actually use the type of skill in question. This also works to the player's benefit; any mission that tells you to bring a certain number of skills of a type can be completed by simply bringing them, even if they can't be used in that puzzle.
  • Fake Longevity: Picross-e6, Pokémon Picross, Twilight Princess Picross, and the Picross S series have had the Mega Picross puzzles be re-hashes of the normal Picross puzzles, which means basically solving the same puzzles twice for full completion. In the earlier Picross-e titles, both modes had different puzzles.
  • Hard Mode Perks:
    • In 3D Round 2, changing the puzzle difficulty affects the multiplier you get on top of your points. Clearing a puzzle on Normal or Hard will get you 50% or 100% more points than on Easy, respectively.
    • Several skills in Picross X disable one of your abilities (such as the ability to put X marks or the blue hint numbers) to give you a score boost but with reduced Cost compared to non-debuff versions.
  • Ghost Leg Lottery: One of Mario's puzzles in Super Picross depicts one of these.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: The goal of Pokémon Picross, except you do it by solving Picross puzzles.
  • Grid Puzzle: A given since the game is basically solving nonograms.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: After clearing the first group of puzzles in Mario's Super Picross, you'll unlock Wario's Super Picross, complete with a "Wa" katakana flying on and off the game's logo when you switch to and from it. Wario's mode features no hints, but also no error penalty or time limit. Finish all of their puzzles and then clear the bonus title screen puzzles, and you'll allow Wario to take over the title screen as well.
  • In Name Only: Mario's Picross and Mario's Super Picross each involve only a handful of puzzles involving the Mario franchise, mixed in with non-Mario puzzles (and in Super, only in the EX groups). Really, Mario was only added to give a recognizable face to the games, and once it was popular enough he was dropped.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: Levels 2-4 in normal mode of Picross DS are themed after this, with level 2's puzzles being of land animals and having grass for its interface, level 3's puzzles being sea creatures and having water for its interface, and level 4's puzzles being of airborne objects (birds, kites, etc.) and having clouds for its interface.
  • Level Ate: Level 1 in both normal and especially free mode of Picross DS are food-themed. In normal mode, the level 1 puzzles are all produce, with the interface being made of apples, but free mode's level 1 puzzles have a more general food theme, including meat, dairy, bread (which also serves as the interface), and even desserts.
  • Marathon Level:
    • Each of the two final puzzles in Picross 2 are a whopping 60x60 in size. Each one is divided into four 30x30 puzzles which, given Picross 2's uniqueness, are themselves divided into four 15x15 quadrants, making for a total of 16 quadrants that must be solved in order to complete each one.
    • Micross puzzles in Picross-e2 and later. First you have to solve an 8 x 8 "overall puzzle" to reveal an abstract image. Then, for each filled square that is part of the solution, you have to solve a 10 x 10 sub-puzzle to detail that particular square. Whereas a good player can solve a standard 10 x 10 puzzle in 5 minutes or less, even the first Micross puzzle can take over half an hour. Fortunately, the "Free" rule (no penalties for filling incorrect sqares) is in effect for these puzzles, so as to not pile on top of the already-long times you'll finish these puzzles with.
    • As an Old Save Bonus, Picross S4 and S5 give you access to Extra puzzles that are 30 x 30 or 40 x 40, much larger than even the largest non-Extra puzzles (20 x 20).
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: The series by design consists almost entirely of these. New entries tend to add a fresh coat of paint and new Anti-Frustration Features, but otherwise new games just means new puzzles. Some games (most notably 3D) make an attempt at averting this by adding new puzzle styles, such as "3D Picross", "Color Picross", and "Mega Picross" with rule variations.
  • Mons: Used in Pokémon Picross as the game's primary gimmick. Pokémon you complete Picross of are caught and collected, and Pokémon can then be added to a team. The team supports the player by providing a variety of support abilities that make the game easier.
  • Nature vs. Technology: In Picross DS, most of normal mode's puzzles are of things found in nature, such as animals, plants, and produce, and its extra level is themed around game characters. Free mode, conversely, mostly contains man-made objects and human concepts, such as machines, occupations, and fairy tales, and its extra level is themed around game consoles.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Some of the puzzles in all games can get pretty brutal, and require more than a little guesswork to solve. It doesn't help that in Mario's Super Picross, some of the puzzles were changed for the Virtual Console version, which means that walkthroughs may not be accurate.
