|(Click to Enlarge)|
Pentac Zigzag is Constantin's twist on a classic packing puzzle, using all 12 known pentominoes plus the square piece. An otherwise rather easy to solve puzzle is herein turned into a fiendish challenge by redesigning each piece with a unique saw pattern. Forget what you know about pentominoes, for the Pentac Zigzag will need a completely different approach to be solved.
The presentation of the puzzle, like any other by Constantin, is superbly well made. The pieces are laser-cut in seven different wood colors giving the overall appearance this mesmerizing visual effect. With a diameter of 13.6cm (5.4"), the puzzle makes for an incredible decorative item as well. Given the nature of the laser-cut wood, the puzzle also feels very light. It's not the best of qualities for a wooden puzzle, but gets the job done.
|(Click to Enlarge)|
Like I said above, the pieces are cut with a unique saw pattern. Even knowing this is done with machines the level of detail is incredible and the thought that went into its design is mind-blowing. The pattern is so unique along the edges of each piece that when you take a closer look, especially when you're repacking the pieces, you'll notice that not all pieces fit like they should, or like you'd expect. When taking into account a flat-edged puzzle you just assume that all pieces will fit along the edges of each other without even thinking about it. With the Pentac Zigzag you must forget all your assumptions, because not all two-piece combinations won't fit together. In most cases, they simply won't. Below is an example of how a simple piece rotation can make the two pieces impossible to fit together.
(Click to Enlarge)
As a puzzle with an 8/10 difficulty level, I was expecting some trouble but not that much. Seems I underestimated it, because this was one tough nut to crack. Why is it so difficult, you ask? Mainly because even if you see that a piece can be placed in a particular orientation it might turn out to be impossible to place it there, due to the irregular grooves on its edges. This turns an otherwise ordinary and logic solving process into a trial and error task. It can get quite frustrating. Again, due to irregular nature of the pieces, I can't say for sure it this has multiple solutions or if it was designed to have one single solution. The fact that I came to the same solution as the one in PuzzleMaster's photo it might be an indication of the puzzle's uniqueness.
Pentac Zigzag is a great-looking puzzle and it will be a great addition to any collection. However, for a puzzle, it has too much randomness to my taste. You can't use much logic with it, so you're faced with the old trial and error approach. It's not extremely difficult, just too darn frustrating.
Availability: Pentac Zigzag is available at PuzzleMaster for $24 CAD. You can also browse other amazing puzzle by Jean Claude Constantin.