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The Nintendo tumbler puzzle, also known as the Ten Billion Barrel in English and originally tenbirion (テンビリオン) in Japanese, is a mathematical puzzle in the style of Rubik's Cube. It was invented by Gunpei Yokoi of Nintendo in 1980 and was covered by U.S. Patent 4,376,537 until the patent expired in March 1995 due to non-payment of a maintenance fee.
The puzzle consists of a cylinder of transparent plastic divided into six levels, together with a black plastic frame. The frame consists of upper and lower discs that are joined together through the middle of the cylinder.
The top and bottom levels of the cylinder form a single piece, but between them are two rotatable pieces each two levels high. Each of the four central levels is divided into five chambers each containing a colored ball. The top and bottom levels have only three chambers, containing either three balls or three parts of the frame depending on the relative position of frame and cylinder.
The balls in three of the five resulting columns of chambers can be moved up or down one level by raising or lowering the frame relative to the transparent cylinder.
The object is to sort the balls, so that each of the five columns contains balls of a single color.
As a tribute to the late creator of the puzzle and former Metroid series producer, Gunpei Yokoi, the puzzle has a small cameo appearance in Metroid Prime for the GameCube. Samus Aran uses morph ball form and charges to interact with it.
The puzzle appears in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, as one of the prizes the player can receive from Redd during the fireworks displays throughout August.
In WarioWare Gold, it appears as one of the microgames, requiring the matching of 4 of its marbles.
- "Nintendo Ten Billion Toy in Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D (Secret Easter Egg)". N4G. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- http://www.jaapsch.net/puzzles/nintendo.htm (photos and solution)
- http://blog.beforemario.com/2011/09/nintendo-ten-billion-1980.html (photos)
- https://github.com/SteveJM/tumbler-puzzle (Python code to find a solution)