Thursday, 29 January 2015

4-steps visible lock

As the name indicates, you will need to complete 4 steps to be able to solve this puzzle from Robrecht Louage, a famous Belgian puzzle designer, known for his "euro-puzzles".
This puzzle is composed of trespa (a very sturdy material), acrylic and steel balls. It won the Jury Grand Prize during IPP31 (August 2011) and when you play with it you understand the reasons why it obtained this prize.
The goal of this puzzle is to remove the euro coin. So again, you pay this puzzle €49 instead of €50 if you replace the euro coin by a plastic one. But I doubt you will do that because the puzzle looks better with a euro coin :-)

I won't describe the 4 steps because, as the puzzle is already not very difficult, it would spoil too much, and I think everybody will easily distinguish these steps.

To solve the puzzle you need to understand the steps, even if I must admit that I managed to do the 1st and the 4th steps without understanding them. I understood them after, very quickly. I solved the first one with luck.

This puzzle involves a little bit of dexterity, but don't worry I am not very good at dexterity (I think) and I did not have any difficulty to do that!

I like a lot this puzzle but in my opinion it is too easy and pretty straight forward. I would have liked many more steps and a bit more difficult puzzle. I let a friend of mine play with it and he did not have difficulties to solve it...I hope Robrecht will release some other puzzles like this one but with more steps.

To conclude a good puzzle with a good design (and a quality puzzle of course!!) and if you like Robrecht's, this is a must have in your collection.
You can buy it directly from the designer. If you want his email or have any questions, drop me an email, I am very fast to reply :-)

PS: be careful to prevent dust from entering under the acrylic because it's not easy to clean up the inside of the puzzle, and unscrew the puzzle may not be very easy...

Solution can be found: HERE

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Don't be sad, I will free you !!!

Another blue aluminium puzzle, a beautiful blue that Wil Strijbos uses on many puzzles. When you hold the puzzle you are surprised by its weight. Be careful not to throw it on your feet...
There is cap that doesn't move, well just a little bit. On the cap, there is a nut.
You can see a hole on one part of the puzzle through which you can see a sad smiley...the goal is "make me smile". When you have managed to open the box, you can see that the other side of the smiley rod is an happy smiley face. Now it's clearer, right?

Poor little smiley...

When you "shake" a bit the puzzle you can hear some things ratling inside, but as with many other Wil's puzzles you cannot see what you're doing, and this makes the puzzles "quite" difficult.

Many puzzle bloggers say that this puzzle belongs to the sequencial discovery puzzles, and I don't totally agree. Of course you need to find a tool, to use it the right way and do other things. But first there are not a lot of steps (which is a pitty when you know the price of this puzzle!!), and then not a lot of tools...

When you've tried many puzzles like this one, lotus, the egg, the aluminium cross, you know that Wil loves something that he often puts in his puzzles to block you. So that's not a real suprise what is there inside of the box.
I must admit that I have a little bit been disappointed because the mechanism is not complicated and due to the size and to the weight, I though there was something much more complicated inside...Nope...And you cannot put anything inside the box, which would have been a good idea.
Another drawback that may not happen to all the batches of this puzzle: mine was a little bit damaged on a bottom corner of a side. Of course it is not a problem at all to solve the puzzle. But you know when you buy such an expensive product and made by CNC machines (and not human beings!), then you are expecting 0% default...

Anyway, that is a beautiful puzzle, hard to solve, and very enigmatic. I solved it with a good amount of luck. And you know what? I managed to solve this puzzles like some other Wil's puzzles when I played late in the night (around 3am). Perhaps it helps playing late to solve Wil's puzzles :-)
And finally the goal is quite "funny" (make me smile). I recommand to buy it...if you have saved enough money :-)


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Try to escape from Alcatraz

This puzzle made of trespa, a solid material, is one of the puzzles made by Robrecht Louage, a Belgium puzzle designer.
It measures 9cm x 7.5cm x 1.3cm, so not a big puzzle that you can easily put in your coat.
I cannot say more of the other materials used for this puzzle because it may give you clues about how to solve this one...I put this puzzle in the label "trick opening boxes" which was Robrecht's designation, but as you can see it has nothing to do with, for example, the Karakuri's trick opening boxes!
If you are familiar with Robrecht's puzzles, this one is no exception to the rule and have an euro coin to be released. So in reality, you pay a little bit less your puzzle if you take the euro coin and replace it by a plastic coin :-)

The beginning

The design of the box is very good because the name fits perfectly with the design of the puzzle. And don't worry, this is easier to solve this puzzle rather than escaping the real Alcatraz jail!!
I find rather ironical to replace the German euro coin that was at the beginning by a euro coin that has a royal face, here it's a Belgium coin (but a Spanish coin would have also worked), to make a real prisonner. I think it was Robrecht's first idea, but perhaps he lacks of those coins.

The goal of this puzzle is to open the box and it requires several steps, the first one being the trickiest one in my opinion.
When you move the puzzle you can hear things inside but you will never be able to see the real mechanism even when it is solved, unless you completely break the puzzle, which will be unusuable thus...

I am on the good way...

As I knew all the material used for this puzzle, I did not have a lot of difficulties to open it, but I must admit that I did not understand totally how I solved this one, because I just turned the puzzle upside down, pull and push the slider...And it opened!!
So I asked Robrecht if he could send me the internals of the pictures and it became clearer.
Yes I like having the internals (as well as the solutions!) because I feel a little bit frustrated if I cannot see the whole mechanism...I want to admire the mechanism!

Solved !!! I am out of jail now!

