The exploration of a junior puzzler in this vast puzzle world!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Free the Key

Puzzle: Free the Key
Brand: Puzzlemaster
Inventor: Oscar van Deventer
ST: ~15 min

Been quiet around here recently - I do apologize for this, and I hope to improve my posting rate from now on. Well, here is a post to change the situation.

Free the Key
Free the key was a puzzle that came with several others from Puzzlemaster back when I first started puzzling, but haven't decided to write about it until now. It came simply in a blue plastic package that tells you the name, it's difficulty rating, and (helpfully) states that the objective is to remove the disk from the aluminum key. Taking it out you can see some marks on the parts that gives hints about the building quality - but isn't too troubling considering the cheap price. The thing felt quite sturdy, and would've done some damage if it had an encounter with one's foot!

This puzzle is another well known Oscar design, and as with quite a large portion of his designs this is a maze puzzle. It was in my opinion quite something unique, taking keys to be the theme. As you can see there's several notches on the disks which interacts with the key to create a fairly complicated maze, containing several dead-ends along the way to trip you up.
Job done!

So taking the puzzle you start manipulating the disk and in minutes was close to the end-only to be stopped in your tracks two-thirds from the end. Trying again only results being stuck in the same place. Time to explore a bit! After a while you'd find some more avenues to get into, enabling more fiddling - Suffice to say the solution wasn't trivial, requires you a bit logical thinking and planning before getting the job done. A neat little puzzle that would keep you thinking for a while.

Again a great design by Oscar-and I think I have an idea of why both reviews on it's puzzlemaster page gave it a five-star rating. You can get a copy of the puzzle from either Puzzlemaster, or Sloyd for a reasonable price.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Alcatraz the Puzzle

Puzzle: Alcatraz
Brand: Puzzlemaster
Inventor: Brian McDermott

Alcatraz Puzzle
Every puzzler now and then would probably get to the Alcatraz Puzzle after a bit of surfing on the web. It is a fairly intriguing puzzle with a ball trapped inside a square cage with bars on both the front and the back blocking any possible means for the ball the escape. It lively represents the real-life Alcatraz Prison, as from what I've heard that's about how big the cells are in there to their prisoners. Quite something curious enough to be picked up on first sight.

The inventor was a magician, and was greatly interested by puzzles too. When he discovered that there's no puzzle in the world that satisfied him, he decided to design a good puzzle that he'd never met. And so the Alcatraz was born. It was originally used for his magic shows, but then developed to be the well-known puzzle. You can read the full story here.

I've got the puzzle from quite an earlier order from Puzzlemaster along with a few others, but haven't decided to review it until now-I do have a reason which I'll explain more later. So fiddling with the puzzle the ball would move a couple of millimeters and except from that the brass bars rotate freely and move up and down a bit, there's seemingly no possible movement whatsoever. I think that it is actually pretty obvious how the ball comes out-the challenge lies in working out how. I must've spent rather a good hour on this one without having the slightest progress-the puzzle gives absolutely no feedback!

Finally I gave it up and looked at the solution. Have to say it surprised me! I would say that the solution of Alcatraz is very hard to find, but that's not because it was designed well. It's because no good-seasoned puzzler would ever do that to their puzzle! I'd say that Alcatraz is a good idea with a great appearance but poorly designed. No one would consider a puzzle box as a good puzzle if it has been glued together and the solution was to hit it with a hammer... Get the idea? (do not get the wrong idea-you do not break Alcatraz to solve it but it does require some serious force.)

Not quite a good experience this time and although as stated on the website most people give it a very high rating I'd be hesitant to recommend it to others. And although with time it does became easier to open without that much force I still have pain (yes pain!) opening it. It's hard to write a negative review but I feel the need to state my thoughts about that puzzle as people would be taking review into account before buying puzzles. I am sorry if I offended anyone.

