January 3, 2012

2011 Karakuri Club Christmas Presents (Part 2)

Up next in my series of posts about the 2011 Karakuri Club Christmas Presents, Akio Kamei. Kamei has been making puzzle boxes for quite a while and founded the Karakuri Creation Group, so it is always interesting to see what he comes up with! This year's puzzle was a real treat, I really enjoyed it.

It has a fairly simple exterior appearance, with grooves around all of the edges to make it a bit harder to tell what is going on. The first move isn't too hard to find, but you quickly realize that you're going to need to put your thinking cap on to solve this one. You could idly fiddle with it and figure it out eventually, but it is more likely that you'll just end up at a dead end and be confused.

After a bit of thinking, I figured out what needed to be done and solved this one in about five minutes. However, I like that I had to think about the mechanics of it for a bit. I think most folks should be able to solve this one in a reasonable amount of time (10-20 minutes), if they stick with it.

There are a few downsides to this puzzle, however: the movement was a bit stiff at times. This, combined with the width of the side panels resulted in a few scratches when I gave this to somebody else to play with. For less cautious puzzlers, it is easy to lose your grip and nick the finish with a fingernail, so I'll be warning people about that in the future. Still, that didn't detract much from an otherwise very good puzzle box. Overall, I'm quite pleased with it! This is one of my favorites this year.

Next up, my favorite box of the 2011 Christmas presents is by Hideaki Kawashima. I really enjoyed his Snake Cube last year, so was quite interested when I saw that this puzzle has a similar appearance.

Each side of this box has two panels, sometimes one dark panel and one light panel and sometimes all one color. It has a nice rotational symmetry to it.

It is relatively easy to find the first move and progress along quite nicely for a while. In fact, I got to the point where I thought that I must be done, but nothing would open! Quite puzzling indeed. After a bit of thought and trying things out, I figured it out! It cleverly takes advantage of a natural human tendency when playing with puzzles like this, which I loved. I think it took me a good 15 minutes, definitely longer than any of the others, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

Non-puzzlers who I gave this to were pretty stumped, and it is a tough one to give hints on without giving it away entirely. Definitely more of a puzzlers puzzle, or something to give to a non-puzzler friend who is particularly adept. No real complaints about this puzzle, definitely check it out if you have the chance!

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