Review of Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons on Switch eShop

Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons Review - Screenshot 1 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Aficionados of Nintendo’s longstanding Picross series are well versed in the plethora of nonogram puzzlers on the Switch, with developer Jupiter and the Big N’s franchise alone boasting over a dozen games and ongoing to date. Nevertheless, there’s an irresistible simplicity to the fundamental idea that ensures further additions will always be embraced, particularly when they blend with renowned intellectual properties like the Sega Genesis and, um… Kemono Friends. Nintendo certainly doesn’t have a stranglehold on the notion of a nonogram puzzle, either, leaving the opportunity for other publishers like Rainy Frog and developer Score Studio to introduce their own franchises utilizing the concept, such as Piczle Cross. The freshest installment in the Piczle Cross series merges the ageless puzzling action with the relaxed vibes of the Story of Seasons franchise and although Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons isn’t precisely a groundbreaking new entry in the category, it still checks all the boxes to provide a gratifying puzzle experience.

Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons Review - Screenshot 2 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

The gameplay in Piczle Cross could best be likened to a fusion of Minesweeper and sudoku puzzles, challenging the player with systematically deducing a solution through the process of elimination. You are presented with a grid ranging from 5×5 to 20×20 squares in size, with the borders of each row and column containing clue numbers indicating the number of squares to fill in. Which squares to fill in is always a mystery, however, so you must leverage the clue numbers to meticulously eliminate which ones can be safely marked off and which need to be filled in. Puzzles can vary from a few seconds to approximately 20 minutes each, with the final outcome always unveiling some charming pixel art representation of a random farm-related item or person.

To ensure accessibility for all, those who require extra assistance can activate support features such as automatic error correction or automatic highlighting of clue numbers in rows and columns where progress can be made. Those seeking a tougher challenge can deactivate any or all of these features, providing a nice difficulty range that adequately caters to all players’ requirements.

There are over 350 puzzles to solve in Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons, 270 of which are regular puzzles, while the remainder are encompassed within five collage puzzles. These latter instances take significantly longer to finish but are undeniably the most rewarding, as they consist of a small series of interconnected puzzles that are completed individually to construct the much larger whole. Although it would have been nice to see some variation in other modes from Nintendo’s Picross franchise here (such as Mega Picross or Color Picross), Score Studios still delivers a sufficiently substantial experience that is bound to keep you occupied for several hours—particularly if you aim to complete everything without activating assistance features.

Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons Review - Screenshot 3 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Even though the content offering resembles a standard Picross game, the gameplay experience feels slightly more cumbersome here. For instance, there are no velocity settings for the cursor, and it moves noticeably slower than what we are accustomed to in a typical Picross game. This may appear to be a minor detail, but when you are spending hours moving that cursor back and forth across puzzle after puzzle, it becomes increasingly apparent how long it takes to traverse from one edge to the other, especially given its lack of touchscreen support.

Furthermore, there are minor performance idiosyncrasies to grapple with, such as how we observed a recurring bug where the pre-marks on all ‘0’ rows and columns would spontaneously vanish if the beginning-of-level randomizer is activated. Make no mistake, Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons still offers a perfectly capable nonogram experience, but it feels slightly less responsive and refined than Picross S.

Of course, one area where this release definitively surpasses most other nonogram games is in its presentation, which effectively leverages the Story of Seasons IP in some endearing ways. Each puzzle is naturally themed around various farm tools and crops, but we appreciated how each completed puzzle signifies another ‘day’ passing, with your farmer gradually developing a more impressive farm in the background as you advance through seasons. Paired with features like an almanac that imparts more information on characters from across the series and a soundtrack borrowing music from recent releases such as Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town and classics like Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns, you have a puzzle game that is well-suited to enthusiasts of both nonograms and Story of Seasons

Conclusion

Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons may not be the premier nonogram puzzler available on the Switch, but it is certainly another commendable and pleasurable addition to the genre—particularly for enthusiasts who also appreciate a quality farm simulation. Ultimately, this is nothing more than a nonogram puzzle package themed after Story of Seasons, but truly it doesn’t require to be anything else, even though it would be intriguing to observe how farm sim gameplay elements could be more directly incorporated into the gameplay. As long as you are not too concerned by a gaming experience that feels marginally less polished than the Picross series, Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons is a simple recommendation to all puzzle aficionados out there.

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