"You get used to it, I don't even see the code"
In a series as focused on multiplayer as Picross S, it’s always seemed odd that Nintendo and Jupiter haven’t allowed more than two players to be playing at the same time. We’ve lost track of how many times we’ve played Picross on our Switch during a major social event and could only have one other person participating, while everyone else in the room simply had to stare on wistfully and wait their turn. Lucky for us, the technology has finally been developed to allow for up to four players to play at once. This means that Picross S8 is at least twice as good as the last several games.
The basic premise this time around follows blue and red cursor who discover that their parents, green and yellow cursor, have broken out of prison and are dead set on getting revenge for being framed by their children. See, there are even four characters! You do have to fill in all of the gaps yourself—there isn’t a single line of written or spoken dialogue anywhere nor are there any cutscenes after all. We’re entirely joking, of course–but with four players, there’s plenty of opportunity for gut-wrenching plot twists and payoffs that have been years in the making with your friends and family.
Otherwise, in the gameplay department, this is certainly Picross. Where else can you spend five minutes parsing a confusing, but completely logical set of numbers to painstakingly craft a pixel art recreation of a urinal? But now that there can be up to four simultaneous players, you can almost certainly blame someone else for making a mistake when you get thirty minutes into a puzzle and realize all the progress you’ve collectively made in the last twenty minutes was a lie. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Playing with four characters can be a cumbersome mess—a moving cursor always stops dead in its tracks if it meets another one—but there’s something about the chaos that’s quite alluring. Even if you are all technically working toward a common goal, there’s certainly little cooperation going on here, as every player’s filled-in squares are tallied and added to their point total in real-time. Most importantly, if you erase someone else’s square and fill it back in yourself, their score goes down and yours goes up. We thus experienced a few puzzles that quickly devolved into seizing and defending real estate, the actual puzzle solution be damned. It’s like an extremely primitive version of Splatoon.
If you’re looking for a few hundred more puzzles to add to the collection of what must be over a thousand by now, then Picross S8 is the game for you. If a good entry point is what you’re after, Picross S8 is a decent spot, but we’d recommend you at least watch the first two seasons of the anime to get a somewhat decent grasp of the premise. Anyway, this game radiates so much power that it made the preceding seven games (or ten, if you count the spin-offs) better through updates that added universal touch support and four-player multiplayer. So go buy it. Now.