Written by  :  So Hai (371)
Written on  :  Apr 06, 2008
Platform  :  Wii
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars
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An Obscure, Japanese Chisel-simulator.

The Good

"Mario's Super Picross" for the Wii Virtual Console is one of the strangest downloads I've yet had the pleasure of buying. The title of this game really fits the bill – all you're getting on this download is a massive library of picross-style puzzles. That's it. But, for anyone who has given this type of game a chance, they'll be able to tell you that the deceptively basic mechanic of this game is really quite addictive.

Picross involves revealing a picture from a blank slate. That is game's essence. And the ultimate goal is solve every puzzle they throw at you. You do this by "chiselling" into the slate palette which is divided up into squares. Your only clue is the list of numbers telling you how many squares to chisel on each row and column. This game (technically called a "Nonogram"), really is a logic problem – and as mentioned, your reward is a picture that is subsequently revealed. Solve the puzzle within the time limit (it counts down for Mario's puzzles), and you're ready for the next stage.

So, you take the controller and begin either on Mario's set of problems, or on Wario's set of problems. Naturally, Wario's are slightly tougher than his good counterpart, (his clock counts up, and, your mistakes are not made obvious to you by time penalties). Things begin easily enough with a set of five-by-five grid puzzles, (some of which turned out to be Japanese characters), but things get harder as you unlock the next levels. Soon enough, you're dealing with fifteen-by-fifteen grid puzzles, and the potential for human error increases exponentially.

There is a strange feeling of accomplishment that you get from solving these puzzles – even though the images are very "low-res", and some pretty close to indistinguishable. Often, I found myself powering through an entire "stage" with out even noticing. This seemed odd as I had much more modern and sophisticated games sitting around that I intended to play. So, there is an appeal to this game that resides somewhere in its sense of accomplishment.

The Bad

Visually speaking, this game couldn't be more basic. The game "board" or "slate", barely takes up a half of the screen, and what there is of it is very unimpressive. It is completely utilitarian, and devoid of any graphical flare. I am aware that it really only has a limited purpose, but even the colour choices seemed a little off kilter. The two components of gameplay are the slate and the clock. That's it. And they're both there clear enough, it just that they are unremarkable.

The title-screen and sub-screens are equally forgettable, and you get the feeling that it really was a case of just getting this thing printed and done. It actually reminds me of those screen-shots of the Super Game Boy – where previously black-and-white titles got a sixteen-colour upgrade. This game really is the big brother of the Gameboy title "Mario's Picross". Those looking for eye-candy be warned.

Musically speaking, this game gives you a choice of three backing tracks. I usually select the fourth option: "OFF". It's not that they are particularly bad tunes; it's just that after many, many puzzles, three tunes isn't enough variety. Leaving them on gave me a peculiar sense that time has stood still, and stunted my sense of progression.

The Bottom Line

In the end, this title is an obscure yet playable title. It belongs in every puzzle-player's Wii, if only as a curiosity. That it's never been seen in these other territories adds to its appeal, and, if you stick to it, there is a lot to solve in this chisel-fest.