There are plenty of excellent puzzle games on the Switch, but arguably the most ubiquitous franchise out there is Nintendo’s own Picross series, which has featured fairly frequently ever since the platform’s launch year. With the launch of Picross S5, we’re now looking at the sixth (!) entry in the series so far, and you can rest assured that this one likely won’t be the last, either. Even so, this is a series that lends itself well to ‘keeping it simple’, as each entry functionally acts as a DLC pack that brings a whole lotta puzzling goodness your way every few months.
For those of you out of the loop, Picross S5 sees you solving hundreds of nonogram puzzles by utilizing basic logic skills. In practice, the gameplay seems to fall somewhere in between Minesweeper and Sudoku puzzles, requiring a fair balance of guesswork and deduction techniques in order to arrive at the solution. The aim of each puzzle is to draw a picture by filling in the correct tiles, and the correct ones are hinted at by the numbers on the sides of the rows and columns of each grid. It’s a remarkably straightforward process at its heart, but arriving at answers requires quite a bit of analysis, as you’re expected to cross-reference hints with each other to figure out which tiles you can rule out.
Though it can seem a little daunting to beginners, Picross S5 does an excellent job of laying out the rules for you via well-explained tutorials. Then, once you’ve got the basics down, there’s a litany of assist features to nudge you in the right direction if you need some help, such as a roulette wheel that automatically solves a couple random rows and columns or an auto-correct that alerts you when you make a mistake. These can be enabled or disabled individually, which guarantees that Picross S5 caters to players of all skill levels.
Jupiter Corporation has found a way of introducing a surprising amount of variety to the experience, too, granting players a few different modes that all bring something unique to the table, even if they never stray all too far from the core concept. Mega Picross takes all the puzzles from the core game mode and affixes new hints to them, with some of these spanning two rows or columns instead of one. It’s a small change, but an important one that adds quite a bit of difficulty, making this the sort of ‘hard mode’ of Picross S5.
Then, there’s the Clip Picross mode, which stitches together several different puzzles into one massive whole. This acts as a sort of overarching goal for the whole experience, as you unlock new pieces of Clip Picross puzzles by solving puzzles in other modes. Then capping it all off is Colour Picross, which introduces puzzles which have three or four colours that you’re to use to fill in cells. None of these massively change up the experience, but the ruleset are just different enough between them that they each have something unique to bring to the table. Taken together, there’s quite a bit of content to drill through here, even more so if you dare to attempt completing all puzzles without any assist features.
To be frank, there’s absolutely nothing unique to separate Picross S5 from its numerous predecessors; this is the same number counting game it’s always been. Even so, it’s clear that Jupiter Corporation has gotten its concept down to a science, and the addictive nature of these puzzles has never been more alluring. We’d give this a recommendation if you’re looking for a solid new puzzle game for your Switch, as the puzzle count and quality of the experience ensure that this is just about the best bang for your buck possible. That being said, those of you who have picked up one or two of the previous releases and have yet to finish them may want to hold off, as you’re not missing out on anything but even more puzzles to solve. Either way, it’s tough to go wrong here, and we’re sure the exact same sentiment will likely still hold true when Picross S6 inevitably lands in another few months.