On my recent day of eighteen straight hours of multi-modal travel, the one thing standing between me and insanity was a German puzzle magazine by the name of “Mehr Als Sudoku.” I skipped the initial sudoku, the puzzle-world equivalent of square dancing: geometric and wholesome but mechanical and deeply lame. There followed, however, a variety of puzzle genres that kept me entertained for the many hours of my trip.
I was already familiar with Slitherlink and Hashi, both of which hit the sweet spot between too unconstrained and too automatic. There were also some puzzles I’d never seen before. I spent about an hour trying to figure out the rules to Hitori based on the German instructions and the solutions in the back.
The most entertaining genre, and one on which, I swear, I spent something like four hours, was called “Labyrinth.” The goal is to link a start square to an end square with a single path that goes through every square in the grid. Every edge in the grid is either a wall or is crossed by the path. You’re given clues about the location of the walls in paint-by-numbers stye: next to each line across and down is a sequence of numbers telling you how long the various consecutive wall segments in that row or column are, in order.
I found filling in this genre of puzzle to be particularly satisfying. There’s a lot of switching back and forth between reasoning about the path and reasoning about the walls. Every small deduction helps; there are sometimes surprisingly non-local consequences of incremental bits of progress. The four or five Labyrinths supplied with the magazine were just enough for me to start piecing together a small mental library of common patterns. I found it an extremely good puzzle for those times when my concentration was shot but I needed something to take my mind off the boredom of travel.
I would be very grateful to anyone who could help me track down (a) the official name for this puzzle in English or in Japanese, and (b) a source for more of them.