N-5

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
Jean Claude Constantin makes very good sequential puzzles, many of which require hundreds of steps to solve, and aren't for the easily frustrated puzzlers. However, since not everybody has the patience of angels to solve unending sequences, Constantin made the N-5, a sequential movement puzzle that only require a couple dozen steps to be solved.

Made with four sliding laser-cut wooden plates, the N5 is a small puzzle, measuring just 8cm in diameter. The plates are placed in pairs perpendicular to each other. The top plates have four small mazes that have different paths, navigated by four pins. The goal is to slide the plates until you can free the small metal sphere trapped under them.

The puzzle looks a bit complex at first, but you'll soon find out that it's actually quite easy to solve, especially if you're used to sequential movement puzzles. I counted 22 moves until I could remove the sphere from the puzzle, but it could be even less. It can be solved within five minutes, and within one minute when you know the moves by heart.

I found it a bit more difficult to put the puzzle back to its original state, but I believe it was because I didn't know the moves by heart. Once you do, it's as easy to solve as it is to put it back. The difficulty level is 8/10, but I reckon it should be more about 7/10. The sequential movement is classified as 3-ary, or ternary (three states, as opposed to the binary's two states).

(Click to Enlarge) - Solved Position
Closing Comments:

I really liked the N-5 by Constantin. It's an easy puzzle to solve at any time without frustration, but still very fun to play with. Also, with just 20+ moves you can easily set it up for someone else to try it. This is recommended for beginners to practice, because there are bigger versions of this puzzle with much more moves (hundreds of moves).

Availability: You can find the N-5 puzzle at PuzzleMaster for $23.99 CAD. Check out other interesting puzzles by Jean Claude Constantin.


Cast Chess - Bishop

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
With half the Cast Chess puzzles already reviewed, it's safe to say that this is becoming my favorite Hanayama series. The Bishop is my latest acquisition, and I absolutely love it. Each of the six puzzles is unique in its design and mechanism, and that's exactly what gets me excited whenever I try another one. My only disappointment so far is that there's only six of them and I'll soon have tried them all. These puzzles were all designed by the French Marcel Gillen.

The Bishop is just as impressive as any other in the Cast Chess series. It's made with polished and shiny metal, which makes it look like a piece from an expensive set of chess, except this one is just a puzzle - A gorgeous puzzle at that.

(Click to Enlarge)
From what I experienced so far, the Bishop has the most elegant solution. The top of the piece has a pin attached to a spring, which of course is part of the solution, but I won't give it away. You still have to find out how that pin works with the rest of the mechanism, and it's not as easy as you'd expect. However, when it comes to hidden mechanisms, you shouldn't expect an easy puzzle anyway. There's always something that will surprise you...in a good way.

As far as difficulty goes, the Bishop is the most challenging Cast Chess puzzle I tried so far (I have 4). Even though that pin gives part of the solution away, it's still difficult to work out how it relates to the locking mechanism. The base of the puzzle rotates, but the effect is useless on it own. When you finally solve it, it gives you a rewarding and satisfying feeling that only hidden mechanism puzzles can give you.

(Click to Enlarge)
Solution: To download the solution, click here.

Closing Comments:

What can I say? Hanayama never ceases to amaze me. With each puzzle I try from the Cast Chess series, I become more excited for the next. The Bishop has exceed my expectations and it's equally as wonderful as any of the others in this special Hanayama collection.

Availability: The Cast Chess Bishop is available at PuzzleMaster, as well as all the others from the Cast Chess series.


Cast Chess - Knight

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
Hanayama certainly knows how to make great puzzles, and the latest Cast Chess series is proof of that. Six puzzles, each representing a chess piece, and all in silver, make up this exquisite collection. Originally designed by Marcel Gillen, Hanayama hasn't disappointed in their version of the French designer's puzzles.

The Knight is yet another wonderful puzzle made by the talented craftsmen at Hanayama, with a clean and polished surface. This is possibly the most beautiful and elegant of the Cast Chess series, in my opinion. It is so well made that it could be mistaken by a decorative object, which only the most astute could find out that this is even a puzzle. It's like a well disguised small safe, as the interior hollow allows you to hide a small coin or any other object of the same proportions.

