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Puzzles Are Where The Journey Begins...

A box is opened. Pieces fly away. And seven mythical Tricksters escape to wreak havoc on the world. Welcome to Microsoft Pandora's Box, a puzzle-solving game that will take you literally to the ends of the earth. This visually stunning journey includes 350 of the most beautiful puzzles ever created. It's up to you to solve them, capture the Tricksters, and save the world from chaos.

Pandora's Box features ten dazzling and unique puzzle types designed by famed Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov. The puzzles take advantage of computer technology and stimulate your visual senses. You'll find difficulty levels to challenge every member of your family. Most puzzles may be solved in 15 minutes or less.

Immerse yourself - and your family - in the myth and magic of Pandora's Box. There's a stimulating world of fun inside, just waiting to be released.
  • Delight in solving truly original 3-D puzzles, specially designed for the computer. Gameplay options allow you to follow the game's story line, jump directly to your favourite puzzle, enjoy single and competitive play, and more.
  • Travel around the world as you solve puzzles, capture the Tricksters, and restore order to Pandora's Box. Helpful hints and Wild Cards guide you along the way.
  • Manipulate pieces from back to front and top to bottom as you explore the singular fun of 3D puzzle play. Puzzles are designed to be solved in 15 minutes or less.
  • It starts with a puzzle... and ends with a picture. Swap puzzle pieces to complete another magnificent landmark on your unforgettable world journey.
~ from the back of the box
If you were forced to choose your favourite puzzle game, chances are Alexey Pajitnov had a hand in it. He's the guy that came up with the most addictive game ever - Tetris. Unfortunately for him, he wouldn't see any royalties from the legendary classic as Soviet Russia would claim all ownership over it. Perhaps due to this, Pajitnov would move to the United States in the early 90s eager to create a successor. This decade saw him lend his brain to eleven new puzzle games eventually teaming up with Microsoft to create Pandora's Box in 1999. It's a digital jigsaw puzzle, but the most inventive and addictive one you're ever likely to play.

There's a story to go alongside the picture puzzles. A curious young woman has opened the titular box of legend, unleashing seven trickster gods unto the world. They've used their divine powers to alter the world around them and it's up to you to travel the globe, put it all back together again and recapture each troublemaker of lore. Each god has you visit five real-world locations in which you are to solve ten increasingly complex jigsaws. One of them will contain a special items associated with that god (or the god himself in the fifth location), while consumable hints and cheats might await beneath others. This handsome and well-presented campaign makes an otherwise simple premise into a memorable and absorbing one. But like Tetris, that simple premise is deceptively compelling.

The geometric background in Overlap helps you figure out where to place some pieces (left).
Use the bigger shapes to figure out where the smaller ones should go in Image Hole (right).

The jumbled jpegs that make up the centrepiece of each puzzle are the types of images usually found cluttering up the wooden puzzle section of your local charity shop. Landscapes, still life, nature photography and more are included in the portfolio, but they're not arbitrarily chosen. Go to New York and you might find a photographic time capsule of Times Square advertising the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Rent and Cats. Go to Zambia's capitol of Lusaka marvel at the giraffes munching on tree leaves at sunset or a collage of colours that make up tribal art. Each one is fully credited when you complete the puzzle, though the curious art lover in me would've liked a little more historical context. This is not an edutainment title, however, but a puzzle game. So let's talk about them.

There are 10 different types found within the game, and each have its own stand-alone interactive tutorial should you need it. All but complete novices wouldn't, though, as each are simple enough to understand. The first is called Image Hole. Floating silhouetted shapes bounce around a blank void, each one revealing parts of the image behind it. You have to guide each shape towards the part of the canvas that matches it. These shapes can be quite small such as eye of a toucan or a block of cheese on a dinner table. Because of this, it's best to focus on these first and allow those those larger shadows to give you get a better view of the picture behind it.

Find shapes and fill them in with your chosen colour in the appropriately named Find and Fill (left).
Replace the missing parts of the Outer Layer to complete the 3D image (right).

Focus Point is a little simpler in concept. The picture has been chopped into squares and rectangles with each piece swapped with another. The pixels have been stretched and squashed to fit its new home so it can be hard to get a grasp of what you're looking at but it is satisfying when pieces fall into place. The same can't be said for Rotascope, which it your standard block sliding puzzle except it's set within a series of concentric circles. My least favourite of the bunch.

Moving on, Overlap is perhaps the closest the game comes to a traditional jigsaw, but it's not without originality. You have to fill out the missing pieces of the image using the L-shaped pieces on the left-hand side. Many of these contain sections that are already in the picture, giving you clues on where they should go. You also get a geometric background which may also take up a segment of a piece. These are a little easier to line up thanks to the predictable pattern which is incredibly useful at the beginning. Outer Layer is basically a 3D jigsaw; place the patterned square piece in the correct place on the object, turning it around to get a better look. This is the most visually impressive puzzle but I feel they could've gone a bit further. The model - which range from vases to seas shells to an actual fish - is not real-time 3D so you cannot freely swivel it but it still manages to tickle the grey cells as much as the eyeballs.

Put an elephant back together in Slices (left).
Go through each page to find each of Jesse's Strips (right).

Interlock is basically a form of Tangram where shapes made from triangles are to be rearranged to make another shape. I've no idea who Jesse is, but Jesse's Strips is another form of Overlap, except this time the puzzle pieces are spread over 5 or more different pages. Find and Fill unleashes a load of outlined shapes with which you must colour in to untangle each one. Slices is another good-looking 3D puzzle that has you piece together a culturally appropriate statue that's been sliced up into many different pieces. The last one is Lens Bender which is one of the simpler concepts of the ten, even if it's hard to convey. Parts of the image are stacked behind one of many magnifying glasses, and each one will twist it a number of degrees. You have to place these pieces onto the middle section in order and the right way up.

While many of these are simple in concept, the difficulty ramps up very quickly. Each trickster god will demand you complete a considerably larger variation of one of them before you can trap him and they could take half-an-hour to solve. For this puzzle-hound, it's half-an-hour well spent as I found the whole package to be incredibly inviting. A top-tier puzzler.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses PCem running Windows '98. Press Ctrl-Alt-PgDown to toggle fullscreen. Press Ctrl-End or middle mouse button to release the mouse. Manual and Install Guide included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting PCem. The emulated system will shut down automatically when exiting the game. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Close the program only when it is safe to do so.

File Size: 704 Mb.  Install Size: 1.03 Gb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Pandora's Box is © Microsoft Corporation
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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  1. Thanks! Was very curious about this one but also was lazy enough for not preparing a box to run it.

  2. This thing was always in the family study and as a kid I took one look at the back of the jewel case and said "nahhh"

    Puzzle games are always a hard sell for many

  3. For me this download is failing a checksum to unzip and if I force past it the installer claims it is corrupted and fails to fully install.

    1. Got it to work now just took like 4 tries not sure why.

  4. You are right. It works without problems on my Windows 10 computer. The installation has to be patched, the exe has to be run with the compatibility with Windows '98 on and you have to mount the iso, but after that, everything runs smoothly.

    1. It wasn't running for me for some reason, and I didn't have the time to troubleshoot why (lack of time is a common occurrence of late). I'd already committed to this game and it runs well this way, so that's how I've uploaded it. The ISO is still inside the package if users want to run it from the mounted CD if they can.

  5. Youre GREAT! You did it! I love this page so much! Thank you so much for all your amazing work!
    I was wondering: Is there any option to speed it up a bit? I feel it's a little slow. And the mouse a little fast. Is there options for that on the emulator? Thank you very much!