I. Love. Picross. It isn't as number-heavy as sudoku, doesn't rely on obscure trivia like a crossword puzzle, and the combination of left- and right-brained activity achieves a perfect harmony. And when paper and pencil puzzles won't cut it, there are dozens of online incarnations of the popular game, including a few downloadable picross titles that offer more puzzles than I could ever dream of completing. Then along comes Armor Picross 2 with its shiny graphics, easy-to-use interface and countless sets of puzzles. In other words, a little slice of picross heaven.
If you're unfamiliar with picross (also called nonograms), here's the scoop. Each grid is surrounded by sets of numbers that correspond to a column or row. The numbers are your clues to which tiles on the grid need to be filled in and which should be left blank. For example, if a column shows "4 2" at the top, that means there's a group of four squares filled in, followed by at least one space, and then a group of two filled squares. The challenge is finding out where the filled groups begin and how many blank spaces to put where. If it sounds confusing, don't worry, it's simple. Just start playing and within a few seconds you'll get the hang of it.
Your main activity is filling in squares or marking them with an 'X', both of which are achieved with the mouse in this game. To fill a square simply click on it, and to mark an X hold shift while clicking. You can also click and drag to fill whole rows at once, but be aware that Armor Picross 2 won't confine your moves to the row you started drawing on, so a steady hand is required.
Armor Picross 2 does notify you when you make a wrong move, which picross purists may not like. Each puzzle gives you five chances to mess up without clearing the puzzle, but there are no hints, so it almost balances out. Besides, if you're a picross pro, you won't make mistakes in the first place, right? Puzzles are timed but there's no limit and therefore no need to rush. Just sit back, organize your thoughts and get your picross on. There are plenty of puzzles to keep you busy for quite some time.
Analysis: The two major sellings points for any computer version of picross are puzzle variety and interface. Armor Picross 2 nails both of these. The click/shift-click method is about as simple as it gets (seeing as how the right mouse button isn't used), so you won't fumble and make the wrong move by accident. The visuals are big, sleek, and easy to see, even in later levels when the board is dozens of columns wide. When it comes to online picross games, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better implementation than this one.