|(Click to Enlarge)|
Backspin, a superb Binary Arts puzzle invented by Ferdinand Lammertink over 20 years ago (1992). As many of you know, Binary Arts is now called ThinkFun and puzzles like this have become rarer, either because of lack of creativity or merely they don't want to invest in this type of puzzles. I'm more inclined to go for the latter...
The puzzle is visually very attractive, made with bright colors and a simple mechanism that is easy to understand and, most importantly, easy to solve. The size is also rather big which is nice, measuring about 15.5cm (6.1"). The movement is smooth and unrestricted, making the experience fun and enjoyable.
This concept isn't exactly unique, as you might have seen in other two-layer UFO-type puzzles, but it was enough to inspire other designs and imitations. It consists of 35 colored balls spread across 12 areas. Each area has its correspondent color, although three of them are identical in both front and back - There's only 9 different colors. Since there's room for 36 balls but only 35 are available this creates a hole and thus, making it possible to mix the puzzle with different colored balls per area.
|(Click to Enlarge) - Mixed|
The goal is to scramble the puzzle as much as you can - Try to put three different colors per area - and then place all balls into the same colored area. You mix the puzzle by rotating the two discs back and forth and using the free space to exchange the balls' positions.
I found that mixing the puzzle is as fun as solving it. At first, my goal was to do what I mentioned above, to have three different colored balls per area. That was accomplished quite easily, so I immediately attempted to solve it. Even it took more time to sort through all the balls, the difficulty was pretty much the same. The puzzle has two types of areas, straight and curved, but you can freely exchange balls between them without any restrictions. This was exactly why I liked it so much. It's neither an intimidating puzzle, nor a frustrating one. It's just plain fun to play with.
(Click to Enlarge) - Front and Back
Backspin represents very well what Binary Arts really was. A company that took risks in new ideas and enriched the puzzle community. Yes, you can see many new puzzles and games today by ThinkFun, but the new name wasn't the only change. Something else was lost as well...
Availability: The Backspin puzzle is harder to come by these days. You can still get a copy at Sloyd for about €20.