Cerebral Rings

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The Cerebral Rings by Mag-Nif is actually a version of a puzzle believed to be around since the 17th century. It is said that the original, or an early version was found among the effects of astronomer Johannes Kepler. It is not clear, however, if he is the actual designer of the puzzle or if it was one of his colleagues.

This is an interlocking puzzle made by just three identical pieces. They are so well joined that you need the correct sequence of red buttons (one of four positions) in order to separate the pieces. The puzzle consists of a circle made by six stacks of rings, which at first sight seem to be impossible to separate. The buttons, or plungers, can be pushed up or down along the length of the stack to allow the pieces to be unlocked and separated. The movement of the puzzle is quite smooth, but it releases this strange paste that is probably used as lubricant. You will need to wash your hands afterwards, that's for sure.

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The solution is quite intriguing, since there isn't any indication or any form of a hint as to whether you're pushing the buttons in the right positions or not. It's a bit frustrating at first, because the puzzle doesn't give you any feedback - It's like going through a labyrinth completely blind. Even though this seems discouraging and intimidating, I actually found it easier than I was expecting.

The Cerebral Rings are described as having hundreds of possible combinations but only 8 solutions. I wasn't able to find all eight, but found two without much effort just by fiddling with the puzzle for about half an hour. As you move the buttons around you have to keep checking by trying to pull the pieces apart until they give in. I found that trying to put the puzzle together as one piece is a little easier, but still a challenge. If you don't change the positions of the buttons it's easy enough, but if you do move the buttons after you separate the pieces it can be quite difficult to put it back together.

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Closing Comments:

The Cerebral Rings by Mag-Nif is a different kind of interlocking puzzle, but it's an interesting one. I wouldn't say it's a great puzzle, because of the lack of feedback it gives as you're trying to solve it, but considering the design and how different it is from everything else out there, it's definitely worth a try.

Availability: You can buy a copy of the Cerebral Rings at Brilliant Puzzles for about $15 USD.

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Wisdom Balls

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It's been 20 years since the first Wisdom Ball was mass-produced by Dr. Toyz. Invented by Yang Ju-Hsun, the Wisdom Ball is a sliding puzzle with a moving hole mechanism. This type of puzzle is probably the most popular among sliding puzzles for its simple and easy to understand design, which can appeal to a broader range of puzzlers, both beginners and experts alike.

But why am I talking about a 20 year old idea, you might ask? Well, because Mr. Yang Ju-Hsun has decided to revive his beloved puzzle with a new and improved design, completely changing the inner mechanism so it has a smoother movement. In this new process the designer created two additional variations, both of them more challenging than the original, but also quite addictive to play with.

I've known the mechanics of the Wisdom Ball for some time now - maybe from the early days of my collection which is about 7 years - so I was quite familiar with the new designs. The original Wisdom Ball was a little smaller and the sliding mechanism wasn't that smooth, since it jammed frequently whenever you tried to move the tiles from one disc to the other. This doesn't happen with the new versions, or at least much less frequently (you do have to align the discs for the tiles to move smoothly). Also, with a slightly bigger size, the new Wisdom Balls feel much better to hold in your hands. The tiles are bigger and look brighter. In short, everything seems better and improved from the original design, which is in itself quite a big incentive to acquire these new versions.

(Click to Enlarge) - Comparison (the original design is in the middle)
I'll write next a brief description on each of the three new versions and their unique characteristics.

Wisdom Ball - Inspiration

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This is basically the same design as the original Wisdom Balls, but with an improved mechanism and overall appearance. This time, the body of the ball is white instead of black, which gives it a sense of simplicity and easiness. The ball comes semi-solved, and what I'm trying to say is that, even though it seems solved (the numbers are in sequential order), the colors of the tiles don't actually match with the discs'.