The Alcatraz puzzle is for sale here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rush Hour App

The Original RushHour
Puzzle: Thinkfun Rush Hour App
Brand: Thinkfun
Inventor: NOB Yoshigahara

The famous RushHour is a world-known puzzle invented by the great inventor NOB Yoshigahara and brought to life by Thinkfun, a company selling many different kinds of creative brainteasers and puzzles. This was one of the puzzles that even a non-puzzler would know-Try asking someone who does not play with puzzles and ask them if they know about either the Stickman Milestone Box or RushHour-Which one stood a better chance?

For those who don't know, the RushHour is a sliding tile puzzle with cars of certain lengths in a grid blocking each other, representing a traffic jam, and the goal was to free the red car from the exit. Unlike other sliding tile puzzles the cars are only limited to move in two directions, which added up the difficulty. Lots of thinking and planning were required to pass the harder levels.

Lvl 19 on the app version 
Anyway, the puzzle is so well-designed that it even brings itself on the apple market! Thinkfun's got three of their puzzles turned into apps-RushHour, Solitaire Chess, and Chocolate Fix, all of which I favor. And the nice folks at Thinkfun were kind enough to give me free codes of all these for review... Thanks Thinkfun! Whilst the puzzles has 48 challenges, softwares has a humongous amount of level with 100 at each difficulty! This certainly would keep puzzlers busy for a bit of time... Quite a bit... Softwares also had their advantages shown in the app with all the scoring, hints, and immediate reset button, in my opinion all nice features.

Now the concept of RushHour allows not only hundreds, but thousands of different combinations to come, so many new developments came-Another app called RushHour! Holiday edition was released, and I've heard that there's new level packs being sold for plastic editions... Methinks new levels would never cease to come for this traffic jam puzzle... Very nice one Mr. NOB! It's one of the footprints he left on earth before the great master went away.

The RushHour! Plastic can be purchased from here, and the app version can be purchased rom the app store for about 2.99. Some likes the solid and sturdy feel of the plastic version, others prefer the functions and portability of the apps... Each to their own.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Temple Escape!

Puzzle: Temple Trap
Brand: Thinkfun
Inventor: Raf Peeters (Thanks for noting)

Temple trap-level 17
This is Temple Trap from Smart Games (Thanks for the correction), a company which sells puzzles with pieces to move with and challenge cards for you to orientate them in order to start the challenge. They're mostly made in plastic which enables the cheap price-and with 48 different level challenges in one puzzle you really can't go wrong in buying one.

Lvl 17 solved
Upon selecting a level you begin by arranging the tiles and placing the figure. Then, try and move the tiles so that the adventurer can escape from the temple from the exit on the top left. This is not an puzzle like the normal moving tiles because you have to be moving the figure corresponding with the tiles making a way for it. Then there were the added restrictions like the tile the figure was on cannot be moved, the figure can only get on green tiles by stairs etc... All to make this puzzle a fairly good challenge. In order to pass each level planning ahead is required as you sort out the steps one by one, and sometimes you'll get lost in the steps and go around in circles-so keeping track of what you've done is also recommended.

Having 48 levels with different difficulty I think it is suitable for all people from non-puzzlers to the masters, and would definitely increase your puzzling skills going up the levels one by one. It also includes a plastic cover so you can take the puzzle wherever you go and not worry about the pieces falling out. In my opinion it was a well-designed puzzle with a nice theme.

You can purchase it here from Smart Games, but I think they only ship to the US for now so I guess others will have to just keep waiting!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Houdini's Torture Cell puzzle

Puzzle: Houdini's Torture Cell
Brand: MrPuzzle
Designer: Brian Young
ST: ~30 m

Opening Bat
Back in December 2010, 50 copies of a limited edition puzzle called the Opening Bat was released. It is a mammoth sequential discovery puzzle that, according to Brian's own words, "As far as sequential discovery puzzles go this one's on steroids!" Taking ten years to design. The Opening Bat is a gigantic puzzle with "multiple puzzles in one", and has just everything to win it countless awards. I regret to this day having not brought it while I still have the money. It is one of the best puzzles ever made/designed. Being such a puzzle king it's not going to come out cheap, and with only 50 copies many puzzler missed out on the fun. Brian received amazing feedbacks for this puzzle- 

"...this is an awesome puzzle!...As far as sequential discovery puzzles go, this one will be hard to top!" - Brian Pletcher

"the One to Rule Them All...definitely a very cool puzzle...much more elaborate than any sequential discovery puzzle I’ve seen" - Jeff

"Brian has done a great job and there's clearly a lot of time and care went into the puzzle. Hat's off to you sir, it's a great puzzle!" - Neil Hutchison

"an Opening Bat is never going to disappear in among a collection of puzzles – it is going to stand out...Brian Young, you ought to be proud of this, very proud!" - Allard Walker

Well, Brian felt that it's too good an idea for just an limited edition and remakes the last part. And here the Houdini's Torture Cell is born!

