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

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.