I’ve done enough of these picross games now to know there’s very little to say about them. For the most part, for the Jupiter developed ones (like this) at least, they’re pretty much the same.
The different thing in this is “clip picross” mode, where parts of a larger puzzle are unlocked as you play through the other puzzles, and then you complete these parts to make up a larger picture. It’s a bit like in previous games but instead of each puzzle in the clip puzzle being made up from the same size puzzles, they’re all sorts of different multiple-of-five sizes.
In all, I’ve spent probably 25 hours on the game, so it’s definitely value for money, as always.
One of my favourite types of game is picross. There’s something relaxing about switching to autopilot and completing a load of puzzles. One of the best, quirky game series of all time is Phoenix Wright, with it’s gentle humour, amazing characters, and murders. Murder By Numbers is both these things.
I talk about it a lot on episode 33 of the ugvm Podcast, but briefly, Murder By Numbers is very much like Phoenix Wright only each time you find a clue you have to reveal it by solving a picross puzzle. Oh, and there’s no courtroom.
It has a great cast of well drawn characters with some funny dialogue, excellent music, and importantly the flow between detective sections and picross sections somehow never seems jarring. It’s also surprisingly long, especially with all the bonus puzzles you can unlock if you do all the ones in the story without using any hints.
If you even only slightly enjoy picross puzzles, this is a great game for you.
It’s another picross game! But this one is different! And isn’t by Jupiter!
Sure, it’s still picross. PictoQuest adds light RPG elements to the formula though, with items and powerups and baddies to “fight” by completing rows and columns in the grids.
Which all sounds perfect, until I completed it and realised I’d totally ignored absolutely everything to do with the RPG stuff as it’s entirely unnecessary and does nothing. Sure, perhaps if you’re very, very, very slow completing the levels there’s a slim chance you might die, but other than that this is almost exactly like a Jupiter picross game. I didn’t use a single item, die, or even pay attention to what the baddies were doing. I did buy the extra hearts from the shop mainly as something to spend my accrued money on, but I didn’t need them as I was rarely damaged.
As a picross game, though, it’s great. It’s just everything else that’s pointless.
I was convinced this took me around 40 hours, but no, just under 28. It just felt much longer than the other picross titles I’ve played on the 3DS, but it’s about par for them.
There’s not a lot else to say, really. It’s picross, with Sanrio (think Hello Kitty) characters as the puzzles. There are loads of stickers to unlock, but they’re of little use as you can’t take screenshots, but the main picross is the same picross as picross ever was.
Yes, I’ve been playing games. I’ve not completed any recently so haven’t posted about them. And, all the games I’m playing are pretty long. With all that in mind, here’s an update on them!
No Man’s Sky (PS4)
Having not played the game for almost two years, I started it again. Why? Because Hello Games have effectively turned the original game into a sequel over a series of updates I’d never even looked at since then. And since many people have found bugs and other issues when migrating an old save to the new version, I thought it best to begin again.
It’s certainly different, that’s for sure. I go into a lot more detail on the ugvm Podcast, but in short, I don’t really like most of the changes. The base building is, in itself, fine but it’s not what I want in my No Man’s Sky. Some of the Quality of Life changes, like stacking inventory items and easier ways to make money are appreciated, though, and the new Artemis storyline gives me a new thing to do, so I’m still enjoying it. So much so I’m already 40 or so hours in. Again.
Sanrio Characters Picross (3DS)
Yes of course I was going to buy this. Because I love Hello K–uh picross games. It’s huge, and I’m probably only 15% done so far.
Oh my. Who’d have thought this day would come? A re-release of Shenmue (and Shenmue II!) for a new console? Over the last few years I’ve been trying to find a nice way to play the original Dreamcast games on something more modern, eventually running it in an emulator on a PC streamed to my TV with a Steam Link… only that was a mess and fiddly and didn’t happen. I toyed with a handheld device like the GPD Win, but couldn’t justify the expense. But now – it’s on the PS4 and it’s excellent.
So far in the story, I’ve spent all my money on capsule toys, played with a cat a lot, found some sailors, not found Charlie, and have made it into the wrong Warehouse 8. And I’m loving it.
Hollow Knight (Switch)
When I was trying to find reasons not to buy this, because I already have too many Switch games, I settled on “I don’t like the art style”. Then it was on the eShop for cheap and I bought it anyway. I Am Not Strong.
But I’m glad I did, because it’s amazing.