Houdini's Torture Cell
With the sob-story of missing out the Bat still in my mind, I was keen to not miss the Torture Cell when it came out-and the result of that is having it sitting on my desk right now. The puzzle was sold out literally days after I've brought it-Phew!

Houdini's Torture Cell is a sequential discovery puzzle just like it's older brother, where you'll have to follow a number of steps in order, and all you need to solve the puzzle (tools) is contained within the puzzle itself. It was themed around Houdini's Water Chamber-whereas the wooden peg represents poor Houdini hanging upside-down in the water chamber (a.k.a Torture Cell), and your job is to rescue the great escape artist from it's fate.

Now, as I said previously, the puzzle was a remade of a part of the Opening Bat-but Brian has made modifications to it that made it a much easier puzzle by using acrylic. Being able to see what's going on lowered the difficulty of the puzzle-but hasn't lowered it's rating. Actually, many puzzlers reviewed the puzzle as one of their favorites!
So why is that? I say that it's a fun puzzle to fiddle with, you're aware of progress and little A-HA moments-And finally you make that last step and Houdini is out! All that and the clever mechanism made it a very good puzzle.

A not-so-good looking
Houdini out of his chamber
So upon receiving the puzzle you see Houdini and a ball bearing in the Cell, and a stand beneath it. I've been giving this to lots of people and the first thing they wanted to do is always wanting to get that ball up that stand-Hilarious-(Believe me, you're NEVER going to get it sitting there by dexterity alone!)-Than finally getting Houdini out with a satisfying motion. I wasn't known to be much of a experienced puzzler-and although made the right discovery did not use it the right way! It took me a LONG time to figure out what was to be done. Sadly the step can be easily flunked with random shakings-It is not the solution! The real motion is much more elegant. Finally after spending half an hour at this puzzle I got him out-Sense of achievement!

A fun puzzle to fiddle with, MOST people finds the solution pretty quickly and the solve was rewarding. At the time it was already sold out but if you ever come across one of those it's definitely worth a go.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast Cage

Puzzle: Cast Cage
Brand: Hanayama
Inventor: NOB Yoshigahara
ST: ~15 m

Cast Cage
This is the Cast Cage from Hanayama, rated level 3 on their scale of 6. Having black and gold as the color choice, it has a unique appearance. This puzzle was similar in concept to those "free the..." puzzles, such as this one, but also had it's own different features. A dark cage, with openings on four sides, imprisons a star, and your goal was, of course, to rescue it. The star's legs has different lengths, and the openings were also different shapes. Only one was (supposed to be) the correct exit, and you'll need to find both the correct opening as well as the series of movements of the star in order to take it out.

Star out of it's prison
After a few tries I quickly deduced where the opening should be and after some fiddling the star was out! Putting it back I tried to do the solution again to make sure I remember it, and showed it to a friend who was at the time with me. He was also able to have done it pretty quickly- but had it out on a different side! Thinking he's broken the puzzle a panicked Will took the puzzle back only to find that there's not just one solution... There was three! I don't know if it was a defective on my puzzle or a general problem, but with the design that's a little inconsistency. Somewhat similar to my experience with the Cast H&H-It is not too big a problem but does let down the overall rating of the puzzle.

