The Ten Billion (テンビリオン) is a puzzle toy designed by Gunpei Yokoi and released by Nintendo in 1980 for ¥1,000. The name "Ten Billion" refers to the fact that the toy can be configured in ten billion different ways (the actual number of possible unique configurations, however, is 4,509,264,634,875). The toy was also sold in Germany and the Netherlands as the "Devil's Barrel", and was distributed in the United Kingdom by CGL. The toy was packaged inside of a plastic case, which it can be stored in.
The toy features a plunger that can be pressed to pop out the other end of the toy, and inside are plastic balls of five different colors: red, blue, green, yellow, and orange, of which there are four each, as well as three individual black balls. The goal of Ten Billion is to line up the five columns of multicolored balls inside the toy and move them back into their original positions. The two rows in the center of the toy can be rotated independently. By pushing down on the plunger on top, the plunger on the other side pops out, which also pushes the columns down.
Because the puzzle was tricky to solve, Nintendo also sent Japanese retailers pamphlets containing step-by-step instructions on how to solve the Ten Billion, as well as sixteen additional challenges.
In 2007, Nintendo released the "Star Ten Billion", a limited edition version of the Ten Billion, exclusively in Japan through Club Nintendo for 650 points. The puzzle is operated identically to the original, but is designed in the shape of a star and features the Club Nintendo logo on the top switch.
Appearances in Nintendo games
|Metroid Prime||2001||One of the puzzles in the Phazon Mines is a large tower with three Spider Ball tracks that must be rearranged in the correct order so that Samus can eventually reach the top of the room, seemingly based on the Ten Billion.|
|Animal Crossing: New Leaf||2013||During the Fireworks Show, one of the special items the player can earn from Redd's Cookies is a Ten Billion Barrel.|
|The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D||2015||A Ten Billion can be found on the counter inside the Town Shooting Gallery.|
- Nintendo Ten Billion (任天堂 テンビリオン, 1980). beforemario.com (September 17, 2011). Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- New puzzle from Nintendo: How to get this puzzle from Nintendo. Engadget (September 19, 2007). Retrieved March 29, 2017.
- Club Nintendo Adds New Items. Nintendo World Report (September 19, 2007). Retrieved March 29, 2017.