The Michael Jackson of puzzle cubes is back, back, BACK!
As one 1980s icon drifts off into the ether, another one returns to haunt us all over again with what could be the recessionary Christmas counterpart to the video game console. The one and only Professor Ernö Rubik, has another frustrating puzzle for us - the Rubik 360, which goes on sale next week and will cost £15 (says iGizmo) or £18 (myrubik360.com).
Like its enormously popular predecessor, the 360 looks simple, and indeed the object is simple: move each of six small balls that start out inside three interlocking spheres into a colour-coded divot in the outermost sphere. While the Rubik's Cube relied on mathematics, the 360 adds in physics. You have to keep each ball inside the divot it belongs in while getting the remaining balls into their correct place. This means two things.
1. A strictly mathematical algorithm for solving the 360 isn't sufficient, and
2. You can't cheat by peeling off stickers and replacing them.
In a review for the Telegraph, the two-time British Rubik's Cube champion Dan Harris gave the 360 high marks. He says that having a single configuration at the start (all balls in the innermost sphere) and end (all balls in their correct divot in the outermost sphere), doesn't present the mental challenge the cube did. However, manual dexterity plays a bigger role. Harris says solving the 360 took two days the first time, then a couple of hours and "now I could do it in a few minutes." This is the man whose personal best Rubik's Cube time is 10 seconds.
It's not exactly Rubik's first attempt at a comeback and in these technologically-advanced times, can we even be arse with puzzles like this anymore? How quickly can you figure out the answer?