Despite that the Cage was another good cage-type puzzle to fiddle with, and I say with Hanayamas the more the better! And as usual, the link to the shop.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast H&H

Puzzle: Cast H&H
Brand: Hanayama
Inventor: Oscar Van Deventer
ST: ~20 min

Cast H&H
Here's another Cast Puzzle for review: the H&H. At first sight it doesn't immediately show how it should work-but after picking it up it became fairly obvious, like the Cast Disk. The puzzle consists of two "H" shaped pieces intertwined with each other, some grooves on the puzzle makes it not possible to just pull the pieces apart but having to go through a serie of movements in order to separate them. The puzzle is a 3-D maze, and has some really interesting moves. It somehow resembles another puzzle in the series, the Cast Keyring, with similar aspects. As you can see in the photo the name and brand is engraved onto one of the piece, a little detail Hanayama puzzles always have.

The H's in pieces
Now although the puzzle was rated 5/6 in my opinion it was rather easy and I personally would rate it as more of a 3 or 4. Though there are other problems such as solving the parity issue the maze don't have too many dead-ends, and when it do, they don't extend long. I solved the puzzle rather quick-in total there were 26 moves at my count, although there was one kind of move the solution did not use, which is a bit let-down for me. A few days later, I was surfing on the web, and finds a copy of the solution of the H&H. But the problem is-the official solution was totally different with mine! It turned out that the puzzle has actually multiple solutions, and th official solution includes all six moves, not counting that it was the shortest one with only 20 moves (no pun intended). I'm not a big fan of puzzles with more than one solutions, but I guess for some maze puzzles it's just impossible to prevent that. Despite that, the Cast H&H pops out on the range of maze-type puzzles because the way the pieces interact with each other is very clever, maintaining your interest and made the solving progress fun.

On the shelf the nice silver coating made it look nice, and with the reasonable price you just can't go wrong with buying one here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Revomaze IV Extreme

Puzzle: Revomaze Invisible Extreme
Brand: Revomaze
Inventor: Chris Pitt
ST: ~2 Weeks

Revomaze Invisible Extreme
So after my rather expensive CE purchase I was completely hooked onto Revomazes, and when another limited edition popps out on the website, I was not one to miss out.

There was quite a talk in the forums about a invisible Revomaze coming out and I finally waited to this day - you can read about the post here. Chris has used a new machining technology that melts air then shapes them. The Revomaze IV has only been produced 25 copies - quite a small amount for a limited edition revo. But considering the costly technique I think it's reasonable. Been saving for a month to finally purchase it - you won't want to know the cost.
The serial number - IV0017

Being brought the puzzle on April 1st, it actually arrived quite quick. But since Chris designed the box as also invisible it took me 2 weeks to finally realize it! Besides the puzzle, opening the box was a free puzzle itself, since when someone opened air before right? It took me awhile to figure out the solution. Now I have to say although the Revomaze IV was expensive it was definitely worth the price. The machining was of very high quality, and I was satisfied indeed! After washing off the WD40, I began working. What a puzzle!

Now I have to say the Revomaze IV is unlike any other puzzles. For one thing the feel is totally different. It was smooth to the point that you won't even know if you dropped into a trap line until you were back to the start! This had added to another level of difficulty. Second it's the weight. Previous Revomazes are all heavy, thus causing additional soreness. There is none of that problem on this maze. But the only downside to the Invisible is that when one's toying with it out in the public, he looks like a complete fool, as they can't see what's going on.

I have been going well on the first section when a moving part Chris puts in there totally stumps me. I have been going back and forth but to no avail. It isn't until when I completed my map on that part did I see what can be done to progress through - that was a big "A-HA" moment! Then comes the second part which is very tricky to pass through - Chris has used the speciality of air to make a very hard puzzle. That part took me at least a week to do - as I am not used to an AIR puzzle! ARGHGHGHRRGGH!

Finally I was down to the last section. Only thing I can say is,Chris has gone to the point of using MAX dexerity, and when you finally gotten through "the tightrope", their fingers are already falling off... So finally after about 2 weeks the Revomaze Invisible Extreme was open! It was a very hard maze and my opening time was nowhere in compare as my last one. But having seen the insides I have to say it was VERY cleverly designed! I would definitely look for more of Chris' designs.