(Click to Enlarge)
The mechanism is similar to the other Cast Chess puzzles, but has its own unique way of opening it. It's like having identical locks, but you need different keys to open them. And there lies the beauty of these puzzles. You might suspect how they are locked, but you have to study them in detail to really find what distinguishes them from the others.

Difficulty-wise, the Knight is about the same level as its brethren. It's difficult enough to have you guessing for several minutes, but not as difficult to provoque a frustrating feeling. It actually has the right amount of challenge that might leave you satisfied once you solve it.

Solution: If you get stuck, click here to download the Solution.

(Click to Enlarge)
Closing Comments:

The Knight is my favorite Cast Chess puzzle so far. It's beautiful and challenging, and the hidden mechanism is very well designed. If you like Cast Puzzles, then it's a safe bet you'll love this or any other from the Cast Chess series.

Availability: You can find the Cast Chess Knight and all the others in the Cast Chess series at PuzzleMaster. For more Cast Puzzles, check out this page.


Edelweiss 4.0

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
Here's a puzzle that looks as intimidating and difficult as it actually is. No deception - What you see is what you get. A perfect example of simplicity turned into complexity. This is puzzle designing at its best and, when it comes to great puzzles, Jürgen Reiche from Siebenstein-Spiele knows what he's doing.

Edelweiss 4.0, as its name suggests, is made with just four different pieces, but don't let the low number of pieces fool you. This is quite a difficult puzzle. Made from laser-cut wood - wouldn't be possible otherwise due to the size and complexity of the pieces - the puzzle has each of its four pieces in a different natural color to differentiate between them, as they're quite detailed, with their edges filled with bumps of different sizes and spacing. The frame is small measuring only 9.1cm in length (3.6").

As with most packing puzzles, the Edelweiss requires some trial and error to be solved, but since the edges of the pieces are so different you'll know beforehand that some combinations aren't possible. This is also an edge-matching puzzle, since all pieces must match their adjacent neighbors in two ways. The pieces must also match the corners of the frame.

This has a difficulty rating of 8/10 from PuzzleMaster and 4/7 from the manufacturer. The manufacturer's, however, makes it look like an average difficulty puzzle and I don't agree. I reckon PuzzleMaster's rating is more accurate, as it shows how challenging this puzzle actually is.



Closing Comments:

I love puzzles like the Edelweiss 4.0. It challenges your way of thinking, without making it completely frustrating. There's a logic to it, you just have to find it. If you think this is too easy, Siebenstein-Spiele also has a 9-Piece version, appropriately called the Edelweiss 9.0.

Availability: Edelweiss 4.0 is available from PuzzleMaster for just $15.99 CAD. Check out other great puzzles by Siebenstein-Spiele.


V-Sphere

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: ,

(Click to Enlarge)
The Rubik's Cube was the first puzzle in my collection. Ever since, I collected an assortment of puzzles with different shapes, sizes and colors. Once you start realizing how many different puzzles are there, you'll certainly feel overwhelmed and spoiled for choice. Over the years, I developed a preference for sliding puzzles, but never forgot which type of puzzle got it all started.

So, it's not difficult to understand why I was so excited when I first heard about the V-Sphere, a combination of Rubik-like solving with a 3D sliding mechanism. It's the perfect combination. Now, all that was needed to prove was if the mechanism was good enough to provide a pleasurable and satisfactory experience, which many puzzles fail to deliver.

Fortunately enough, I had nothing to fear. The V-Sphere is manufactured by one of the most respectable and dedicated companies that produce twisty puzzles, the V-Cube by Verdes Innovations. Their flagship V-Cubes are some of the most appreciated and high quality twisty puzzles you can find, and so, the V-Sphere is not any different. The puzzle was invented by Greek designer George Chronopoulos.

(Click to Enlarge)

So, what is the V-Sphere anyway?

The V-Sphere is an intimidating puzzle with 8 spherical triangles fixed to the internal frame and six rows of tiles that cross the entire perimeter of the sphere. Each triangle has a different color and is surrounded by 12 moveable tiles, except for one triangle (blue), where it has only 11 tiles surrounding it. I would've preferred to have another color with the missing piece, like the white one for example, since I like the blue color most, but it's just a minor annoyance. The missing piece is so that there is space to move the tiles around to mix and solve the puzzle. Since the blue triangle is the one with one piece missing, you should leave it for last, as it will be solved automatically when you solve all the other seven triangles.

