Rubik's 360, a Next-Gen Handheld Mind-Bender

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It's a brain teaser, requires precision dexterity, has better 3D visuals than Crysis, and here's the kicker — it's not a video game.

But it is a game, or at least the sort of diversion you'd call a "puzzler." You know, the kind of brain teaser you fiddle with your digits, i.e. fingers. Batteries not required, like in the old days, before rumbling gamepads.

Remember the Rubik's Cube? Gyrating three-by-three six-color hexahedron?

Sure you do. I grew up with it back in the 1980s, and chances are you did too, given that it's sold over 350 million worldwide since it debuted 35 years ago. Make that 15 million last year alone, up 3 million over 2007's sales according to Time.

So much for the demise of interactive entertainment "unplugged."

Now its inventor, Erno Rubik, is back with the official sequel — the Rubik's 360. (No relation to Microsoft.)

It still fits in the palm of your hand, still has six primary colors, and still requires subtle wrist movements to manipulate. But this time, there's only one solution, and it's less about a bunch of mathematical algorithms than elementary gravitational physics.

Instead of shifting rows of squares to fully align six surface colors, the Rubik's 360 requires you rotate six tiny colored balls around a transparent sphere, tipping them into matching receptacles. The trick? You have to coax them all into place without expelling the ones you've already secured.

Where can you get one? Think when. The device debuted a few weeks ago at a German toy fair, but it won't go on sale until this coming August.

Matt Peckham's only ever managed to get three of the original cube's sides color-squared. You can tease him at

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