You can buy the Revomaze Invisible Extreme here, although keep in your mind that the purchase page was invisible too. Be quick, as it was very popular and the 25 might be sold out soon. EDIT: The Revomaze Invisible Extreme was officially sold out. Congratulations to the current owners!

Have fun!

Chinese Nine Linked Rings

Puzzle: Chinese Nine Linked Rings
Brand: N/A
Designer: Zhuge Liang
ST: ~30 m

Nine Linked Rings
This is the Chinese Nine Linked Rings puzzle. Although being famous not much puzzlers seem to have it. It has been manufactured by quite a lot companies, and goes on to have many styles. This puzzle also have quite a history to it. It was invented by Zhuge Liang, a chinese teacher who also invented other things and led many successful battles. According to history he had invented this puzzle for his wife to play with when he's at war.

The puzzle has basically two parts, the "sword" and the rings. Nine rings entangle with the sword and with each other, and your task is to take out the "sword". The puzzle is based on a simple principle, and for a ring to be taken on or off you have to meet certain requirements, so that's why you are taking them  repeatedly on and off to try and get the puzzle solved. For example, when you want to get the ninth ring off, the eighth has to be on, and in order to do that, the seven has to be on... In total there's 341 steps to take all rings off, and boy, won't that hurt!
Separated... 341 steps!!!

This puzzle is not particularly fun to solve, as it's just doing the same thing over and over again, but still,  logic thinking is required. I would not recommend it to serious puzzlers, but juniors would receive lots of fun. The Nine Linked Rings can be gotten from MrPuzzle.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast Elk

Puzzle: Cast Elk
Brand: Hanayama (forgive me)
Inventor: NOB Yoshigahara
ST: 15m

The intertwined elks
This is the Cast Elk from again Hanayama, with the highest rating of 6. I currently was stepping up from the medium range and buying lots of harder puzzles. The elk is one of them.

The designer's name engraved
on one of the pieces
This puzzle is, indeed, shaped as two elks, their horn entangled, and the letters NOB, the name of the designer, engraved onto one of the pieces. Then of course, your task is to separate them. I have classified the Hanayamas into two categories: the first includes puzzles that needs just a few steps to solve, but requires hard thinking. Examples may include Cast Nutcase, Cast News, Cast Spiral, and this one. the other is maze-like puzzles that require a long series of move to solve, and most of them requires the trial and error method (although Cast O'gear is a exception, see an earlier post). Puzzles that fit into this category might be Cast H&H, Cast Disk, Cast Keyring, and Cast Bike. I personally prefer the first one, as they require more thinking and not luck.

Back to the topic, Cast Elk is one of my favorite puzzles because of this reason. They are also beautifully crafted with detail, a common trait among the Hanayamas-beautiful and hard. I have been manipulating the two pieces for some time and was just going in circles. The horns' shape interact with each other to just block you from the last move!

The Elks separated
Later in the day I was watching TV, and taking the puzzle out from my pocket I suddenly found that it was in a whole new position I have not gone to-Kevin have I found another Magic jacket ? :D From that point I was able to progress and finally separate the two pieces. It turns out that I have tried a similar thing before, but the designer has made the two pieces slightly different, so out of the four similar moves only one works. I counted and there were about three moves total in order to save the Elks, but they were really tricky!

Overall the Cast Elk is a lovely puzzle to get, it's a "beginner" level 6, and as always worth your sacrifice. The Elk can be brought from here.

Revomaze Titanium Extreme

Puzzle: Revomaze Titanium Extreme
Brand: Revomaze
Inventor: Chris Pitt
ST: ~3 days

Revomaze Titanium Extreme
So wandering in the puzzle world I came about a series of puzzles called the Revomaze, and ever since I solved the first one I became completely addicted to them.

