Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hachette 3D Puzzle 122

Some of the drawbacks to playing with the Gakken 8-bit micro-controller are that there's a learning curve for the software, you have to be on a PC to write and transfer the code, and you have to be able to sit down and build new circuits to plug into the Japanino to control. None of which are surmountable when you have to commit to 16-hour days on the weekends for work. Meaning that, even after buying the kit, I was able to talk myself into buying another Hachette kit, this one #122 (1680 yen, $17.50 USD). As I wrote before, I prefer the 3D jigsaw style puzzles to the simple 2D brain teasers, so I have no real interest in kits #121 or #123. The website shows a total of 125 kits, but #124 wasn't due out for another couple of days (from when I wrote this), and #125 wouldn't be out until near the beginning of June. I did like the looks of 124 so I wanted to get it right after it came out. Anyway, the only remaining 3D puzzle that Shosen Book Tower had that I wanted was the 3-sided pyramid, so I got that on Saturday.

Of the 4 kits I have now, the pyramid was definitely the hardest to solve. It's only got 4 pieces, but they're so irregular and twisty that it's not immediately obvious how they fit together. Also, while most of the pieces were built using glue, one end part of one piece used double-sided tape and the tape was falling apart. When I fixed it using glue, I had so much trouble solving the puzzle that I thought I'd glued the end piece on wrong, or that the tape had been there for a reason. After a couple of hours of setting it down and then picking it back up again, I suddenly noticed that one piece was finally sitting in a way that made it look like the outer edge of a pyramid. That gave me my starting point and I eventually found the second piece that fit in with the first. It quickly became obvious that I was rebuilding the puzzle backwards, from the first piece off to the last piece off, so when I got to piece three, I had to take piece one off to get piece three to fit. That took another couple of minutes. Even then, I had trouble getting the last piece to align to fit the gaps in the semi-assembled pyramid and I had to take pieces 1 and 2 off to be able to put 4 into place. But, at the end it was finally solved and it was amazing just how simple it looked fully assembled. Even with the starting trick, it's still a challenge for me.

The mook has 2 pages describing the pyramid puzzle. The first featured game is a gambling card game called "Sotta" in Japanese. It's the Korean game of "Hwata", called "Go Stop" in English. The second featured game is 酒令, maybe pronounced "shurei" (I can not find a Japanese pronunciation of the game, or a link to the pieces for it. It seems to be a mix of throwing dice and playing dominoes pieces, originally from China.) The last 4 pages show the solution for kit #121. The two pages of logic puzzles have a mix of kanji brain teasers, a 5x5 sudoku puzzle where certain groups of numbers need to add up to specific totals, the standard 5x5x5 elimination puzzle (of the "Keiko bought the sweater, and Reiko bought something blue" type). Plus 2 simple math puzzles.

The memory test painting is William-Adolphe Bouguereau's "Homer and his Guide" (1874).

The mook's great if you're interested in learning about new games from around the world, but it would better if the articles included links to websites for where to buy the games from (rather than my having to hunt for them). As for the rest of the puzzles and brain teasers in the book, not so much. I only did 4 of the 10 or so puzzles, and only got 3 of them right. One of the three was so vaguely defined that I had to guess which of the infinitely correct possibilities was the one they were looking for. Final assessment - get the pyramid puzzle to play with, the mook to look at the pretty pictures, and ignore the brain teasers inside the mook.

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