Sunday 19 November 2023

Hanayama Master Sword

Hanayama Master Sword
The box is more beautiful than the puzzle!

I just realised that the photo above is not actually a terribly good pic! Depth of field issues - sorry about that. At the end of October I reviewed the Hanayama Triforce puzzle which I broadly enjoyed even if it was actually much easier to solve than the advertised level of 5 out of 6. The other two in the series have been sitting in my pile of to be played with toys but I seem to have had very limited time this last week and I only managed to start playing with this last night.

This is another in the Legend of Zelda series produced in collaboration (or maybe just with permission from) Nintendo. The Master sword is Link's weapon and here it is captive in a stone with the Hyrule crest insignia on it. Your aim is to free the sword from the stone. I think this might be better marketed in the UK as an Arthurian legend puzzle and called Excalibur.

The puzzle has a sort of pewter coloured metal for the base and collar and the sword is a chromed metal. The base has a weird sort of feel to it - I felt that I was going to get a discolouration or staining of my hands (this did not happen). It is 9.5 x 4.4 x 3.4 cm in size which makes it a little fiddly to grip the parts of the collar and has been ascribed a difficulty level by Hanayama of 6 out of 6 and by PuzzleMaster as 10 out of 10. I sort of agree with this assessment.

On the underneath of the puzzle you can partially see inside but the view does not help during the solve. There is a collar around the sword which is split into two halves. These collar pieces can move up or down and intermittently rotate in either direction depending on position of all the various pieces. This effectively makes the challenge a hidden maze type puzzle which is made more difficult by the fact that there are 4 pieces that can all move independently with certain restrictions which you cannot see. With my puzzle origins being with the Revomaze, I expected to enjoy this challenge and begin mapping fairly early. With such a limited size, I did not expect it to be anywhere near as tough as a Revomaze.

Fiddling early on, it is worrying to discover that the collar can rotate in either direction and also one of the pieces can be pulled up to allow more limited rotation with the piece in this position. I started taking some notes and very quickly realised that there were lots and lots and lots of possible moves after each decision that you make. It is really hard to make a decision tree for it to help keep track. This was rather disheartening and then at some point (not that far in), I must have either allowed a piece to move without me realising or forgot to note a move and I was lost in the maze. Aaaargh! 

I was unable to go back to the beginning by following my notes and I was now left blindly wandering around a maze in the hope that I could either randomly get out or find my way to a reset. I got quite close to a disassembly a few times with everything protruding from the base quite a long way but not enough to allow a release. After about 30 minutes of fiddling blindly I managed to release the pieces:

The sword has been released (spoiler free)
It is interesting to see how the pieces are able to interact and also interesting to look in the prism at the maze obstructions but this is singularly unhelpful in attempting a reassembly.

To put it back together, obviously, the exact reverse of the movements done is required. Except, I had absolutely no idea what I had done. So far I have failed to get this back to the start after an hour. I have got frustratingly close but each time been blocked and ended up inadvertently dismantling again (with a fair while being lost in the maze). I am sure that I will get there eventually but I have to say that I didn't really enjoy this puzzle. It was too random for me with very little thought.

Obviously, if you are a seasoned puzzler then you will be better at it than me and have no problem with it and probably find it quite enjoyable. If you are a collector then this along with the rest of the set is an essential purchase. Zelda fans should probably buy as well.

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