December 21, 2009
Nemesis Factor (instruction manual) is an electronic puzzle with 100 different levels that you progress through sequentially. Each puzzle involves interacting with the puzzle in some way. There are five lighted buttons on the front of the puzzle and the solution frequently (but not always!) involves pushing these buttons in the right order and/or at the right time.
I worked on this puzzle over the course of about two weeks and lost track of how long I spent on it. I think it was definitely above 5 hours, probably closer to 10 to finish all 100 levels. In terms of difficulty, I would say that this puzzle is quite difficult. It is definitely doable, but some of the levels are very tricky.
The puzzle remembers what level you were on when you stopped, and can keep track of up to four players individually (each is associated with one of the colored buttons with the fifth reserved for a 'guest' player). It also keeps track of your cumulative score, which is ten or less for each puzzle. You lose points for taking hints or taking too long to solve the level.
I didn't much care for the points: after struggling for 20 minutes to solve a tricky puzzle it was annoying to be given zero points for my hard work. I guess it does serve as a deterrent from taking unnecessary hints, but it would have been nice if the minimum was 5 points, just so people don't feel too bad.
There wasn't much that I didn't like about this game, though there were a few somewhat annoying design issues. I would have liked to see a volume knob (as I mentioned earlier), though I guess that runs the risk of somebody accidently turning the volume down and not realizing that the sounds are part of the puzzle.
Also, a power button would have been nice: if somebody accidently chooses the wrong player color, they need to wait 2 minutes for the puzzle to auto-shut-off and then turn it back on, which is a bit annoying. You can't even quickly pop the batteries out, since the cover is screwed in place.
Overall, though, this is an awesome puzzle that I'm very happy that I got the chance to play with. Thanks to Brett for loaning it to me!