by Amanda Nettgen
Board game manufacturer:
Out of the Box Publishing Inc.
Number of players:
1 (possible with 2)
ZenBenders is more of a brain toy or individual challenge than game. It’ll remind you of the mixed-up small picture puzzles commonly found in a child’s goody bag.
The game and gameplay
About the size of a coaster, Zen Benders contains just nine themed picture dice and thirty six challenge cards. The instructions are listed on the back of the container in three short steps (that’s how simple the game play is).
Step one is to pick your puzzle card. The deck is evenly divided into one-third easy challenges, one-third medium, and the final third hard.
Difficulties are color-coded and all cards have a numeric value at the bottom to help you stay organized. Cards are double-sided, with a unique challenge on each face.
Once you’ve selected your challenge, keep it handy and get crackin’! The object is to match the layout of the pieces on the challenge card exactly… by flipping and sliding the cubed tiles only.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, as the squares have different combinations of shapes and only certain configurations will satisfy the puzzle requirements.
The game encourages you to successfully complete all thirty six challenges in time to achieve ZenBenders Master status. You can time yourself to try to improve your score, or switch off and race against a friend.
Pros and cons
This device reminds me of my elementary days spent in the library with a friend arranging cardboard picture squares of the same nature. As with ZenBenders, our puzzles needed to come together in a certain way to be solved.
Zen Benders is a nifty little distraction tool to have on your desk. It’s good for kid and adult brains alike (although probably more so for kids). Additional puzzles are available on its website.
As far as cons, you have to be a self-motivator to engage in this “game”, as there’s no real pay-off. The suggested “flip and slide” mechanism is awkward and frustrating, so go ahead and pick the dice up and arrange them at will – it won’t be too easy.
Zen Benders comes in four fun varieties (the one I played was Dachshund). If you want an intriguing puzzle in your life, this collection of small-scale challenges is one option.