For those of you who hasn't heard of Revomazes I'll give a short explanation. The Revomaze is a series of puzzle invented by Chris Pitt. They are metal maze puzzles where you have to go through a labyrinth until you get to the end. The puzzle have three parts: The outer sleeve, the shaft, and the central core. There is a sprung pin inside the sleeve which walks in a maze engraved on the shaft. You have to push, pull, twist and turn to get to the finish at which point a dot will appear on the shaft. But not so easy! This series of puzzle really stood out from the others because the maze is not 2D, but 3D! The tracks has different heights, and if you drop to some of the lower ones... Start Over! After lining it up with another one on the sleeve, you can pull the shaft fully out, then release the central core out-revealing a certificate for completing the maze, with the signature from the designer himself. The different mazes range from easy to extreme (some have taken people years), but that does not mean the easy ones are a breeze. The units to count the solve times of most Revomazes are hours, or even days, indicating their level of difficulty. Machined from solid brass, the Revomazes are not cheap-but definitely worth the money!

Usually people start with blue, the easiest maze in the series. Following it are green, bronze, silver and finally the unite gold. As of the titanium-it was a limited edition that has a difficulty of about 85/100, whereas the blue was rated 50/100. So how come I had such a hard one as my first?

My serial number-21-50
When I found the Revomaze series, it turns out that I am a latecomer in the show, and some puzzles are going to or already are extinct. So in order to not miss out on any ones that are available, I brought the CE, or collector's set which includes all five puzzles in the main series-plus a limited edition. And you're right, it's the Titanium. But luckily the Ti is a static maze, meaning there isn't any moving parts in the maze, leaving me a classic type Revomaze. Wandering unexperienced in the maze I found some pathways but no other ways to go. Here I give a warning: do not play with the Revomaze for a long period! Your hand would be VERY sore.

Resorting to the forums, I've found the old, useful way-making a map. With a accurate map I was able to find where I haven't gone, and also the only possible pathway to the end. In the next few hours I learned the second element needed to open a Revomaze aside from a clear mind-a steady hand.
Continuing to work on the puzzle the next day. I got further, but the accuracy level required me to draw on the shaft. By now I have been used to the feeling of Revomazes and can easily manipulate the shaft. After a while the dot appears, hands are shaking, the two dots were closer and closer to be lined up-


Finally at the 8 hour count the dots lined up with a satisfying click, then the shaft literally dropped out, revealing a rather gorgeous piece of complex work. The high quality machining is definitely worth your little sacrifice. And then the central core was out, along with the certificate signed by Chris Pitt himself.

The puzzle was, although static, very sneaky. Chris implemented something very evil within the limitations of a nonmoving maze and I found out that, being a beginner, I was very lucky on solving this one in just 3 days. I have to say this fantastic puzzle has definitely gotten me hooked already-I am not going to miss out on any future Revomazes!

A close-up of the certificate
Overall the Revomazes series are a great puzzles series that almost passes all compare, and the quality and level of difficulty is both satisfying. This one is a limited edition, so it's not obtainable unless you purchase the costly collector's set, but all puzzles from the main series, another limited edition orange, and plastic versions of the puzzle is available from here.

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast Loop

Puzzle: Cast Loop
Brand: Hanayama
Inventor: Vesa Timonen
ST: ~15 m

Cast Loop
First I would like to apologize of my small variety of puzzles, more specifically, I have been reviewing on Hanayama puzzles ALL THE TIME! I have been, as said, starting on this series for my puzzling and will be getting more different puzzles in the future.

After solving the previous ones I had confidence that I am more of a level-fourish person, and didn't "waste" my money on easier levels. But upon my researching I stumbled upon the Cast Loop which has a pretty high rating. After seeing several blog reviews, I decided that it's time to have it on my hands. It arrives with a string so that you can wear it as a accessory . (how nice!) But considering it's weight I gave up that use.
A rather heavy necklace!

Cast Loop's first assembly, as comes in package
The Cast Loop comes a shiny ring, the words "LOOP" and "Hanayama" is written on each of the pieces. With only two pieces it is not hard, but a bit tricky. The goal is to assemble the puzzle into a complete ring. It has two different assemblies, one of which the puzzle comes in the box, and the other which is the solution. This is not the kind of puzzle where you have to use the trial-and-error method, but rather you can just put the pieces on the coffee table and literally think out the answer. I am known to be slow among the puzzlers, so a good fifteen minutes were used before I solved the puzzle.

