Friday, February 1

Review: Piczle Colors [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The pixel block puzzle space has long been roughly synonymous with the name Picross. While there have been some other titles in the space over time, most notably the Pic-a-Pix games, for the most part Jupiter’s series has been left to lead in the space. The folks at Rainy Frog certainly have made a splash in the puzzle space with the Piczle Lines games, but until this point they hadn’t targeted the pixel puzzle subgenre. With Piczle Colors they’ve taken a serious step in the direction of competing with the Picross, and while there are a few small missteps if you’d rather play using the touchscreen they may be the best overall option on the eShop in this space.

If you’re unfamiliar this style of puzzle game centers on filling in a pixel grid with a variety of colors to create a low-res picture of sorts. Granted, at 5 x 5 it can be a bit of a stretch, but you can get the idea. On the left and the top there are combinations of numbers that then correspond to the number of groupings of specific colors in that specific column or row. Using these numbers you’ll be able to deduce which colors go where and complete the puzzle.

What this iteration gets right, first and foremost, is the use of the touchscreen for controls. While on bigger puzzles things scale down a little and you can get fat fingered small mistakes here and there are so quickly remedied it’s no big deal. The feature that won’t let you overlap something you’ve already colored is great and if you’re down to only 1 color left allows you just to swish your finger around to color in the balance, which works nicely. I also like how the clues about mistakes are built into the number display, simply crossing out when you mess up in some way. It’s hardly giving everything away and there’s no offer to correct itself, it just helps you begin working out where you went wrong.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t some issues that I’d like to see addressed moving forward. While the presentation is certainly eye-catching the over-saturated colors of it all may be a bit much, though that’s a matter of taste. However, when it comes to color one undeniable misstep is the fact that in quite a number of puzzles there are colors that are too similar to one another in use, somewhat muddying up which to use and contributing to some visual confusion. Not a massive issue, but worth improving upon. Lastly, the recent move towards having smaller puzzles that combine to make a larger picture has been a great feature and here it’s missing. I’d almost say that’s nullified though by the fact that so many puzzles included are asymmetrical or a bit off-center, making them harder to guess at and gaining one of the main benefits of that puzzle piece feature.

At this point I’d say the field for the pixel puzzle crown is pretty tightly coupled with them all having their own merits. It may be so close that if you want to choose only one you may simply want to go with which interface suits you the most. Piczle Colors I would say is the most satisfying of the bunch to control overall, and I found myself flying through puzzles even when I’d make mistakes. Fans of this style of play are quite lucky to have so many viable choices, and I hope with 3 contenders they all continue to push each other to add new features to advance the genre further.

Score: 8.5

  • Touch controls that are responsive and paired with smart features
  • Many puzzles are asymmetric or off-center, making them tougher to guess at
  • Hints for your mistakes are helpful without giving anything away

  • The colors, visually, can be a bit much
  • Some of the puzzles feature colors that are a bit too similar, making picking the right one trickier than it should be