This is quite a fun puzzle to mix, I should say. Well, most puzzles are fun to mix and scramble, but the V-Sphere, with its smooth mechanism, adds another layer of fun to the experience. You should try and have all the colors well mixed and not have more than two identical colors adjacent to each other. Only then should you try and solve it. And that is when the real challenge begins...

The V-Sphere is hard to categorize in terms of difficulty. It will depend much on your skill level. If you've been solving twisty puzzles for a while, especially the higher difficulty ones, like the V-Cube 4 and upwards, then this should be a walk in the park. If you struggle to solve a 3x3x3 cube, then this will definitely be an interesting challenge, to say the least. Don't despair though, because I still think the V-Sphere is a little easier to solve than a 3x3x3 cube. Patience and persistence will, in the end, be rewarded.

(Click to Enlarge)

Closing Comments:

The V-Sphere is a superb puzzle, even if it's just to mix and play without worrying about solving it. It's a great stress reliever, and most importantly a great exercise for your brain. It is among my favorite 3D sliding puzzles, and that's saying a lot. I would definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in puzzles, albeit a bit difficult for newcomers.

Availability: You can find the V-Sphere at JWS Europe.

Links:



Cast Dot

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
Akio Yamamoto is one of the most prolific puzzle designers when it comes to Hanayama. At least, 13 of the 70+ Cast Puzzles available are from the Japanese designer, all of them rather unique puzzles in their own way. The latest to join the family is the Cast Dot, an intriguing but fun puzzle to play with.

The Cast Dot comes in two identical pieces, one black and one silver. Quite honestly, I would have preferred to have the combination of silver and gold, like many other beautiful Cast puzzles. Nevertheless, it's a stunning puzzle. The idea is to disentangle the two pieces by figuring out how the dots interact with each other.

This is one of those puzzles that's easy to take apart, but quite a whole different story to put back together - well, most disentanglement puzzles, actually. Think of the pieces interacting with each other as folding paper. It's like doing Origami, but without the possibility of messing up the paper...

(Click to Enlarge)
This is a level 2/6, rated by Hanayama, but I half agree. You see, you have two tasks: one is to take the pieces apart, which is fairly easy and accomplished within a couple of minutes; the other part, however, not that easy, and definitely not a level 2. I'd say it's more like a level 4, which is already a rather difficult challenge.

I found there are multiple ways to solve this puzzle, both by taking it apart and by putting it back together. To ease your task of getting it back together, I suggest taking a photo of the solved puzzle, so you know where you should go. Since there are multiple ways of getting there, just keep trying until you reach the final position. The ride is pretty fun and not at all frustrating.

(Click to Enlarge)
Closing Comments:

The Cast Dot was a very pleasant surprise. I was expecting an easy puzzle, as suggested by Hanayama, but what I found was a much more challenging puzzle - in a good way. It just goes to show you that you shouldn't tackle a puzzle by underestimating its difficulty. It just might surprise you. Whether you like it or not, that depends on how you like your puzzles...

Availability: The Cast Dot and all of its Hanayama brethren are available at PuzzleMaster.


Mit Schwung

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
I'm fascinated by the sheer variety of packing puzzles. The possibilities are near infinite when it comes to designing a packing puzzle. Your imagination is the limit. No wonder then that Jürgen Reiche, from Siebenstein-Spiele, makes so many of them, as his imagination is apparently limitless. Proof of that is his latest design Mit Schwung. A gorgeous and mesmerizing little packing puzzle that looks harder than it actually is.

This is a puzzle that is cheap and easy to produce, because it uses laser-cut wood, but it's also quite versatile. The designs you can do with this type of material can be much more detailed and precise. The results are stunning, as you can see, with a pattern that is not only great to look at, but also interesting to solve, because of the irregular pieces.

