Picross S is the first opportunity for Nintendo Switch owners to see something people who have been playing Jupiter’s nonogram games for years already know. The company has become quite adept at creating puzzles that are not only interesting to solve, but appealing to look at too. No matter what the size or difficulty, there is a level of attention paid to the final pictures that makes each puzzle feel like it was worth your time.
The easiest puzzles in Picross S are simple, 5×5 tutorials. It would be easy to expect these first few to be rudimentary and absent of many details. Except Jupiter uses careful use of color and shading to make these initial three designs stand out. The third image, a cupcake, has only a few pixels to it, but the design makes it clear this is a chocolate cake with pink icing and a cherry on top.
This means once more pixels come along, things start to look even better. The majority of the puzzles in Picross S are 15×15, though we do get a number that are 10×10 or 20×15. The further we get, the more opportunities Jupiter has to surprise us. One of the earliest ones to shock me was the light tower that is one of the first 10×10 designs. With this one, Jupiter has you fill up the negative space with pixels, so what remains is the tower and the beam of light it is sending out to sea. The shading here is well done, to show the intensity of the light coming from the tower and heading out to sea.
Once you get to the larger puzzles, Jupiter gets the chance to do some amazing things. Instead of focusing on a small element of an item, say half a harp, or a basic line drawing of an animal, like a pegasus, Picross S gives us actual scenes. One of the 20×15 scenes takes inspiration from a fairy tale. Jupiter offers a glimpse of Little Red Riding Hood. We do not just see the a hooded girl, though. We get her in the forest, picking flowers while the Big Bad Wolf hides behind a tree watching. This is never completely evident as you piece things out. We are only filled in when the entire puzzle is finished.
What is especially fun is a puzzle where things do not really click until you zoom out. Picross S has a number of these. Some of the most notable come once you hit your 10×10 stride and get to P016, P018 and P020. These are an aurora, belt and curtains. In each situation, when I finished that nonogram and the colors were applied to show exactly what I had been working toward, I was shocked. The aurora becomes most evident when you get back to the menu and the gradation becomes clearer. The curtains do not start to flow and soften until you can see it from a distance. As for the belt, the perspective is more notable once you see its icon in the UI.
Picross S is a delightful puzzle game. Nintendo Switch owners who pick it up will have a chance to flex their mental muscles as they try to figure exactly which spaces to fill in on the boards. But more importantly, Jupiter has made sure each one is rewarding. These nonograms have a lot of nuance to them, something people are sure to appreciate after spending a few minutes working out where all the pixels go.