Every time we review a picross game, there always seems to be a hubbub about what site does it right. Either there's not enough puzzles to solve, not enough variety in the puzzles, it's all too easy or too hard, or the pictures look like someone sneezed on a piece of graph paper. (I'll admit to being among the gripers before.) And every time, there's at least one person who suggests Griddlers.net.
If you've never played picross before, here's how it works: On the top and left side of a grid, you will see some numbers. These numbers tell you how many consecutive blocks are to be filled in in that respective row or column. For example, a row says 4, you'll fill four squares in that row, no more, no less. If there is more than one number in a line, then you know that there is at least one blank space in between the sections you fill in. For example, 2,2 means you fill in two boxes, leave at least one blank, then fill in two more boxes. Left-clicking fills in a square, while right-clicking marks it with a blank space. Thus, blacking in the last "?" square in the picture above will finish this picture of a juicy pear.
Here is what sets Griddlers apart from the others: Not only is the site's database of playable picross games ridiculously ginormous, but they have many different variations on the genre to keep you interested. Some include:
Colored Griddlers - These are played just like regular picross puzzles, except now you have multiple colors to fill in the grid with. The same rule applies that there is one block between each string of numbers of the same color, however, there does not need to be a gap between numbers of different color. This variety allows for puzzles of up to eight colors, which means all sorts of beautiful animals, faces, and other pictures can be made in a more lively fashion.
Multi-Griddlers - These are sets of picross puzzles that when put together form much larger pictures, in jigsaw-style fashion. Some of the smaller pictures are divided into 2-4 sections, while the larger pictures can contain upwards of 100 separate sections to solve. People have gone to great lengths to use this feature to create very detailed puzzles depicting photographs, cartoon characters, famous paintings, and all sorts of amazing pictures... Can you tell that I'm hinting that this website has a lot of very artistically designed puzzles here?
Triddlers - Quite possibly the most radical variation available, Triddlers are played on a hexagonal grid divided into triangles. You fill in the triangles with clues from the left-hand side (going across), the top (going down-left), and the bottom (going up-left). Changing the shape of picross (literally), this variation allows for more three-dimensional designs and generally provides a break from the standard square-grid picross.
With all of these fantastic features, is there any possible problem with this website? Well... yes, but it's a minor one. There is a quick and painless registration process to be able to record your progress. You're allowed to save two Griddlers and two Triddlers in the middle of solving, but beyond this requires a paid subscription (which truth be told, has a ton of extra features, including the ability to download and print puzzles for solving away from the computer).
Analysis: So have we finally found the holy grail of picross? Of course not. Actually, I can almost already predict the two largest problems people will find with these games. The controls are different from any picross game we've featured so far, particularly because of the multi-colored puzzles. It's no longer plain black and white, there's also red, green, and blue, which can pose a problem for colorblind individuals. The second problem is that all of the puzzles run on a Java interface, and I know how some people have issues with Java. But that much aside, we have a site that offers us (I kid you not) tens of thousands of picross puzzles to solve... I'd say it still qualifies as a puzzler's heaven.
So... Picross. Tons of it. Not much more to say here!