By now, most of you should be familiar with the concept of Picross. First appearing on the Game Boy with Mario's Picross and most recently in slightly altered form in Picross 3D, Picross has always been a bit of an unassuming, almost low-key affair, but those who invest their time into it tend to discover an incredibly addictive little puzzler contained within.
Picross E is a return to the classic, non-3D formula. The game itself has a detailed tutorial so we won't explain the rules yet again, but broadly speaking, it comes down to this: you've got a grid with a row of numbers both above and to the left of it. Using these numbers you must carefully figure out which squares on the grid to fill, eventually revealing a pixelated image resembling an object. Making mistakes costs you valuable time, and spending too long mulling over the solution will cause you to run out of time and lose the puzzle.
There are four different "modes" available, but like before, technically there are only really two. Easy and Normal are played with the standard rules, with Easy containing very small 5x5 puzzles and Normal containing 10x10 and 15x15 puzzles. Free and Extra should be familiar to Picross fans - in these two, the game will not notify you when you make a mistake, which is referred to as "Free Mode".
On the plus side, this means you won't get time penalties, but it also means you've got to be extra careful and only fill in squares when you're absolutely certain they should be filled. Being reckless could mean spending fifteen minutes filling squares, only to realize at some point that you made a mistake somewhere, and then spending another fifteen minutes finding and fixing it. The ability to mark squares you think should NOT be filled with a cross is especially useful during these levels.
Of course, Picross E is "just" a downloadable game, but it still comes with a decent amount of levels. Easy and Extra both feature 15 puzzles, while Normal and Free have 60 each, making for 150 total. No downloadable puzzles, level editor or unlockable extras exist, unfortunately.
Sadly, the game does have some small flaws that prevent it from being as enjoyable as the other games in the series. For one, it never gets particularly hard - the biggest puzzle size is 15x15, which is microscopic compared to some of the gigantic puzzles in other instalments. The hint system, allowing you to fill in one random column and row at the start of the puzzle, is also still available, but you can choose to not use it should you so choose.
The other flaw is in the presentation, which is almost identical to the default style of Picross DS. However, unlike that game, there is no option to change the appearance of puzzles or the background music, meaning you're stuck with the same theme and music the whole way through. The game isn't particularly long, but it's still a bit of an annoyance to those used to the small bits of customization the other games in the series offered.
If you're starving for some more Picross puzzles, then you can't really go wrong with Picross E. It gives you a reasonably large set of 150 new puzzles to sink your teeth into, and although they're not particularly challenging, they'll at least keep you busy for a while.
This is a likable appetizer, but fingers are firmly crossed that Nintendo will announce another fully-fledged retail instalment soon.