Saturday, 26 March 2011

Revomaze – Blue Extreme

[Disclaimer – while I may be a moderator on the Revomaze forums, I’m not affiliated with the company in any way – I am a very big fan of their puzzles though!]

This is a brilliant puzzle – I can’t honestly remember where I first stumbled across these puzzles, but it must have been somewhere in the course of my surf-err-research on the inter-web…somewhere, someone had said they liked the puzzle, so I had a look at their website and it looked intriguing. Physically it’s a nice looking puzzle – the sleeve is machined aluminium anodized blue and the core is nickel-plated – these puzzles mean business, weighing the best part of three quarters of a kilo (look it up, it’s a measure of mass!) – don’t drop them on your toe…you’ve been warned.

The premise is simple – there’s amaze inscribed on the shaft inside the blue sleeve. There’s a sprung pin inside the sleeve that engages the maze. Navigate the pin through the maze to the end – when a dot in the shaft is exposed and lined up with a dot on the sleeve. Mazes are simple – left hand on the wall, follow to end – simple! Well, not really – there’s a clue in the fact that the pin is sprung. The maze has tracks at differing levels, so falling off a track into a trap sends you back to the start again – and that spring makes sure that if you don’t follow the correct path, you will fall into a trap, every time!

Now at this point I should probably admit that starting this puzzle properly took me a couple of weeks, and I only really got my head around the first problem after I’d lent it to a mate and he showed me something important…engaging the maze is simple: rotate shaft anti-clockwise until it goes tighter (the pin is climbing up a ramp in the start ring) and then push the shaft outwards – first move complete, you’re in the maze … from there there’s only one way to go, so you follow the path … only to find the first trap – CLICK as the pin drops into the trap trench – the shaft feels a bit looser, and from there the only way out is back to the start ring. I’d done that a hundred times before I took it into the office and let Andy (he of the mini Japanese puzzle box-fame) play around with it. He showed me that after the first few bends, you had to be really careful when you went around the next corner, slamming it from one corner to the next will simply drop you in a trap, but if your finesse it around that particular corner, you don’t fall into the trap … that was the breakthrough that I needed – get yourself out of the mind-set that blind mazes like this are simple two dimensional maps wrapped around a cylindrical core – you can’t just follow a wall and find the end (and boy is that true at one particular spot in the this puzzle!).

You need to map out (in your mind, or on paper if you’re like me) all that you can ‘see’ in there and work out a strategy for getting all the way through the maze to get the shaft out … trust me, once you see the two little dots lined up, release the pins and take the core out exposing the maze for the first time, you will love this puzzle. Seeing the maze cut into the core and understanding what it is you’ve been feeling through the pin all the way around is absolutely tremendous – it’s really beautiful to see the machining in there and appreciate how fine the tolerances really are for all that to work … once you open the puzzle there’s a hidden compartment inside the shaft that contains a unique certificate (so you can prove that you’ve opened it) and part of a maze printed on acetate – which will form one part of a 5-part map providing a series code – first person to crack the series code wins a cash prize (around £5000 at the moment). Blue is the first in the series … followed by Green, Bronze, Silver and (still to be released) Gold.

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