Colour Cross DS
Published by: Rising Star Games
Developed by: Little Worlds Studio
Last year Nintendo released a puzzle game by the name of Picross DS, for the Nintendo DS of course, and it was a game that was fairly simplistic in nature but as you played through the various levels in the game it became more and more challenging until it became rather fiendish. Colour Cross is an extremely similar experience to Picross DS but it does have a twist of its own. As the title suggests in Colour Cross you'll have different colours to deal with in each puzzle and it really adds more depth to each of the game's puzzles.
Colour Cross offers 150 grid puzzles that are evenly spread out over ten different themes. Like Picross DS, the idea is to correctly fill in the squares of any given grid. In Picross DS you only had to fill in appropriate squares in order to create a simplistic design. Colour Cross takes this a little further as you have to fill in every square on the grid and you are dealing with multiple colours instead of just the one. Like Picross DS, you can also place an X in any square to help you work out the correct positions. Finding the correct squares to fill in is a very similar process however and if you're familiar with how Picross DS played you'll be instantly at home with Colour Cross.
On any given grid, or canvas as the game calls them, you'll be dealing with at least two colours. The numbers placed along the top of the grid and vertically alongside the grid provide a clue as to the correct location of the squares that have to be coloured in. For instance, if you look at the top of the grid and see the number 3 above a number 1 this implies that you'll need a succession of three squares, at least a gap of one square, and then a single square coloured in that row. By touching the paint tube icon on the right of the screen, and touching the relevant paint splatter, you can switch between the different colours you'll need for any given puzzle. Of course when you switch colours, the numbers at the side and on the top of the grid will change to reflect the location of the different coloured squares. The larger the grid and the more colours involved, make solving the puzzle all the more challenging. Essentially then it's like having several Picross DS puzzles within a single Colour Cross puzzle.
Given that Colour Cross and Picross DS are so similar in nature it's inevitable that those who don't own either but who are interested in both will compare what each game offers. In some respects Colour Cross will come up a little short in a comparison. Both are priced at £19.99 but whereas Picross DS offers over 300 puzzles, multiplayer for up to five players and the ability to wirelessly exchange puzzles you have created, Colour Cross offers only 150 puzzles, no multiplayer and no way of creating your own puzzles. At face value then it appears that Colour Cross is poorer value for money. Whilst it's a shame it doesn't have a multiplayer mode you have to consider that there's more to do in each of the puzzles in Colour Cross. Each colour adds an additional layer to the puzzle and you can have some really large grids with five different colours to deal with. In fact, the 150 puzzles in Colour Cross take much longer to complete than the 300 in Picross DS (where some of the easier puzzles can be done in seconds).
Aside from the absence of a multiplayer mode, there are only a few areas in which Colour Cross could have been better. I would like to have seen more than just the one mode to add some variety to the game. The ability to create and trade puzzles would have also been a welcome feature. In games such as this you expect the puzzles to gradually increase in difficulty. The difficulty progression in Colour Cross feels uneven. It introduces bigger grids and more colours into the equation a little too quickly and you go from puzzles that are very simple to puzzles that are quite challenging without anything in between which seems a little odd.
The presentation in Colour Cross has been kept simple but the game looks as good as it needs to. After all this is a game where you're essentially filling in a grid with coloured squares so there's only so much you can do from a graphical standpoint. You can zoom in and out on a grid and you can drag the grid around (which is very useful on some of the larger grids) to give you a clear view of the grid at all times. The game has four different profile slots so it's possible for other members of the family to enjoy the game too, and record their own progress. There is no speech in the game and all information is displayed through the use of text and numbers. The game's tutorial is absolutely fine and will get you up and running in just a few minutes. When you earn penalties they are displayed visually and the time you are taking to complete the puzzle is also displayed, so you can see if you're taking too long to solve a puzzle.
Colour Cross is one of the better puzzle games for the Nintendo DS and if you're a fan of Picross DS you owe it to yourself to pick up the game at some point. Whilst it's very similar to Picross DS, Colour Cross has several layers to each puzzle, in the form of multiple colours to apply, which really helps to add more depth to the experience than Picross DS offered. The lack of modes and multiplayer is a shame but there's more than enough content to keep you busy for a few months. On the whole it's a puzzle that's well worth the asking price and one that I will definitely keep coming back to.