Sixteen round pieces make this impressive checkered design. The corner pieces in the frame are not part of the puzzle, since they're glued in place. It does make a nice effect, though. The shape of the pieces and the decision to make the design with checkered or contrasting colors makes a big difference between an otherwise bland puzzle and a great-looking puzzle. This proves that you not only need a good design, but also a nice presentation.

This is a difficulty level 5/7, rated by the manufacturer, but I'm not sure it's that difficult. Because you have a checkered pattern, no two identical colors are touching, which is going to simplify your options when trying to solve it. Each piece can be flipped on either side, so it does add some difficulty, but ultimately a very enjoyable and moderately difficult puzzle.

(Click to Enlarge)
Closing Comments:

Mit Schwung is a beautiful and unique puzzle, filled with character. The design is complex enough to produce a great effect with a pattern that looks simple and yet fascinating. It's a great decorative object, but even more satisfying as a puzzle.

Availability: Mit Schwung is available at PuzzleMaster for just $17.99 CAD. Check out others designs by Siebenstein-Spiele. For an even wider variety, check out the packing puzzles section.


Inside3

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: ,

(Click to Enlarge)
Inside3 (formerly known as Insidezecube) is an intimidating and very challenging 3D maze, even for the most seasoned puzzlers. Embark on a journey to the unknown through the darkness, as this maze won't need your visual sense to be solved. Instead, you must rely on your other senses, adding a pinch of patience and large amounts of persistence.

Inside, as the name suggests is a play on words (or better, a play on numbers, as the 3 is represented as the mathematical exponent "cube", hence the name Inside "cube"). Invented by the French Romain-Guirec Piotte, this 3D maze promises to test the puzzle solving and orientation skills of anyone courageous enough to try his puzzles.

The first of six planed seasons, each with six difficulty levels, features the same number of cubes with a different color for each level. The cube you see presented in this review is the third level, or as it's called the Mean Phantom. Be sure to not underestimate these puzzles, as they will certainly prove to be quite the challenge.


(Click to Enlarge) - Both sides of the Journey

Hidden mazes or blind mazes are not a novelty in puzzles. We've seen them most prominently featured in the Revomaze puzzles, and they're popular for a reason. Puzzlers like a tough challenge, especially when you can't see what's going on inside - It deals with our imagination. The feeling of being lost, but still in control.

The Insidepuzzles have their own features that make them unique. While you're on your own to try and figure out where the small ball is at all times, you have some clues to rely on that help you on your journey to the other side of the cube. Engraved on two opposite sides of the cube are seven 2D mazes, each corresponding to a different plate or layer that's inside the cube (the sixth and last difficulty level doesn't have any maps). Each plate has a maze that connects with the other plates and so on, which in turn links the front of the cube to the back.

The engravings also show indentations that represent holes in the surface of the plates. Your task is to study and visualize all these levels working in tandem as a unique 3D maze and guide the small ball from one side of the cube to the opposite side, all of this without ever seeing the ball, except for when it reaches any of the opposite windows on the cube. There's another small ball inside the cube, and its main goal is just to confuse you (as if the maze itself wasn't enough to confuse you). The puzzle is solved when you see the ball from the narrow window of the other side of the cube. However, your journey is not complete until you return the ball back to the starting point. On the way, you'll encounter traps and dead-ends to make your journey that much more interesting. I warned you this was a hell of a challenge...

(Click to Enlarge) - The six layers (The lid functions as the seventh)

If you get stuck while trying to solve your cube, don't despair. You can open it up (only the first four difficulty levels allow for this), remove the layers and replace the ball back to the beginning. Another interesting feature about opening the cube is that you can swap and re-arrange the layers to form a whole new maze. If the original wasn't hard enough already, you can put a whole new spin to it and make it even more challenging - Now, not even the 2D maps of the layers will help you.

So far, all I've accomplished was the first part of my journey, which was to reach the other side of the cube. This wasn't done in one sitting, though, but through the course of several days. Since there are two balls in play, I'm not even sure which one reached the first half of the journey. At this point, All I care about is that one ball made it to the other side and now I have to return it to the beginning of the maze.

Closing Comments:

Inside3 is everything I want in a puzzle. It's frustrating, almost to the point of throwing it out the window, but it's also fascinating, intriguing, intimidating and rewarding. It's all of these things and more. It's because of puzzles like this one that I write about puzzles and collect them. If you're a serious puzzler, I strongly recommend trying one these cubes. But if you're a casual, no problem. You can start with one of the easier difficulties and go from there.

