Cast Mobius

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
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If there's one thing that I learned from almost 10 years of puzzling is to identify puzzles from the most notorious and prominent puzzle designers just by looking at them. That's what happened to one of the most recent Hanayama Cast Puzzles, the Mobius, designed by Oskar van Deventer from The Netherlands. If you don't know Oskar's creations, he is a master of mazes. Many of his puzzles involve you navigating something through a series of obstacles and paths, and the Cast Mobius is no different...well, a little different. The theme for the puzzle is "Belt" - The question is: Can you unbuckle it?

The design of the puzzle, as the name suggests, is inspired by the Möbius Strip, discovered by two mathematicians, August Ferdinand Möbius and Johann Benedict Listing. There's a ring locked inside the strip and many obstacles on its surface, which will make your job of releasing the ring that much harder. It is a level 4/6 puzzle, as rated by the manufacturer, so a moderate challenge awaits you.

The puzzle has the Hanayama distinctive feature of contrasting colors between the two pieces, with the strip being made of a material that looks like brass, and the ring made from plain old aluminum. Both pieces are well made and polished, a standard with all Hanayama puzzles.

It's hard to classify this puzzle solely as a 2D or a 3D maze. My take is that it's neither and both - Maybe the correct answer is 2.5D...

The ring has a diameter larger than the strip, so it can navigate in any direction, as long as it doesn't encounter any of the many obstacles lying around in the strip's surface. While attempting to solve the puzzle, you'll find obstacles on both sides of the strip, so you'll need to be constantly flipping the puzzle to see where you should go. Keep in mind that the exit point to release the ring is the same as the starting point.

To be honest, I didn't find this puzzle to be as challenging as the manufacturer makes it seem. The puzzle looks a little intimidating at first, but with a little trial and error you should be able to solve it in under 10 minutes or so. I think it's more a level 3 than a 4. Putting the ring back is not that challenging either. There are multiple ways to find a path to the exit, though. Some quicker than others, of course.

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Solution: You can download the solution for this puzzle here.

Closing Comments:

Even though I found the Cast Mobius a little easier than I would like, I still think it's a fun puzzle to play with, and a nice challenge, especially for anyone not that familiar with puzzles. It's one of the most impressive designs in the Hanayama series, and that's a great achievement by Oskar van Deventer.

Availability: PuzzleMaster is the way to go for everything Cast Puzzles, including the beautiful Cast Mobius. All the others in the series are also available here.


Cast Hashtag

Posted on by Gabriel | 2 comments
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In keeping with the times, Hanayama's recently released Cast Hashtag is an appropriate name for this simple, yet deceptively difficult puzzle. Designed by a collaboration of two known puzzle designers, Yoshiyuki Kotani and Kirill Grebnev, this is one not to underestimate, despite its difficulty level of 3/6.

This Cast puzzle is actually known in Japan as Shift, which you can actually see in the puzzle, as the word "Shift" is engraved on two of the pieces. To be honest, I prefer the name Shift, since I'm not a fan of all this whole Hashtag thing, but I understand why they rename it. The word carries much more familiarity here in the west, and since Hanayama is a business, it makes sense.

The puzzle is comprised of four apparently identical pieces, save for some extra holes in two of the pieces. They are interlocked, but can move back and forth quite effortlessly. You need to find a way to separate these pieces, but be careful when trying to put them back together. Combine them wrong and you can lock your puzzle in a way that would make almost impossible to take apart again.

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I took the puzzle apart quite fast after fiddling with it for a couple of minutes. That part is not that difficult. Putting it back together wasn't that long either, maybe five minutes. The hard part was after I put it back to its original state.

Not sure if there's a design flaw with this puzzle or if I'm looking at it wrong, but mine seems locked and I can't, for the life of me, take it apart again. As I mentioned above, all four pieces look identical, but if that were the case, it wouldn't matter how you put them back together, since they would interact all the same. As it is, I can safely say they are indeed sightly different, because even looking at the solution I can't solve it again. Since I was solving it on my own the first time I couldn't have known that there was a correct way to put it back together and a wrong way. I would advise you to take a look at the solution once you take it apart or the same might happen to you. In the meantime, I'll keep trying to solve mine again. Maybe I'm missing something.

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Solution: You can get a copy of the solution here.

Closing Comments:

This puzzle reminds me of the Cast Rattle, another four-piece puzzle with interlocking pieces, albeit a bit more difficult.

I have mixed feelings towards the Cast Hashtag (Shift). The puzzle does look nice and has an interesting design, but if it does indeed lock on you this easily, an until I'm proven wrong, I have to disregard it as a worthy addition to the Cast family.

Availability: You can find the Cast Hashtag at PuzzleMaster for the usual $15.99 CAD. All other Cast puzzles from Hanayama can also be purchased here.


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