Posted on Nov 22, 2012 by Gabriel | 0 comments
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If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know that I've been reviewing some of the latest puzzles from Ivan Moscovich, produced by Fat Brain Toys. This week, I bring you not only one, but a collection of 10 logic puzzles and games all neatly packed into one convenient magnetic box to better enjoy your long journeys - The Craniatics.

The included brainteasers are a mix of solitaire logic puzzles and multiplayer games with difficulties ranging from fairly easy to demanding. You might already be familiar with some of the concepts presented here, even though they are given their own identity with a beautiful new colorful approach. If you're used to logic puzzles, then you won't find them extremely difficult to solve, although some of them will surely give your brain a workout. On the other hand, if you're not a puzzle buff you'll have several tough challenges to occupy your mind for a while. No need to worry, though, because there are solutions included in case you get stuck.

What's interesting about this collection of puzzles is that they're portable: the box includes a magnetic board and opens like a suitcase, eliminating the need for extra space to play. The collection is comprised by high-quality magnetic pieces, just like your regular fridge magnets, and their vibrant colorful palette is a feast for the eyes.

(Click to Enlarge) - Back of the Box
Setting up one of the 10 brainteasers is very simple: just pick any of the 5 double-sided puzzle mats and hold it in place with the four Craniatics pieces in its corners. Each puzzle mat specifies which pieces you need for that particular challenge, so it's very easy to pick them out among all the others lying in the box.

The feeling of solving the puzzles in a magnetic board is surprisingly satisfying. Placing and removing pieces  on the puzzle mat as you try to figure out a solution is my idea of fun, and it won't be long until you realize a couple of hours went by like that.

Since there are 10 different brainteasers to try, it's difficult to cover all of them in a single review without making it overly boring to read. Instead, I'm gonna give you a brief description on a few of them, to give you an idea of what to expect, and leave the rest of them for you to discover on your own.

Also, note that some of the brainteasers have multiple solutions, and even if they have a unique solution, the final arrangement of the pieces might look a bit different. I see it as a bonus, since it will expand the replay value on a few of those puzzles.

The Continuous Loop:
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You are given eight similar pieces with a gradient of colors and your task is to arrange them in such a way that they form a closed and continuous loop. The solution is unique and follows a simple logic. This one seems easy at first, but you won't get far just by randomly placing pieces. You need to look at them and find a connection between the colors. Very nice and original idea.

The Disappearing Square:
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This one's a well-known concept. See the "Missing Square" puzzle for more info on this fascinating puzzle. This version is a little more complex, in my opinion. It uses 17 pieces in 5 different groups. Your first task is to recreate the colorful pattern on the puzzle mat and then, by removing the central piece, you're asked to create a new pattern with the same exact dimensions.

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This one can be played as a solitaire challenge or as a game for 2 or more players. The solitaire rules are as follows: 1. Place any of the colored tiles on the mat's grid; 2. If the next tile you place is the same color as the previous one, you can't place it next to any of its adjacent squares (diagonals included); 3. Fill the entire grid so that all colored tiles follow these rules. There's only one possible solution, but the arrangement of the colors can be different. The game rules have all players take turns to place a tile as described above, until someone has no more possible moves.

Binary Bits:
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This one's another interesting version of a known concept by Niek Neuwahl, the Crossed Crosses. It can also be played as a solitaire puzzle or a game for 2 or more players. In the solitaire puzzle you're required to place all 16 tiles so that their touching edges match in color with the surrounding tiles. There are multiple solutions for this one. In the game version, the principle is the same as the previous brainteaser. The players take turns by placing tiles following the solitaire rules, until one player has no more valid moves.

Closing Comments:

The Craniatics will delight any puzzle enthusiast and give your trips a whole new meaning. It's practical, portable and the selection of puzzles is varied enough to have something for everyone's tastes.

Availability: You can find the Craniatics at Fat Brain Toys for $25 USD.


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