When (Cross)Worlds Collide: This Month’s Hashtag Game!

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie, hashtag games on Twitter, or @midnight’s Hashtag Wars segment on Comedy Central.

For years now, we’ve been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was #PennyDellSpacePuzzles, mashing up Penny Dell puzzles with planets, astronauts, constellations, celestial objects, and more!

Examples include: World Seeks, Buzz All-Four-One-drin, and Tossing & Saturning.

So, without further ado, check out what the puzzlers at PuzzleNation and Penny Dell Puzzles came up with!


Chess Solartaire

Triangle Suns

Diamond Rings of Saturn

Cosmic Sunrays

Space Battleships

Comet Combos

Bookwormholes / Blackout holes

All-Star Worm Seek Hole

Orbits and Pieces

Word Spiral-arm Galaxy

Nebulabyrinth

Nebula Square

Meteorite of Milky Way

Spaces, Please

Places, Pleides

Planets, Please

Polaris, Please

Point the Way Polaris

Point the Milky Way

Bits and Pisces

Hub-ble-caps

How Spaceman-y Triangles

Libra Tiles

Diagonal Orion’s

Penumbra Sleuth

Southern Cross Arithmetic

Scorpiusmaster

Quoteballs of Fire

Space Odysseys and Evens

End of the Karman Line

The Moon’s Shadow

Easy Plutoku

Exploraworld / Explorer 1 Words

A to Z Mars

Mars-bles

Marbles Rover

Four-fit the mission

Michio Kakuro / Michisu Doku

All Foursnax

Antilagrams

Countdown and Pair-blast-off / Pair LiftOff

The Disco-very mission

Headings for space

Alphabetics Centauri / Alpha Centauri Soup

Mission Dominoes / Missioning Dominoes

“Houston we have a Plug-Ins” / “Houston, we have a Deduction Problem!”

“Houston: the Crozzle has landed.”

Pulling-Strings theory

Board the space Shuffle

Lucky Rover

Lucky Shooting Star

Sputnik Satellites

Bull’s-Eye Spiral Galaxy

Scramble Across the Universe

Planet in the Round

Around the Sun

In and Around the World

World Ways

Mystery World

A Few Choice Worlds

Star Worlds

Battlestarships Galactica

“Not so expert and the Challenger crosswords”

“GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR STEPHEN HAWKING’S BRAIN BOOSTER PACK”


Naturally, the intrepid puzzlers who submitted these marvelous puns couldn’t resist taking a crack at Neil Armstrong’s iconic words:

  • Two for One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.
  • One small Step by Step for man; one giant leap for mankind.
  • One small Step by Step for man; one giant leap for Three of a Kind.
  • One small Step by Step for man; one Puzzler’s Giant leap for mankind.

And to close out today’s entry, a special shout-out to several sci-fi savvy puzzlers!

The first offered a delightful take on a famous TV monologue:

Space: the final Mind Tickler. This is the Grand Tour of the Lucky Star-ship Penny. Its Five-Alive mission: to Explora-strange-new-worlds, to Word Seek out new Face-to-Face Puzzlers and new Cryptobotanies, to Bowl Game where no solver has Word Gamed before.

The second, more movie-minded contributor said: All I could think about when I read the theme was space was the Spaceballs theme song…

If you’re livin’ in a Build-a-Pyramid and you haven’t got a Connection
Well, you’re gonna be in Double Trouble cause we’re gonna Split & Splice your air
‘Cause what you Give is what we Take and all we do is dirty Decisions
We’re the Spaceballs, What’s Next! cause we’re the Spaceballs
We’re the Mixmaster of space
Hey, Don’t mess Around the Block with the Spaceballs!


Have you come up with any Penny Dell Space Puzzles entries of your own? Let us know! We’d love to see them!

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PuzzleNation Product Review: Lunar Landing

all-lunar-6802-hiresspill

[Note: I received a free copy of this puzzle in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]

ThinkFun has emerged as the premiere vendor of logic puzzles for solvers of all ages. Whether they’re challenging you with marbles, lasers, or electronic circuits, their complete-the-path games offer lots of puzzly fun.

