I’ve long been bemused by the popularity of the Rubik’s Cube and its many variants. The mechanism is ingenious, but almost no one solves the puzzle without resorting to someone else’s algorithm. I’ve always thought that the 2x2x2 variant, which Erno Rubik patented in 1983, is a much more tractable puzzle that one can, with some work, figure out.
But the 3x3x3 cube has dominated popular culture, and its latest incarnation is smart cubes filled with sensors that let you use an app to steer your solving. So I was happy to see GoCube’s new smart 2x2x2 cube puzzle, dubbed the “GoCube 2×2”. I liked their 3x3x3 cube puzzle and was curious to try out the smaller version. It’s so wee!
If you’ve seen their 3x3x3, the experience with the 2x2x2 is the same, though this new puzzle uses a separate app. If you’ve not seen their original, the app that walks you through the solving process is an engaging one that not only gives you the steps to solve but adds a variety of drills such as playing Simon Says or trying to beat your time and get onto a leaderboard—all tasks to make you a stronger, faster cuber. It’s worth noting that each of the three people in my household was confused at some point while following the instructions, but once we got the hang of orienting the cube, it fell into place; tell your little cuber (or yourself) to take a breath and try again. Once she got past that frustration, my daughter spent a few nights scrambling and solving the cube along with the app.
Speedcubing was a focus for the larger GoCube, and the silky movement and tips on more efficient solving—“finger tricks” in speedcuber parlance—continue in the new cube. It’s a joy to spin the faces; even my other modern smart cube puzzles don’t feel quite so slick. (A not-insignificant aspect of speedcubing is simply how easy it is to turn the faces; many speedcubers don’t actually like the official Rubik’s Cube because of its clunky turning.) The drills in the app will get you accustomed to thinking about how to move blocks of cubies around, an essential skill if you want to solve as quickly as possible.
While speedcubing has always been a goal of the GoCube products, I feel like they don’t make it obvious how to go from “quickly solving the basic algorithm” to “using different sets of techniques for faster speed.” Admittedly, those advanced techniques are less in play for the 2x2x2 puzzle, but I still feel like a “want to go even faster?” prompt would inspire customers.
One quick note about the attractive cuboid packaging: the 2x2x2 GoCube ships with a USB-C cable but without a charger. I’m glad to see more companies reducing waste and cost by assuming the users have the chargers they need.
This product was sent to me for review.