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Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons

3 April, 2024 - 1:28 am by
About 9 mins to read
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

What do Hoover, Coke and Picross all have in common? They’re all brand names that are thrown about instead of the real names. Why is this relevant you ask? Well, that’s because I didn’t know that ‘Picross’ was a brand name owned by Nintendo until Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons downloaded onto my Nintendo Switch and I booted it up. With a name like Piczle Cross, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was the Wish-DOT-COM version of the popular puzzle game that was trying to avoid a letter from the Super Mario lawyers.

Picross, or nonogram, is a gridded puzzle where you have to work out which squares to fill in so that a picture can be revealed. These puzzles first appeared in Japanese newspapers and have been consistently popular since the late 1980s. The grids were only in black and white, designed for the player to use a pencil to scribble the boxes, but video game designers worked out that you could add a depth of colour and make some wild pictures. I’ll be the first to admit that I love puzzle games so I was excited to dive into Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons.


At A Glance

Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons

Positives

+ Hundreds of puzzles to solve
+ Cool story concept
+ Random difficulty throughout

Negatives  

– Poor visual quality
– Story is little more than window dressing
– Some questionable pictures

Overall

8/10

Played On

Nintendo Switch

Also Available On

PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One

Find out about our scoring policy here.


With the description of what a nonogram is, I’ve pretty much covered the concept of Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons, but there’s a lot more to it than other games in this genre. Piczle Cross builds a Harvest Moon-style story into the proceedings, where a couple of plucky entrepreneurs move to a new town to start their farming life. This may seem random at first but Piczle Cross is the puzzlfication of the Story of Seasons franchise; a series born out of a bitter battle for the Harvest Moon franchise name.

The story plays out with you having to complete puzzles to add to the farm, either by unlocking a new animal, piece of equipment, or even a villager to help muck in. As you progress, the farm expands and more people are seen beavering away in the background while you try to unlock the next piece of equipment, inevitably adding to the poor farmer’s workload. I did find that seeing the farm grow before my eyes gave me a sense of pride, although since my work ethic was all or nothing, I did feel guilty that the virtual characters never got so much as a day’s paid annual leave.  

Before I get a notice from HR about my strict working conditions, I think it’s best if we move on to how the game plays. There’s not much to tell to be honest; you click the puzzle you want to attempt and the box springs to life in the centre of the screen. You set about working out which squares can be filled in, and you eventually create a rudimentary image of whatever the game is asking you to create. There are a few tools on hand to help you complete each nonogram, like using the ‘B’ button to place a little cross in a square you know will be blank, or the addition of a grid-free image in the top left of the screen that can offer some guidance. If you’re struggling, there are a couple of options that provide hints, either by checking your work, or highlighting boxes that have been incorrectly filled in. For newcomers to nonograms, this is handy to help you understand what’s going on and is well recommended if you want to wrap your head around this kind of brainteaser.

While the gameplay boils down to “solve this puzzle, move on to the next, repeat until done”, the developers Score Studios do a couple of neat things to keep things fresh. Firstly, the board sizes vary throughout the game. Chiefly you’ll be playing on a 10×10 grid, but there are varying sizes that are thrown in to break up the action. Likewise, the difficulty is randomised, so you never know how hard a nonogram will be until you start to play it. I found these features really cool, especially in the middle portion of the game, when fatigue was beginning to set in. While Piczle Cross boils down to being another nonogram game, having a quick 5×10 puzzle to power through, or a 25×25 beast to slowly decipher broke up any momentum I built up by solving puzzle after puzzle, and kept me engaged throughout the 300+ challenges on display.

As soon as the last piece is put in its rightful place, the game will congratulate you for completing the puzzle, before telling you what you’ve unlocked. I found that some of the items didn’t quite look like what they were supposed to, and the people all looked like identical pixelated versions of Steve from Minecraft, but that’s where you use the handy journal that tracks everything you’ve unlocked so far. Each character or tool is held in the journal, along with their vital statistics and appearances in the franchise. The latter point was a nice touch, as it gives a nice summary of the Story of Seasons universe, particularly for players joining the franchise through Piczle Cross.

While the journal is lovely to look at, the rest of the game is a bit… well, off. The characters building the farm as you play are very rudimentary in both appearance and movement. The designs are as jagged as a late-N64 game and they move with the fluidity of custard. Since they are always in the background it’s by no means a deal breaker, but it does take away some of the shine of the main game. The other issue I encountered is that my cursor would often jump, or add in the incorrect input. At one point I thought this could be my joy-con suffering drift, but the same happened with a second pair, two pro controllers and even an N64 Switch controller. Again, it didn’t break the game entirely, but after spending 10 minutes on a puzzle only to find that an ‘x’ was added to one wrong square and I couldn’t complete the challenge was annoying, to say the least. 

Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons might appear to be just another nonogram game, but outside of filling out specific boxes, there’s a fair bit to enjoy. I got a real kick about seeing the farm change and grow with the passing days and while the core concept is difficult to change, at least Score Studios tries to do something different with what they have. The farming aspect largely happens in the background, and the graphics are super rough around the edges, but with the inclusion of different-sized grids, random difficulty and larger pictures, Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons offers a wealth of content to enjoy. If you’re looking for a lengthy nonogram game, Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons is an absolute must for the enigmatologists out there.

In the interest of full disclosure, VGamingNews was provided with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.


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Our Rating
8