This is you goal: rearrange all eight tiles in each of the six discs so that tiles and discs share the same colors. All you have is an empty space at a time which you have to constantly be moving across the ball to get each tile to where it's supposed to be. You can move a tile from any of the four adjacent discs relative to the disc you're seeing. The sequence of the numbers is up to you. They come with a counter-clockwise order, but while solving it I preferred to do it clockwise. You have to watch out for parity problems or tiles that are upside down. Note that the numbers should always face you and not inwards to the center of the discs.

(Click to Enlarge) - Mixed
It took me about 20 minutes to solve this easier version. I really liked it, because despite being easy to solve (in theory), it's still challenging but never frustrating - just pure fun. The movement of the puzzle is smooth as butter and when solved provides you with quite a rewarding feeling. After you've solved it you can go for another challenge and do it with a different sequence - Maybe alternating colors or numbers.

(Click to Enlarge) - Solved


Wisdom Ball - Advanced

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The Advanced is the intermediate level, and prepares you for the most difficult challenge, the Wisdom.

The body of the Advanced is black, contrasting with the Inspiration version, and the colors of some discs are also different. This mostly serves as a way to distinguish between versions, but for me, as a collector, I also appreciate the subtle differences that makes each version unique.

To make it more challenging, the Advanced features four tiles in a row across the middle on opposite discs. The tiles that located in this line don't interact with the tiles within the same disc. If, for example, you want to swap a tile from the middle line with one from the edges on the same disc, you need to move it through an adjacent disc and again though another in order to place it in its correct spot. Again, you need to make sure it has the correct orientation (facing you).

(Click to Enlarge) - Mixed
When solved, the Advanced ball will show the numbers from 1 to 8 in sequential order on four discs, and the other two opposite discs with numbers from 1 to 4 on the edges and the rest in sequential order from 5 to 8 (or 7, counting the empty slot).

Because this one is much more difficult and needs more patience, I haven't been able to solve it yet. From my experience, this can be done within an hour, but I'll have to test it to see if it requires more time.


Wisdom Ball - Wisdom

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This one is quite an intimidating puzzle. The Wisdom version has a straight line of tiles across the middle of all six discs. This is quite a challenge and one that needs to be tackled when one feels confident enough to spend (or waste - depending on your skill level) a couple of hours without too much stress (if that's even possible).

The Wisdom version has a purple body and a mixture of colors from both of its predecessors. It also comes semi-solved, so you have to reorganize the tiles into their respective disc colors. To move the tiles in the middle across the whole perimeter of the ball, you have to align all four discs from top to bottom and rotate the entire line of tiles. This requires a bit of dexterity, but can be easily done.

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When solved, the Wisdom ball is pretty much the same as the Advanced for two of its discs: numbers from 1 to 4 on the edges and 5 to 8 (or 7, because of one empty slot) on the middle lines.

If the Advanced version is already a pretty good challenge, you can certainly imagine what this one really is when it comes to solving it. Even the process of mixing the tiles is a challenge in its own right, but quite fun, I might add. After that, though, the fun stops and frustration settles in... If you're a beginner, this one is not for you. But you can always practice with the other two and eventually you'll be able to do it on your own. Are you courageous enough?


Closing Comments:

The new and improved Wisdom Balls are a great addition to any collection or to any puzzle fan who likes a good challenge. This is what the improvement to an old version looks like when done right. Everything behaves and looks as it should be. As for me, I'll continue to have lots of fun with the other two Wisdom Balls until I'm able to solve them.

Availability: The Wisdom Balls will soon be available at HKNowStore and PuzzlesdeIngenio.com. The official Wisdom Ball website will also be live in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for it.

Funzzle - Beta (Quadripole)

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Funzzle is a collection of four bamboo interlocking puzzles, quite challenging and affordable. These puzzles are made by Y. Gong, and even though it says on the box that he is the designer, I have to warn you that they are based on original works by Stéphane Chomine, Yavuz Demirhan and Tamás Vanyó. They were made without the consent of their original designers, so it's up to you to decide if they are worth it, because these are cheap copies.

