As a fan of Easter eggs in games, and being in the privileged position of developing games myself , I once made the inadvisable decision to hide an entire mini-game in one of my games and not tell anyone about it (aside from my publisher, who of course has to sign off on all contents in the game, hidden or otherwise, to the vendors). I created an LCD game version of Piczle Cross, a regular black and white nonogram style logic-puzzle (that forms the basis of Piczle Cross Adventure as well) within Piczle Colors.
The plan was to just have it in there, and if some puzzle fanatic stumbled across it they would have a great “ah ha!” moment and some extra puzzles to enjoy. I absolutely forbade my publisher to talk to anybody about it, very much to their chagrin. But bless’em, they respected my silly wishes.
And yet, one year after the release of Piczle Colors and no sign of anybody having found it I started feeling the need to talk about it. I guess I had hidden it too well or, more likely, had given zero indication that there was something extra to find within the game. Why would people go sleuthing for clues and hidden extras when they aren’t told it would be worth their while doing so? Also, I have very bad self-control, so the urge to spill the beans had been weighing on my mind for a year now.
On January 31st, 2020 it was exactly 1 year since Piczle Colors was released on Nintendo Switch. I thought to celebrate this fact I announced Piczle Cross’s existence, gave a little clue and it was almost immediately found.
How to unlock Piczle Cross Puzzle & Watch in Piczle Colors
There is a hint within Piczle Colors itself, but obviously it was too obscure. Perhaps because it was hidden within a gag that stood in and of itself. After earning enough coins by playing Piczle Colors puzzles without using hints, one of the in-game extras, the 3D viewer, will unlock automatically.
Accessing this will allow you to view 3D models of the game’s characters, with some extra information about them. One of the 3D models is a “secret button” because hey, every game needs a secret button, right?
If you press this button (using the touch screen in handheld mode only!) it makes the sound of a doorbell. The professor will then tweet at you using the in-game social messaging service, that there is someone at his door. The joke obviously being that the secret button is just a doorbell, har-dy-har.
It turns out…there actually was someone at the professor’s door. The mailman! And because the professor was confused and didn’t bother checking his door, the mailman just left the package in his mailbox.
On the title screen of Piczle Colors, in the background, you can see the professor’s mailbox. Though the visual change is minute, previously it was empty but now it contains a package. Using the touch screen in handheld mode again, tap on the mailbox when you can and receive the package, which will contain Piczle Cross.
Now, from the centre of the Extras menu you can play Piczle Cross and your stats page will have entries for your best score in mode A and B.
As the development of a project goes on, especially in the later stages, it can really drag. You have worked on it for so long now, with no seeming end in sight, and you start to get a little bored, or other project ideas become a little too intrusive. By adding a few extras to Piczle Colors, including the 3D Viewer and colouringbook, I did a pretty good job inoculating myself against this rut. However, I did already start prototyping Piczle Cross Adventure a little before the end of Piczle Colors.
So I had some working Piczle Cross scripts, and I thought, hm, I wonder if I can make a Piczle Cross minigame in Piczle Colors. It had to be very much pared down, obviously. Here my idea for an LCD version came about.
As a massive nerd I have a real love for the original Nintendo Game & Watch LCD games. I had Mario Cement Factory when I grew up and played it to death. I envied friends who owned Donkey Kong in its glorious orange clamshell. I started buying a few of them later on in my life, but availability and pricing made actual collecting a bit of an impossibility. Instead, I can create my own, more or less. I already released a silly LCD game based off Octopus years ago on the then-new gadget called the “iPhone”. I thought I’d do it again with this secret mini-game.
Little side projects like these are great fun because I gave myself a design challenge (had it been technically possible, how would a nonogram game work as an LCD game?), and a little scripting challenge (testing out my piczle cross code) as well as a couple of fun coding challenges (can I get the screen blurring effect of pressing down on an LCD game to work?)
All in all it was a fun diversion. There are a few things I’d have loved to change / fix in this current version. I might even see if it’s worth cleaning up and making a dirt-cheap standalone game out of. We’ll see.
Piczle Cross Adventure
Piczle Cross Adventures has a similar hidden extra, of sorts, but I made sure this time to make it part of the game itself. It will be very obvious for players that there is an easter egg hunt going on, and upon completion there will be strands left untied that any suitably puzzly person will want to pursue. What exactly the hidden extra is in Piczle Cross Adventure will be very obvious at some point during the game, but to actually access it will require a little extra work. I hope that is a more sensible way to go about hidden extras. It helps if people know there is something to look for, or they simply won’t be looking.