|(Click to Enlarge)|
Back 2 Back is yet another fantastic game by Raf Peeters, who's the main designer at SmartGames and responsible for designing about 90% of their catalog. Even after having reviewed about a dozen of his games, I'm still amazed by the quality and originality brought to us by game after game.
This logic game is a bit different from the usual ones where you lay the game board flat on the table. The presentation is similar to Connect 4 (or Four in a Line), where the game board is vertical and there's two sides to the game, both used in the same way - It's like looking at the other side of a mirror - There are 11 pieces, all distinct and with different colors, except for two, which are identical. 60 challenges are included with the game to keep you occupied for a while.
(Click to Enlarge) - Middle and Right: Challenge 40 (Front Side and Back Side)
The pieces of Back 2 Back are quite interesting. They consist of a mixture of two types of polyominos, trominos and tetrominos. Each piece looks rather normal on its main side, which only presents open circles. However, on its flip side a piece presents two protruding parts and one or two filled-up circles (depending on if it's a tromino or a tetromino).
When placing a piece on the game board, the protruding parts can't be placed on top of another piece, only on empty spaces. Subsequently, another piece can't be placed on a space that has a protruding part. It's a confusing concept to grasp at first, but by the time you finish the starter challenges you'll get the hang of it.
A challenge is only completed when all 30 holes in the grid are filled with the 11 pieces. Starting from the first challenges, most of the pieces will already be placed on the board when you start to solve them. Harder challenges mean less pieces to start with and more guessing and trial and error, but it will also improve your strategic planning skills. This is essentially a packing puzzle, but presented vertically with two sides. I didn't find the Back 2 Back neither harder nor easier than other games by Raf. Just a tad more fun, because of the idea of thinking about two puzzles at once.
(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 53 (Front Side and Back Side)
Back 2 Back has been a very enjoyable experience. It's nothing like other games I've played, which is always a welcome thing, and brings new ways of thinking on how to tackle different problems. Whether you're 7 or 99 years old, the level of fun will be the same, and the five different difficulties will ensure there's something for everybody to enjoy.
Availability: You can find the Back 2 Back game at PuzzlesdeIngenio.com, and many other games from SmartGames.