Mario's Picross (eShop)
| Mario's Picross

You may hear gamers now and again moan about Nintendo simply slapping Mario into a random scenario, sport, or genre and using the character's fame to make any kind of game sell.

Perhaps there's a hint of truth to these complaints, but let's be honest - it usually works wonders. Put Mario in a kart, stick a tennis racquet in his hand, or plonk him on a boardgame and hints of the Mushroom Kingdom give what may have been a generic title a lovingly familiar edge.

This is never truer than with Mario's Picross. The classic puzzle game is great fun on its own, but injecting elements from the Mario franchise has given it a whole new dimension

Certain elements of this 1995 Game Boy title are now feeling a little dated, but there's still hours of enjoyment to be had for Picross fans.

It's-a Picross!

For those not familiar with the concept of Picross, the game present you with a grid that has a picture hidden behind it.

To aid you in discovering the picture, there are numbers above and to the left of the grid that indicate how many blocks you should colour in in that particular row or column.

However, the numbers only indicate how many blocks in a row need colouring - not where the blocks are in that line. As you colour in the grid the picture will eventually reveal itself.

Hence, you need to use the knowledge from a combination of lines to slowly chip away at the grid and work out the answer. If you get a space wrong, some of your maximum time is removed, and if it hits zero you lose.

It's a great concept, and one that's easily on a par with such puzzling greats as Tetris and match-three.

Oh, it's a mushroom

Factor in Mario and the game achieves a level of interest that a selection of random pictures cannot.

You'll be uncovering pictures of Yoshi, Stars, and other such Mario-related images. There are also random items mixed in, but the Mario ones are undoubtedly the most interesting.

The game is laid out in classic Mario style, too. Each set of puzzles has a Mario symbol on it (e.g., there are Mushroom and Star levels), and the level select screen has classic Mario level visuals surrounding it.

It's definite proof that adding Mario's big-nosed face to a game can make it at least a touch better, simply because we've come to love his world and enjoy the comfortable familiarity it provides.

Tick or cross?

There are little niggles here and there.

Whenever you start a puzzle, a hint system is set to 'Yes' by default. This means you may accidentally take the hint when you didn't mean to, which can be pretty annoying.

The control scheme is also incredibly old skool, especially compared to the more recent touchscreen controls that have been introduced in Nintendo DS Picross games. While it's still pretty easy to control, it lacks elegance.

With over 200 puzzles to work your way through, including an unlockable Time Trial mode, Mario's Picross is the best Virtual Console title on Nintendo 3DS right now.

If you've got a long journey ahead of you or a dull daily commute, this is definitely the title to make the day that little bit easier.

Mario's Picross (eShop)

Mario's Picross is a classic puzzler that will give your brain a real entertaining workout
Mike Rose
Mike Rose
An expert in the indie games scene, Mike comes to Pocket Gamer as our handheld gaming correspondent. He is the author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play.