Leaving the copyright issues aside for a moment, I'll move on to the actual puzzle. The model you see above is called Beta and it's based on Stéphane Chomine's Quadripole. It's made entirely from bamboo wood, which gives it this lighter color and makes it lighter in weight as well. I like the appearance of bamboo in some puzzles, but in all honesty, it does make them look cheap and low quality.

Made with just four pieces and locked tightly inside a wooden frame, the puzzle is as hard to solve as they come. To solve the puzzle you need to remove the pieces one at a time by shifting them around the tight space of the frame. You also have a hole at the bottom to help you move the pieces. Rotations will be needed, as you struggle to find the correct arrangement to remove just the first piece. As soon as this is accomplished, the other three pieces will, more or less, be easily removed.

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I spent some time to solve the first part of the puzzle (taking it apart), but so far the reassembly has taken the best of me. The process is just the reverse of the first part, however it has to be done with more planning and a good analysis of each piece. I'm not very good at interlocking puzzles, so this will probably be left as is. It's definitely not a puzzle for beginners. If you like them extremely challenging, this one's for you.

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Closing Comments:

The Beta puzzle by Funzzle is an average puzzle at best. The quality is not very good and the fact that it's a copy of the original by Stéphane Chomine is enough to stay away from it. If you don't care for any of this and like difficult puzzles, then it's an affordable way to get a good challenge.

Availability: The Beta puzzle is available at PuzzleMaster for $15 CAD.


IQ Blox

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IQ Blox is the latest addition to my favorite logic game series, the IQ by Smart Games. Designed by Raf Peeters, these are convenient pocket-sized games that you can bring with you anywhere, as they're presented in a plastic box that closes and keeps the pieces from being lost. What's more, these puzzles will give your brain a boost and put your skills to the test.

The IQ Blox uses a clever new feature: small U-shaped walls that block some of the pieces from being placed at certain positions. With these restrictions, you'll have to find alternative ways to find the correct solution which, like most other games in the series, have only one solution per challenge.

(Click to Enlarge) - Starter Level, Challenge 20

Besides the inclusion of the four walls, the game contains seven distinct pieces, each in a different color and shape. There are two types of pieces, tetrominoes and pentominoes. When a challenge is complete, all the pieces will occupy the entire area of the game board. There's a stationary piece of a single unit that sits at the top left corner of the board, since it wasn't possible to fill the board entirely with the seven pieces. You can use both sides of the pieces interchangeably.

(Click to Enlarge) - Expert Level, Challenge 58

To start any challenge you will have to place in the tray one or more walls, depending on the difficulty of the chosen challenge (the harder the challenge the less walls are used). The board has numbers on each spot to easily set up a challenge. Also depending on the level (Starter), there could be some pieces already in place when you start a challenge. You complete a puzzle when all the pieces fit neatly inside the game board.

Although a bit different from other games in the series, the IQ Blox is not much harder than its predecessors. The walls give it a slight increase in difficulty, but at the same time it tells you right away if a piece will fit in the board or not. You will constantly rearrange the pieces as you go until you find the correct solution, but in the end it's on par with any of the other games by Raf in terms of difficulty.

(Click to Enlarge) - Wizard Level, Challenge 105

Closing Comments:

The IQ Blox is a challenging game, but it never reaches levels of frustration capable of making you give up on it. The inclusion of the walls give it that bit of originality and novelty that will satisfy any packing puzzle fan. With 120 challenges and five levels of difficulty, there's something for everyone, beginners and experts alike.

Availability: The IQ Blox is available at Amazon and other major puzzle stores around the world.

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Quadstair

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I love Philos' puzzles. This German company always manages to manufacture nice puzzles at affordable prices, and each one offers a different challenge. They are mostly built from hardwood, which enhances their natural look and high quality. The company works with many international puzzle designers and with the Quadstair, this is no exception. Designed by Oskar van Deventer, one of the most prolific puzzle designers in the world, the Quadstair is a superb puzzle that few will be disappointed with.

