It’s always a great time to jump into the Picross puzzle game series! But what about the lore? It’s true, the deep, complex narrative of the Picross games can be a bit difficult to sort out, so we’re here to help with this guide to the timeline of Jupiter’s long-running franchise.
Updated September 2020. Spoilers ahead, of course. Be warned!
1995, Game Boy
Set after the events of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, this game has Mario chase rumors of adventure back to Sarasaland’s Birabuto Kingdom, where damage from Tatanga’s invasion uncovered previously-buried ancient ruins. Mario sets out to decipher these ruins and unlock their secrets.
Mario’s Picross 2
1996, Game Boy
Released after Mario’s Super Picross, this prequel explores the events leading up to The Picross War. Mario, absorbed in his Picross research, begins to decipher its powers that could save — or destroy — not just Sarasaland, but existence itself. Wario, in his search for Mario to get revenge for his defeat in 6 Golden Coins, stumbles upon Picross and starts working to claim its powers for himself. The closing scenes show Wario unearthing prehistoric beasts and reanimating them, forming what would become a fearsome army if left unchecked.
Mario’s Super Picross
The Picross War, the common term to describe this period, is really a misnomer: it was an arms race, a mad dash of discovery to unlock the power of Picross and use it first. Wario works in the shadows, just off the left side of Mario’s peripheral vision, on “Dark Picross,” a harder, more devious form that he could use for his nefarious purposes. Mario pushes to learn the deepest secrets of the puzzle.
The Era of Rejoicing
Club Nintendo Picross
Club Nintendo Picross Plus
In this timeline, Mario absorbs the power of Picross before Wario can finish his plans and uses it to banish evil from all known lands. When word of these achievements reaches the Mushroom Kingdom, the people organize a celebration that lasts two full years, featuring homage puzzles honoring the many heroes of the multiverse.
Picross S: Mega Drive & Mark III Edition
While the details of this game’s plot are not yet known, early indications are that it’s set in the later days of the heroes’ celebration, when the focus had moved on to less-heralded figures yet to be in the spotlight.
The tale of The Picross War becomes legend, and society grows to revere Picross as the central pillar of culture. Many institutes are devoted to recreating and learning about Picross and using its power to maintain peace and enlightenment.
The Dark Century
Wario finishes his dark rituals, trapping Mario with the power of Picross and using inscriptions to give his clothing and body unimaginable power. He directs the power of Picross toward capturing money, not only within the Nintendo multiverse but also from realms beyond. Pokemon, now enslaved by Wario’s power, begrudgingly work toward these ends.
Pictlogica Final Fantasy
Having depleted the Nintendo lands’ resources, Wario’s power reaches to further realms, conscripting the Final Fantasy canon to feed his insatiable greed. More prepared for his assault than Wario anticipates, the heroes of this world fight back, forcing him to overextend and destroy himself.
My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The remaining survivors of the Nintendo multiverse cobble together what they can in the ruins of Hyrule, gathering leftover strands of Picross power in an attempt to rebuild. They have trouble properly replicating it, and manage only a meager subsistence.
Sanrio Characters Picross
With the boundaries between dimensions broken, visitors from Sanrio World arrive, bringing food and other aid to the struggling population. While they are greeted as benevolent heroes, the adoration causes Hello Kitty and her friends to abuse their power, insisting upon the construction of monuments to themselves and gearing the full weight of labor toward crafting cute environments for them to inhabit.
The Neverending War
Tamori no Picross
1995, SNES (Satellaview)
In this timeline, just as Wario discovers and absorbs the power of Picross, Mario completes his final puzzle: Wario’s head. This, combined with Wario’s own greedy rituals performed on the rest of his body, sucks him — and Mario — into the puzzles themselves as their essence leaves the stone slabs of Sarasaland and is dissolved into the air itself. Picross becomes myth: like Bigfoot, sightings are reported, often with ridiculous premises like having to tune in to a particular Internet signal in specific countries at specific times with obscure detection equipment.
Picross NP Vol. 1
Picross NP Vol. 2
Picross NP Vol. 3
Picross NP Vol. 4
Picross NP Vol. 5
Picross NP Vol. 6
Picross NP Vol. 7
Picross NP Vol. 8
1999-2000, SNES (Nintendo Power)
A team of devoted Picross believers begins a project to tune into the Picross signal. The result is a fascinating discovery: Mario’s continued existence, fighting in an endless cycle to maintain control of Wario and keep him imprisoned in the puzzle. Eventually, Mario seeks the aid of his allies, enlisting their help to more reliably suppress the evil.
Mario manages to, once and for all, dissolve Wario’s power into the puzzle and escape, but millennia of strife have changed him into what would come to be called Weird Mario. Aftershocks of the battle remain for decades, as puzzles — now devoid of any markings, good or sinister — appear on a regular basis.
This sub-franchise explores the Last Transmission, the final Picross aftershock. Having once again taken on an identity of its own, the magical Picross force settles into the very fabric of reality, moving from a curiously-studied anomaly to an everyday presence in the land. Society begins to shape itself around mining the latent power of the puzzles to power the engines and devices of its people, devising a two-worker system to most efficiently break down its elements for use.
The latest releases in the series are the first to explore a previously unknown phenomenon in Picross history with major timeline implications. A new variant of Picross appears for the first time, Color Picross, puzzling the miners and upending the world’s understanding of science and the universe. As researchers explore further and try to discover the source of this new force, they come upon familiar ideas, ones seen in worlds beyond: dungeon-crawling, boxing, sports, open-world adventures. While no longer recognizable due to the passing of many generations and whatever potent force created them, they slowly take shape as the team progresses deeper, culminating in the clearest, most revelatory appearance yet: Final Fantasy‘s Red Dragon. Evidence points to it being closest to the origin of the anomaly.
That anomaly? The demise of Wario. In another timeline. The event that caused, across all timelines, what has been called the Desaturation, a suppressed era of minimal hue and personality. The true extent of this and its effects on other timelines has yet to be explored, and why it had this secondary effect generations later remains unanswered.
Kemono Friends Picross
Thousands of years after the events of Picross S3 and (as of now) mysteriously far from the presence of Color Picross, the mined energy had become the sole power source for citizens, hailed as a “renewable” method due to its replayable nature and seemingly-endless supply. As the knowledge of ancient events has long faded away, no one in this time was aware of a time before Picross, and it is in many ways taken for granted. One day, a mining team was surprised when, upon completing a puzzle, a small creature appeared from within a nearby patch of grass. It was to be the first of many. These strange girls, known to the miners only by the symbol “獣”, only smiled and watched as the others of their kind were spawned as work continued. Their true purpose, if one existed, was unknown.
Picross Lord of the Nazarick
Unreleased, Game Boy Color
While the defeat of Wario caused more intense effects upon adjacent dimensions and timelines, more minor effects spread to further realms. In these worlds, the course of history remained unchanged, but Picross became a lens through which existing events unfolded. One of these, an alternate Pokemon world, showed how things could have been if Picross had been allowed to proliferate without Wario’s nefarious machinations. While these could be connected to other entries in the series, there’s limited evidence of that to date.
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