My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a Zelda-themed picross game for the Nintendo 3DS exclusively available through MyNintendo.com. I’ll let you look into that site on your own to find out how the whole rewards program works, but basically it’s just a way to get a few free goodies for 3DS and Wii U owners. However, seeing as how this was my first time playing a picross game, let me start this out by explaining what they are and how they work.
Picross, more scientifically known as nonograms, are grid and number puzzles. They’re somewhat similar to Sudoku, if you’re familiar, but function in a different way. The grids can vary in size, but generally each row and column will have one or more numbers in them. These numbers represent how many consecutive boxes need to be filled. If there is only one number, then only one continuous line of that many boxes needs to be filled in the respective row or column. So, for example, if there is a row with a number 10 in it on a 10×10 grid, that entire row would be filled. If there was a 0 there, then nothing would be filled, in which case you could cross out all of the squares. If there is more than one number in a row or column, they must be completed in order. Keeping the example grid, say a row has an 8 and then a 1. The first 8 boxes would be filled, followed by a crossed out space, and then the 1. If the order was 1 and then 8, you’d fill the 1 in, then the crossed out space, and finish with the 8. You couldn’t put the 1 next to the 8 because then it would become a 9. Using this logic, you can determine which spaces will necessarily need to be filled in and which spaces must be left empty and therefore crossed out. You may need to go over rows and columns multiple times as you complete other rows and columns to keep determining more filled in and crossed out spaces. Once all the numbers in the rows and columns are properly satisfied, the puzzle is complete and will generally reveal some sort of picture. Now let’s get a little more into this specific title.
In My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, you basically have three modes you can play. We’ll start with the first mode, which is standard picross. When you first start the game, Midna will explain how to play picross and give you five practice puzzles. It’s worth noting that there are some things you can use to help make the game easier for you. There’s the hint roulette that will randomly fill in one correct box. There’s also an auto correct function that will automatically change one of your inputs if it is incorrect. Both of these come with a time penalty. The time it takes you to complete each puzzle is recorded as you go. So using either of these functions will add on extra time. Don’t worry, there’s not actually a limit on your time. There’s also the ability to highlight some hint numbers in order to help steer you where go next. And finally, there’s the option to have the numbers greyed out once you’ve satisfied their conditions. These options can be toggled on and off as you please from the options menu. You can also choose whether to play with the stylus on the touch screen or just use the d-pad/circle pad and buttons. Now, there IS some incentive not to mess up or rely on these extras because completing a puzzle in under an hour will reward you with a colorized version of the resulting picture it creates. If you take too long, you will only get a black and white version of it, but either way you will be rewarded with a Miiverse stamp and be asked if you’d like to post your accomplishment to the Miiverse. There are 45 puzzles here. They consist of 10x10s, 15.15s, and 15.20s. If you complete them all, you will get their respective stamps and receive a medal next to the mode on the main menu. You can also go back and retry any puzzle in order to try for better times if you’d like.
The next mode, which is recommended you play after you are comfortable with normal picross, is called Mega Picross. In this mode, you generally do the same things as normal picross, except there are now mega numbers that take up two rows or columns at a time. These numbers mean you need to have that many boxes touching each other between the two rows or columns. If there are normal numbers or other mega numbers before or after them, you’ll need to make sure those numbers do not touch them while also coming before or after them as seen in the order. You’ll get an explanation of how this works as well before you start. You are once again tasked with completing 45 puzzles of 10x10s, 15x15s, and 15x20s. Completing them all gives you a medal in front of this mode on the main menu just like the normal picross mode.
Lastly, there’s Miicross mode. This one sounds more confusing than it is. Basically, you will complete one 8×8 puzzle to set up the framework for one big portrait. Afterwards, you will then play each filled box as its own 10×10 puzzle. You must complete all of these puzzles to ultimately create an 80×80 image. Your time will be cumulative for each puzzle you work on, but there is no limit or goal time here. Regardless of how long it takes you, you’ll always get the colorized version of the picture at the end. Once you complete all of the puzzles in the game, you will then be given your cumulative best times for each mode on the main menu.
I personally only played with the greyed-out numbers option on for help as it kept me from taking extra time to count out all of those sections in each row and column constantly. It also doesn’t really tell you anything you don’t already know. Even if your number placement is wrong in the grand scheme of the picture it’ll still grey out the numbers for you if they are satisfied. I liked the reward of doing the whole puzzle on my own. If I messed it up I’d restart or come back later after doing some other puzzles, but it’s nice to have those options for those who are looking to save time and frustration on it. They can also be used just to help generally understand what you’re doing wrong while learning. So it’s cool that you have some control over how much help or independence you’d like. I also think it’s kind of neat that you can use your Zelda knowledge a bit here. Maybe you’re not seeing where to logically fill in a box or cross one out, but you can see what the picture might be forming and take a bit of a contextual guess without relying on the built-in hint system. It’s a little something. I’m also impressed that there are this many puzzles in what looks to be a limited-time free game. Plus, seeing Zelda imagery and hearing the Twilight Princess music in the background is nice if you’re a fan like me. I like that you can play with the stylus or the buttons since everyone has different tastes on that and it does that little bit to take small advantage of the touch screen. That and the slight 3D effect are at least an attempt to make it feel like it has to belongs on the 3DS specifically. You can even suspend your game during puzzles so that you can come back to them later, which is great for putting in a bit of progress while you have a few spare minutes. And hey, you get a bunch of free Miiverse stamps.
