Yes its free to start but unlike Pokemon Shuffle you really need to spend money on this game with about a 34 dollar max. Its just not good. I got to world 5 then it does cost money, not sure of a workaround.
The energy levels are so annoying. You can play like two puzzles after the tutorials and it will say not enough energy to play. I would understand not enough energy to use a pokemon powerup but just to play.
Also when I play and finish a picross, wordsearch, crossword etc I think its annoying and dumb to replay using cheats to get a point or two. The points add up just a little bit. The points are picrites to open new levels, 200 picrates now for level six when you earn 5 picrites for a puzzle its not much help.
I have Picross e2, e4 and e6. Spending money on the e games is far better money spent for 150 plus puzzles.
I wish it had cost $9.99 for a picross game using the e series format with 300 pokemon creature pictures. With no energy, many powerup types, or fancy graphics. Maybe 3 micropicross puzzles. And be done with it. Instead we get a free to start mess of a puzzle game.
This is on the 3ds eshop.