Their latest offering, Lunar Landing, seems at first to fall into the same pattern, but as you learn the rules and begin tackling the challenge cards included, you quickly realize there’s more than meets the eye at play.

moon_landing_1920x1200_wallpaper

In Lunar Landing, your goal is to pilot the red shuttle to an emergency entry port in the center of the landing grid. Sounds easy enough, right? But the twist is how you get there.

Scattered across the landing field are helper bots which help your shuttle move around the landing field. The shuttle can only move toward one of the helper bots in the same row or column. The shuttle must move from helper bot to helper bot until it reaches the emergency entry port.

Because Lunar Landing is set in space, the shuttle can’t just stop wherever it chooses. Once the shuttle is set on a path toward a helper bot, it continues along that path until it reaches that bot. This means you can pass right over the emergency entry port unless there’s a helper bot in the correct position to stop the shuttle on that red square.

solvell

This movement mechanism is the engine behind each of the 40 challenge cards in the deck. Progressing in increasing difficulty from beginner to intermediate to advanced to expert, the challenge cards provide you with the starting layouts for each landing grid. You place the shuttle and helper bots as instructed, and then try to puzzle out how to complete the task at hand.

The early scenarios are all about moving the shuttle from place to place. In later challenges, you’ll have to move the helper bots as well, positioning them to form a path that’ll bounce your shuttle to the center of the grid.

The helper bots move in the same way as the shuttle — toward another helper bot along a row or column — and as the scenarios evolve, you’ll rely on moving the helper bots more and more.

It’s a bit like a sliding-tile puzzle, since you can only move the shuttle along certain paths, as determined by the locations of the helper bots. Many of the challenge cards can only be conquered by setting up a chain reaction, which gives Lunar Landing the feeling of a one-person chess game: You’re trying to see several moves ahead, looking for the perfect sequence of moves that will let you achieve victory.

Taking a simple scientific concept — objects in motion tend to stay in motion — and building a logic game around it is very clever, and it makes for a solving experience that feels new and challenging. Since each piece can potentially move, depending on the challenge card layout, there are more variables at play here than in previous ThinkFun logic puzzles.

helperbot

The helper bots are modeled on classic robot designs from the 1940s and 1950s, and that adds to the game’s charm, as if the vivid Technicolor visions that predated the Space Race have finally been realized.

The landing grid doubles as storage for the challenge cards and game pieces, making for an easily transported puzzle game that can be enjoyed anywhere at the drop of a hat.

Lunar Landing continues the fine tradition of ThinkFun puzzle games, keeping even experienced puzzlers on their toes with inventive gameplay and outside-the-box thinking. What a treat.

Lunar Landing is available from ThinkFun through Amazon and other online retailers. Click here to check out other ThinkFun product reviews!


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Stopping at the McDonald’s on Memory Lane

I mentioned last month that I’ve been doing a bit of late-Spring cleaning, and the process continues. This weekend, I was poring through some McDonald’s toys my mother had saved over the years (and when you’re one of six kids, those toys add up quickly).

(One section of the counter absolutely covered with toys.)

And as I was organizing and sorting an egg box full of these silly little gems, I couldn’t help but find the puzzliest among them to share with my fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers.

It seems appropriate to start with toys that resemble the brand’s signature food items.

When it comes to puzzle toys, you really can’t go wrong with something that transforms. Figuring out the proper steps to reveal the hidden character or form inside can be simple or complex, depending on the toy. Obviously McDonald’s kept it simple with these Happy Meal handouts, but it didn’t make them any less weird or delightful.

These faux foods are from two different series of McDonald’s toys — the fries and hot cakes & sausage from 1986/1987, the burger and hotcakes from 1990 — and each transforms to reveal something unexpected.

As you can see, the late ’80s toys become robots (keeping in line with the whole Transformers mentality) while the 1990 toys become curious food/dinosaur hybrids.

1992 brought us these stackable circus characters, testing the balance and dexterity of younger minds to see what diabolical human towers they can cook up. In my house, this quickly became a Jenga-like game of each person selecting a piece and taking turns to stack them, often with disastrous results.

