Well, we're officially down the rabbit hole, reviewing a game exclusive to a loyalty programme. You can't buy My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (a snappy title), you can only earn it with Platinum Points on Nintendo's loyalty programme. Easily done if you have social media accounts to link and dabble in Miitomo, less so if those criteria don't apply to you. Nevertheless, it immediately stands out on the service's early Rewards list courtesy of being exclusive content.
At 1000 Platinum Points it is, for early adopters and those with access to Miitomo, easily picked up. Those tackling the most 'missions' may have accrued enough currency within 24 hours of the service launching, and it's a fairly generous offering in the 'engagement'-based Platinum category. Specialised and tying into the recent release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, it nevertheless offers plenty of puzzles as a reward for loyal usage of the My Nintendo programme.
What's immediately striking is the effort made in delivering a quality audio-visual experience. When first booted up the game assumes you've never played Picross before and walks you through five optional puzzles. Midna is the guide, making soundbite noises along with the feisty sort of text dialogue that fits the character nicely. These tutorial levels are certainly helpful, while also setting the tone for the limited but charming presentation of the broader game.
Gameplay is as expected for anyone that's played one or more of the various Picross titles on 3DS, which is no surprise as Picross e developers Jupiter produced this title. The puzzle itself and the grid are on the touchscreen, and you can use the stylus or button inputs for filling squares or marking an X. The top screen shows the puzzle in progress, along with a visual backdrop from Twilight Princess.
There's a surprising amount of content here, and the tie-in to Twilight Princess isn't phoned in with only pleasant background music and wallpapers - the puzzles themselves tap into nostalgia for the game and broader series. The designs and items resemble recognisable parts of the home console adventure, and look rather charming in their blocky Picross form. Clearing a puzzle within 60 minutes (avoiding time penalties for incorrect entries) in order to unlock the colour image becomes the key objective as a result.
Beyond the obvious effort to play up to the Twilight Princess theme, Jupiter has included plenty of content. Picross and Mega Picross have 45 panels each to solve - the former is the standard mode, while the latter has some number clues that incorporate two rows or columns for some extra challenge. That's plenty of hours of entertainment for puzzle and Zelda fans, with panels ranging from 10x10 to 20x15. The larger puzzles can be a little fiddly when trying to tap a specific square on the smaller 3DS or New 3DS models, however, and there's no zoom option - on the flipside you can use physical controls if you want a little added precision. Hint options are also optional to give you a start in a puzzle or to highlight rows that should have your focus.
This release also includes one Micross panel. This is a large image that is formed by completing 57 smaller puzzles, and provides some nice variety and extra content for the most eager players.
Judging a loyalty programme game like My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is tricky, as it's not actually 'for sale'. Considering the My Nintendo economy, and the fact this is a Platinum Reward that's well within the grasp of those fortunate to have Miitomo available in their country, it's a strong offering. We can quibble about the lack of a zoom option that would help on smaller 3DS models, or perhaps even over the limited number of backdrops. Yet ultimately we're looking at well over a hundred puzzles (including the Micross panels) that are nicely structured and tie into Twilight Princess, with a stylish presentation and plenty of charm. As the first ever My Nintendo exclusive game it delivers, and sets the bar high for its likely successor.