Made from four identical pieces, each in a different wood color, this interlocking puzzle is quite an intriguing object when you first try to solve it. The pieces seem to be all glued together in a spiral with a square shape and a hole in the middle. Whichever way you pull on the pieces, they just won't budge a millimeter. However, there's a way to separate the four pieces. You just have to keep trying until you succeed. Be careful not to apply too much force, though. It's not needed for the solution, and even though the pieces are glued together at key spots, you might end up breaking the puzzle.

Usually, interlocking puzzles are quite a challenge for me. Even more when I try to reassemble them. Fortunately, even though it looks intimidating at first, the Quadstair is not that difficult. After spending about 10-15 minutes to separate the pieces, I'd say this is about 7/10 in difficulty. Reassembling it is actually easier, which is not common for an interlocking puzzle. I guess the fact that the pieces are all identical makes it easier to visualize it solved and connect the pieces in the right way. Once you know where to pull, the puzzle is very easy to disassemble and reassemble.

What I really liked about Oskar's Quadstair is that its simplicity and perfect harmony among the pieces makes for a surprising and rewarding feeling when you finally discover its secret. This is a great puzzle for any puzzle fun, since there aren't any special tricks involved, just clever designing and utter brilliance.

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Closing Comments:

When you combine a good puzzle company and a genius puzzle designer like Oskar, the result will certainly be amazing. This is an affordable puzzle that any collection should have and any fan, beginner or expert, should try.

Availability: At the time of writing, the Quadstair is unavailable at PuzzleMaster. You can keep checking regularly or try the other great puzzles offered by Philos.

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Redstone Box (Hide the Redstone)

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Bernhard Schweitzer is a German puzzle designer with lots of great puzzles under his name. The Redstone Box is a fine example of his ingenuity and, coupled with Creative Crafthouse's high quality manufacturing and polish to their products, is sure to satisfy even the most demanding collectors and puzzle enthusiasts alike.

The Redstone Box is a 3D Packing Puzzle where the goal is to hide an extra piece (the red block) inside the already apparently filled box. You need to reassemble the pieces in a way so that the volume of the extra piece can be accommodated in the box and still be able to slide the lid and close it. To my knowledge, there's only one solution for this, excluding rotations. This is definitely not a puzzle for beginners and can be extremely challenging.

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It comes unsolved in its box, with the red block placed in its special slot. The lid slides off, so you can store the pieces in the box without worrying about losing them. The box measures 11.6cm x 7.8cm x 6.6cm (4.6" x 3" x 2.6"), so it's a nice sized puzzle, made with hardwood and very well built.

The puzzle consists of eight pieces with different sizes and shapes, plus the red block. Some of the blocks have the same height, but besides this there are no two identical blocks. This packing problem is, in a way, quite similar to the classic Calibron 12, except the latter is in 2D. But the different sizes of the pieces and the solving process is somewhat similar.

What I did find similar is that both puzzles are among some of the most difficult puzzles I had the pleasure to play with, but not the satisfaction of solving. To solve a puzzle like this, one must have a mathematical approach to it, which I don't have. There's no way you can solve these puzzles by trial and error, at least in a timely manner, or you'd be the most lucky person in the world.

To get the puzzle back to its original state you have several ways to do it, although I found none so far. It's still a difficult puzzle, whether you do it with the red piece or not. It's good that there are various solutions (without the red piece), so you can enjoy it many times over.

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Closing Comments:

The Redstone Box is a superb puzzle. Yes, I can enjoy and appreciate a puzzle that I failed to solve. I love puzzles, both easy and difficult alike, and this one deserves a chance, even if you think you won't solve it. It's a great addition to any collection.

Availability: I got the Redstone Box from PuzzleMaster, available for about $20 CAD. More from Creative Crafthouse can be found there as well as some others from Bernhard Schweitzer.

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Pillow Dino

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The Pillow Dino by Calvin's Puzzle (designed by Evgeniy Grigoriev) is an interesting color variation of the well-known Dino Cube, invented by S.Y. Liou back in 1995. Since the original is so rare nowadays and currently fetches hundreds of dollars whenever a copy is available for auction, most of us will have to settle for a more affordable option, like Calvin's Dino and others. I also have a very nice variation by Smaz, with a very original sticker design. But, today's review is all about the Pillow Dino, so read on.

