Nintendo revealed that its next published release for the 3DS is Pokemon Picross, a free-to-download puzzler featuring hundreds of Pokemon characters.
Due for a digital release next month, Pokemon Picross challenges players to strategically break blocks in order to reveal character portraits, using logic and mathematic principles in order to determine their next move across a numbered grid.
Pokemon Picross is Nintendo’s latest “free-to-start” release, giving players a taste of its gameplay during a limited trial period before requiring a purchase for continued play. Other recent free-to-start Nintendo 3DS releases include fellow Pokemon puzzler Pokemon Shuffle and the Home screen customization app Nintendo Badge Arcade.
Unlike similar free-to-play mobile games that base their gameplay around timers or in-game currency, Nintendo’s free games often feature very limited functionality until players spend real-world cash in order to unlock additional modes or levels. Last year’s Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball introduced a haggling mechanic, making microtransaction purchases, discounts, and coupons part of its core gameplay.
Pokemon Picross is the latest in a string of digital Picross games released for the 3DS in recent years. Six games in Nintendo’s “Picross e” series premiered between 2013 and 2015, and the eShop also hosts a Virtual Console version of the monochrome Game Boy puzzler Mario’s Picross.
Nintendo took the series into the third dimension in 2010 with Picross 3D for the Nintendo DS. Switching out 2D nonograms for 3D slates, Picross 3D required players to chisel away extraneous puzzle blocks within each level in order to reveal a figure hidden underneath. A sequel, Katachi Shinhakken! Rittai Picross 2, was released for the 3DS in Japan in October. A North American release date for Picross 3D 2 is not yet known.
Pokemon Picross will launch digitally via the 3DS eShop in North America and Europe in December.