Time Out

Are you reading this? Then clearly you have not had your brain crushed to powder by Twelve O, a sleek, original online puzzle game by Ozzie Mercado. Like the best games, Twelve O is simple to understand: All you have to do is get all the clocks to point to high noon. And like the best puzzle games, “simple to understand” does not necessarily mean “simple to do.”

You move a clock’s minute hand by clicking on it and twirling it around. Easy enough. The slight problem is, when you move the minute hand on one clock, you also move the minute hand of every clock connected to it. (The hour hands are locked on noon — you don’t have to deal with them at all, thank goodness.) Getting everything to sync up, therefore, becomes an exercise in switching back and forth between the clocks, making slight adjustments, until you finally see how to get them all to show the same time. Or, quite possibly, stumble blindly across the solution, as I did several times.

The twelve basic levels are reasonably solvable. The real brain crushing comes in later levels: In some, certain clocks run in the opposite direction, so you’ll have to think both backward and forward to get everything in sync. And in the final six levels, different size clocks run at different speeds — at that point, it becomes quite tricky to predict what will happen when you move a given clock hand. While you’re sweating through those final levels, keep telling yourself: At least I don’t have to sync up both hands. Maybe that’s coming in the next version.

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