Apple Twist is a compact puzzle game with 60 challenges I designed for SmartGames in 2020.
AN APPLE A DAY…
I don’t know exactly how this project started. I was always a fan of the children’s picture book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, but maybe the idea was triggered by Jennifer, one of my US colleagues. She wanted to know if we could make a more compact, cheaper version of Quadrillion. The nice thing about Quadrillion is that you can play it without challenge booklet if you want. To set up a challenge, you just randomly create a game board. There is always a solution.
But to avoid using a lot of expensive magnets, like in Quadrillion, I needed to come up with a simpler mechanical solution. The result is an apple shaped game board, divided in 5 segments. The segments are all connected with each other using the core as an axis. Each segment has a different front and back. You can easily change your game game board, by rotating one or more segments of the apple. This way 32 different setups are possible.
Not only the game board can be transformed. There are 3 caterpillars. These puzzle pieces are also made of different parts which can rotate. We could reuse a lot of the parts developed for Bend-It, an older abstract game I created a long time ago and that is no longer in production. We only needed to add heads for the caterpillars and make them in bright colors. The extra advantage of adding the head, was that you can’t place the piece upside-down. This looks much better than Bend-it, where often the hinges were visible. All technical issues were already ironed out when we designed Bend-It. Each caterpillar bends in a different way, so the shapes you can make with each one are unique .
The game board has dimples. The object of the game is of course to place all caterpillars horizontally on the game board, so that the ball shaped body parts rest into these dimples. There are only 32 possible game boards, but I needed 60 different challenges. To solution for this problem was to give all STARTER challenges the same game board (1-2-C-4-E). But each STARTER challenge gives different hints showing the position of the heads of the caterpillars. This way each challenge still has a unique solution for the caterpillars, although the setup is the same. For the JUNIOR level we did something similar, but with a another setup this time (1-B-C-D-5). We used 1 setup for the 15 Starter challenges and 1 setup for the 15 Junior levels, so we still had 30 different setups left over for the remaining Expert and Master challenges. That means that for those levels, you have to adjust your apple game board, every time you start a new challenge. But manipulating the apple, is one of the most fun parts of playing with Apple Twist and can be done very quickly. It makes a satisfying clicking sound.
With only 3 puzzle pieces, never because extremely hard. That’s why it’s targeted to children age 5 and up. When solved, some of the dimples in the apple will remain empty, depending on the game board you used. This compact game doesn’t have a lid or cotton bag, so you need to store it back inside the cardboard box it came in (so don’t trow that away). But the game consists of 1 game board and 3 big caterpillar pieces, so the chances of losing a small piece are non-existent.
Starter example of a challenge (left) and solution (right) of Apple Twist
Master example of a challenge (left) and solution (right) of Apple Twist
GAME RULES APPLE TWIST
The apple game board is divided into 5 horizontal segments that can each be rotated 180°:
• The frontside segments are indicated by numbers 1 – 5
• The backside segments are indicated by letters A-E for each apple segment.
1. Choose a challenge. Create a game board as shown by mixing the correct sides of the apple. All 15 Starter challenges use the same setup (12C4E). All Junior challenges also use the same setup (1BCD5). However Expert and Master challenges use a different setup for each challenge.
2) Place the 3 caterpillars on the apple game board. Each caterpillar can be bended in different shapes.
All parts of the caterpillars must fit inside the dimples of the apple. No part of a caterpillar can sit on a flat part of the apple.
Easy challenges offer hints about the position of some of the caterpillars:
• Colored circles indicate the position on the game board of a caterpillar with that color.
• A yellow, green or blue head indicates that the head of that specific caterpillar MUST be placed there. This hint only shows the position of the head, but NOT its orientation on the game board!
• A white head indicates that the head of one of the caterpillars MUST be placed there. It can be the head of any of the 3 caterpillars. Again it only indicates the position of a head, but not its orientation.
• Often a few of the dimples will remain empty. This is OK.
3) There is only one solution, shown at the end of the challenge booklet.
You can also play this game without the challenge booklet. Just randomly mix your apple and try to place the three caterpillars on top. Without extra hints about the heads of the caterpillar, most apples can be solved in many different ways.
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