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Here's real proof that Hanayama can make really interesting puzzles besides the Cast Series. Their Meiji Chocolate Series has three types of chocolate: White, Black and Milk. My choice was the latter - you guessed it, it's my favorite. If I didn't know it's a puzzle I could've tried to take a bite, that's how real it looks.
The puzzle comes packaged just like your average chocolate bar: A box made of paper. Inside you'll find a clear box with 12 puzzle pieces. These pieces represent all possible pentominoes (5-unit pieces) and together they can form a 10x6 rectangle, but that's not all...Besides this rectangle, which is the exact size of the provided case, you can also try to build with the 12 pieces many other different shapes and figures. Are you up for the task?
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There's a slight issue with the puzzle's package - it's written almost entirely in Japanese - but even I, whose knowledge of Japanese is very close to zero, can decipher pretty much everything you need to know in order to fully enjoy this puzzle. The original shape (the 10x6 rectangle) has a whopping 2339 different ways to pack the pieces inside the frame. On the back of the box there's also a few other interesting shapes to build with the 12 pieces, and if that's not enough for you there's a small paper sheet inside the box with an extra 12 shapes to solve (again, all to be made using the 12 pieces).
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Difficulty-wise, the puzzle has a moderate difficulty. It's rated as a level 7/10, and I completely agree. The main challenge, to be solved using the clear case, is relatively easy, considering there's a lot of possible solutions. I was able to solve one of those 2339 solutions in under 5 minutes. Not all of them are as easy, though. I solved two other solutions, both between 5 and 10 minutes.
So far, I was unable to solve any of the other shapes. They are indeed much more challenging than the rectangle shape, mostly because you have to solve them without the help of a tray. This may not sound important, but having a frame with well-defined borders is a big help to visualize what you're supposed to achieve. Not having that visual aid is a really tough challenge, since you have to be constantly checking and counting the limits of your shape to see if you're doing it right. It's a great puzzle to improve your logic skills and hand-eye coordination.
I recommend having a real chocolate bar around for when you attempt to solve this puzzle, because it is really mouth-watering. If you overcome this small problem, then you will certainly enjoy every bit of Hanyama's Meiji Milk Chocolate without leaving a bitter taste in your mouth. Also, this is a perfect gift to pull a prank on someone with a sweet tooth.
Availability: You can find the delicious Meiji Milk Chocolate at PuzzleMaster - your favorite confectionery.