Puzzles have always been an ideal fit for the DS, with its touch screen capabilities and the portable nature of the console means that is perfect to dip in and out of a puzzle for a few minutes in between waiting for a phone call or the dinner to emerge unscathed from the oven. As a result, there have been numerous puzzle titles released anything from word searches, sudoku, brain challenge, picross and even mathematical exercises. With so many brain-busting titles on the market, it can be difficult to establish which are worth your time but one thing we can tell you is that Pic Pic is something of an unpolished gem.
Quite typically of a low key budget release, Pic Pic's presentation isn't its strong point, with a simple menu screen for all three types of puzzle on offer and a checklist of which puzzles have been completed. Selecting the puzzles shows the pictures of ones that you have finished and shows which ones are left, with any able to tackle in any order. It's simple and functional but doesn't exactly have the polish of say Nintendo's first party titles. There is also some background music that plays the whole time and it is subtle enough not to irritate you in any way.
Maze Paint is effectively the same as those maze puzzles that feature in puzzle books and many may remember from their childhood. A picure of an empty maze is on screen and you have to start from one point and then make it to the end. Like many mazes, there are dead ends aplenty but with touch screen controls being as simple as using a pen and mistakes easily wiped out, they are easy to get to grips with. Despite sounding quite dull, these actually work quite well and successful completion of a puzzle reveals a coloured picture.
Magipic is a bit of a weird one and the weakest link of the bunch but enjoyable once you get your head around the whole idea. Here you have to paint the number of tiles black to the number it is next to. If you start off by colouring all tiles surrounding a number 9 in black and all 0 tiles in white, it is then possible to work how to solve the rest of the puzzle.
The mode that makes Pic Pic an essential purchase is Drawing, which has proved to be so compelling it has required great willpower to pull away from its devilish puzzles in order to write this. Here you have to find matching numbers and draw lines to connect them, with the numbers dictating how long a line you have to draw. Lines can be drawn horizontally or vertically but can not overlap with others or finished blocks. The pen-like controls mean that it feels just like an interative puzzle book but with the convenient option of deleting your mistakes without making a mess.
Starting off as small affairs, later puzzles get increasingly larger and more advanced, yet the simplicity of the mechanics means that you remain utterly hooked. After a while, play becomes instinctive and you'll be flicking the stylus around with ease at a quick speed without a second thought. The satisfaction you feel from completing even the most simple of puzzles can not be undersestimated and seeing the results transform into an image adds to the appeal. Some puzzles are also a techicolour delight, with many numbers in a range of colours that can look quite impressive when you have reached their end.
It just goes to show that if you are prepared to broaden your horizons, look outside of the big name titles that on the format that you can undercover some addictive games that haven't received the attention that they truly deserve. With four hundred puzzles in each mode, there is plenty here to keep you occupied (we've been playing for months and haven't even reached the halfway point yet) so if you're even remotely interested in using those little grey cells, it's essential that you track this down.