Switch Back

Posted on by Gabriel | 2 comments
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(Click to Enlarge)
Switch Back is a fascinating marble game manufactured by Binary Arts (known today as ThinkFun) in 1998. The game was invented by Ira Friedman, and you might know him from his other original and interesting puzzle, the Lockout. Two completely different designs, and yet both so engaging.

The Switch Back consists of 24 marbles, grouped in two different colors, orange and green, and you move them by shifting the eight slider bars left or right. You also need to tilt the game, simultaneously, in the desired direction, in order to make the marbles fall in the lower or upper level spaces. Getting the marbles where you need them is the difficult part, since it requires steady hands and a lot of dexterity.

(Click to Enlarge) - Example of 2 solved patterns

Included with the game is a booklet with 44 patterns for you to solve that vary in terms of difficulty. Four of them are already printed in the front of the frame. You also have space in the booklet to add four more patterns that you can come up by yourself. There's actually no limit as to how many patterns you can create. You're only limited by your creativity. My guess is you'll be already tired of it by the time you reach the final pattern.

Solving a specific pattern is no walk in the park. It took me between 10 to 15 minutes to solve a single one, so in the end it all comes to your level of patience. My advice is to solve two or three in a row, at most, and take a break for a while. You'll return with a fresh mind to tackle the rest in no time.

The hard part when solving a pattern is accidentally move some marbles when you only want to shift one or two of them around. Each slider takes four marbles at a time, so when you align it with an upper or lower slider, all four of them "want" to get out. That's when steady hands come in "handy". Patting on the back of the puzzle helps, but it's no perfect solution. Practice makes perfect, though, so keep at it and you'll get better eventually.

(Click to Enlarge)
Closing Comments:

I absolutely loved Switch Back. Maybe because I love all types of puzzles that allow you to make different patterns... It makes me really miss Binary Arts. It seems they had more variety back then. More originality. More creativity. More everything... If you don't already own this great game, I truly recommend it to any puzzle game enthusiast out there.

Availability: You can get the Switch Back marble game at Sloyd, in Finland, for €18.15. Worldwide shipping available.


Guillaume said...

Hi Gabriel,
I have had this puzzle in my hands for a short time. I might be mistaken, but it seemed to me that it was possible to solve the patterns with a clever combination of moves, without having to use dexterity. What do you think ?

Gabriel said...

Hi Guillaume, from what I could notice, there's no way to move less than 4 marbles. You always need some dexterity if you want to move one or two desired marbles. If there's actually a better way to do this, I'm yet to find it.

Puzzle Regards ;-)

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