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A nice thing about Calvin's Pillow Dino is that it's parts are stickerless, except for the designer and manufacturer's transparent stickers on two white pieces. The puzzle features three colors (black, blue and white), which are great to form patterns, aside from the main one. I'm not sure how many you can create, but it depends on what you call a pattern, if it has to be symmetrical or not. Nevertheless, it's good to have more than one option.

The movement of the puzzle is smooth, but I'd say it's too lose. The pieces often get stuck on top of one another, making the puzzle difficult to turn sometimes. In terms of movement, I prefer the Smaz Dino Cube, which is much more stable.

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The mechanism has an 8-armed ball core and the puzzle moves by rotating its corners. Solving the puzzle is not difficult, but there's more to it than the apparent lack of challenge it offers. Its simplicity, with the three colors, which by the way, in my opinion, are a great match, is nice for just fiddling with it, trying to come up with different patterns. It doesn't need to be challenging to be appreciated and enjoyed.

(Click to Enlarge) - Different Patterns

Closing Comments:

Calvin's Pillow Dino is definitely a nice addition to any Twisty puzzle collection. Also, because it's easy to solve, anyone can try it and have a feel for what Twisty puzzles can offer. It's not the best Dino Cube variation, but definitely not the worst.

Availability: The Pillow Dino by Calvin and Evgeniy is available at PuzzleMaster for about $20 CAD.


Dial and Turn Lock

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Another great design from the IQ Locker Series by Mi-Puzzle, the Dial and Turn Lock is a relatively easy puzzle lock for anyone interested in this type of puzzles, but not yet ready for the more advanced and demanding designs that Trick Locks can offer.

I've previously reviewed other puzzles from this series and, without exception, I was pleasantly surprised by the originality of their designs. They are mainly made from various types of wood, a material that is not very commonly seen in trick locks, but even so they are nicely built, and unless you apply excessive force they won't otherwise break.

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The Dial and Turn Lock has an odd and intriguing design. Unlike the traditional padlock design, the shackle is a straight bar that stretches across most of its length, and scattered through its wooden body you can see five dials. These dials can be turned in any direction, but only one position is the correct for each of them. To release the shackle you have to pull on the handle that is located on one of the sides of the lock, but unless you have the right combination for the dials, it won't budge. There's also a key and a slot to fit the key at the opposite side of the handle. It's up to you to find out the use of the key.

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At first, the lock seems quite intimidating with its five dials, all with its unique position. Nevertheless, with careful manipulation of one dial at a time, you'll sense when you've hit the right spot where it may release the shackle. Without much effort, I was able to open the lock within a couple of minutes. A bit disappointing for the lack of challenge, but also quite satisfying to be able to open it quickly.

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Closing Comments:

I was left with some mixed feelings about the Dial and Turn Lock, but in the end it's still a nice and interesting puzzle to have a go, especially if you're a fan of trick locks and hidden mechanisms. It's a pretty affordable puzzle, so you can easily get the whole series and experience different levels of difficulty between all the designs.

Availability: You can find the Dial and Turn Lock, as well as the IQ Locker Series, at Brilliant Puzzles for $10.95 USD.

Mirror 2x2x2 Cube - Gold

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Invented by Hidetoshi Takeshi and produced by Rubik's since 2008, the Bump Cube (also known as the Mirror Blocks) has seen several different variations over the years. From Double Cubes to Siamese Cubes, with different sizes and different colors, the Mirror Cubes are here to stay and to delight the Twisty puzzle fans.

The latest in my collection is the Mirror Cube Gold with a 2x2x2 mechanism. Its solving process is similar to a traditional 2x2x2, but it's slightly more challenging, since you solve it by shape instead of colors. As you twist and turn the cube, you'll see that it constantly changes its shape until it's no longer resembling a cube. This one is produced in China by Cube Style - In fact, most of the packaging is in Chinese, but who needs instructions for these? Just enjoy it and have fun.