It’s a Metroidvania, where you play as some sort of beetle with a nail for a sword, fighting other bugs and exploring a ruined world. It’s beautiful, challenging and really very well designed, and after about twelve hours in I thought I’d seen most of the map and then opened up three entirely new areas. It’s big.
It’s hardly innovative, being yet another game in the long line of Picross titles from Jupiter. And after Picross e to Picross e7, as well as a few others, you’d think I’d be fed up of Picross games by now, right? Well, no.
In fact, Picross S is in some ways a step beck from the 3DS games. There’s no Micross mode for a start. It also doesn’t make use of the massive Switch screen to allow huge Picross puzzles – 20×15 is your lot here.
But that doesn’t really matter all that much, as it’s Picross and Picross is great. Besides, there are more puzzles here than in any previous game (although I suspect many are repeats), and I got around 25 hours out of it. Picross S2 now, please.
I’m aware I’ve not posted in a while, so just a brief catchup.
Stardew Valley (Switch)
Just reaching the end of Winter, Year 3, and although I’m ready to wed the lovely but crazy Emily, there’s been no rain for the entire season so I can’t see the guy on the beach and buy the necessary amulet. I’ve been making friends with everyone while I wait instead. I’ve also managed to complete Qi’s increasingly more bizarre requests and now have access to the casino. I’ve not won much though.
I think I’m nearly done with the game. Once I’m married I’ll consider retiring, unless it opens up more gameplay stuff. I’m almost 110 hours in and there are other games that need playing.
Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
800-odd moons now. I’ve completed The Darker Side (but not The Dark Side), and collecting the remaining moons is tedious beyond belief. It’s the least fun Mario game in ages now. But I feel I must get them all, so…
Million Onion Hotel (iOS)
I talked about this for a bit on the ugvm Podcast (which you really should listen to). It’s a 5×5 grid, screen tapping puzzle game that I paid real actual money for and it’s madness. And too hard. I reached the third boss but that’s as far as I’ve managed so far.
Picross S (Switch)
Not very much though. Just the odd puzzle every now and then. That’s not knocking it – it’s how I want to play it!
Maybe I miscalculated, or maybe my picross skills are now honed to the point where I complete puzzles on autopilot, but it turns out Picross e7 was actually shorter than Picross e6. Not much – 27 1/2 hours compared with about 28 hours, but it was still a surprise.
Like before, there’s some “cheating” going on by reusing the same pictures for both the picross and mega picross modes, which is a shame. Also, you don’t get many “bonus” puzzles for owning other games in the series – just 15 in total. It’s the same as before, but there are 6 previous titles now, not 3!
And that’s all there is to say, really. It’s more picross. And there’s an excellent toilet in it.
Gasp. No that really is the name of the game. It’s an eShop download that is available for free if you pick up enough Platinum points in Nintendo’s new “My Nintendo” service. If you jumped on Miitomo right away you should have enough by now so you’ve no reason not to get it.
From the verbose game title, you should know what to expect. A Picross e game (it’s by Jupiter) only themed around Twilight Princess. There are 45 puzzles (repeated as Mega Picross puzzles, which is cheating a bit I suppose) and a pretty large Micross to solve in this package, which is roughly half the size of most Picross e titles in terms of content. Indeed, it took me just shy of 8 hours to complete everything.
Sure, it’s smaller, but it’s also free. And properly free as well, not like that Pokémon Picross nonsense from a while back – no game ruining IAPs here, thankfully – just lots of lovely Picross puzzles.
Picross e6 is HUGE. Especially compared to previous Picross eX games. Picross e2 took me 18 1/2 hours to finish, and was the previous largest game, but e6 took me just shy of 30 hours. Massive, see.
Unfortunately, it does this by cheating a bit. You see, it seems that all the standard Picross puzzles are duplicated as Mega Picross puzzles. You know, those ones where numbers span two rows or columns. Sure, it means the solutions aren’t the same, but it did mean I recognised a few before they were finished so knew where I had to fill some of the squares in without doing the logic for them. It also meant they didn’t need to create more puzzles. A shame, but not a game killer.
As it is, it’s more Picross. A lot more. They’ve added no extra modes or anything this time around, but that’s not really important. Roll on e7!
I do like a bit of Picross. Considering it’s a puzzle game that requires thought, I can lose hours to it by switching my brain off. Seriously – the puzzles complete themselves after a while. It’s like a reflex or something.
