I've also been pondering the similarities and the flaws in two seemingly different puzzles: Slalom (or Suraromu to give it its imperfectly Anglicised title), and Bahnhof. The latter is not German in origin - I've used Bahnhof purely because I had only ever seen the puzzle on the German based croco puzzle website - and roughly translates to "Railway Stations." Rather simpler would have been to use the title "Railroad Tracks" - thanks motris for setting me straight on this one.
Anyhow, the idea to Bahnhof (I'm going to stick with that rather than make more drastic edits to the post, that's just the way it's going to be for now) is simple: draw a single loop in the grid using all the cells, and so that the loop travels through each numbered "station" without turning and in order. The loop is only allowed to cross itself at marked intersection points.
I'd like to take elements from both these puzzles to try and get past some of the flaws to both. I don't much like the intersection points in Bahnhof; pretty much every Bahnhof puzzle I've solved seems to use these as the main break-ins to the puzzles. I also don't like how most puzzles only very loosely use the ordering constraint. Slalom, as I'm sure I've blogged before, is a beautiful idea for a puzzle making strong use of the ordering constraint, but it is somewhat crippled by its susceptibility to uniqueness strategies, in much the same way that Numberlink thrives upon them. I'm not sure the constraint of using every square a la Bahnhof is the way to save Slalom but watch out in the future for some attempts to reconcile everything nicely. For now, here are some plain old Bahnhof puzzles, without crossings. Enjoy!
#203 Bahnhof – rated medium
#204 Bahnhof – rated mediumAll puzzles © Tom Collyer 2009-12.