To conclude, if you like Robrecht's puzzles and you want to buy an affordable puzzle, don't hesitate.
You can find this puzzle on Puzzle Master Webshop.

Of course, the solution exists !!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

No GPS allowed if you're lost!

For this review I will speak about City Maze, a colorful plastic game from Smart Games.
This is not a big puzzle so you can easily take it for your holidays or if you take the train.

The goal is to create a way with different shapes of arrows from the starting arrow to the cross.
All the arrows (and crosses) have a double-color side. One is red and one is blue, and depending the color the arrows don't indicate the same way, of course.
The rules are pretty easy to understand, but you need to get used to them:
  • A route always follows the paths of the current street until the direction is changed by an arrow that is the same color.
  • A route only changes direction if it first encounters the back of an arrow in the same color.
  • Puzzle pieces (arrows, start position and destinations) do not obstruct any route. Route can pass through these pieces.

To illustrate these rules I put below 3 examples:

1st picture: there is no need for extra arrows because the path is already made. The route goes straight away from the starting arrow, and then turn right (because there is a curve in the path) and then go straight to the cross.

2nd picture: the route is not made correctly because the back of the middle arrow is not correctly placed.

3rd picture: the route is correctly made.

There are 2 booklets with 60 challenges each, so a good amount of challenges. Each booklet has 5 levels of difficulty (starter, junior, expert, master, wizard). I found that sometimes the expert levels were easier than the junior levels, but perhaps it was because I became too good ;-) but if you're worried about the difficulty, the starter levels are easy because they give you the basis, and after I assure you that it becomes challenging. Yes, the expert level is a more difficult!

The first booklet is called "express delivery": you will have only one color in the plate and you need to pass through the 2 crosses (sometimes there is only one cross).
The other booklet is called "on the double": you will have both color on the plate and you will have to switch the color on each arrow so that you make a path from the blue starting arrow to the blue cross and at the same time a path from the red starting arrow to the red cross.
Both are challenging. I began with "on the double", but it's up to you.

I found this game very entertaining because first, there are many challenges, then it has a good design and also you can try to create your own challenges.
You need to be concentrated because with all the arrows you may lose your way. Sorry, but here no GPS will be useful and allowed. Just the power of your brain will help you.
You need to place correctly the pieces. Once I didn't put correctly the starting pieces and I didn't find any solution (whereas the it was not a difficult level!)...then I understood my error. So be careful!

If you own this puzzle, I have created for you 4 challenges (hey Smart Games, if you see that, you need to ask me permission to use them!).
Are you ready to beat my challenges? Yes? So let's go for a big trip!

Challenge #1
You need to go through each direction (crosses) by using all the blue pieces (except, of course, the other starting arrow!)

Challenge #2
You need to go to your destination (the 2 crosses) by only using the red pieces. You need to go through the 2 crosses during your route!!
Try to go from the left arrow (very easy) to reach your destination.
Once done, take the pieces for the next challenge, more difficult: try also to go from the right arrow (more difficult).
The 2 red arrows and crosses have to stayed in place, of course!

Challenge #3
Use all the red pieces to reach your destination.

Challenge #4
You need to go from the red arrow to the blue cross by alternating the colors: if you have a red piece, then the next one needs to be blue.
So you may assume that the first piece after the red starting arrow will be blue and the piece before the destination cross will be red. Same color pieces can be close in the plate, but they need to alternate during the route. Try to do that with as many pieces as you want then try to use ALL the pieces, both can be done (but I think it is more difficult using all the pieces)

Try these 4 challenges and please let me know what you think about them.
Also, as I created them, I don't really realize the level of difficulty. So also let me know which level of difficulty you would put for each challenge.
Perhaps there are many solutions, but there is at least one that works!

To conclude, a good game for a reasonable amount of money and for many hours of route finding. And as you may have understood, I love it!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Xmatrix: Keanu Reeves 's puzzle

This puzzle called "Cubus" is a labyrinth made of acrylic where you have to move a marble from the gold frame into the silver frame and back again, by moving upside down, and from left to right your cube.
It is available in 2 colors (gold or blue labyrinth), that does not change the difficulty of the maze. I chose the blue labyrinth because I thought this colour contrasted better with the colors of the frame.
And those colors make this puzzles appealing, it directly catches your attention!

Two models are in sales, this one I am reviewing, and a bigger one called the "Quadrus" (available in the same 2 colors as the Cubus). I chose the Cubus because I like beginning with an easier version to go for a more difficult one after if I manage to solve it. Both belong to the XMATRIX labyrinths designed by Jeremy Goode. The Quadrus cube entered at the 31st International Puzzle Party (in 2011).

So what about the labyrinth itself?
Well it is tricky because even if it is blue, it is a transparent blue and thus it's somewhat difficult to see the dead-ends and your way. 
So prepare to be trapped at many times!
Sometimes you cannot move from right to left, thus going up by turning the cube upside down may be the solution to your problems.
The labyrinth has precise cuts and when you look inside the cube, you can see that it is very good work. The good thing to be able to see the labyrinth is that you will not be blocked forever!!

Confusing, isn't it?

One thing I wish I could do is to be able to open the cube to "reset" the marble. Indeed, it would have been good (it's just my opinion...) to be able to take the labyrinth out of the cube. First, to understand it better (if you have some difficulties) and then to be able to start from the beginning, because the marble could have moved during the delivery (and thus you may not have your marble at the beginning of the labyrinth...). Perhaps a system to block the marble would have been also good.

To conclude a fun puzzle to play with and with appealing colours!
This puzzle is for you if you like mazes and want to buy an affordable puzzle.
If you are interested, go HERE to buy yours!