Sawbuck Gamer

NoNoSparks: Genesis

Playing God By Numbers

In NoNoSparks: Genesis, you build a world one logic puzzle at a time.

By Steve Heisler • April 19, 2012

If we truly remembered how hard puzzles were, we’d never start new ones. Puzzles are fun and so very conquerable in hindsight. “Of course that piece went between the two flower pieces,” you tell yourself after 17 excruciating hours of fruitlessly smashing two flimsy pieces of cardboard together.

NoNoSparks: Genesis invokes the same puzzle faux-superiority. As a God-like figure, you create life by solving number/pattern puzzles. The screen is divided into a grid, and you can place a block or an X inside every empty square. Numbers running along the sides provide clues to the proper configuration, and through Sudoku-style deduction, you’re able to figure out what goes where. Upon solving, it’s revealed that the blocks have actually formed a picture—a cloud, or some sand—revealing a paint-by-numbers layer to the game.

As the puzzles grow larger, the clues grow more complicated. The numbers are the primary guideposts, but is that pattern in the upper right corner the top of a tree? The arm of an octopus? And when you finally see the solution, you convince yourself that of course that was the wing of a bird, and you’ll see everything more clearly next time. Such is the headspace of NoNoSparks, a game that involves second-guessing yourself a lot. Hindsight will never be more than 20-20.

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281 Responses to “Playing God By Numbers”

  1. Aaron Riccio says:

    I never knew that hell was crabs and jellyfish (in addition to snakes), though I guess now that I’ve typed that up, that makes a lot of sense. Nice attempt at wedding a story as familiar as this to a logic puzzle as familiar as the picross/paint-by-numbers genre. I only wish that the interface were a bit nicer, with the ability to zoom in/out, and to undo your last set of moves (in case you want to experiment a bit). 

    • LimeadeYouth says:

      Ditto. This is a nice, fun way to get introduced to the picross genre, but the interface was a touch clunky for experienced puzzlers. In particular, having to leave the board every time you wanted to change from dot to x was inconvenient.

      If you like this style of puzzle, I’d suggest trying which has a very slick interface. Most of the puzzles are pay-to-play(but dirt cheap with a package deal), but they have at least one free one every week.

      One other thing: I’d suggest the logic used in picross is closer to kakuro than sudoku because basic math is required.

      • You don’t actually have to leave the board; holding down the space key toggles between block-mode and X-mode.

        I normally don’t have much patience for puzzle games, by the way, but I was entirely addicted to this one. The crossword-like way everything fit together in the end, the way the vertical and horizontal rows eventually help solve each other, was like crack for me. I’d stumble through the first half of the puzzle solely to get to that latter half, where things just seem to fall into place. 

        • LimeadeYouth says:

          D’oh! I wish I had known that. TY.

          It’s interesting you prefer finishing the board. I see the chains of logic and it’s the “Aha!” moments at the beginning I enjoy the most. Actually putting in the finishing blocks and x’s is like editing for me, something for which I’m inherently unsuited.

    • AuroraBoreanaz says:

      On the positive side, you know when a row or column is correct when the numbers grey out, so if you’re one square off you can fiddle until it’s right.

      For some stupid reason I love puzzle games like this that reveal a piece of a picture for each completed level.

  2. Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

    Eyyo, this kind of puzzle is called Picross.

    • LimeadeYouth says:


      I only use picross because the Nintendo version is the one people here are most likely to be familiar with.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        Yep, I only know of them because I played the Gameboy/DS games. Thanks for making me slightly more knowledgeable than i was five minutes ago!

  3. trilobiter says:

    This game starts getting impossible for me when the grids get to be 10×10.  I’ve tried three of them so far and haven’t been able to finish any of them.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      You’ve got to use logical elimination — the 15X15 ones are where I’m at, and they’re *annoying* for the reasons I stated above. In any case, some tips (which I believe the game gives you): 

      1. Certain large numbers (or a lot of little numbers) will force certain boxes to be filled. I.e., if a 10X10 shows “8,” then you know that the central six boxes must be filled — whether you start from the left and count eight or the right and count eight, those boxes will always be filled. 

      2. Always mark invalid boxes with an X. I.e., if you’ve already started filling in a 4, and that’s the only thing in a row, you know which boxes can’t be reached. This, in turn, may show you other boxes you can X out (i.e., 4 is the first number, but there’s an X in space #4 — clearly the 4 must begin *after* space #4). 

      3. Though it’s cheating, AuroraBoreanz (above) notes that the game will automatically grey out a row that’s been correctly filled in. So as a last ditch effort, feel free to guess as needed.

      • LimeadeYouth says:

        A method I use at the start:
        Supppose I had a 10 space row with “1 3 2” as the numbers to the right.

        Add the numbers + number of spaces in the row you’re considering to see how compact your arrangement could be. In this case 1+3+2+2spaces = 8.

        This means you have 2 spaces of “play”.

        Any number larger than the “play” will, by necessity have (that number – minus the play) spots that can be filled in.

        So in this case we would count 1, space, (3, 4, 5), and the 5th spot must be filled in. 

      • trilobiter says:

         I did manage to get up to the 15x15s, with a very minimal amount of guessing.  But now I’ve given up for good.  Too hard!

        • The_Horse_Chestnut says:

           I managed to get to the final level without any trial and error, but that last level was way too hard, and so I had to guess a couple of lines. Now I feel dirty.
          I do wonder if that level was even possible just by using logic, though.

  4. large_marge_sent_me says:

    You can also hold space to change to Xs. Really dug this game. The sense of humor at the very end is fun too.

    • Bowen Kerins says:

      I wish I’d read this far when firing up the game.  But yeah, Sawbuck Gamer is ruining my productivity on a much more regular basis now.  Bah?

    • LimeadeYouth says:

      The increased sense of humor as the game progressed to more repetative was a really good use of story telling.
      *mild spoiler*
      However, a penis joke in a game about the bible? Wow.