App Review: Picross 4
What do you get when you combine Minesweeper, logic puzzles and pictures together? The answer is Picross, a fun and addictive game by PenduinBits that challenges you to solve picture puzzles (or picture crosswords, as the app name indicates) on an 8x8 grid solely using number clues that indicate how many blocks you need to fill in on a given row or column of the grid. For $0.99, you get 384 puzzles split between Easy, Medium and Hard levels, and even a Builder feature that lets you create up to 64 more of your own custom puzzles. And with a minimum webOS requirement of only webOS 1.4.5, one purchase will work on all your webOS devices from the original Pre or Pixi to the newer Pre3 or TouchPad.
When you first load up a puzzle, you have a blank 8x8 grid with numbers next to each column or row. Your job is to figure out which blocks in the grid you need to fill in so that you end up with the count of blocks that match all the numbers for that grid. So, if there is a "1" you know that only one block on that row or column can be selected. If there is an "8", the entire row needs to be filled in. Or, if there is a "1 2 1", then you have to choose a pattern that has one block, two blocks, and then one block along that row or column. Just as in minesweeper, you can help yourself solve the puzzle but placing an "X" anywhere on the grid to indicate that the block should not be filled in. You can toggle between selecting an "X" or filling in the block by tapping on the lower-right corner of the screen. Once you solve the puzzle, a little pop-up will appear letting you know the picture you were solving (if you hadn't figured it out already). There are some simple pictures, such as a top bat, a dollar sign or dumbbell, and then there are more advances and fun puzzles that include a Russian dancer, a squirrel or even the Enyo logo (Picross was built using Enyo2).
Picross is one of those ideal mobile games because it works just as well in short time spans where you only have time to solve one or two puzzles, as it does when you sit down and find that you just went through dozens of them. It takes a little while to pick up the strategies necessary to solve the puzzles, but once you do you will not be able to stop playing the game. And if you find that some of the puzzles are too simple (especially, the "Easy" level puzzles), try solving them without using the "X" marks to add to the difficulty. This makes even some of the easy puzzles hard to solve.
If you want to give the game a try before you buy, the developer has a demo version in the app catalog with 48 puzzles (16 puzzles from each level) as well as a web version that was relatively easy for the developer to create since the app was built using Enyo. Give them a try and then go buy the full version!