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Mario Picross is a logic puzzle game for the original Game Boy released in 1995. The game itself wasn’t brilliant but the grid-logic puzzles it featured were an interesting challenge. This type of logic puzzle first began in around 1987 in Japan. A graphic design artist named Non Ishida used lights in skyscraper windows to form pictures, she called this Oe Kaki Logic (blinkenlights anyone?) and won a design competition with it. She released three grid puzzles based on this entitled Window Art Puzzles, the idea was seized upon by James Dalgety, an Englishman who renamed the puzzles Nonograms, trademarked them, and sold them to the Daily Telegraph. In 1998 Ishida stopped working with the Telegraph and the puzzles became Griddlers in England, remaining Nonograms in Japan. The puzzles finally became Picross when they were used by Nintendo for the SNES puzzler Super Mario Picross and then just Mario’s Picross for Game Boy.

The Game Boy game featured two types of Picross, Easy and Normal, Easy picross had 64 separate 5x5 square puzzles. Normal Picross had two “course” Kinoko, (easy) and star (hard). Each course had eight levels, each level had eight puzzles, each a 15x15 square grid. This made for a total of 192 puzzles and an even grander total of 30,400 squares. A ridiculous number for a game Boy game, and the reason I never completed it, in SEVEN DAMN YEARS! ahem.

Enough of the game and on to the puzzles themselves. The aim of each puzzle is to turn a blank grid:

 _________
|_|_|_|_|_|
|_|_|_|_|_|
|_|_|_|_|_|
|_|_|_|_|_|
|_|_|_|_|_|

Into an intelligible (usually) picture or symbol.

 _________
|_|0|0|0|0|
|0|0|_|_|_|
|0|0|0|0|0|
|_|_|_|0|0|
|0|0|0|0|_|

To do this you fill each grid square, either by marking it in black, (using the A button of your Game Boy, or a pen), or to mark it as blank(using the B button, or another pen). The number and position of the black squares in each grid is shown by the numbers at the edges of the grid.*Although this marks an x in the game, or on paper, I’ve left it blank here for clearer diagrams.

     1
 2 3 1 1 1
 1 1 1 3 2
  _________
4|_|_|_|_|_|
2|_|_|_|_|_|
5|_|_|_|_|_|
2|_|_|_|_|_|
4|_|_|_|_|_|

These numbers correspond to the number of consecutive black squares in that column or row, numbers read left to right, or top to bottom and each set of consecutive squares are separated by an x, or space. Confused? Let’s have a nice ASCII art example.

      1
  2 3 1 1 1	
  1 1 1 3 2 
 __________
4|_|0|0|0|_|
2|_|0|_|_|_|
5|0|0|0|0|0|
2|_|_|_|0|_|
4|_|0|0|0|_|

As you can see unless the black squares and their spaces fill their row or column we can’t immeadiately see where they go. This is where the logic comes in. Every puzzle, no matter how complex, can be solved using logical methods, no trial and improvement, or guessing needed. We can work out the possible positions and fill in those squares that are marked in every possible position, or mark as blank spaces to small for the run of marked squares required. Using these methods to fill out the grid we are left with a nice little picture, our solution.

      1
  2 3 1 1 1 
  1 1 1 3 2
  _________
4|_|0|0|0|0|
2|0|0|_|_|_|
5|0|0|0|0|0|
2|_|_|_|0|0|
4|0|0|0|0|_|                (It's a letter S)

In the game we are rewarded with a cute little cut scene, HOWEVER, in my seven damn years of battling this little Nintendo gem, I have never caught sight of Mario. What no Mario? But lot’s of fun puzzledom anyway.

For anyone who’s interested here’s a nice shiny Nonogram/ Griddler/ Window Art Puzzle/Picross for you to solve. Easiest way to solve it is probably to paste to a .txt file and print out, solution can be found on my homenode if anyone's interested. Enjoy!
            |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  
            |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
            | 4| 6| 8|10|12|14|16|18|20|20| 4| 3| 3| 5| 3| 1| 7| 1| 0| 7| 1| 5| 0| 7| 1| 7|
     _____________________________________________________________________________________
           4|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  | 
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
           6|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
           8|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
         6,3|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  | 
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
         6,3|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
         8,3|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
    12,2,2,3|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
12,1,1,1,1,1|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
12,1,1,1,1,1|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
  11,2,1,1,3|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
12,1,1,1,1,1|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
12,1,1,1,1,1|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
    13,2,2,3|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
          13|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
          13|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
          12|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
          10|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
           8|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
           6|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
     _______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|
           4|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
      ______|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|

The best sources I could find for nonograms on the web were http://www.puzzle.kiev.ua/ a puzzle program available in English and Russian or the slightly prettier http://www.kojima-cci.or.jp/~fuji/java/puzzle/nonogram/index-eng.html .

And thanks to dill for his help with the ASCII’s and for trying to solve all my attempts, bless his cotton socks.

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