After dedicating a blog post to the youngsters among us, it seemed only fitting to balance things out with a post that’s more catered to adults. Check out the selections below for a spicy Top 10 Mechanical Puzzle Countdown. One important disclaimer before you read on: ranking puzzles is subjective because of how unique they all are! We never forget that a great puzzle is also a work of art. So, don’t despair if your favorite puzzle doesn’t make the list; we’ve gone for more of an equal opportunity ranking system this time around. Each puzzle is number one in our hearts, whether we feature it here or not. It may sound sappy, but it’s always true.
This first puzzle on the list is a round puzzle box, which right away is unique by its shape alone. Colorful wheels spin on the top and the goal, of course, is to get the box open. Simple goals, as usual, seem to point towards intricate, interesting solutions. What’s more, there’s a splash of color, too! From an aerial view, the metallic, colorful wheels and levers give a sense of a bomb-diffusing spy from an action movie, trying to decide which wire to cut. The E-Box makes the cut for our top 10 list because of the unique design, recent release date, relation to coding, and the complex mechanism inside. Made of laser cut wood and aluminum tubing, we give this one a difficulty rating of 4, perfect for a puzzle-solving adult looking for a challenge.
How could anyone turn their nose up at a puzzle named for sea-faring Scandinavians? The Viking puzzle box, always a fan favorite and best-seller, has a unique maze mechanism that is quite different from all other puzzle boxes in the sequential puzzle boxes collection. To open the box, you’ll need to find the perfect combination of the four wheels, metal balls, and sliding panels. It’s a truly beautiful and satisfying puzzle to work through. The sequential aspect is especially useful—even with no idea what the "trick" is, you can start working through it immediately. We recommend this puzzle for people who like to dive right in without having to brainstorm first on what the “aha!” moment might be. Same as #10, this puzzle ranks at level 4.
Okay, it may technically be six puzzles, but we had to include a gift set on this list for the sheer diversity that it offers. The perfect recommendation for people who can’t make up their minds, it sort of gives you a taste of everything, with a nice box to store it away in. The 6-Set is a perfect gift for all ages and skill levels, meaning it could definitely be shared with a family. Imagine a father, aunt, or grandmother having these puzzles laid out on a coffee table to entertain guests who might drop by. We’ve selected six of our most popular puzzles of varying difficulty levels and puzzle types for this unique gift set. If you get too frustrated with one puzzle, just pick up another! Difficulty rating: 4.
This puzzle is clearly for adults because of the boozy theme, and we keep it on our list of favorites largely because of the unique social aspect. Not only is the puzzle challenging, but it can be played as a party game, or given as a gag gift. The goal is to free the bottle of your choosing from the tangle of strings so that the lid comes off. We recommend this as a unique way to gift someone a bottle of wine, or a fun game to have out at parties while you and your friends try to free your liquor! Don’t forget to have some extra drinks on the side to fuel your brain while you work. This puzzle ranks at a nice, solid 3.
We had to include a Japanese puzzle box on the countdown of puzzling highlights; the intricate designs are world renowned! We’ve mentioned before, and it never hurts to say again, that the gorgeous designs are not painted on, but made up of different colored wood grains that are inlaid into the surface. These boxes are a great match for adults who enjoy the aesthetic of a puzzle just as much as the challenge itself, and a nice way to store other precious items inside. This 21-step box falls right in the middle of the scale at another level 3.
This one is a classic, and it should be on anyone’s top 10 list for fun games and puzzles to play. With two sets of each shape included, it can be played as a collaboration, a race, or a solo puzzle. You can even make up your own rules; there are literally millions of combinations and designs that are possible. Each of the challenge cards that are included have a different shape that players copy by using each soma block in just the right way. This puzzle is for all ages at a difficulty rating of 2 and up, but we love it as a puzzle for adults because of the relaxing nature. I would recommend this set for adults who love spatial, repetition-based brain puzzles like Sudoku or Tetris.
This one truly is the granddaddy of difficult puzzles, and probably one of the most difficult interlocking style puzzles available from Kubiya. The Grandfather Burr Puzzle was designed by W. L. Van der Poel, a Dutch computer scientist that used to design and create puzzles as his hobby. There are 18 pieces, all with notches, and the design makes it extremely difficult because of gaps in the interior of the puzzle body. The Grandfather Burr makes our list because of the challenge it presents, and the classic nature of the style and shape. We recommend it for expert puzzlers looking to dedicate themselves to a real challenge. The difficulty level is, you might have already guessed, a 5.
300 moves - no big deal, right? It’s a good thing that the locks we use in our everyday lives aren’t built like this, because the Void lock is certainly a challenge. There’s no key, the only tool you need is your brain. This sequential movement puzzle is Co-branded with Jean Claude Constantin and Kubiya Japan, and is a perfect fit for the type of puzzler who loves sequences, patterns, and algorithms. It’s also very small and compact which makes it easy to carry around while you’re working through the hundreds of moves! We rate this puzzle at a 4 on the Kubiya scale.
It looks simple, and has absolutely stumped many individuals who consider themselves expert puzzlers. The goal is to separate the two halves of the X, freeing the cubic ring of wood that is trapped around its center. We won’t give spoilers, of course, but this puzzle has one of the most satisfying “aha!” moments that lovers of puzzles can only dream about. We had to include the X-Factor on this list because of the unique design and mystifying end result that almost seems like magic. Do you think you can solve it? Please, please, resist the temptation to Google the answer to this one. It’s worth it, we promise! Difficult level: 5.
It’s very possible, we swear, but with a name like Mission Impossible you know that sweet victory at the end will not come easily. This packing puzzle takes it to another level with 25 identical Y-shaped pieces that you need to pack into a 5x5x5 cube using all the pieces. It’s probably one of the most difficult packing problems out there, and there is actually more than one solution. We recommend this puzzle for the most serious of puzzlers out there, with some time on their hands to try it out. Test your IQ, frustrate your friends, and exercise your brain with that difficulty rating of 5.
There you have it - 10 of our most extraordinary, beloved puzzles. Did we get it right? These unique designs are all worthy of time in the spotlight, and so are many more that haven’t been featured in the blog yet. For now, enjoy our recommendations, and we hope these quick pitches inspire you to try something new or out of your comfort zone!
Cheers, and happy puzzling!