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Fun, Challenging Ball Maze Games for All Ages & Skill Levels

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


original perplexus

The original Perplexus is a ball maze game by PlaSmart that was created by a 3-D design teacher, Michael McGinnis. Players move a small marble around various numbered tracks, pitfalls and obstacles, generally in 1 direction, all inside a sphere. The game requires focus, attention, hand/eye coordination and memory. Due to the popularity of the original Perplexus game, additional versions of the games have been developed for various age groups and skill levels. None of these games require batteries, all of them are portable. Additional Perplexus games include Perplexus Epic, Perplexus Rookie, and Perplexus Twist.

Perplexus Maze Game Types

Original Perplexus

This was the first Perplexus maze game developed for the toy market and is recommended for kids ages 6 and up. There are over 100 different barriers. This game has a difficulty level of 6.

Perplexus Twist

Built on the premise of the original Perplexus, this time, twist the top of the sphere to align the tracks and continue moving the marble through the 30 challenging events. There are traps, cliffhangers and dead-ends. This game brings a difficulty level of 7.

Perplexus Epic

Perplexus Epic is recommended for kids who have mastered the original Perplexus. It brings a difficulty level of 8 and is recommended for kids ages 8 and up. There are 125 barriers in Perplexus Epic. This particular game makes a great gift for adults that also enjoy conversation pieces in their ofice space.

Perplexus Rookie

Perplexus Rookie is designed for kids ages 4 and up, bringing a difficulty level of 3. Place the marble on the large start space before navigating through the 70 challenging barriers. In the beginning the sides of the tracks are higher, making it easier for younger children to demonstrate success.

My Review

I have been fortunate enough to play every Perplexus game myself, and with other children over the course of the past few years. Given that these games don't require batteries or any set-up, right out of the box kids can quickly engage in this unique game of attention, concentration, coordination and memory. It is a much different experience than traditional board games. What has been even more amazing to me is how after the kids try it for a few minutes, though they may demonstrate some frustration, they simply can not put it down. Even for kids that generally struggle with attention on easy, daily tasks, they display great focus for these challenging games. I have had several children tell me that this has been their favorite game we've ever played together, and they ask repeatedly for me to bring it back week after week, and they are not easy. In full disclosure, I've only had enough time myself to beat Perplexus Rookie and as an adult, even that took some time and practice.The other interesting comment I've heard along the way from children who aren't immediately successful is that they "want to know how to cheat." They repeatedly try to place the ball further down the track so they can finish the game. In a world of digital technology and video games with hidden surprises that allow kids to defeat or skip challenges without even trying, there is absolutely no way to cheat on any of these games. The success kids feel with Perplexus is definitely warranted and earned with time and the motivation to practice.

Information on Michael McGinnis, Inventor of Perplexus

Several years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Michael McGinnins in person at a toy event. They had shipped one of his life-size versions of the game that he created for a celebrity client across the United States for the event and it was absolutely breathtaking. Michael is humble, sincere, and passionate about his creations and his intelligence shows through in every single one of these toys. If you have a moment, check out the Perplexus website, you can read all about how long it took Michael to bring this current concept to market, complete with images of his sketches and commentary on the the entire process. To me seeing this type of information was completely fascinating and brings a whole new appreciation for how positive outcomes in life can be brought to those who are motivated to persevere through obstacles and challenges.

Michael McGinnis has been nominated for a TAGIE award for the 2012 Toy and Game Inventor Awards for Excellence in Toy Design, which is held in November 2012. Please show your support and vote for Michael here.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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