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ThinkFun has a very interesting selection when it comes to logic games, which caters to all skill levels and personal tastes. One particular type of game that I find really interesting is their collection of four pattern games that I like to call the "By" series: Shape by Shape; Square by Square; Brick by Brick and Block by Block. These games have the ability of creating all kinds of 2D and 3D images, recognizable objects or shapes, using only a few pieces. The game featured in this review is the Shape by Shape, invented by Nobuyuki Yoshigahara, and is reminiscent of a well known classic puzzle, the Tangram.
The game actually reminds me of another great game (presentation-wise), the Lokulus, which is based on Archimedes' Stomachion puzzle. If you know or have played the Tangram puzzle before, then you'll feel right at home with Shape by Shape. The idea and principle behind the puzzle is basically the same: build recognizable shapes with the puzzle's pieces. The challenge here, however, seems a little more complex than the Tangram, mainly because instead of seven pieces there's a total of 14 pieces you need to assemble into any given shape.
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The game consists of six red and eight yellow pieces. The high contrast between the two colors will ensure that any shape you build is clearly visible in the tray. Made with strong and durable plastic, the pieces are thick and very easy to handle. You can turn and flip any piece the way you want, as long as it lies flat on the game tray. To solve any shape, all the pieces must be used and the resulting image has to be a perfect match of its counterpart in the challenge card.
With 60 different shapes to try and solve, there's a lot of building to do before you get tired of the game. Unlike other logic games, the cards are not separated by levels of difficulty. Without a clear indication of difficulty, any challenge can be considered easier or harder than the previous one. The challenge of the game lies in combining the two groups of pieces, yellow and red, in the tray. It's essentially a 2-in-1 game, because you have to build the shape with the red pieces, and then the yellow ones have to be placed as well to complete the picture.
You can build the shape first and work around it by placing the remaining yellow pieces, or you can do a mixture of both, placing red and yellow pieces alternately. I found it easier to just build the shape first, like a Tangram puzzle. Each challenge has more than one solution, so you can always try to find alternative arrangements for the pieces.
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Shape by Shape is a great puzzle for any Tangram aficionado. Like its older cousin, the possibilities are virtually endless, so you can also try to build your own shapes. I still prefer the Lokulus game, but this one comes very close.
Availability: You can get the Shape by Shape game at PuzzlesdeIngenio.com for €16.95. You can also find there other games by ThinkFun.