June 6, 2011

Cast Shark

One group of Hanayama puzzles that I haven't tried yet has been the Cast Marine series: six puzzles that are all sea-themed and designed by Akio Yamamoto, the same person who designed many of my favorite Hanayama's, such as Cast Baroq, Cast Vortex, and Cast Dolce. Puzzle Master was kind enough to send me this group of puzzles to review, so I'll start off with Cast Shark.
One thing you will notice among Yamamoto's designs is that he pays quite a bit of attention to the appearance of the puzzle, which I really appreciate. Cast Shark is no exception, with a nasty shark's jaw trapping a poor fish.

The fun thing about this one is that it has a narrative to go along with it: will the fish be eaten (exit through the back) or freed (i.e. exit through the front of the teeth). The exciting tale is revealed as you solve this puzzle! This aspect easily makes this one of my favorites in the marine series.

On top of the cute narrative, the puzzle itself is pretty good: there are a number of dead ends to lead you astray, as well a unique movement that is pretty fun to do. It isn't particularly hard to solve, most should be able to get it in under 10 minutes, I think it only took me a minute or two. As such, it would be a good one to give to first-time puzzlers, particularly with the narrative.

Another thing I liked about this one is that it has a solid starting position where the pieces latch together nicely for display. Note that the starting position is not shown in the picture above, sorry!

As is the case with many curvy designs like this one, sometimes it is hard to tell if you can make a particular move, since it may just be that you don't have the pieces positioned quite right. As such, folks may be tempted to force this one, but it is quite sturdily built so it should take the abuse nicely.

In all, Cast Shark is a fun little puzzle, definitely worth checking out. Stay tuned for the rest of the marine series reviews!

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