(My tower…just before it collapsed.)

But by far the puzzliest of the toys I uncovered was also one I’d completely forgotten about.

Back in 1991, McDonald’s partnered up with NASA to spark interest in space exploration with a run of Happy Meal toys all about astronauts, space technology, and more.

One of the best and most challenging sets was this small space module, complete with two astronauts, logos, and flames.

If memory serves, there were also a lunar rover and a satellite, all built with these wonderful double-sided cardboard pieces.

It was a blast to rediscover these puzzle-fueled delights amidst a plethora of TV and movie tie-in toys, animated characters, and other nuggets of fast-food childhood fun.

Did this post remind you of any puzzly toys you found in cereal boxes, fast food orders, or the like? Let me know in the comments section below!


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These anagrams are out of this world!

Planets are in the news, as Pluto’s dubious planetary status is under the microscope once again.

Recently, a debate over the defining qualities of a planet was held at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and three of the top names in planetary science presented their cases to the attending audience.

Now, although the audience overwhelmingly voted in favor of Pluto’s planethood, that’s not binding. This wasn’t an International Astronomical Union vote or anything like that.

But it did put the solar system back in the news cycle, and that reminded me of a puzzly planetary story.

In the 1600s, Galileo Galilei was doing amazing work with his telescope, redefining our understanding of the solar system and our place in it. He was doing controversial work, but he still wanted to be able to prove he was the primary person behind a given discovery, so he mailed a letter to his colleague, Johannes Kepler.

Galileo sent Kepler this anagram: s m a i s m r m i l m e p o e t a l e u m i b u n e n u g t t a u i r a s

When properly solved, the anagram reads “Altissimum planetam tergeminum observavi,” meaning “I have observed the most distant planet to have a triple form.” You see, Galileo had glimpsed Saturn and its famous rings, but due to the poor magnification of his telescope, he’d mistaken the rings themselves for two moons orbiting the planet.

This was a tremendous discovery, adding to our knowledge of what was (at the time) the furthest reaches of our solar system.

But Kepler, while trying to untangle the anagram, came to a different solution. Believing that Galileo’s latest discovery involved Mars, not Saturn, Kepler’s solution read “Salue umbistineum geminatum Martia proles,” meaning Mars has two moons. (The ambiguity of Latin V’s and U’s didn’t help matters.)

So, while Kepler was wrong in his solution, he was unintentionally correct about Mars! (Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars, wouldn’t be confirmed until 1877.)

Amazingly enough, this wouldn’t be the only time Galileo relied on Kepler and anagrams to prove provenance when it came to his discoveries.

In 1611, Galileo sent another anagram to Kepler: Haec immatura a me iam frustra leguntur o.y.

Properly unscrambled, the message reads “Cynthiae figuras aemulatur mater amorum,” or “The mother of love imitates the shape of Cynthia.” This one requires a little more explanation. The mother of love was Venus, and Cynthia was the Moon, meaning that Venus, when observed from Earth, has phases just like the moon.

[Click here for a larger version of this image.]

This probably sounds less important than Galileo’s studies of Saturn, but it’s not. This was an earthshaking discovery, because it was observable evidence that Venus had to pass on both sides of the sun, meaning that Venus orbited the sun. This violated the geocentric model of the solar system so strongly espoused by the church!

It was evidence like this that led to Galileo’s battle with the Inquisition.

And, weirdly enough, there might be one more twist to this story.

Some historians believe that Kepler also solved this Galilean anagram incorrectly, and that his solution once again revealed an unintentional discovery about the solar system.

According to the as-yet-unverified story, Kepler’s solution read “Macula rufa in Jove est gyratur mathem…,” which translates as “There is a red spot in Jupiter, which rotates mathem[atically].” (Again, yes, there’s the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, but there was no way for Kepler to have known that at the time.)

It’s hard to believe that Kepler could twice unravel a Galileo anagram and twice make accidental predictions about the solar system. While the first story is widely accepted, the second is viewed with far more skepticism.

But either way, it just goes to show that anagrams, while delightful, might not be the best method for announcing your great discoveries.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!