Best Traditional Puzzle Game
Best Annualized Franchise
Best Puzzle Design
When Picross S3 released sporting color puzzles for the first time, it wasn’t exactly a new thing in the world of nonograms. Multi-shade picture puzzles have been around for decades, and they’ve even made their way into HAL’s 3D spinoff series.
But it’s a big deal for them to finally show up in the genre’s flagship games, and there are a few reasons why.
First: quality. There have occasionally been some solid puzzle designs in non-Picross nonogram games, most notably the old Hudson Soft Illust Logic releases, but generally speaking, other companies’ games have been phenomenally hit-or-miss in the designs of the puzzles themselves. Jupiter has been doing these since the SNES era, and it shows in how clearly and consistently the team delivers puzzles with zero ambiguity and a satisfying solve curve. Just because there have been color variants before doesn’t mean it’s not huge that the people who know what they’re doing the best have started to take on their challenge.
Second: standardization. What “color Picross variants” delivered in the past was all over the place in terms of just how they worked and were solved. These games taking on the task of codifying how these numbers are presented and the rules of their positioning means that, even when you check out some of the interesting takes on the genre made by other teams, you’ll be more prepared.
Third, and perhaps most important: variety. The Picross franchise has long struggled to add new and interesting variants to the game, with those that have stuck around largely recycling puzzles with a slightly different numbering scheme on the sides or allowing puzzles to fit together and make a larger image (at the expense of interesting gameplay for each individual segment). Color Picross, implemented as well as it is in Picross S3, is a promising companion mode and one that doesn’t feel like it’s just there as a novelty.
Also, it does have some big implications for the timeline.