Rubik’s 360: a Puzzle That Will Spin Your Mind

Geek Culture

Rubik's 360. Photo: Hasbro, Inc.Rubik's 360. Photo: Hasbro, Inc.

Rubik's 360. Photo: Hasbro, Inc.

I was always a fan of the Rubik’s Cube: my dad played with one when I was younger. While we learned to make a checkerboard and a “six-spot” pattern with it when it was solved, it wasn’t until my dad brought home a heavily-Xeroxed, hand-drawn guide that I was finally able to solve it. That was in high school—since then I’ve forgotten everything about getting the bottom row done, so I can get about two-thirds of the cube looking all right, with the bottom third a jumble. I certainly wasn’t going to break any records with my rote memorization of one person’s solution method, but I did learn that a Rubik’s Cube is something that anyone could learn to solve, given the right instructions. Sure, dexterity helps, but it’s not strictly necessary. Professor Rubik’s latest puzzle, the Rubik’s 360, isn’t nearly so easy.

The puzzle consists of three concentric transparent spheres, with six colored marbles inside. The outer sphere has six domes, each color-coded to match one of the marbles. The goal, of course, is to get each marble into its matching dome. However, while it certainly does take dexterity, there’s also a method to the madness and frantic shaking will only get you so far. (Believe me, I tried.) The trickiest part is that the two inner spheres are weighted, with the openings at the top—you have to figure out either how to get the marbles up through the top or how to bring the hole down to the bottom.

I’ll admit: after fiddling with it for quite a while and getting only a single match, I finally went online searching for some video solutions. The first one I found was some middle-school kid who figured it out himself in about an hour. I guess I’m just getting old. But after getting a few tips, I managed to get five out of six of the marbles correctly placed before calling it a night.

It’s definitely a challenging puzzle, but whether you’ll prefer this to the Cube depends on whether you like learning patterns and solutions or muscle skills and dexterity. I enjoyed playing with it, but I doubt this will show up on an updated 100 Essential Skills for Geeks. At the same time, the fact that it’s not an algorithmic solution means that it’s not as easily mastered, and may be more of a challenge.

You can purchase the Rubik’s 360 on or at toy stores. It’s recommended for ages 8 and up, and retails for $15.

Wired: A new challenge from Professor Rubik, cool design that’s hard to crack.

Tired: Requires a good bit of dexterity, so slow-fingered folks may not get the hang of it. Also, you can’t make pixel art or interesting patterns with these.

Disclosure: I was provided with a Rubik’s 360 for review purposes.

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