Makishi to realize one of Matt's designs.
The result of this collaboration was Pagoda Puzzle Box (a.k.a. MakDaw #1), which was entered in the 2009 International Puzzle Party Puzzle Design Competition. A total of 25 of these boxes were produced. After receiving some feedback on the design, a revised version was developed, MakDaw #2, that covered up a big clue that made it easier to solve. 40 copies of this improved version were released last week, in the beginning of November '09.
I had heard Matt talk about this puzzle quite a bit and had seen pictures. As you can see, it is a very cool looking puzzle. Plus, I know Matt is a real connoisseur of puzzle boxes so I knew anything that he came up would be very unique and an excellent puzzle. As such, I decided to purchase one as soon as it came out! (You can buy one here, if they are still available.)
I had a general idea of how the puzzle worked, because I had seen a picture of it open, but it was still fairly challenging. Matt and Makishi did an excellent job designing the puzzle in such a way that you need to be paying attention to solve it. There are a number of dead ends (though they are not particularly deep) and it is not obvious when you are stuck in a dead end due to the mechanics of the puzzle.
I think it took me about 10 minutes to get it open the first time: I like sequential puzzles like this because you get a small "a ha!" moment each time you find a new move. Also, it was quite satisfying when the box finally opened. Even though I had solved it, I still didn't fully understand the sequence of moves required to get it open. After opening it five or six more times, I started to get the hang of it. Doing this really gave me an appreciation for the little details that made the puzzle tricky, which was very cool.
Overall, I would say that this is a great puzzle! It has everything I look for in a puzzle: a novel mechanism, a nice physical appearance, and a good difficulty level. Check it out on PuzzleParadise.ca if you'd like to purchase it. It is a great deal on a nice limited edition puzzle.
As you may have noticed, I'm up to the present day, which means I have gone through my whole backlog of puzzles! Whew! I still have a bunch of puzzles that I am currently working on: I purchased a box of puzzles from Allan Boardman that will take me a while to go through, but I'll be writing about the interesting ones as I solve them. Also coming up: a report on a gathering at Saul Bobroff's home (!!) and reviews on a number of Bits and Pieces boxes that I recently purchased.
Update: Check out Oli's review of the the third puzzle in this series, Pagoda #3.
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