Travel Mosaics 2: Roman Holiday Review (Nintendo Switch)

Game: Travel Mosaics 2: Roman Holiday
Genre: Arcade, Education, Strategy, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Android, iPad, iPhone, PC)
Developer|Publisher: JetDogs | JetDogs
Age Rating: PEGI 3 | ESRB E (Everyone)
Price: UK £6.29 | EU €6.99 | US $7.99 | CA $10.49|AUS $ 10.50
Release Date: 16th March 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to JetDogs!

Originally designed for mobile, this nonogram game only recently got a Switch release. But does it stack up against the competition?


In the world of puzzle games, the picross/nonogram is as classic as a Sudoku or a Kakuro. The basic premise is always the same; you have a grid, with numbers assigned to each row and column that designate how many squares are filled in. Once you’ve completed the puzzle you end up with a pretty picture. The classic simplicity makes it easy to develop a nonogram game, but hard to do it in a way that impresses.

The number of times I accidentally used a power-up…

I never played the original Travel Mosaics series on mobile, but I imagine the control system worked quite well on the hardware available. Unfortunately, the Switch is so much better developed for gaming that the ported mobile controls feel just like that; a copy-and-paste job, with very little thought into the new hardware. The control stick and touch screen are just too sensitive for a game where pressing one wrong key means instant life loss. The D-pad is assigned to power-ups, which again just feels clunky on the Switch; I’d have much preferred to be able to use the D-pad as my control because that feels more natural.

I wasn’t impressed by the tutorial, or rather lack thereof. There are instructions, buried in the settings menu, but a lack of tutorial would instantly intimidate a new player. The instructions look like they were developed for a computer screen, with no regard for the much smaller screen of the Switch; the text is too small, and too many instructions are crammed into one screen, making it very difficult to read in handheld mode. All in all the game just feels like a poorly-thought-out copy-paste job from mobile, and it really ruins what could be a wonderfully relaxing experience.

I found the instructions too crammed in when playing in handheld mode.

The living room portion of the game is a collectables thing, as far as I can tell, and just feels a bit gimmicky. It’d be a nice side-task for a younger or completionist audience, I’m sure, but I never really had reason to pay attention to it, being far more interested in trying to earn all 3 stars on every puzzle (which is really hard!).

One thing that definitely needs addressing is the marketing for this game, which is something I don’t normally look into too deeply. Travel Mosaics 2 is marketed as a nonogram game, so imagine my surprise when I encountered a sliding puzzle just shoe-horned in once I finished the first area! it wasn’t compulsory, thankfully, but it ruined the relaxing headspace that nonograms put me in. It’s listed as a “unique take on the classic nonogram puzzle”, but there’s nothing particularly unique about it; plenty of other nonogram games have used colours and stages and recognizable images to much better effect for a lower price.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics hit a reasonable middle ground between a mobile game, and what a Switch game can be. They’re bright and cartoony, very much family-oriented, and a good fit for the game. Unfortunately, the style does still scream “mobile” (something instantly recognised by my partner, who saw me playing and asked if it was a straight-up port from a mobile game) which ruined my personal enjoyment; having seen what games like Depixtion and Voxelgram can be graphically, the clearly mobile-based graphics just felt a bit cheap. It was nice to have a choice of block style, though!

The graphics are cute but still give major mobile vibes.

The soundtrack, however, was brilliant, It was positive but relaxing, and very holiday/island vibes – I’ve been obsessed with Animal Crossing New Horizons lately, and that track would definitely not be out of place on my not-so-deserted island!


Difficulty is one category where Travel Mosaics 2 shines, and it shines brightly! There are three difficulty settings; Easy, Normal, and Difficult. Admittedly I skipped Easy and went straight to Normal, then shortly on to Difficult. Easy is very beginner-friendly, with the colour-specific work removed and auto-completion of both columns and rows. Normal introduces the colour-switching mechanic, but still auto-completes rows and columns once you’ve got all the blocks in the right place. Difficult doesn’t automatically cross out completed rows and columns until both the row and the column are completed, which makes it much harder.

I loved the decent choice of difficulty!

I enjoyed the challenge of Difficult mode, as I’ve played many nonogram games and enjoy a good challenge. However, this is where the device sensitivity became a burden, as mentioned earlier. I’d be filling in a row and all it took was the slightest touch of the control stick or brush of my sleeve on the touch screen to move my cursor and fill in an incorrect block, resulting in an instant life loss. Granted the game isn’t responsible for how sensitive the device is, but this is why I’d have preferred D-pad control and just scrapping the power-ups; they don’t feel right in a Switch game, at least not to me.


While it stuck far too close to its mobile roots, Travel Mosaics 2 has the potential to be a really fun nonogram game with some control and design rework. As it is now I’d be loath to pay the asking price, but with some spit and polish, I could see it easily being worth that or more in future.

Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure

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