Picross e5 is exactly like Picross e4, so if you’ve played that you know what to expect here. The only slight surprise is that they’ve managed to squeeze some extra pixels out of the bottom screen and throw you some 20×15 size puzzles for the first time – 15×15 being the previous max. There aren’t all that many though, with the majority of the game being 15×15.
Maybe for Picross e6 they’ll stop pretending anyone actually uses the stylus controls (nobody does, you idiot) and just go all out on the top screen instead. Pretty sure they could squeeze a 30×20 on there.
A lot of things, it seems. I’ve had a glut of new games over the last month and I’ve been playing each for a short time. I’ve yet to settle down and just work on one or two, so I’ve not made much progress in each. So here’s a list, in no particular order:
Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition (Vita)
My subscription to PS+ was autorenewed before I could cancel it (the whole service got DDOS’d and I couldn’t log in), so I thought I might as well make use of it. This is one of the rentals.
It’s Duke Nukem. A bit easier to control than the 360 version that appeared on XBLA, and with a nice (but often broken) rewind feature if you die. It’s the same game that it ever was, so great. Half way through the first episode so far.
At least, I was playing this until my family hijacked my save game. I’ve no idea what’s going on. You’re a snake which flies around bizarre levels bumping into things which sometimes react, solving puzzles that aren’t really puzzles, in an attempt to reunite with other snakes. I think. You’re just dropped into the game with no explanation and just expected to get on with it. It’s good, but I’m confused and lost. No idea why I bought it, although it was on offer.
Super Smash Bros U (Wii U)
I’m sure the Gamecube version of this was easier to control. I’m still sticking mostly to Mega Man, and I’m trying, but it does seem very vague as to whether I actually pull off moves or not. And I can never remember in the heat of the moment how to do the special moves that try to carry you back onto a platform when you’ve been punched off. It’s utter chaos, but then I suppose that’s the appeal.
Whoa Dave! (Vita)
Another PS+ rental. It’s an 8bit (or lower, perhaps – it’s more like an Atari 2600 title) looking single screen arcade platformer. Eggs drop from the top of the screen, and after a while they hatch. Baddies pop out and when they hit the lava at the bottom of the screen they “level up” and become more dangerous, and then level up again each time they hit the lava. You have to beat them by chucking eggs at them, or by destroying the eggs by throwing exploding skulls at them. Then UFOs appear and it all gets really hard. Really like this game, so much so I’ll probably buy it when it hits the 3DS. My high score is $1.76, in case you want a target (an easy target) to aim for.
I happened to be using my old MacBook, and Peggle was on it, and I couldn’t remember playing it on there before so wasn’t sure it would work and then I ran it to see and it did work and then an hour passed magically. It’s Peggle, and that’s what happens with Peggle. No idea how far I got.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Demo) (3DS)
I didn’t want to like this because I really wanted a Wii U version instead. Sadly, that doesn’t look likely to happen. It’s Monster Hunter, but made a bit easier to play (on the 3DS) as I’ve a shiny new New 3DS with extra buttons and a prodnipple, so it’s essentially got the same controls as the Wii U version of MH3U anyway.
I chose the Great Jaggi hunt as I know where I am with that, and picked a hunter with twin blades, not a class I’d used before. I don’t know if it’s the different weapons, or the different game, but the combat was so much swifter than I ever had on the previous game. Mind you, that was with a Great Sword and so slow and ponderous came with it. I like how you can now jump on the back of the Great Jaggi and slash at his (her?) neck, and it’s nice to have some new maps to hunt on. Do I want this now? Yes. Yes I do.
SteamWorld Dig (Wii U)
It’s the same as the 3DS game that I completed last year (or the year before?), but that doesn’t matter. It’s just as good, but all in HD and on the tellybox. I bought it as it was on offer and I was trying to spend enough in the Wii U eShop before the end of 2014 to get another £5 credit before they stopped running the scheme. Don’t know why I started this before the other games that I’d bought but haven’t played before – that’d make more sense, surely?
I’ve reached The Old World, and have a couple of upgrades from there. I’m pretty sure by this point in the 3DS game I had the ability to punch by now, so I’m wondering if I’ve missed something…
Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut (Vita)
Stumbled across this, and as soon as I noticed it was basically a brand new Spectrum game, I had to buy it. Turns out it’s a twin stick shooter, with Spectrum graphics and sound, and even had a two minute long load (which you can skip – I didn’t). The plot is incredible – you appear to be Queen Victoria, dressed as a man, who decides to go to Mars in a giant bullet shaped space ship that’s shot out of a huge cannon, and, when you arrive, you have to shoot guards and zombies and collect keys and avoid massive centipedes while looking for tea and jammy scones. YES. It’s the best thing ever.
