Hungarian Erno Rubik, inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, is set to unleash a new hell upon us all with the Rubik’s 360 in August (selling for about $18 US).
Launched at an international toy fair in Germany on February 5, the 360 consists of six colored balls within concentric three spheres. The object is to move the balls from the central sphere to matching colored repositories on the outside sphere through two holes in the middle sphere. The spheres are rotated using a pair of black knobs on the outer sphere.
Two-time British Rubik’s Cube champion Dan Harris describes the gestalt of the 360 versus its predecessor:
The main difference is the absence of mathematics. With the Cube the quickest solutions are based on formulas and you can remember the fastest way to reach the solution from various starting points. The 360 requires no maths, it is more about physics.
It took Harris several days to solve the 360 the first time, several hours the second, and is now able to solve it in a few minutes.
Rubik came up with the original Cube in 1974, but it wasn’t till 1980 that the rest of the planet was inflicted with the torture device. It has long since been known as the world’s most popular toy. Rubik’s Revolution (an electronic version of the Cube too obviously trying to capitalize on the Cube’s heady success) was a bust, but this new incarnation may have what it takes to make it big. It has elements in common with the Cube’s that gave it its great success, though I doubt that the 360 (I wonder what Microsoft thinks of the name?) will launch the kind of craze that made the Cube synonymous with 80s pop culture. But the 360 is conceptually different in obvious ways, setting it apart from its ancestor – perhaps even enough to keep it from being too severely compared with the Cube.
Time will tell.
Fear the sphere!