Spotlight on New Games: Graduated Puzzles

In 1996, the game Rush Hour first hit the U.S. market and was an instant splash. The simple mechanic of a car attempting to escape gridlock left room for endless iterations of puzzles that kept everyone from kids to adults hooked for hours on end. Soon, graduated puzzles – games for a single player in which simple rules translate into increasingly difficult challenges – were a flourishing industry, and every year more ingenious variations are released.

Eureka has just received the latest line-up from Blue Orange and Smart Games (two of the four big publishers of these games), and we’ll be highlighting three of our favorite new games from this slate of releases here on the blog.

For younger kids, Blue Orange has just come out with Pixy Cubes. The unique dice in Pixy Cubes have unique arrangements of shape and color on every side, and players combine these to create intricate designs. The simplest variant of the game has players match designs printed on cards. From there, the game includes several alternative ways of playing. Freeform design using the Pixy Cubes lets kids use their creativity, while two multiplayer games – a speed version and a memory game – expand Pixy Cubes beyond the one-played graduated puzzle format.

Pixy Cubes

For older kids, Cannibal Monsters by Smart Games presents a unique mathematical challenge. The adorable monster characters hop across the board to eat each other (the monsters stack as they swallow their compatriots), and the goal is to be left with only a single, giant monster. They come in three colors – blue, red and green – and because of the design of the monsters’ grooves, they have a rock-paper-scissors relationship: blue can eat green, green can eat red and red can eat blue. Players must therefore choose a careful order in which to unleash the monsters upon one another to insure that every one gets eaten.

Cannibal Monsters

And for kids – or adults! – looking for a real challenge, Troy is a sinister and addicting game of spacial reasoning. In Troy, your goal is to protect all the blue soldiers by completely enclosing them in walls, while ensuring that no red soldiers are allowed inside the gates. With only four wall wall pieces to work with, three of them very inconveniently shaped, Troy thoroughly tests your powers of deduction as the soldiers are endlessly reshuffled in maddening formations. From my experience playing our store copy, I can attest that whenever it seems that a piece must go here, it belongs somewhere else entirely. Troy is one of Smart Games’s most satisfying titles, and belongs in the home of every child who has worked their way through the likes of Rush H0ur, Tipover, Anti-Virus and Alcatraz.


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