Picross e5 (3DS)
I was having a look at the eShop the other day and realised Picross e5 was out and I hadn’t bought it. So I bought it, and started playing it. It’s Picross, and I like Picross, so I like this. Aside from different puzzles (obviously), it seems to be no different to Picross e4. That’s not a problem, as Picross e4 was lovely.
Oh, remember my 360? Never before has a console so frequently used in the past been dropped so quickly. Mine barely gets touched these days. In fact, the only reason I turned it on was because I finally decided to get Minecraft, mainly for my daughter. I’d a pile of free credit, and since the 360 is the only machine I have that 1) plays Minecraft and 2) I have two controllers for (for co-op), it had to be that version.
Created a “creative mode” map, which was far too vertical to navigate, so after a while we binned it and created a flat world – which we forgot to make “creative”. So cue all the baddies in the world appearing when it got dark and we hadn’t built any shelter because all I had were a couple of oak tree seeds and some dirt. Then we explored a lot and it seems everything wasn’t just flat, as we found a monastery (I think) and I fell in a well and couldn’t get out and drowned. Yay?
Skylanders Giants (360)
While the 360 controllers were out, and we’d just taken delivery of a cheap Skylanders Swap Force starter kit (for the Wii U – to hell with the 360 now!), I thought we shoudl probably finish off Giants.
So we worked through two more levels – Kaos’ castle, and a Ghost Ship. I’m sure the game it waaaay harder than the original Spyro’s Adventure, you know. We’ve about 30 Skylanders and ploughed through pretty much all of them on both levels.
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! (Wii U)
This was on sale and even though I know it’s not supposed to be very good, we are big fans of the cartoon and it was very cheap. And it’s multiplayer co-op.
It’s not too bad, actually. For the most part it plays like Gauntlet, complete with food and baddie generators and smart-bomb magic, but there’s also a Rogue Legacy style shop system. You can quit the dungeon after every 5 levels, and then spend your money to get better stats, but any money you have left is lost when you return to the game. The best bit is how the Gamepad becomes a giant Beemo face, who comments on your action with such gems as “food is where the hearts are!”. Excellent.
With various deals and cheap credit, I got this for less than £2. I’ve wanted it for a while, but keep being put of by people who say it’s rubbish. At that price I thought I’d risk it. And I’m glad I did as it’s pretty good.
It’s no Tony Hawk’s, obviously, but is instead an endless runner with things to grind on and ollie off. It’s all about timing, and the tricks are more like the Skate games in how you flick the stick to pull them off. Was getting well into it, and then it crashed. Bah.
I was wrong. I was expecting e4 to be even bigger than e2, and from the sheer number of puzzles it certainly looked that way. But no, it was two hours shorter. Still longer than e and e3, mind.
I think my judgement was somewhat out as I worked backwards for the main part, doing the harder puzzles first. Which meant that even though I’d only done about a quarter of the picrosses (picrii?), I’d spent two thirds of the time on them.
Not that any of this is interesting, I just thought I’d mention it. After all, there’s not much to say about a Picross game, especially after four iterations.
My first ever Steam Sale purchase! Sadly, it isn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. The graphics are flatter and drabber than videos had led me to believe, the roads are samey and short, and you’ve little choice in the routes you have to take.
Still, driving all the cars off the road on the way to Belgium, then running down all the Belgians when you get there, never gets old.
Picross e4 (3DS)
Having completed Picross e3 recently, it was obvious e4 needed to be bought. It is, as you’d expect, just more of the same. More Picross. It has the Mega Picross puzzles from e3, and the Micross puzzles from e2 though, and certainly seems a much longer game than e3. So far the Mega Picross puzzles have been completely doable without resorting to educated guesses, so in all it’s a better game.
And you get 5 bonus puzzles for each of e, e2 and e3 that you already own too. I suspect they’re Mega Picross versions of “normal” Picross puzzles found in those games, as some seem familiar.
I’ve been jumping around the various modes so I can’t really say how much I’ve done so far, but perhaps a quarter overall?
