Rubik’s Cube variations
In this section I will present some 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube variations which all have the classic 3x3x3 Cube mechanism in the inside but from outside they seem to be something else. Look at the picture on the right. These puzzles have all the same internal core mechanism, though they have different solutions.
To solve these you have to learn a new algorithm which rotates a centre piece. On a classic cube you don’t have to worry about the rotation of a centre piece because it’s monochrome, but in these cases the centre piece can be textured.
Rotate the upper centre by 180o: (R U R’ U) x 5 or (U R L U2 R’ L’) x 2
Rotate the R centre 90o clockwise: (R2 U R U R’ U’ R’ U’ R’ U R’) x 3
The Mirror Cube (or mirror blocks) is probably the most popular variation out there. Reflective gold or silver stickers cover all the six faces of the shapeshifting cube. While on the classic Rubik’s Cube six colours marked which piece belongs to which face, in this case you can tell by heights. A face is solved when it’s flat and all pieces are on the same height. In solved position the distance between the core of the cube and the particular faces varies. Once you have found where a piece belongs you have to solve it the same way as the Rubik’s Cube. There are 4x4x4 and 2x2x2 Mirror Cubes.
Earth Cube (Picture Cubes)
Applying custom stickers on the cube can make it a new challenge. These cubes are known as picture cubes This Earth Cube for example is not just a Rubik’s Cube but some kind of jigsaw puzzle too, where you can put the pieces next to each other only if you have some serious geographic knowledge. Usually you have to orient the centre pieces if the stickers have patterns using the algorithm presented above.
YJ Heart Puzzle
A heart shaped Rubik’s Cube can be a nice Valentines gift to a puzzle maniac. On the picture is a YJ Heart Puzzle, which has a very good quality, it moves smooth and is cheap (5$). It doesn’t have any stickers on it. The only annoying thing about it is because of the symmetric heart shape namely the opposite pieces are so similar in height and shape that you don’t even know if you put a piece in the right spot or not. You need a microscope to distinguish two similar pieces. This little detail can make the whole puzzle hardly to enjoy.
The Fisher Cube was made in the mid eighties by Tony Fisher actually it was his firs custom puzzle. Maybe this is the first Rubik’s shape mod ever, so we’re talking about a real classic. It has a perfect cube shape but basically it’s a Rubik’s Cube twisted 45o around a central axis, making 4 edge pieces become centre pieces, 4 centre pieces become corner pieces and so on. If you can solve the classic 3x3x3 you can’t have problems with this one, just pay attention to the parity.
The pillowed Mastermorphix is an other classic 3x3x3 mod. There is a 4-colored and a 1-colored versions too. This puzzle has 4 triangle shaped centre pieces (originally corners on the Rubik’s Cube) which don’t have to be oriented like all the other pieces. If you reach the last layer and one corner piece remains unsolved then go back to a triangle centre piece and rotate that so you can finish the solution of the Mastermorphix. Probably you will have to use the algorithm presented at the beginning of the page to rotate the last centre piece.
3x3x3 QJ Dodecahedron
This 14-sided puzzle has 2 pentagon and 12 trapezoidal faces. It is produced by QJ and it changes shape with every move. It’s similar to a 3x3x3 because you don’t need to orient the centres. There are two triangle shaped corners which don’t need to be oriented either. The interesting thing about it is that there are some four-colored edge pieces. This puzzle is certainly a nice collection piece.
The Axis Cube or also known as Axel Cube is a very intimidating looking 3x3x3 mod when it is scrambled (as you can see on the first picture of this page). In solved position it is a cube, but it changes shape with every move. In this case you have to orient every single piece. There are no exceptions.