    • In Mario's Super Picross, the Wario levels go from 15-by-15 to 20-by-20 sooner that the Mario puzzles, and some of them require advanced techniques like figuring out which squares are guaranteed to be filled in by basically counting out from the edges both ways to see where they overlap. They can take as long as 20 minutes to finish the first time. Plus, having no hints, you don't get "freebie squares" filled in at the beginning, and having no penalties also means no feedback until you get it exactly right.
  • No-Gear Level: Every fifth puzzle in Picross-e (i.e. the end of every row) and every 15th puzzle in Picross S (i.e. the end of every page) disables the use of assist features. Color Picross mode in Picross S3 onwards is exempt from this gimmick, however.
  • Oddball in the Series: 3D, since the execution of such puzzles in three dimensions is so different.
  • Old Save Bonus: Picross-e games starting with e4 unlock extra puzzles if you have save data from Picross-e to e3. The Picross S series also does this, with S4 unlocking an extra puzzle for each of the three previous games that you have.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Some puzzles in the 3D games will fail you instantly if you make a single mistake.
  • Pause Scumming: Mostly defied. If you pause the game, the game will hide the current puzzle so as to prevent you from deflating your time by pausing and then looking at the puzzle. However, the most Picross S does is show the pause menu over most of the puzzle but not all of it.
  • Play Every Day:
    • Since DS, the 2D installments have included "Daily Picross", where once a day you're challenged to solve a series of 7x7 puzzles in the lowest time possible. DS has unlockable daily modes like "No X Marks" and "Error Search". Pokémon Picross's daily mode awards Picrites and is the only reliable way to farm them without paying real money.
    • Pokémon Picross also encourages frequent check-ins by having a rare Pokémon appear for a brief time every couple days, though once that Pokémon is caught its puzzle is unlocked for good.
  • Portmanteau: Picross = picture crossword.
  • Retraux:
    • In Picross S3 through S9, the Color Picross default music is an 8-bit remix of one of the other themes.
    • Picross S: Sega Genesis & Master System Edition, as befitting of the game's focus on Sega retro consoles, replaces the series-usual start and finish jingles with arrangements that use the soundfont of the Sega Genesis. The gameplay tracks are lifted straight from classic Sega games.
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices: Picross 3D: Round 2 has extra puzzles unlocked by certain amiibo figures.note 
  • Save Scumming: Possible in both Picross 3D games, as well as the Virtual Console re-releases of the Mario's Picross games. In the case of 3D Round 2, however, the game asks you if you want to delete your mid-puzzle save if you quit, so you must be careful not to erase it by accident.
  • Stalked by the Bell: In Picross X, if you have a between-round bonus puzzle in progress when the timer before the next round starts ends, or a non-bonus puzzle from the previous round even, you must finish it before you can start the next round (or use a skill that can skip the puzzle), while that new round's timer is now ticking away and the Uzboross is back on the chase.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: Common, as Supernote , NPnote , DSnote , -enote , and Snote  all qualify. 3D doesn't; as while titles with "3D" are often associated with the Nintendo 3DS, in this case it refers to the gameplay which actually debuted on the original DS.
  • Timed Mission:
    • In the Picross e series, if you clear the puzzle in an hour or less, the solution picture will be in full color. Otherwise it will be grayscale.
    • In the 3D Picross games, some puzzles are on a timer that begins at 3 minutes. However, there are progress checkpoints where you will get time added.
    • In Picross X:
      • In Single mode, you try to complete as many puzzles as possible within each round's time limit. If you don't solve enough, some of your Picbits will get eaten by the Uzboross, which will reduce how much damage you do to it at the end of the stage.
      • In Uzbo Run, you play as the Uzboross and try to complete puzzles to eat fruit that restore your continously-draining health. If your health reaches 0, it's Game Over. If you make it to the end, you get a bonus based on how much health you had left.
  • Time Trial: Completing the Star course in Mario's Picross unlocks time trial mode, where you solve a random picross as quickly as possible. In this mode, you have unlimited time, but mistakes aren't revealed. In Mario's Super Picross, Wario has an entire set of puzzles like this, unlocked after you beat the first level of Mario's own set of puzzles.
  • Title Drop: Done subtly and sneakily in Mario's Super Picross; when put together, the first eight puzzles in the game on Mario's Level 1 form マリオのピクロス (ma-ri-o-no-pi-ku-ro-su), aka "Mario's Picross".
  • Video Game 3D Leap: The Picross 3D games add an extra dimension to the puzzles.

Alternative Title(s): Marios Picross