Pullblox World (Wii U)
It’s just like the 3DS version, only with different puzzles. Which is fine. It loses a little from not being in 3D, but gains a bit from a bigger screen. I’m almost certain that the 3DS game didn’t have an unlimited rewind too – it “ran out” – but here you can rewind all the way back to the start of your attempt regardless of how long you’ve spent on it.
It also appears that some of the levels are much bigger than in the original. Some are seemingly too big – as even zooming out doesn’t show half of it.
Apparently Pullblox World has something like 240 puzzles to get through. I’m on the final “page” of puzzles (with 10 on each page) right now, and completing them will total 120, so I’m not sure where the other 120 are…
StreetPass games (3DS)
The four additional StreetPass games are currently on offer (£8.99 for the lot, instead of about £15), so I bought them. I’ve exhaused Quest and Quest II, and apart from the occasional new picture, the puzzle game was finished long ago (and is quickly completed when there is a new one).
I’ve not spent ages on each so far, but some thoughts:
StreetPass Squad is a more than slightly enjoyable side-on shoot ’em up. StreetPass’d Miis provide different weapons for your not-at-all Opa-Opa cloned ship, and the levels are varied and fun.
StreetPass Garden is a surprisingly deep gardening simulator, where Miis help you grow flowers and harvest seeds from them, with new breeds and hybrids and stuff to collect. There are tasks to perform by growing certain types of flower, and all sorts of garden paraphernalia to collect. I hated it at first but it soon opens up into a more enjoyable game.
StreetPass Battle is like a cross between Janken and Risk, where you build up your troops (bolstered by StreetPass hits) and then take on other nations. How well you do is defined by how many troops and what sort of attack they use (in a Janken rock/paper/scissors type way). It’s very slow going though, building up your army to be big enough to defeat the next nation. Unless I’m missing something obvious.
StreetPass Mansion is part puzzle, part RPG where Miis you meet give you pieces of floor which you arrange in the mansion to create rooms. Put multiple pieces of the same colour together to make bigger rooms with better treasures, and put non-matching colours together to trigger battles where you fight ghosts. Your weapons can level up and be upgraded Fallout New Vegas style too. Lay enough floor tiles to reveal the stairs to the next floor. It’s really pretty good.
Nintendo Pocket Football Club (3DS)
Not doing too well in this at the moment. All my players are getting old and I’m unable to train up new players to replace them quickly enough. Also I’ve lost any chance of promotion from “The football icon” league, although I’m almost certain to end up in second place at, so I’m not too worried.
I’ve played a lot of online matches recently, mainly to farm cards, but I’ve been doing surprisingly well. Not enough to rise up the ranks much, but I’m certainly not dropping like I had been previously. Mind you, I’m picking my battles.
Chibi-Robo: Let’s Go Photo! Demo (3DS)
I took a photo of my watch and it turned it into a badge. Then I cleaned up a kitchen with a sort of hoover thing, and chucked a load of rubbish in a robot bin blender thing. I had a conversation with a talking smartphone, and then wandered round a very small part of a very empty museum.
Which was all great. But I’m somewhat confused as to what all the cleaning up is for. One to wait for in a sale, I think. I’ll give it a miss at full price, not least due to having a trillion other games on the go at the moment.
Theme Park (Mac)
Bought as part of the GOG sale, in a Bullfrog games pack. It’s as janky as I recall (although I mostly played the Amiga 1200 version, back in the day), slightly more so due to running under Dosbox.
I couldn’t remember how to research new things for ages, so only had the same few rides and shops for several game years. Then I remembered, but by then half my rides had exploded, everyone was too hungry and thirsty to stay, and nobody liked Vomit Park any more.
Then I screwed up salary negotiations and all my staff went on strike, during which the rest of my rides blew up.
Ta dah! There’s not much to say, really. It’s more Picross and I completed it.
I have two things to mention, though. The first is about the length of the game – it’s a good 8 hours shorter than Picross e2 (and about an hour shorter than the original), which is a bit disappointing.
The other thing is the Mega Picross puzzles. I don’t like them. They’re like normal Picross puzzles, only the numbers sometimes – but not always – span two rows or columns. For the easier puzzles, that’s fine, but some – the final one especially – don’t seem to be possible without guesswork, or at least some pretty shaky assumptions. It just adds a level of complexity that is unnecessary and unneeded.
Still, I did enjoy it, despite these two issues. Roll on e4…