The puzzles of Picross have been as much a fixture on Nintendo consoles almost as much as Mario and Zelda themselves; albeit on a much smaller scale than the powerhouses of Ninty’s flagship characters. However, the formula of the Picross puzzle has won over a devout following of gamers, with its accessible, yet challenging, style. Arguably, its biggest contributors on Nintendo’s machines comes from the developers, Jupiter, with their ‘S’ series of puzzles, as well as a number of cross-overs from Pokémon to Zelda. Their latest release comes in a cross-over that not be may so familiar to some, as it doesn’t focus on any of our beloved Ninty franchises, but instead, delves into the world of the hit anime/manga series and light novels of the dark fantasy, Overlord, as Picross: Lord of the Nazarick spells a release onto the Nintendo Switch.
The genre of puzzles that revolve around Picross follows a tried and tested method that is easily accessible, yet difficult to master; depending on difficulty. For those who may be unfamiliar with its style, Picross involves filling in a series of squares across a grid to create a picture as the end result. In a Sudoku style of play, each of the rows and columns hold a numerical value; each one denoting the number of squares that need to be filled along its axis. Smaller grids usually offer a more accessible style, whilst the larger variants require more thought in order to reach their solutions. In order to bring a touch of variety to its style, more recent titles have begun to add extra layers to its formula, with coloured variants and remixes that bind together to produce a larger product. The cross-over titles also add an extra element with a back-story to help provide a reasoning to the completion of each puzzle.
Whether you’re a fan, or even familiar with the Overlord series, its narrated cut-scenes provide an overview to the series of novels and animated shows through a colourful cast of characters and key moments throughout its history. However, the story never pushes things along, as its main premise is just to provide a series of scenarios for the real stars of the show: The Picross puzzles. In truth, the backstory and characterisations are largely uninteresting with static backdrops and textual narrations, even more so if you’re not familiar with the concept of Overlord, but this doesn’t detract from the main staple of the game’s content, which is its puzzles.
The main narrative focuses on the character, Ainz Ooal Gown, who interacts with a supporting cast as they reminisce over past memories. Each of the characters come with their own set of puzzles to work through, giving an overall total of of over five hundred variants. Whatever character you choose, they all contain a set of puzzles that are separated in chapters that contain Picross and Mega-Picross, Clip Picross and Colour Picross. These offer a variation on their themes and contain finished articles that relate to characters, events and objects found within the world of Overlord. Whenever you complete a scene, it’s finished article is presented next to a still from the series, producing a recognition to the pixel-art style of presentation. Completing varying chapters also unlocks a series of screenshots, also from the hit anime series.
Each chapter, or segment, of puzzle types and styles offer a varying degree of difficulty. The first initial wave of Picross grids are smaller and easily solvable. However, as you progress, grids get larger with Mega-Picross styles and numerical values become more difficult to work out. However, the game rarely punishes you for guessing a wrong square within the grid. Clip Picross works on a similar premise, with a series of smaller grids that combine to produce a larger picture and Colour Picross adds an extra layer with certain squares needing to be a specific colour, as denoted by its numerical values. The basic core gameplay remains the same throughout each variant of puzzle, such as filling in a grid through numbered rows and columns, but their differing styles do add a touch of variety to solving each of the puzzles.
A host of options do allow to create a more tailored-made experience that can make solving the puzzles easier or harder. These can range from auto-corrections to hints. For any newcomers, the game also comes with a tutorial that teaches you the basics of its style. If there’s one particular fault with the game, then it has to be its assumption that the player is converse with the world of Overlord. If you’re not familiar with its concept, then there is possibly a large chunk of the gameplay that may not really appeal to you, especially in terms of its narrative and puzzle content. Saying that though, it can also be quite fun learning of its world and the characters and objects that reside within.
Overall, Picross: Lord of the Nazarick contains everything that has made Picross a popular form of puzzling. Its variations and puzzle designs provide an interesting past-time and its difficulty levels provide a decent challenge for anyone who is familiar with its concept. The crossover between Picross and Overlord is an odd mix, but it does add an extra layer of gameplay and playability to just simply working your way through a series of puzzle; even more so if you are a fan. Everything is nicely presented and easy to get to grips with; following a consistency that we’ve grown to expect from Jupiter’s titles. If you’re a fan of either Picross or Overlord, or even both, then you’ll find plenty to love here with a series of backdrops, stories and an abundance of puzzles to keep you entertained over the long term.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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PICROSS LORD OF THE NAZARICK Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
Picross: Lord of the Nazarick presents a cross-over of the hit anime, Overlord and the tried and tested puzzles of Picross.