Review: 'Picross' for Nintendo DS

If you're the sort of person who can't get enough of Sudoku and crossword puzzles, then you might be an avid video gamer, too.

Nintendo Co. has seen to that with "Picross DS," which borrows elements of those two classics and folds them into a delightful little game that's great fun for logic-lovers.

It might seem ponderous, but the mathematics behind "Picross," (Rated E, $19.99) are simple. You basically have to fill in a grid with a blue square or an x mark so that it matches up with the numbers along each row and column.

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Bigger numbers are easy — if you've got the number 10 on a row 10 squares long, just fill the whole thing in with blue squares.

Larger grids with lower numbers are considerably more difficult, but with practice even the toughest levels — sprawling 20 by 20 monsters — become almost intuitive.

Guessing is never a good idea with "Picross." You'll receive a time penalty and your final score will suffer as well.

If you do get stuck, you can always go back and get free hints at the beginning of a round. Like a roulette wheel, the hints will fill in one row and one column of the grid.

The final solutions always look like something (hence the "pic" in "Picross"): chunky pictures of hearts, cell phones, musical notes and batteries that resemble the solid blocks of a crossword.

The "My Picross" option gives the game some staying power once you complete the hundreds of included levels.

The mode lets you draw your own gridlike pictures that can be saved as puzzles. Better yet, you can send puzzles wirelessly to other DS gamers, even if they don't have their own copy of "Picross."

The Nintendo DS seems to have found a comfortable niche with a variety of puzzle games to help already busy people pass the time even more quickly.

"Picross" is an elegant, alluring option that will keep you coming back for more.

Three-and-a-half-stars out of four.