Day 33: Mario’s Super Picross

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After spending so much time talking about obscure Steam games, I figured it would be wise to start writing about titles with more mainstream appeal, like Super Famicom puzzlers that never had a Western release.

Getting into import gaming can be a rather bittersweet experience. While there are certainly some consoles with incredible Japanese libraries, the initial draw of being able to play something foreign and unknown can wear thin after your ninth or tenth anime tie-in or text-heavy RPG. The general rule for a non-Japanese speaker is to stick to your fighters, shooters, and puzzle games, the gameplay languages that are universal and easy to follow. As the year goes on, I’m occasionally going to pull out some deep cuts from the import well, partially for the sake of variety, but also because there are a few constants in my rotation worth talking about.

As a right-brained moron who spends most of his waking hours daydreaming and generally hating all things math, I’m likely be the last person you’d expect to have a Picross addiction, yet I’ve found it so easy to waste away hours of my life chiseling away at those blocks in an attempt to uncover shapes that may not even translate to an ignorant Westerner like myself. It’s probably because nonograms in general have more to do with logic than actual arithmetic. It’s a deceptively simple formula that can be iterated on seemingly forever, often requiring very distinct strategies and paths of reasoning that other puzzle games rarely touch upon. It’s really only a few steps away from those old puzzle books I’d read as a child that asked me to determine the seating arrangement on a train whilst only telling me the color of a person’s shirt.

The original handheld version, though not a hit in the States, is still probably my favorite Game Boy game ever, even over the legendary Tetris. I remember destroying it within a few binge playthroughs and then immediately deleting my save so I could do it all over again. For the longest time, it was the only Picross game Nintendo released over here, as it wasn’t until the Sudoku fad of the mid-2000s that we finally saw its cousin pop up again on the DS. Going through my initial vision quest of the Super Famicom library, it immediately stood out to me as another opportunity to scratch that particular itch, distanced enough from my Game Boy love affair but still not at a point where I thought to simply pull up a web browser and look for a free online alternative. There was a Nintendo charm that I simply couldn’t find elsewhere, strong enough that I’m debating whether or not to hunt down a 3DS just to play the new Pokemon version.

As someone that doesn’t really have a need for any more Pokemon in my life, I’m still trying to talk myself out of it.

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