Pic-a-Pix Classic 2 (Vita) review
"Pic-a-Pix Classic 2 isn't big on frills, but it includes a whopping 150 new picross puzzles to keep you busy."
Pic-a-Pix Classic 2 is a picross game, developed by Lightwood Games with puzzles provided by Conceptis Ltd. It's available for purchase on either Vita or PlayStation 4, with cross-buy supported so you can then play it on the other platform if you so desire. 150 puzzles are included, as well as a 10-page tutorial for those who haven't played picross before, and the MSRP is $7.99 USD (or similar depending on your region).
The Vita continues to enjoy a trickle of digital releases, even though Sony has made clear its desire to finally abandon the platform for good. It's difficult to tell how many more games will reach the store in North America after this one, if any. All of the above points combine to make the game a worthwhile purchase... assuming you like picross.
I like picross quite a lot, as it happens. Taken a few at a time, I find the puzzles are a great way to wind down from stressful activity. 150 is a large enough number of new ones to keep a person busy for a good long while, perhaps a total of several dozen hours when all is said and done. So the value is definitely there, but perhaps a few minor words of warning are in order before you add the game to your digital shopping cart.
The biggest objection I can imagine most players having is that Pic-a-Pix Classic 2 isn't completely ideal for newcomers, despite including an instructive tutorial that goes over a few basics a person can keep in mind to perform well almost from the start. Games like this one sometimes include a few helpful warm-up puzzles that are really small and suitable for practice, perhaps with grids as small as 5x5. There are none of those provided here. Puzzles are instead divided like so: 15x15 (60), 20x15 (45), 20x20 (30) and 30x20 (15). If you're a picross veteran, that's an even better value than it would be if some of the 150 puzzles were the sort you can clear in a matter of seconds, but the learning curve could prove intimidating for those just getting their start.
If you are one such individual, you may well be wondering what picross even is. Basically, just picture a sheet of graphing paper that someone has filled in with blocks of color to create a piece of pixel art. Except when you start playing, there's no picture there because filling it in with art is your job. Directions are provided in the form of numbers along the X and Y axis. For instance, one row of 15 squares might include three numbers to the left: 3, 5 and 5. This tells you to fill in the first three spaces, skip a space, fill in five more spaces, skip a space and fill in the last 5. Easy enough, right? But sometimes, you will have a row of 15 and there will be a low number like 1 or 2. Where in that row of 15 should you fill in the two squares to make progress on the picture? To figure that out, you'll have to consult other rows and columns, using logic to determine which squares need your attention.
Perhaps the above paragraph doesn't make picross sound all that exciting, but it's a surprisingly addictive exercise. Slowly turning a blank screen into an image feels quite satisfying, and I get a bit of a rush each time a picture is revealed at the end in all its glory. The Vita version currently has a bug where sometimes the wrap-up shows the wrong picture, but the developer has said an update will fix that soon. The temporary quirk doesn't get in the way of solving any puzzles, so it's not a big deal at the moment.
When you do solve puzzles in Pic-a-Pix Classic 2, you will receive an in-game medal if you do so without using the super accommodating "Fix" option, which lets you erase from your board any squares you may have filled incorrectly, or that you marked with an "X" when you shouldn't have. The medals are a nice way to keep track of which puzzles you totally dominated, since they encourage careful play. You can cheat a bit, though, by pressing the Triangle button to bring up the screen that allows you to initiate a fix. That screen will tell you how many errors there are to resolve, and you can back out and resume your work on the puzzle without putting your virtual medal at risk. The bad news is that struggling players can abuse that menu by making a bunch of guesses they check one at a time. They'll still snag medals despite not playing quite fairly. But let's be real for a second: who among us is dying to lord it over our friends that we have more virtual picross medals than they do? If you're anything like me, your friends won't care.
Beyond the puzzles, there's not much to the Pic-a-Pix Classic 2 package. It has the standard tools you would expect so you can solve the puzzles, including an option to fill squares in with circles so you can return to them and properly paint them once you're more certain your logic is sound. There also is a nice chiptune soundtrack that loops through some surprisingly catchy tunes that would work equally well on an old 2D platformer or similar. And there also is the aforementioned "fix" mode and the non-interactive tutorial. If you're looking for a lot of bells and whistles, in other words, look elsewhere. But if you just want a generous helping of more picross puzzles you can use to fill your time, the game is a terrific option and should serve you well for many hours to come.
Staff review by Jason Venter (November 30, 2019)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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