The cube features metallic gold stickers, which gives this extra shiny effect. The stickers seem to be high quality, as they don't peel off that easily, although they are prone to scratch with little effort. Its movement is super smooth, thanks to the pre-lubricated mechanism. I believe it can be used for speedcubing, because it seems to cut corners with ease.

The level of difficulty of the Mirror 2x2x2 is rather easy if you're used to Twisty puzzles. Yes, it can be more challenging than a regular 2x2x2, but there's no need to learn super hard algorithms to solve it. Since it's fairly easy to solve, even for beginners, you can try to beat your own times. No need to be a speedcuber to enjoy a little challenge.

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Closing Comments:

The Mirror 2x2x2 Cube is a great starting point for a novice to enter the world of the Twisty puzzles. With a different challenge than the classic six color cubes, you can be sure to have your money's worth with this nice cube. When you're confident enough you can go for the Mirror 3x3x3.

Availability: You can find the Gold Mirror 2x2x2 Cube at PuzzleMaster for $15CAD. If you like Mirror Cubes, you can try these as well.

Tangoes

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Do you have a knack for Tangram puzzles, the ancient 7-piece dissection puzzle? If so, these two puzzles by SmartGames will delight the most avid fan and put your wits to the test.

Tangoes is SmartGames answer to a travel-friendly type of puzzles that are practical and easy to take with you anywhere. Both puzzles, Tangoes Animals (blue) and Tangoes Paradox (red), have been designed with the utmost care and attention to detail, always with the concept of convenience and fun in mind. What you get is two great products that will appeal to both adults and kids alike.

The Tangoes puzzles come in a cool notebook design with snaps lock and spiral rings to keep everything in place. The instructions are printed on the inside of the notebook and the challenge booklet is embedded in the spiral rings, so you won't have to worry about loosing anything. The pieces of the puzzles (seven in each set), the most important component, have been built with a magnetic material and a foam substance to keep the pieces malleable but still resistant and strong. The magnetic pieces stick to the right side of the notebook, thus allowing to play with it on the most uneven surfaces without loosing any piece. Perfect for those long car journeys.

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Both puzzles come with 48 challenges, divided into four levels of difficulty and grouped in pairs. The challenges start pretty easy, with most of the edges between the pieces showing. As you progress , however, you'll see that most challenges don't show any inner edges. Some of the puzzles can be a little challenging, but since I'm quite a fan of Tangram puzzles, I found most challenges easy enough to breeze through all of them in no time.

There's a major difference between the classic Tangram an the Tangoes. One of the pieces, the parallelogram, can only be used with its colored side facing up. There's no flipping it here. This, in turn, will reduce the number of possible solutions for each challenge, even though there's still more than one solution for most challenges. This is true only for the Tangoes Paradox, as the Tangoes Animals only have one solution per challenge.

Another interesting fact done in the Paradox puzzle is the inclusion of similar shapes in each challenge. The idea is to have two nearly identical shapes, except for one tiny extra detail. This will make the puzzle more challenging and much more interesting, as you try to assemble both shapes with the same seven pieces. Studying closely the relationship between all the pieces will make this task easier, but until you master this you'll have to sweat a little.

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Closing Comments:

I really liked the Tangoes puzzles. They are extremely fun to play with. The magnetic pieces, the convenient design and the additional challenge of the Paradox, my favorite of the two, makes for quite an enjoyable experience. Ready for a Tangoes session?

Availability: The Tangoes are available at most major toy and puzzle stores, like Amazon.

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Glückspiel

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Glückspiel is a Constantin puzzle that requires a lot of dexterity and hand-eye coordination. German for "Gambling", the name of the puzzle is indeed a gamble if you're not used to disentanglement puzzles. You'll find yourself struggling to put some order into the chaos caused by four mere pieces that just don't like to be close together. Can you reassemble the puzzle after you separate the pieces?

