Review: Puzzle Series 2: Illust Logic + Colourful Logic (Wii)

We just died and went to picross heaven...

Nonograms (you may recognise them by the Nintendo trademark "Picross") are relatively recent to the puzzle world, first appearing in Japanese puzzle magazines in the late 1980s. Nintendo quickly popularised them by publishing titles for Game Boy and the Super Famicom and have continued to do so on the DS. Hudson has released their own DS picross game: Illust Logic + Colourful Logic which has been expanded and released on the Wii as Puzzle Series 2: Illust Logic + Colourful Logic (the first Puzzle Series title on Wii was Sudoku). Illust Logic + Colourful Logic is bursting with content and options; as of this writing it's the king of picross games on the Wii.

If you aren't familiar with picross the concept is fairly simple: fill in the correct number of squares on a grid to create a picture. There are guides in the form of numbers at each row and column which tell you the number of squares to fill in, with multiple numbers indicating groups of square separated by blank space. 1-3-1, for example, would indicate a total of 5 squares to fill in: one, some blanks, a group of three, more blanks and then one more. It sounds simple enough, but it can be quite challenging getting the rows and columns to match up -- especially if you're working a 20x20 grid!

Once you've created a Mii-based profile (there are four in total) you can either jump straight into the game or view a series of tutorials on the various game modes. The controls are pretty straightforward with the remote pointer making a good substitute for the DS stylus. You have a few tools off to the right of the play grid: a black ink brush, a white ink brush, an X and a magnifying lens (in colour games you also have virtual paint blobs of the various colours used, plus white). You can either click on these tools using pointer+(A) or use the (DPAD) to highlight the one you want. If your hands aren't steady enough for using the remote pointer you can opt to use the remote on its side NES-style or use the Classic Controller to control your brush-shaped cursor (which can optionally be changed to an arrow).

The tip of the brush will match whatever colour is presently active and clicking (A) whilst pointing at a chosen square will fill it in. If you hold (A) you can drag the brush vertically or horizontally to fill in multiple connected squares with a visual count telling you how many you've done. As you move the brush over the grid you'll see the ends of the row and column light up in orange (this can be changed to whatever colour you like or turned off) to show you where your cursor is currently pointing. Pointing at filled in squares will helpfully display a count of the number of contiguous filled-in squares (again, there's a option to disable this) and once you've filled in the required number of squares for the row/column the end with the number indicators will dim (note that this doesn't mean your choices were correct). You can choose the "X" tool to put Xs through squares you've determined shouldn't be filled in at all to assist in your puzzle solving and if it's a big grid puzzle, clicking the lens will cause the working area to zoom in to make clicking the squares easier (note the column/row numbers will stay the same so it won't make solving the puzzle easier). It's a really good interface and implemented as well as you could ask for on the Wii.

There are tons of picross puzzles included: according to the box there are 600 in all across three game modes: Standard, Challenge and Original. Standard mode is the game as described above with choice of four different grid sizes: 5x5, 10x10, 15x15 and 20x20. Puzzles are grouped into several themed categories with a dozen or more each. The grids are mostly basic black-and-white, but there are colour variants wherein the numbers at the end of the row/column will also indicate the colour of the blocks in that grouping. Your time to complete is tracked for each puzzle with the best time is recorded for viewing in the "Ranking" screen; selectable from the main menu. Completing puzzles also earns you stars which allows you to unlock special medal-themed puzzle areas: bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

Challenge mode introduces a time limit and power-ups which have positive or negative effects on your score, time remaining and how quickly the time gauge runs down. You can choose from three levels of challenge: 5x5/10x10, 10x10/15x15 and 15x15. Instead of recording elapsed time you have a time limit in which you need to complete a series of puzzles which progress in difficulty from smaller to larger grids. After completing one puzzle the next starts immediately. You get points and time added for each square correctly placed and subtracted for each incorrectly placed, and your score is recorded when you complete all of the challenge puzzles or fail.

Original mode is actually an editor where you can create up to 80 of your own original puzzles. Whilst this is a full-featured editor unless you have other people in your house it's not likely you'll get much use out of it -- though it is a nice extra in an already full-to-bursting puzzle collection.

Not being able to read Japanese isn't too big a deal since there's no hints beyond the name of the category the puzzle is in -- not that this would help much anyway since the pictures you're drawing are mostly the outlines of colour pictures that get filled in when solved. The inclusion of categories for sprites from Hudson games like Bomberman is a nice treat, making this a collection not to be missed by importers.

Conclusion

Hudson have really outdone themselves with this excellent collection of picross games for the Wii, providing not only a huge collection of puzzles, but interesting alternate game modes besides. You should be able to pick this up from reliable importers for not too much money, so if you're a fan of picross games and have the means to play it, buy and enjoy.

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