It’s become a thing lately for Nintendo to release games for the 3DS that are “freemium.” For those who don’t know, a freemium game is free to download and play, but in-game purchases can be made to speed up game actions or unlock additional levels. I’ve tried a few of these before like “Pokemon Shuffle” and “Pokemon Rumble World,” but after a while they tend to get either boring or frustrating. Not having to pay at all can be great for the wallet, but it leads to games that take forever to accomplish anything in. And that brings me to “Pokemon Picross.”
Now, until recently, I’d never tried picross despite knowing about it. But after trying some online versions and enjoying them, I decided to give the Pokemon edition a shot when it was released. The game centers around you filling in tile puzzles that, when completed, form a Pokemon you can use later on. Each Pokemon has a special skill that can help you beat puzzles faster or more efficiently, which can be extremely helpful since you have energy that gets wasted with each tile (correct or not) you place. When I’m actually able to PLAY the puzzles, it’s fun. And then I got to a roadblock: not having enough in-game currency (known as Picrites) to continue pressing forward.
I’ve learned since I started playing that this game nearly requires you to drop money down to get anything done. The only way to press on through free play is to either get random achievements or play a once-a-day challenge to earn Picrites either way. This essentially means grinding your way to having enough to go to the next worlds, which have higher Picrite costs as you go along. I thought it was bad enough to have slow progress in the other freemium games I’ve tried, but this one takes the cake. The game has just over 30 areas and I’m stuck around the 7th or 8th one. That means if I want to progress all the way to the final area, I have to either pay up or keep grinding Picrites to do so. Neither of those sound very appealing to me.
It’s frustrating because I really like the gameplay when it comes to the puzzles. Collecting Pokemon still appeals to my inner collector and their abilities have gotten me out of some tough spots. Part of me wants to keep playing to at least try to get to the next area and subsequent puzzles, while the other part wants to say “Screw this!” and delete it. As for real money, I’ve only used up a dollar getting the bare minimum of extra Picrites, and even that feels like a waste now that I’m stuck. Until I make a decision, all I can say is I’m a lot less tolerant of these games now, and I can’t help thinking that maybe it’s time to drop 3DS freemium games completely.