The Glückspiel feels very much like a Cast Puzzle. Although a little bigger than the average Hanayama flagship series, the design and build quality is quite similar. There are four identical pieces, made from thick metal and coated in a silver finish, just like any regular metallic puzzle. At the center of mass is a metal pin with two wooden discs at each extremity, which keeps the pieces from naturally collapsing.

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The first part of the challenge is to remove this pin and have the pieces move around each other freely. Next you'll need to find a way to separate every single piece from each other. At first, this is not an easy task to figure out, because the pieces are very well entangled - This reminded of the Cast Devil, with a similar solving process. After you have all pieces free from each other, you have to reunite them and form the original shape...And here lies the real challenge. This is a level 8/10 puzzle, and I partly agree, if not for the tough reassembly. I would say around 8.5-9/10.

I was able to separate all the pieces within a couple of minutes. It's not hard to figure out how the pieces interact with each other or how they should be separated. The problem, however, is to get all the pieces in the correct orientation and position in order to keep the central pin in place and stable. This took me about half an hour.

I found it very difficult to find the right orientation of each piece, because even if you know how they should appear when assembled, it's hard to visualize how they should be positioned at the point of entry. This was more or less a trial and error exercise until I found the correct position for every piece. In the meantime, I was also struggling to keep the pieces in the right configuration at all times, since they were always collapsing after almost every slight movement. This is why a great level of dexterity is needed. After this, getting the pin to fit in place is a walk in the park.

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Closing Comments:

Glückspiel by Jean Claude Constantin is a little different from his other more popular creations, but it's still a superb design and intriguing enough to give it a try. Again, Constantin proves that he's a jack of all trades who can design and build any kind of puzzle.

Availability: I got the Glückspiel at PuzzleMaster, but as of writing this review it's out of stock. Check back soon to see if it will be available again. Nevertheless, you can always check out other fascinating puzzles by Constantin.


Mephisto

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Mephisto. Sounds like a scary name...And it should be, since it's one of the chief demons in German literature. It's a fitting name, because this puzzle is quite a difficult task to achieve. Can you vanquish this mighty demon?

The Mephisto puzzle is made by Siebenstein-Spiele, one of the leading companies in Germany producing wooden puzzles. The company founder, Jürgen Reiche, is responsible for the creative department and has designed almost all puzzles launched by them. He's indeed a very prolific craftsman and his puzzles are the delight of many serious collectors and aficionados alike.

This puzzle is a really interesting and fascinating design. The perfect balance of materials, wood and acrylic, make it stand out among many other wooden puzzles and captivate your attention right away. 10 acrylic strips are lined up in two layers, five pieces each. One layer has vertical strips, the other horizontal, and each strip has four pairs of symbols. When perfectly combined, the puzzle displays four identical symbols for each of the 25 squares in a 5x5 grid. It's a very challenging and at times, frustrating task - definitely not for beginners.

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The puzzle has three different sets of symbols: stars, circles and squares. It would've been interesting to see more symbols, like five, for example: one for each individual square. Another, probably even more demanding challenge, would've been to have no identical squares with the same symbols on the same column or row.

Since the puzzle is quite difficult as it is, maybe Jürgen went for a less complex design without making it impossible for the puzzler to solve it. After mixing the pieces it becomes extremely difficult to combine the right strips, so to solve it properly you have to use a "special" technique, which is very common in packing puzzles called "trial and error". Yes, there's no easy way to do this, so lots of patience and perseverance are needed in order to succeed. It took me over an hour to solve it.

(Click to Enlarge) - Solved State
Closing Comments:

In the end, the Mephisto is totally worth your time, after all it's a fantastic puzzle and I enjoyed playing with it very much. It's a different kind of packing puzzle and may be of interest to anyone who enjoys puzzles, albeit a frustrating one.

Availability: You can find the Mephisto puzzle at Brilliant Puzzles for $27.95. You can find here other Siebenstein puzzles as well.


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