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From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 1994, Peter Balch

Marble and Tristate are two excellent and unique brainteasers that play like a cross between three classic board games: Black Box, Mastermind, and Nonogram – all rolled into one. Your objective in Marble is to roll balls through a maze and observe their behavior to discover correct locations of the hidden widgets, which can be anything from simple mirrors to more complicated widgets such as one-way flippers, sliders, tunnels, and more. Similarly, your objective in Tristate is to flip various true/false switches to discover correct locations of logic gates that will make your circuit an exact replica of the hidden circuit.

Like all good brainteasers, Marble and Trisate are very easy to learn and play, but difficult to master. You place widgets or logic gates on the maze, then roll a ball or flip a switch to observe the outcome. You must use all the given widgets/logic gates on the maze, so there is only one correct solution for each puzzle. The games have no ‘campaign’ mode, i.e. the game is over once you solve (or lose) a maze. You are given a new random level every time you restart the game.

As in Mastermind, astute deduction is key to winning in Marble and Tristate. The fewer moves you take to solve the maze and the fewer mistakes you make, the higher your score. Random levels ensure virtually unlimited replayability, and the nature of the game makes it ideal as a coffee break puzzler. You can even play a custom maze by choosing the maze size, density of widgets/logic gates, and the types of widgets/logic gates you want present on the board. Both games are fun, addictive, and challenging on higher difficulty levels. Tristate even gives you real-world educational benefit: the NAND, NOR, XOR, and more esoteric gates abound to teach you all you ever want to know about mathematical (and machine) logic. As two of the best puzzlers I have ever come across, both games come highly recommended.

Note: Although touted as “shareware,” you only need to contact the designer Peter Balch to receive your free registration code via e-mail. Thanks, Peter!

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