Thursday, October 19, 2006

Doctor’s Fast Food Puzzle and My Fun with Kanoodle

From Last Time

Roman Puzzle Clue: Eight-letter word, three Roman numerals, 4,950,000
Answer: SLAMWICH (L x M x IC = 50 x 1000 x 99 = 4,950,000)
Alternate Answer provided by Jonathan Franklin: OLYMPICS (very bizarre that the Roman Numerals were not only the same but in the exact same spot!)

Doctor’s Fast Food Puzzle

I was driving down the street when I noticed that a fast food place had a peculiar quality to its name. When I read the syllables backward (just reversing the order of them), I got something that a certain kind of specialist doctor probably had to take in med school. The fast food business’s name is seven letters long with two syllables, and the answer is phonetic. What is it and what do some specialty doctors have to take in med school?

My Fun with a Little Brainteaser

Let me start off by saying that I’m a fan of Blokus. We never play this game at game night, and I’ve only logged a few games overall (less than ten), but I think it’s a cool, light game with some interesting things going on. When I read that it was from Educational Insights, this blew my mind.

Educational Insights games have typically disappointed me. Like Ravensberger games, I’m usually left wondering why anyone would play these games. I looked at their website, and it seemed they had a wide assortment of games and puzzles to please a impressive range of ages. But for my tastes, their games weren’t all that.

Blokus was an exception to the rule, basically allowing the tiny thought that perhaps not all their products sucked eggs. This left the door open just a crack to stumble upon the best little brainteaser I’ve come across in a long time: Kanoodle.

Kanoodle is a tiny briefcase filled with different-sized pieces. Each colorful plastic piece is a series of spheres stuck together, resembling Blokus pieces. You have the four-in-a-row, the stepladder, the plus-sign, etc.

A little booklet is included which provides several linear puzzles. Basically, you dump all the pieces out (twelve in all), and you put some back in the mini-briefcase as per your visual instructions to a particular puzzle. The puzzle is then to figure out how to put in the remaining pieces. Kids seem to really enjoy this section because they are able to follow the picture (like putting Legos together) and then get a puzzle out of it.

The reason I like Kanoodle is the extra step the designers took, probably what they were trying to accomplish all along. After you’ve exhausted the possibilities with the linear puzzles, there is a short section for three-dimensional puzzles, specifically five-level pyramids. That’s right, folks. You can make pyramids with these strange pieces.

I opened Kanoodle and went straight for the pyramids. There are seven puzzles in the very back (for the avid brainteaser hunter, these seven are all that matter in the whole booklet). I solved the first few pretty quickly, as they provide a lot of information about the placement of pieces. Each puzzle takes more and more info away, though. Puzzles Two, Three, Four, and Five each took substantially longer than One and subsequently all had exciting A-HA moments.

Puzzle Six took me over a week. I had taken Kanoodle to the bathroom with me and solved it while on the jon. It was much better than reading. I whooped and yelled, but my excitement didn’t make any sense to anyone else.

Puzzle Seven is still kicking my butt.

At World Games, we got in six Kanoodles and sold them in under two weeks. This is pretty unusual for a new product. It might partly be because I enjoy it so much and play with it on the counter. I’ve ordered more for Christmas, but I’m sure we’ll sell out again before then.

I love this little brainteaser, and while it’s not a game, it is certainly a challenge that puzzle-solvers will enjoy. Keep in mind that I’ve recently played Goa, Balloon Cup, Power Grid, Ghost Chase, cribbage, and who knows what else, but I keep going back to Kanoodle. I think that says it all right there.


Jason said...

Educational Insights is also published Rumis. It sees a lot of play with my younger relatives. (Although I've played it my Dad and Father-in-law too.) I'll have to take a closer look at Kanoodle.

Dan said...