the beautiful symmetry
Apart from the puzzling on it, the puzzle itself is a beautiful piece of work, with a nice symmetry to the two pieces. Although rated as in the easiest range of Hanayamas, I personally recommend this one to you as it isn't only a clever puzzle on an old concept, but an artwork as well. Definitely worth buying! The Hanayama series can be obtained from Puzzlemaster, Puzzlethis, Sloyd, and MrPuzzle.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shortened url

I have found a useful tool called Bitly on the web which shortens your url and lets you customize it.
Just in case someone got tired typing all that stuff every time entering my blog, here's a faster way:
:) I wish you enjoy my blog!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast NEWS

Puzzle: Cast NEWS
Brand: Hanayama
Inventor: NOB Yoshigahara
ST: ~1 week

Now to introduce one of my favorite puzzles...The Cast News. It was invented by Mr. Yoshigahara at the age of 19, pretty amazing isn't it? Some people are born for you to look up onto. The puzzle was rated the highest rating on the Hanayama scale-6. I expected much of a challenge when I brought it-and it definitely give me a good amount of torture time! It was made of two pieces that join together to firm a octagon. The puzzle was defined to be somehow like a compass, with N, E, W, and S engraved on it. It was made of good bronze, and was designed to have a aged look, similar to several other Hanayamas, such as the Enigma, the Coil etc.

When having a first try, you'll notice things going inside there. Sort of like a marble rolling around. So this must be the locking mechanism! There seemed to be a LOT of things inside because in every direction you tilt, something clicks. Still, being the unexperienced me and haven't seen puzzles of the like, I figured that this must be a multiple-step puzzle where you tilt it in the correct direction, and let one thing block each other until it was finally able to come apart. Oh how wrong I was. Fiddle-Fiddle-dee, no avail after sometime, I finally thought of a approach using a simple law of physics. I tried it-No avail. So back to the fiddling, and I at last determined what was going on there. If I really was right, then NOB was really a clever dude... So five minuted later lo and behold it opened! Examining it, i could tell that I am right. The inventor added a nice twist to a simple concept that makes the puzzle more interesting, which is why I so liked this one. I can only say that if your idea didn’t work, it might not be wrong-Think of your theories again, and figuring the positions of the things inside will surely help.

A good puzzle indeed-To my suggestion you must have it, great invention by NOB again!

Here is where you’ll get this puzzle.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast Spiral

Puzzle: Cast Spiral
Cast Spiral
Brand: Hanayama
Inventor: Kennet Walker, NOB Yoshigahara
ST: 30 m

This is another Cast Puzzle by Hanayama, rated level five on their six-point scale. It’s shaped like five unique jigsaw pieces put together to form a circle. The puzzle really gives a elegant feeling, and feels smooth when holding it. All Hanayama puzzles seems to be manufactured well, and considering its price, every single puzzle by them is worth to buy. Back to the topic, if you haven’t seen those kinds of puzzles, you will really be puzzled by how this puzzle works. (no pun intended) Exactly what I have experienced-what kind of a puzzle is supposed to be there if it’s only about jigsaw, not considering that there’s only five pieces? Oh how wrong I was. Those kinds of puzzles had a slope in the place where they connect to form a unique interlocking system. Two pieces can slide out in one direction-but will be blocked in the other. That’s easy, you say. The problem is that there’s five! Whenever two pieces want to slide apart, they will be kindly blocked by the other piece beside them. Now the puzzle rating goes from easy to impossible in a minute, huh? This is what I like about the Hanayamas. So when you hold one 
piece and let go the rest, none will fall out, but instead forms a staircase or spiral-like pattern (hence the name). There’s another more original puzzle like this which is a square formed from four jigsaw pieces, in which they interlock just like this puzzle. The spiral has given a twist to the original, changing the shape and increasing the number of pieces.

The staircase-a unique locking system

Having never seen any type of those puzzles before, i was pretty dumbfounded for some time. I have the basic idea of how it should open, but applied it in the wrong way-and not until some time later did I found the correct solution-pretty clever!