Availability: You can get any or all of the puzzles in the Inside series through the official website @ www.inside3.space.


Cast Infinity

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
Here's a puzzle that even its name is scary. Hanayama's Cast Infinity is as difficulty as it appears. Designed by the Finnish Vesa Timonen, you're lucky to solve this one before eternity...

Named after its appearance, the new addition to the Cast family has the shape of the mathematical symbol for infinity (also called lemniscate - probably not a good name for a Cast Puzzle). Inside the frame are two discs that seem fused together and impossible to remove. There's a way to separate the two discs, however, although it requires quite a dedicated and persistent mind. This one is not for the faint-hearted.

The puzzle is beautifully made, although I would've liked to see the two discs with a golden color contrasting with the silver frame, as we sometimes see in other Cast puzzles. It's quite a small puzzle also, measuring only 5.2cm x 3.1cm (2.1" x 1.2"). The holes in the discs are quite practical actually, since you can use your fingers to try and rotate them, provided you have some room to maneuver them. Inside the frame there's a protrusion that blocks some of the movements. Because the discs also have grooves strategically positioned, it's up to you to find the correct positions to move the discs and solve the puzzle.

(Click to Enlarge)
All of this is easier said than done. Unfortunately, this is one of the few Cast puzzles that I wasn't able to solve on my own so far. This is rated as a difficulty level 6/6, and this time, I have to agree with Hanayama. It's really a very challenging puzzle - maybe a 7/6. Sometimes you're able to rotate one of the discs, but it's difficult to see if that movement put you closer to the solution or even further. I'm going to keep trying, hopefully not for an infinite amount of time.

Solution: If you find the puzzle too difficult, you can download the solution here.

Closing Comments:

Even though I'm disappointed to not have solved the Cast Infinity, I'm still hopeful to solve it, and for now, I have an excuse to keep playing with it. It's a beautiful puzzle and despite its difficulty it manages to encourage you to keep at it until you finally break that infinity.

Availability: The Cast Infinity is available from PuzzleMaster for $15.99 CAD. The entire Hanayama collection is also available. Check out more puzzles from Vesa Timonen, as well.


Cast Dial

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
Vesa Timonen is one of the most represented designers in the Cast series, with at least 8 different Cast Puzzles in his name so far, including the beautiful Cast Square and the intriguing Cast Hook. His latest contribution to the Cast family is another interesting design, the Cast Dial.

Design-wise, the Cast Dial is absolutely gorgeous. It consists of a triangular shape comprised of two main pieces interlocked together, and two dials that rotate independently back and forth. The dials can also be rotated in any direction as one, which provides a satisfying feeling for anyone that likes to fidget with objects to keep the hands occupied. The goal is to separate all four pieces and return the puzzle to its original form. It's rated as a difficulty level 4/6.

(Click to Enlarge)
The triangular pieces are identical and have indentations that suggest a sliding movement, so you have a pretty good idea on how the puzzle should be solved. However, there's a world of difference between suspecting how it can be solved and actually solve it... And here lies the difficulty of the puzzle, which by the way can be a bit more difficult than what Hanayama might suggest.

Solving this puzzle proved to be a little frustrating, to say the least. The two dials can rotate independently, but it's very difficult to find a correct position for them to even get past the first step. Once you manage to have some progress, the frustration is not over yet. You still have to keep guessing as to which direction to turn the dials (or dial, since after a certain point only one dial can turn, while the other is locked in position). It's a game of trial and error until you can finally separate all four pieces. Here, you will be able to see exactly how the mechanism works, which is a plus, as getting the puzzle back to its original state is much easier.

(Click to Enlarge)
Solution: You can download the solution here.

Closing Comments:

Even knowing that the puzzle is rather frustrating to solve, I can still recommend this one. I like its movement and its design. Not a fan of the solving process, but two out of three is not bad. Looking forward to see what Vesa Timonen does next for Hanayama.

Availability: The Cast Dial is available from PuzzleMaster for $15.99 CAD. All Hanayama collection is available as well.


