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Mephisto. Sounds like a scary name...And it should be, since it's one of the chief demons in German literature. It's a fitting name, because this puzzle is quite a difficult task to achieve. Can you vanquish this mighty demon?
The Mephisto puzzle is made by Siebenstein-Spiele, one of the leading companies in Germany producing wooden puzzles. The company founder, Jürgen Reiche, is responsible for the creative department and has designed almost all puzzles launched by them. He's indeed a very prolific craftsman and his puzzles are the delight of many serious collectors and aficionados alike.
This puzzle is a really interesting and fascinating design. The perfect balance of materials, wood and acrylic, make it stand out among many other wooden puzzles and captivate your attention right away. 10 acrylic strips are lined up in two layers, five pieces each. One layer has vertical strips, the other horizontal, and each strip has four pairs of symbols. When perfectly combined, the puzzle displays four identical symbols for each of the 25 squares in a 5x5 grid. It's a very challenging and at times, frustrating task - definitely not for beginners.
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The puzzle has three different sets of symbols: stars, circles and squares. It would've been interesting to see more symbols, like five, for example: one for each individual square. Another, probably even more demanding challenge, would've been to have no identical squares with the same symbols on the same column or row.
Since the puzzle is quite difficult as it is, maybe Jürgen went for a less complex design without making it impossible for the puzzler to solve it. After mixing the pieces it becomes extremely difficult to combine the right strips, so to solve it properly you have to use a "special" technique, which is very common in packing puzzles called "trial and error". Yes, there's no easy way to do this, so lots of patience and perseverance are needed in order to succeed. It took me over an hour to solve it.
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In the end, the Mephisto is totally worth your time, after all it's a fantastic puzzle and I enjoyed playing with it very much. It's a different kind of packing puzzle and may be of interest to anyone who enjoys puzzles, albeit a frustrating one.
Availability: You can find the Mephisto puzzle at Brilliant Puzzles for $27.95. You can find here other Siebenstein puzzles as well.