With the release of Picross S on the Switch, it’s a great time to jump into the 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.
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.
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.
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 latest entry 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 and begins an exciting new chapter. Some believe the force seeks to heal dimensional rifts and reunite the fractured timelines, but we won’t know for sure about that until future sequels!
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