Shape Shuffle – A new dimension to Tangram puzzles

Many folks are familiar with tangrams, the ancient Chinese shape/shadow puzzle. They’re good, challenging fun.  Shape Shuffle – A Shape Saga takes that puzzle fun to another dimension (or two?) by adding depth and color to the puzzles.

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One has a target pattern that needs to be created, like in tangrams. One is also given a set of pieces to build the pattern, like in tangrams. But instead of sliding the shapes around, one places them into the board, and if needed, rotate the shapes. Because pieces are being placed onto the board, the order that one places the pieces makes a difference, with pieces on top visually blocking some parts of the pieces below them.

It is a great way to exercise those perceptual mental muscles, as one needs to imagine the different interactions between shapes as they move up/down the board.  In this example, the target is the square in the lower left side, and I’ve been placing pieces in the large square at the top. On the right side, are the 3 pieces I’ve been using, and I can slide those up and down to vary where they are in the stack. If I move the selected yellow piece down the stack, then we’ll start to look more like the target pattern.

At the easy levels, there are fewer shapes and a little guessing can go a long way.  At the harder levels, there are more pieces to choose from, and in order to solve the puzzle in a reasonable amount of time, a little strategy will be needed.  There is a limit of 5 pieces used per puzzle, but as you can see, the number of possible pieces to pick from is not as limited as tangrams typically are. This adds additional difficulty in the harder levels.

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As it stands, the various difficulty levels allow this to be a fun game across many ages.  Children can solve the easy levels without too much trouble and adults can impress those kids by solving the harder ones.  Though it is also quite enjoyable as a cooperative two person game, where ideas are tossed back and forth between the parent and child.
These types of games are a favorite around our house, because they are tons of learning opportunities (discussions around problem solving approaches, sharing control over ideas and manipulating the board, communicating the actual plans/vision of the solution) hidden within the game.  They don’t even feel like lectures – a perfect combination of learning and play.

The app is a great type of freemium game. Free to download and play, and if one likes this style of game and wants more puzzles (104 free puzzles are included) one could purchase add-on puzzle packs.

Available for iPhone and iPad.

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