It’s a good question. Pokemon Picross is one of Nintendo’s free-to-play games for the Nintendo 3DS. After you download it, it is hypothetically possible to play through some of the game for free. Maybe even a good amount, if you’re willing to be patient and gradually earn additional Picrites, the in-game currency, from the daily challenges. The question is, how much could someone reasonably expect to spend on Pokemon Picross and enjoy themselves, eliminating some of the wait that would come from waiting to earn enough Picrites from missions, achievements, and daily training.
The easy answer is about $30. If a Pokemon Picross player buys 5,000 Picrites, then you can get 1,000 free Picrites at a time after as needed. With the two one-use offer deals, 5,000 Picrites can end up being $29.97 before tax. That’s broken down to $0.99 for 200, the first one-time offer, $3.99 for 800, the second one-time offer, and finally $24.99 for 4,000. With this option, you’re guaranteed enough Picrites to access all areas, unlock all game modes and elements, and even restore the energy of Pokemon who have skills that have recharge times.
However, there’s a trickier cost based on what you would actually need to gradually work your way through Pokemon Picross. The first essential expenditure is to completely upgrade the Energy gauge. When the game begins, you can fill in 100 squares before you have to stop and wait for it to recharge. Including the starting point, there are five levels to the Energy gauge. The cost to make it unlimited, so you’ll never run out of Energy in the midst of a puzzle, is 700 Picrites. This is the most important purchase you will make in the game.
The second most is probably making sure you have enough Pokemon slots. You start with one for free. However, some puzzles require certain numbers of specific types of Pokemon or particular skills to be used. Also, people unfamiliar with Picross games will probably want access to as many hint skills as possible. It costs 250 Picrites to unlock the other four Pokemon slots.
There are two additional modes which require Picrite investment in Pokemon Picross. The first are Mega Evolution puzzles. In order to play these, you need a Mega Pencil. This is a one-time fee of 500 Picrites. There are also Mega Picross puzzles, but these are locked away in the Alt World. Access to that mode costs 300 Picrites. I’d consider these more optional offerings, unlike the Energy and Pokemon slots, so it’s possible to put these aside.
Finally, each area costs additional Picrites to unlock. Players can access the training area and first area in Pokemon Picross for free. Access to area 2 costs 50 Picrites, but once you pass Area 5, the price starts going past 100 Picrites for each new location.
I feel pretty comfortable saying Pokemon Picross, at the very least, will cost you 950 Picrites. With the two one-time offer deals, that means you could start enjoying a bulk of the puzzles for $5 before tax. However, the cost of new areas does keep increasing as you play, and there may come a point where it will be easier to go ahead and pay that additional $24.99 fee for the remaining 4,000 Picrites.
But before you reach that point, I do recommend spending as little money to go as far as possible and ensure you enjoy the game. Picrites can be earned by completing missions for each puzzle, with a bonus if all missions are completed as once. Various objectives can be earned by performing certain actions in-game, and each “medal” is worth an additional 3 Picrites. Daily challenges offer 3 Picrites when completed, which means even logging in to complete a few puzzles can offer a minor reward.
Pokemon Picross is immediately available for the Nintendo 3DS.