Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Unplugged Dilintia: Tilt

Tilt is a different kind of sliding block puzzle.  As the name implies, you actually tilt the gameboard around, and all of the pieces move together.  The objective is to sink one or two green target pieces into a hole in the center of the board without sinking any of the blue blocker pieces.

This is one of the more challenging sliding block games to come out of ThinkFun.  For one thing, it's a different sort of mental challenge to imagine all of the game pieces moving simultaneously, but primarily it's because some game states can't be undone.  In Rush Hour, for example, no matter how much you move the cars around, it's always possible to move them back to their original state; fiddle around with the puzzle long enough, and you're bound to find the answer sooner or later.  But in Tilt, it's very easy to get yourself stuck in an unwinnable state, often without knowing it and with no recourse but to reset the whole thing and start over from the beginning.  Most games of this sort don't pose a real problem to me until I start getting into the Advanced or even Expert problems, but Tilt left me baffled as early as the Intermediate stage.

The kit itself is pretty neat.  There's no wacky theming or anything; it's just discs sliding around.  The actual sliding mechanic is very satisfying, and it feels good when you drop a disc in the hole.  But a couple details make this game more mechanically awkward than most of ThinkFun's puzzles.  The game really needs a stable flat surface to sit on to make the sliding work properly, so playing in the car is right out.  The pieces are also kind of noisy as they slide about, so annoying people in your vicinity becomes an issue.  (Not that the clattering cars in Rush Hour are completely silent, but you get a little more volume control.)  And finally, the colors of the sliding pieces -- pastel green and blue -- are just a bit too close.  Depending on your lighting and your level of colorblindness, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish them.

This isn't exactly one of my favorite ThinkFun toys.  The danger of falling into an unwinnable trap makes it a little more stressful than most and requires a good bit of planning ahead.  Still, it's fun to play with, and there's something satisfying about solving an entire puzzle without ever touching the pieces.


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