I've got good news, everyone, the Switch is now officially a Nintendo handheld console! That's right, it now officially has a Picross game available for it! High fives! Good job y'all! We did it! Champagne in the foyer, cheese platters for everyone, and after the party, it's the after party!
Developer Jupiter has been on this Picross train for 22 years by now, and somehow, it still works – much like sudoku or, say, a crossword puzzle, the basic puzzle design for Picross (based on a generic puzzle title called nonograms) is just really sound. As long as the puzzles are good, as long as the pictures are fun, then it still works like a charm. Honestly, I was kind of joking above, but I wouldn't consider it a true Nintendo device at this point if it didn't have a Picross game on it.
There are other companies trying to bring the magic of this series to devices like iPhone and Android, but by a lot of accounts there's something missing in them – Jupiter's been so amazingly consistent with how strong their releases are, it becomes difficult to really talk about them. Guess what, Picross S is another amazing and addictive entry from a development house that's been amazingly consistent for over 2 decades.
Picross S continues their tradition of excellent puzzle games, but as a first for the series, this one introduces a multiplayer component, in which you and a partner (or for particularly ambidextrous people, you and yourself) can solve a puzzle together. Which, well, it's an idea! Just one I don't really see the point of. To carry the idea from above, imagine trying to solve a sudoku puzzle on the same board as someone else? Wouldn't that just make you want to strangle them?
Really, I think they put it in just because every Switch comes with 2 controllers, much like old Wii games had a bunch of bad motion controls just because every controller came with them.
As far as I know, this is also the first main series Picross game to come with MEGA PICROSS in it as well, which serves to give an extra challenge to those of you who think that these games are just too easy. Instead of giving the hints in discrete lines, this mode introduces multi-line clues. So, instead of basically showing that "down this line there will be 4 you have to mark" it's "down both of these lines there will be a total of 6 marks, and they can be in just about any pattern."
And it is FAR more difficult, without a question. Even just returning to the first puzzle in the game, which serves as the tutorial and all, it becomes a much greater challenge. It's an interesting flip on the ideas that are core to the series, but I can only ever really play one or two of these at a time – the difficulty is so much higher and it really rips my brain in half. I gladly go back to the regular puzzles to give myself a break.
Picross S is still really good, and I'm glad to see it on the Switch. Even though I have a 2D Picross game and two versions of Picross 3D for 3DS, when Picross S was released for the Switch, my reaction was "Finally! A portable version of Picross!" That's kind of the effect that the Switch often has – there's some special secret sauce to it such that new releases like this cause that kind of giddiness.
All that is to say that if you're looking for a good puzzle game for your Switch, this should definitely be your first stop. Most of the puzzles are bite-sized and easy to stop when you're on the go, but it's also meaty with so many puzzles (over 150 and double that if you count the Megas) that it can easily eat up hours of your time. While I miss the simplicity of the touch controls, it's a small quibble when there's still so much to be enjoyed from this game.