I Simply Cannot Stop Filling In Boxes Within A Bigger Box

Right at the turning point of 2020, when we (in America) went from the Before Times™, to the pandemic haze beyond time itself, I saw the below tweet:

I had never played any of these games before. I didn’t even own one. In fact, until this writing I didn’t even know this type of puzzle had a name. But something about them being on sale being a rare occasion spurred me to action. I picked up the first Picross S game on a whim and that was about it.

The first time I played it, I had no idea what I was doing. It was a little bit of a learning curve, but I was making my way up it. Bit by bit I beat the game as the days in quarantine ticked by. By the end of the first selection of scandalous squares, I had found myself enjoying it, even if I had gotten a bit frustrated at the last set of shape-related predicaments.

Time passed, or I assume it did, because months later I found myself craving a good puzzle game and still stationed within the walls of my apartment. Not just any puzzle game — I didn’t want to bother learning a new mechanic, my brain was too fried for that — but a specific type of game. Naturally I remembered how much I enjoyed the first one, and picked up the second Picross S game.

Several days of binging and many hours of Picross later, I had beaten the second game. Fast forward a few months that felt like decades/days depending on just whatever the fuck was happening in the larger world, and I found myself with that same craving. The drive to do something and yet the reluctance to learn something new.

I have way too many games in my backlog to justify buying any new ones — there are literally endless options to take up my time nowadays. There are games that routinely rank on the top of ‘best of’ lists that I haven’t even sniffed at, let alone sunk any time into. I have no doubt that any one of these could grab my attention if I were to just insert the disc into the system, or select it and press play. And yet —

And yet I once again found myself on the Nintendo E-Shop, sinking money into Picross. And I once again am finding myself sinking what free time I have into this god damn box puzzle game. I have games I haven’t finished, that have been put on hold for months, literally loaded and at the ready! I have no excuse not to beat them! And still, I press forward.

I don’t have a clue why this damn game series has gripped me the way it has in These Times™. I only know that these boxes must be filled and must make some form of image, or the suggestion of some graphic, and that I alone am the only one who can do so. I have accepted this as truth.

The fifth game was recently released, this pandemic appears to continue to mutate, and the future is as uncertain as ever. Let us Pi-cross these uncharted waters together.

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J.J.

J.J. writes about sports, video games, social movements and a variety of other things. Also tells bad dad jokes.