I sit next to Bryan Vore, and there's a reason he's heard the sound of metal balls rolling across plastic for most of his work days this year. A little before Christmas, I saw this crazy ball maze game at a mall, and immediately sent my mom a picture of it as an idea for a Christmas present. The holidays rolled around, and I opened up the Perplexus Epic. I knew that I'd get consumed with the game, but didn't know if other members of the GI staff would share my enthusiasm. A couple months and two more Perplexus purchases later, and we're still only halfway through the Epic.

Playing it yourself is the best way to understand what the Perplexus games are, but I'll try to explain the best I can. Each of the three models (the Rookie, the Original, and the Epic) is a clear plastic ball with some crazy Rube Goldberg-esque crap going on inside of it. They all have a starting position, and you begin the game by rolling a small metal ball into it. By following a series of numbered paths, you'll navigate through perilous see-saws, funnels, ramps, the "Escher Stairs", and much more as you attempt to reach the end without falling. Depending on the model you have, that means you'll have to reach stage 75, 100, or 125. A few of us have become consumed with this task (namely myself, Jeff Marchiafava, Ben Reeves, and Matthew Kato), but almost everyone has stopped by my desk to give it a quick try. Because of this, I started keeping tally of everyone's top scores.

Jeff Marchiafava, Ben Reeves, and myself have completed the Rookie, and you can see the scores for the other two above. Marchiafava stands as the only staff member to complete the Original, although I'm getting close. I'm constantly hearing the ball roll around the Epic behind me, as it's quickly becoming Jeff's Moby Dick. He's probably attempted it 100 times by now, and he still isn't halfway done (still farther than any of us, though).

It's amazing how quickly you learn the numbers and difficulty level of each step. I've heard it so much that I can recognize some of them by sound alone ("Ooh, that sounds like 18, the Bumpy Bridge"). As gamers, maybe there's some part of our brain that can't shake this challenge until we defeat it.

It doesn't look like we'll be beating the daunting Epic any time soon, but I think there's only one thing that can satisfy Jeff's Perplexus-lust once that day finally arrives...