Whether it’s a puzzle box, two joined pieces of twisted metal, or an elaborate wooden network of interconnected pieces, a mechanical brain teaser offers a physical dimension to puzzling that is often lacking in pen-and-paper puzzles and other traditional puzzle forms.
And in today’s product review, we’ve got three different varieties of brain teaser to test out, all courtesy of the creative minds at Project Genius.
So without further ado, let’s get solving!
The goal in Waiter’s Tray is simple: maneuver the tray out from under the wine bottles. You can only lift one wine bottle at a time, though. Oh, and some of the bottles are locked in by marbles, so those have to be moved before the wine bottles can be lifted.
Okay, so maybe it’s not so simple.
Waiter’s Tray is a devious mechanical brain teaser that requires patience and a knack for planning in order to shift the wine bottles enough to free the tray.
The peculiar shape of the tray both helps and hinders you, since you can lower one wine bottle with the dip in the tray, but the higher lip of the left-hand side of the tray often prevents you from moving forward and manipulating the other wine bottles.
But once you get into the rhythm of the solve, it’s a pretty satisfying feeling to see the tray slide closer and closer to escape.
Yeah, I’m posting this one to prove I solved it. =)
The five traditional brain teasers that compose The Curated Collection each represent a different culture and time period, adding a touch of historical context and beauty to some tricky and portable puzzles.
Each is ranked in difficulty from one to five stars — the Roman Keys are considered the easiest (2 stars) while Chinese Tea and Aztec Passion Flower top out at 5 stars — but the goal of each is the same: separate the pieces of each puzzle.
Some of these brain teasers will look familiar, since puzzles like Chinese Tea and Egyptian Pi have been around forever, but there’s a good chance at least one of these puzzlers will be unfamiliar to solvers, offering multiple chances to keep you from cracking all five mysteries too quickly.
Personally, I found the star-rating system misleading, but your mileage may vary. (Also, some of the wooden puzzle pieces stuck together a bit, so more than once, I almost felt like I was breaking the puzzle, not solving it.)
That being said, getting to test my puzzly abilities in five curious ways at once was a real treat.
With enough practice, the secrets of the Rubik’s Cube can be revealed. Those six colors, 3 rows, and 3 columns can be conquered. But what if the colors were gone and the rows and columns replaced with angles and unexpected twists?
Ghost Cube offers an engaging variation on the classic twisty puzzle by making all the pieces spin and shift on an angle. Whereas the usual Rubik’s Cube is a riot of colors, the Ghost Cube is a maddening pointy shape instead.
Yet I find solving the Ghost Cube much more fun and satisfying than solving a Rubik’s Cube. (And trust me, I am not exactly a proficient Rubik solver.)
There’s just something about a tactile solve — rather than a color-based one — that makes manipulating the cube more engaging. I found myself prolonging the solving experience simply because I enjoyed working the Ghost Cube back and forth. It’s immersive in a way I didn’t expect.
Waiter’s Tray, The Curated Collection, and Ghost Cube are all available through Project Genius as well as certain online retailers.
Whether you’re looking for a deduction puzzle, a disassembly puzzle, or a twisty puzzle, one of these impressive brain teasers from Project Genius is sure to hit the spot. And all three are part of this year’s Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide, so check it out!
[Note: I received a free copy of each brain teaser in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]
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