The assembly was trickier-If you didn’t have the pieces labeled, or somehow remembered the correct order, you could sort them into what was called the “Cast Spiral Paradox”. The pieces was constructed in such a way that they could only fit in one way, and all other possibilities were denied. But, because of the joins’ different shapes, some pieces will tend to stuck together when wrongly 
placed. In fact, they could be stuck in such a manner that you’d have to get a replacement of the puzzle-pretty dangerous! There was also a alternate assembly which is also a paradox-once you got in that formation you were unlikely to fix your puzzle. So I, always doing a lot of research before I bought a puzzle, were well aware of this and labeled the pieces with a pencil before I dissected them-Although later I was able to memorize the order.

The puzzle itself was beautifully manufactured-and its quality is great. So if you want a hard, beautiful puzzle this was for you! In fact, it was so smooth that one of my fellow puzzlers joked that it could be a hand massager! While I don't suggest that use, the puzzle was definitely worth buying.

You could get your own copy of the puzzle here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Very First Rubik's Cube! Part 1 of My Rubik Journey

Puzzle: 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube
Inventor: Erno Rubik (hence the name)
ST: FAILED-for now...

Working hard...
Since my childhood I haven't had a lot of good experiences with Rubik's Cubes. The most I ever did was to manage to solve one side-that's it. Not sure if it's me or the cubes-still had no luck with those after many years. Today, I saw one of a high-qualitied Rubik's Cube 3x3x3 at one of the stores for a fair price, and deciding that it's a puzzler's duty-Well you know what happened next. Scrambling it was pretty easy, and with the high quality it rarely get stuck, so it was a mess after a matter of seconds. But now solving it was the thing. Still, I managed to get one side complete, and no luck with even one more. Worried if I am even qualified as a puzzler... T-T. The puzzle comes with instructions, but unfortunately I am not so much of a Japanese speaker, so I had to give it up. So as usual I turned to my faithful Macintosh and got on google. Following the site instructions and (I'm such a wood-head) animations, I was finally returning it back. Although I relied on help, I vowed to do better next time, and was wishing to memorize the steps.

As you see, this was only part one of my Rubik's journey, so wait for updates in this series!

UPDATE: Wind forward a couple of weeks I was on my computer looking at blog reviews and saw Moises' review about his rather successful Rubik experience here: and he's posted a very helpful Rubik's guide from the website on there, which looked simple enough for me, and I decided to pick up my isolated 3x3x3 again-this time successfully solving it! I still need to remember the algorithm though-no master at Rubik's! There's also a 4x4x4 sitting at my stable but I decides to not touch it for now... Too much for me! I am possibly off to buying a Pynaminx though! And thanks again to Moises for the guide. Keeping updated!

Brass Pyramid

Puzzle: Brass Pyramid
Inventor: Doug Engel
ST: ~10 s

The pyramid... Mysterious?
Finally something other than the Hanayamas huh? Although I believe the Hanayama series were a star in the puzzling world, I think it's time to change the topic.

This is the Brass Pyramid from Puzzle Master, in my most recent order. It certainly looks nice on your shelf with nice gold polished sides, and a unique pyramid look.
Mysterious-No! Solved.

But yes-I am sure you have noticed this-my solve time isn’t a typo. While I spent a whole paragraph praising it, the puzzle was actually poor. Basically it went like this-I opened the package, holding it in my hand to examine, falls apart.

In the beginning I have brought it for its look and it’s rating (6 on the Puzzlemaster scale which run from 5 to 10)-I am not someone who was easily encouraged, and believed the solving of Enigma to be pure luck. So there I have thought this pyramid to be at least taking me a good fifteen minutes or so. It didn’t last a full minute! The puzzle had a simple mechanism that can be VERY easily bypassed by chance. The idea could be used better and be improved-sadly it wasn’t. There was a twist added to the idea, but not a good one-and it too can be bypassed.

In my opinion it wasn’t worth it’s price, and even rookies (like me) could have it dissected in a matter of seconds. Not recommended-My first (and hopefully last) negative post.

But still if you are a collector and REALLY SERIOUSLY felt that you need to have one-here’s the link. EDIT: Puzzlemaster seemed to be no longer selling this item as it is removed from their page.