That’s cool… if you use Miiverse. The thing is, I really don’t. I check in every week for my platinum points reward on My Nintendo, but that’s basically it. I posted a few times in it, but I feel like the game constantly asking you to post about your victories is just a way of trying to promote this game that’s exclusive to My Nintendo members which will then make others try the site just for the game and maybe get hooked and try to work towards the other things by using more Nintendo services and apps as well as buying more games to get more points to get more rewards. Maybe I’m looking too far into it, but it does feel a tad like a gross promotional tool in that sense. Of course, there are other things more directly related to the game that bothered me. Like I said, some of those helpful options for keeping you from failing feel a bit like cheating to me. That could be just me, so at least they’re only optional. It’s cool to have the stylus mode or button mode to play, but I found that once I got to the 15x15s and 15x20s the boxes were too small to hit with much accuracy. Maybe I’m just a poor aim, but maybe it was designed more for larger systems like the 3DS XL or New 3DS in mind. Button mode works fine so it’s not a big deal, but it’ll be a bit annoying for normal 3DS owners who want to use the touch screen. You can still do it, but making mistakes and then making more while trying to fix them can really screw up your puzzles quickly. The time thing seems odd to me. There’s not much point in trying to be really fast in a puzzle game. They’re generally about figuring out what to do moreso than your speed and reflexes. So going for your best times isn’t really what puzzle gamers are going to care about. Beyond that, I don’t think any of these puzzles took me anywhere near that hour time goal to complete, aside from the final one where it doesn’t matter, and I’m only a newcomer to this type of game. It just feels like a poor excuse to say it has replay value when it’s clearly something you’ll probably finish and then not pick up again until you’ve forgotten most of the solutions. While it’s cool that there are 45 puzzles picross mode and mega picross mode, they’re the same 45 pictures in each that are just in a different order. This can be used as another contextual clue for the mega picross mode to remember old pictures, and I do think it’s cool how the same puzzles can be redesigned with the mega number mechanic, but getting the same pictures over again without getting a the stamps for rewards either makes this mode feel a bit tacked-on. Also, it’s a shame that the game only focuses on Twilight Princess. If this were based on the first Zelda or just the franchise in general then it could’ve used some of the pre-existing pixelated spritework for these pixelated pictures. Seems like it’d fit more than what you end up with here, which often is hard to see even when you know what it is. Why tie this in with Twilight Princess anyway? That’s a Wii game that was remade on the Wii U. What good does it do to do a limited promotion of it for 3DS owners that may or may not also have a Wii U? Just seems like a weird one to be specific on when it could’ve just as easily been a general Zelda one or based on the first game so that not only could it be on both the 3DS AND the Wii U, but it could then also be used to get you interested in buying that game off of the eshop on either device. Instead, we have a game that’s only going to be getting the interest of a small crowd. This will only appeal to My Nintendo users who own a 3DS, who like picross, who like Twilight Princess, and who have the points to get this game before the offer expires at the start of October, 2016. This is a very limited title as far as appeal goes. It’s such a bizarre creation.
I think the biggest issue I have with this game is that it’s a Zelda game. It’s using a Zelda skin with a popular title attached to it in order to garner interest. And aside from the look, the name, and the music… it really has nothing to do with Zelda. Whether you love or hate Zelda games is fairly irrelevant because it’s just picross. It’s picross with a Twilight Princess skin. There’s no adventure or combat or action. The closest thing to Zelda here is that it has puzzles, as do most Zelda games. You can complain about Skyward Sword, Zelda II, Link’s Crossbow Training, Hyrule Warriors, or even the CD-I games, but all of them have more ties to actually being a Zelda game than this. Not that this is the worst deigned game of them in general because I hear those CD-I games are pretty rough, but all of those games have elements that clearly stem from the Zelda gameplay and universe. This game could’ve just as easily been part of any other franchise and it wouldn’t have mattered. That’s why I have to say that this is quite possibly the worst Zelda game ever made.
With all of that being said, I’ll still give it a limited recommendation. If you have a 3DS, a My Nintendo account, like Twilight Princess or picross in general, and have the spare 1000 platinum points hanging around before October 1, 2016, then go for it. It’s free! Although let me also add that you should probably look into getting WarioWare Touched through there first as it’s a far more interesting game. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that. My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a comically long name, but it’s an alright thing to get for free. I’ve seen worse. And who knows? Maybe it’ll be released to the eshop somewhere down the road. Or maybe we’ll get more themed picross tie-ins in the future. Only time will tell. The worst part is that I just took the time to review this thing that won’t even be available in a few months, which will pretty much make this obsolete at that point. Oh well. Hopefully it gets some eyes on it before it’s irrelevant. Have fun seeing those damn puzzles in your sleep afterwards!