Cast Chess - Rook

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
Continuing my journey of reviewing all six Cast Chess puzzles by Hanayama, my next subject is the beautiful Rook. The Cast Chess puzzles were all originally designed by Marcel Gillen before Hanayama put their touch and turned them into a special edition Cast series. These puzzles are as good as their main Cast brethren - or better, so you're in for a great puzzling experience.

Slightly bigger than the Chess Pawn, the Rook features a completely different concept and solution, so whichever puzzle you choose to get you'll have something unique and different to play with. That is why it's imperative to have all six puzzles, so you get to experience what each one offers.

Since the solution is different in each puzzle, previously solving any of the others won't help you much here. Like any other Cast Puzzle, there's not many ways to go about it when it comes to discovering how its mechanism works. Few parts move and visual clues are basically non-existent. You'll have to rely on your other senses - maybe even a sixth sense - to have any real progress.

At the top of the puzzle there's a five-point star that rotates freely back and forth, but apparently it does nothing, at least at first glance... The circular piece just below the star also moves slightly, but gives the feeling that there's something locking any further movement. And that's it! You'll need to use your creative thinking to advance any more beyond this point.

(Click to Enlarge)
Closing Comments:

Just like the first puzzle, the design of the Rook is rather clever and gives you an Eureka moment when you finally solve it. It certainly lives up to Hanayama's standard of delivering a unique experience with each and every one of their puzzles.

Availability: The Cast Chess Rook is available from Brilliant Puzzles. You can find there the others in the Cast Chess collection.


Cast Cake

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
If you have a sweet tooth, this will be a good one for you. Hanayama's latest offering is a sweet beauty, the Cast Cake. Designed by Bram Cohen, who also designed two of the most beautiful puzzles in the Cast series, the Cast Marble and the Cast Galaxy, the Cast Cake may not be as impressive-looking as its predecessors, but its concept is just as ingenious.

With a quarter of its circumference "eaten", the Cast Cake is comprised of three identical layers. These layers can rotate independently from each other, although rotating them may prove to be a difficult task for someone with sausage fingers, since the puzzle is very small (4.1cm in diameter = 1.6"). The whole puzzle is made of a metal that looks like bronze, but aesthetically I reckon it would have been nicer to see some contrasting colors, like we've seen before with other Hanayama puzzles. Other than that, the puzzle looks pretty enough.

As you may suspect, the goal in the Cast Cake is to remove its three layers from the outer frame. You won't be able to remove them all at once, so you have to find a way to do it in a sequence. I couldn't come up with a strategy other than using simple trial and error while rotating the discs back and forth. It may not be an optimal solution, but it does get the job done.

Hanayama rates the Cast Cake as a level 4/6, and while having a hard time with it, I do think it's an appropriate rating, which is not without surprise, since Hanayama does tend to miss the mark when it comes to properly classify their puzzles in terms of difficulty level. Putting it back to its original position is way easier, since you can see the grooves on the pieces and how they fit together.

(Click to Enlarge)
Solution: If you get stuck, you download a solution guide here.

Closing Comments:

Being designed by Bram Cohen, my expectations towards the Cast Cake were completely fulfilled and I wasn't disappointed. Sure, the design could've used a couple of different colors, but that's merely a matter of taste and opinion. I can easily recommend this one to anyone interested in Hanayama puzzles.

Availability: You can find the Cast Cake along with the whole Hanayama collection at PuzzleMaster.


Cast Padlock

Posted on by Gabriel | 2 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
When you think of a puzzle lock and how it should be solved, the first think that comes to mind is probably: how do you unlock it? What's its locking mechanism? It's a fair assumption, given how puzzle locks have been presented before. However, designer Jin-Hoo Ahn (who also designed the Cast G & G) takes a completely new approach and makes us think of puzzle locks in a whole different manner with the Cast Padlock. The theme for this puzzle is "obstinacy".

Although it appears like a regular puzzle lock, the Cast Padlock doesn't have a functional keyhole. You won't be unlocking it, but rather taking it apart. Four pieces make up this intriguing design, but in order to solve it, you'll definitely need some "obstinacy". What's more, the solving process is not at all straightforward, so be prepared for a tough challenge.

