|(Click to Enlarge)|
Twistball, a new and innovative twisty puzzle comes all the way from Slovenia, by the mind of Josip Matijek. The concept had first seen the light of day way back in 1989 and, after some prototypes in later years, the final version was finally launched in 2011, produced by MOL d.o.o.
Seen as a spherical version of the classic Rainbow Cube, the Twistball, however, has some different things from its predecessor that makes it unique. The mechanism, for example, or lack thereof is quite impressive: The ball is completely hollow and there's no inner mechanism, the pieces move on sliding tracks built within themselves. This makes the puzzle extremely light and easy to handle, despite its 10cm diameter, and also virtually indestructible. See a video of the disassembly here and one of Tony Fisher proving its resistibility here.
(Click to Enlarge) - 5 Colours
Comprised of 20 pieces in total, 12 leaf-shaped and 8 concave triangles, you move the puzzle by rotating one triangle surrounded by three leafs, called a calotte. Since these calottes are overlapping, you can easily mix the puzzle with just a few turns. The goal is to return the puzzle to its original pattern, which depending on the Twistball level you have, can be rather difficult.
There are 6 difficulty levels and 13 different designs so far, grouped in three categories: Rainbow Collection, Extreme Collection and Sports Collection. The first category is the easiest to solve, while the last, the sports one, is the hardest. Each collection itself has different designs, which makes it easy to choose the right one for you.
(Click to Enlarge) - XL Diamond
I have chosen three different designs to review: the 5 Colours from the Rainbow Collection, the XL Diamond and XL Flower, both from the Extreme Collection. Each Twistball comes with a stand to better display it on a shelf or a desk without rolling over. This stand, however, is made of paper which is a shame. I would've very much preferred a small plastic stand instead, which is also much more resistant.
I also noticed a difference between the Rainbow Collection Twistball and the Extreme Collection ones: the first has colored plastic pieces, but the others, which happen to have more complex patterns, appear to be painted. This makes for a few imperfections in the patterns, as some pieces have paint that bled out from the intended design borders, and the colors are not perfectly aligned with each other (more easily seen in the Diamond Twistball). This is not enough to ruin the overall pattern, but still a couple of notches below the quality of the Rainbow Collection Twistballs.
I started with the 5 Colours first, since it was the easiest from the three and to be more familiarized with the solving process. I immediately noticed a distinct click sound as you moved each calotte into place, indicating you have correctly rotated them. I found the movement quite smooth, although don't expect it to be speed-solvable, as the edges need to be perfectly aligned for you to be able to move them. Since I'm far from being a speed solver I don't mind it at all.
(Click to Enlarge) - XL Flower
I was able to solve the 5 Colours Twistball in a relative short time, about 5 minutes the first time. The fact that you don't need to worry about orientation with the triangles makes it rather easy for a beginner. When it comes to the Extreme Collection, however, the level of difficulty spikes up drastically. Now, in addition to the 12 unique leaf-shaped pieces that need to be correctly orientated (two distinct colors each), the triangles also need to be placed in their correct orientation, each with three different colors. It took me a while to solve the Diamond, and I believe I got lucky, because I didn't have to change the orientation of the last triangle. The Flower, even though I reckon it's the same difficulty of the Diamond, is taking me a little while longer to solve though. No luck this time...
For now, I chose not to get a Twistball from the Sports Collection, because I'm yet to master the Extreme Collection ones. Nevertheless, the designs look quite interesting and from a collector's point of view, I want them all.
Video: I made a small video showing the movement of the three Twistballs featured in this review. I tried to make a solve video, but found it to be rather difficult, being concentrated on solving it and trying not to go off frame at the same time with the camera. If you need help with a solve video I'm sure there are plenty of those around already.
I really enjoyed playing with the Twistballs and had a great time solving (two out of three) them. I liked the wide variety of choice available, and with the special editions I've been seeing, I believe the possibilities for more designs are endless. There is an option to design logos for companies, but a custom option for regular customers could make it even more popular. Highly recommended for any twisty puzzle aficionado.
Availability: You can buy any of the current available 13 different designs directly at the Twistball website. Each one costs about €14.