The Xmatrix are a new type of Dexterity 3D maze puzzles, invented by the designer Jeremy Goode and are available for purchase since November 2010. The Xmatrix Quadrus was entered at the 2010 30th IPP and the Xmatrix Qubus was later entered at the 2011 31st IPP Design Competitions.
Right out of the box, I was very impressed by the Xmatrix design. The golden and silver frames look extremely elegant and the mazes on both puzzles seem a little complex, especially the larger version. The packaging used is different for each version: on the Quadrus you’re presented with a nice card drawer box that can be used for display purposes and on the Cubus, you have a gold plated clear plastic box, however it can brittle very easily due to the nature of the material and doesn’t have much use after you open it. Other than that and besides looking very pleasing to the eye, both puzzles are of great quality and should withstand the more careless handling of the younger puzzlers.
There are two different size versions, the Quadrus (large) and and the Cubus (small), with both having two color choices for the mazes (yellow and blue). If you can afford the two designs, I recommend the Quadrus in yellow and the Cubus in blue – For being larger, the Quadrus will look much nicer with a complete golden appearance and the Cubus, because it’s smaller, will accentuate the contrast between the blue labyrinth walls and the golden and silver frames.
Your task is to guide the ball from one side to the opposite one and return it to the starting point. You’ll usually start at the golden frame and only one of the four openings is large enough to let the ball pass through – This is also true for the silver frame, where you have just one way in, which proves that there’s only one correct path. The Quadrus is supposed to be slightly harder than the Cubus, but to put it mildly, slightly is an understatement… It’s frustratingly tougher and you’re gonna have much more trouble to complete it, not just because it’s bigger, but also for having a lot of dead-ends. I found myself walking around in circles on several occasions, without finding the right path to the middle of the opposite frame. The Cubus, on the other hand, is a joy to play. The overall size of the maze is much smaller, which ultimately will facilitate the memorization of the labyrinth for faster solving times. If you get easily frustrated by a hard puzzle, then I recommend starting off with the Cubus to get used to the nature of the puzzle. However, if you like a real challenge, then you won’t be disappointed by the Quadrus.
Both puzzles are classified, in terms of completion time, as “Genius!”, “Bravo” and “Well done”, with 4, 10 and 20 minutes respectively for the Cubus and 5, 15 and 30 minutes for the Quadrus. …Well, I’m not a “Genius” with the smaller puzzle, as my first completion time was around 10 minutes for both journeys and I didn’t count the time for the larger one, but it was way more than the 30 minutes… The trick is, if you’re stuck on the big maze without any real progress, just put it down for an hour or so, and you’re gonna return with a fresher mind for another session.
As I said in previous reviews, presentation is everything when you launch a new product in the market. The Xmatrix puzzles do this in great style, as the overall visual appearance is very attractive in both puzzles, capturing your attention right away. The designer didn’t leave anything to chance and you can witness this even in the logo, where an Ambigram is cleverly used to read Xmatrix from both sides.
After almost two and a half years of collecting (4 years now), I have acquired a lot of different Dexterity puzzles, but none of them can be compared and don’t come close to the Xmatrix puzzles. Not only do they look good, but the level of complexity put into them is astonishing. As I first looked into them, they seemed pretty hard and after I played with them for several hours, I can say that each of them provide a very satisfying level of challenge for everyone. Like everything, practice makes perfect and if you play with the Xmatrix long enough, perhaps you’ll be able to aim for that “Genius” score.
Youtube Video – Demonstration of both puzzles