One aspect of the puzzle that stands out immediately is its tiny size. This a puzzle that measures only 4.3cm x 3.3cm (1.7" x 1.3"). IT's a tiny devil, is what it is...

(Click to Enlarge)
The four pieces that comprise the puzzle can rotate freely around the common central point. But, alas, rotating the pieces alone won't get you anywhere. You need to find an exact position that lets you separate the round semi-circles, but for that the two elliptical pieces in the middle need to be positioned correctly as well. It's a discovery journey in itself, as you learn how the inner mechanism works and keeps the pieces interlocked.

I found this puzzle extremely difficult to solve. It took me a few days to completely understand how the pieces interacted with each other. As if taking it apart wasn't a hell of a challenge, putting it together again is no small feat. This is rated as a level 5/6 by Hanayama, but in my opinion it's definitely a 6/6. If you like your puzzles crazy difficult, I can highly recommend this one, and you won't be disappointed.

Solution: If you need the solution for this one, you can download it here.

(Click to Enlarge)
Closing Comments:

The Cast Padlock is unique. There is no similar design out there and so, nothing to compare to or take hints from. It's a beautiful and awe-inspiring design, and therefore another worthy member of the Cast family.

Availability: You can easily find the Cast Padlock and all the others in the Cast series at PuzzleMaster.


Cast Chess Puzzle - Pawn

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
For centuries, people have been fascinated with chess, a game that requires deep concentration and logical thinking. Its pieces, symbols of a society that once dominated all walks of life, represent everything, from the ordinary people (Pawn) to the highest power (King). It's no wonder then, that Hanayama decided to make Marcel Gillen's designs into a special edition collection of their flagship brand, the Cast Puzzles. For me, at least, it was enough to fascinate me all over again, just as much as when I first learned how to play chess.

The Cast Chess collection is a series of six different puzzles, each representing a piece from the original game of chess. Since the Pawn is the first to move in the "battlefield", I thought it best to start with it as well. It's a simple piece, but never underestimate a pawn...

The Chess puzzles are among the most beautiful by Hanayama. They're chrome plated, which gives them this premium and polished look. They're also about the same size as a regular Cast Puzzle, with the Pawn measuring 5.5cm x 3.7cm (2.2" x 1.5"). Each puzzle has hidden inside a coin with its respective name and symbol engraved on it, and your goal is to find out how the mechanism works in order to free the coin.

As for their difficulty level, the Chess puzzles are not officially rated by Hanayama, so it's more of an opinion based on whoever solves them. Each Chess puzzle has a different solution, so their difficulty will be varied as well. Nevertheless, expect a challenging puzzle and you won't be disappointed. I would rate the Pawn in the Hanayama scale as a level 4/6.

The Pawn has a very deceiving and clever mechanism which, even though it can be challenging to figure out, it can be solved by accident. I know, because it happened to me. I solved it, but I didn't know at the time how I did it. I had to inspect and study the mechanism to really understand how the puzzle locks and unlocks, which in itself is a challenge on its own.

(Click to Enlarge)
Closing Comments:

The Chess Pawn is a great start to this special collection by Hanayama. It can be attempted by anyone, even if they're not familiarized with puzzles and, as a collector, it's with great pleasure that I add this stunning-looking puzzle to my collection. Great as a gift for both lovers of puzzles and chess. Can't wait to review the rest of them.

Availability: You can get the Cast Chess Pawn and all the others in the series at Brilliant Puzzles.


Cast Mobius

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
Labels: , , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
If there's one thing that I learned from almost 10 years of puzzling is to identify puzzles from the most notorious and prominent puzzle designers just by looking at them. That's what happened to one of the most recent Hanayama Cast Puzzles, the Mobius, designed by Oskar van Deventer from The Netherlands. If you don't know Oskar's creations, he is a master of mazes. Many of his puzzles involve you navigating something through a series of obstacles and paths, and the Cast Mobius is no different...well, a little different. The theme for the puzzle is "Belt" - The question is: Can you unbuckle it?

The design of the puzzle, as the name suggests, is inspired by the Möbius Strip, discovered by two mathematicians, August Ferdinand Möbius and Johann Benedict Listing. There's a ring locked inside the strip and many obstacles on its surface, which will make your job of releasing the ring that much harder. It is a level 4/6 puzzle, as rated by the manufacturer, so a moderate challenge awaits you.

