There are 9 different pieces – each a different configuration of cells, each a different color – and two single-cell white pieces that are immobile. The pieces slide, but the board is designed so that the pieces seem to want only to slide diagonally. The objective of each puzzle (there are 60 of them, of five different levels of difficulty) is to slide the virus – the red, two-celled piece – out of the puzzle frame through the corner exit.
Because of the different shapes of the pieces, they can all too easily be moved into positions of immobility where they block each other. Pieces can be moved together, and, at times, must be for the virus to be set free.
Anti-Virus is very well crafted. It is a sensual as well as intellectual experience. Your fingertips delight in the way they fit into the smooth, concave cells. Your eye delights in the different colors. The diagonal moving is unique, and uniquely fascinating in its oft-unanticipated implications.
The accompanying booklet of puzzles is spiral bound, and shows only one puzzle on each page. The solutions are small enough so that you won’t resort to them accidentally, but clear enough so you can follow them to the full extent your self-respect will allow. As in many exceptionally well-designed puzzles of this kind, each puzzle reveals yet another nuance of the properties of the pieces and movement. When the immobile white cells are finally introduced, you cannot help but be amazed at how profoundly they redefine the very design of the board. The puzzle booklet becomes an archetype for the design of a good curriculum, building on success, enticing the player to explore yet more complex and nuanced properties.
The puzzle fits handily into a cloth, zipper bag, which is good, because you will want to take it pretty much everywhere with you. And yes, if need be, it can be played quite commodiously in the bathroom.
Anti-Virus was designed by Oskar van Deventer, recommended for ages 7+, and is made available by Smart Games.[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/48435648#[/vimeo]