The puzzle has the Hanayama distinctive feature of contrasting colors between the two pieces, with the strip being made of a material that looks like brass, and the ring made from plain old aluminum. Both pieces are well made and polished, a standard with all Hanayama puzzles.

It's hard to classify this puzzle solely as a 2D or a 3D maze. My take is that it's neither and both - Maybe the correct answer is 2.5D...

The ring has a diameter larger than the strip, so it can navigate in any direction, as long as it doesn't encounter any of the many obstacles lying around in the strip's surface. While attempting to solve the puzzle, you'll find obstacles on both sides of the strip, so you'll need to be constantly flipping the puzzle to see where you should go. Keep in mind that the exit point to release the ring is the same as the starting point.

To be honest, I didn't find this puzzle to be as challenging as the manufacturer makes it seem. The puzzle looks a little intimidating at first, but with a little trial and error you should be able to solve it in under 10 minutes or so. I think it's more a level 3 than a 4. Putting the ring back is not that challenging either. There are multiple ways to find a path to the exit, though. Some quicker than others, of course.

(Click to Enlarge)
Solution: You can download the solution for this puzzle here.

Closing Comments:

Even though I found the Cast Mobius a little easier than I would like, I still think it's a fun puzzle to play with, and a nice challenge, especially for anyone not that familiar with puzzles. It's one of the most impressive designs in the Hanayama series, and that's a great achievement by Oskar van Deventer.

Availability: PuzzleMaster is the way to go for everything Cast Puzzles, including the beautiful Cast Mobius. All the others in the series are also available here.


Cast Hashtag

Posted on by Gabriel | 2 comments
Labels: , , ,

(Click to Enlarge)
In keeping with the times, Hanayama's recently released Cast Hashtag is an appropriate name for this simple, yet deceptively difficult puzzle. Designed by a collaboration of two known puzzle designers, Yoshiyuki Kotani and Kirill Grebnev, this is one not to underestimate, despite its difficulty level of 3/6.

This Cast puzzle is actually known in Japan as Shift, which you can actually see in the puzzle, as the word "Shift" is engraved on two of the pieces. To be honest, I prefer the name Shift, since I'm not a fan of all this whole Hashtag thing, but I understand why they rename it. The word carries much more familiarity here in the west, and since Hanayama is a business, it makes sense.

The puzzle is comprised of four apparently identical pieces, save for some extra holes in two of the pieces. They are interlocked, but can move back and forth quite effortlessly. You need to find a way to separate these pieces, but be careful when trying to put them back together. Combine them wrong and you can lock your puzzle in a way that would make almost impossible to take apart again.

(Click to Enlarge)

I took the puzzle apart quite fast after fiddling with it for a couple of minutes. That part is not that difficult. Putting it back together wasn't that long either, maybe five minutes. The hard part was after I put it back to its original state.

Not sure if there's a design flaw with this puzzle or if I'm looking at it wrong, but mine seems locked and I can't, for the life of me, take it apart again. As I mentioned above, all four pieces look identical, but if that were the case, it wouldn't matter how you put them back together, since they would interact all the same. As it is, I can safely say they are indeed sightly different, because even looking at the solution I can't solve it again. Since I was solving it on my own the first time I couldn't have known that there was a correct way to put it back together and a wrong way. I would advise you to take a look at the solution once you take it apart or the same might happen to you. In the meantime, I'll keep trying to solve mine again. Maybe I'm missing something.

(Click to Enlarge)
Solution: You can get a copy of the solution here.

Closing Comments:

This puzzle reminds me of the Cast Rattle, another four-piece puzzle with interlocking pieces, albeit a bit more difficult.

I have mixed feelings towards the Cast Hashtag (Shift). The puzzle does look nice and has an interesting design, but if it does indeed lock on you this easily, an until I'm proven wrong, I have to disregard it as a worthy addition to the Cast family.

Availability: You can find the Cast Hashtag at PuzzleMaster for the usual $15.99 CAD. All other Cast puzzles from Hanayama can also be purchased here.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...