Puzzle Beach

The product development of Puzzle Beach (for SmartGames) 

Raf Peeters, January 2020

The track record of the development of this game is quite bizarre (although this is not unusual). It first started as a western themed  puzzle game with a railroad track. Last year I wanted to make it into a 3D puzzle with buildings and stairways. But when I developed that version, at one point it changed into something completely different and resulted in Atlantis Escape. This meant that I could still reuse the original railroad concept. But instead of railroads, I decided to pair it with a request from my colleague in Germany. Already a few years he wanted to have a magnetic travel game with a summer theme.  And what is more summer, than the beach?

This looks again like a very simple concept: you have to use paths on puzzle pieces to connect figurines and objects on the game board below. But the fact that I originally only wanted to use 4 double sided puzzle pieces, made it a lot harder. It reminded me of the development of Anaconda. In that puzzle it was also very hard to find the right combination of paths and shapes for the puzzle pieces. And that version used a blocker and 7 double sided pieces.

But double sided puzzle pieces are a lot harder in a magnetic travel game. Puzzle piece needed to be magnetic on both sides (which require stronger magnets). And puzzle pieces need to be made in two halves, making them even more expensive. So at one point we abandoned the idea of using double sided puzzle pieces. But I changed the number of puzzle pieces from four to five so that still enough options and different solutions were possible.

I didn’t want to create a game where you had to do a setup. Therefor a lot of figurines and objects are printed on the magnetic game board. Once you made the right connection(s), all figurines and objects that you don’t need for the solution, will be covered by the puzzle pieces. It’s a mixture of the concept of Little Red Riding Hood and Hide & Seek Safari.  When you need to connect fewer than 4 figurines or objects, 1 or 2 squares on the game board that you don’t need, will also remain exposed.  That’s why there are 3 empty squares on the game board.

The summer theme I chose is that of a busy beach. With so many people at the seaside the beach can become a real maze. It can be tricky to find your friends or toys and more importantly to get there without stepping on someone. To make sure that the story makes sense, each challenge features at least one child or the dog. There are no challenges where only objects are connected to each other, because they can’t walk from one place to another. There are two similar beach balls and two similar sand castles. This is an added challenge in visual discrimination on top of the challenge of making the right connections.

Originally I wanted the paths to be foot prints in the sand. But this didn’t work, because foot prints would give the path a  specific direction, severally limiting the number of possible connections. And it was already hard enough to find enough different paths for the 48 challenges. Challenges in the starter-level give extra hints, by indicating the position of one or more puzzle pieces on the game board. This makes those challenge easier, but I also needed these extra hints to make the solutions unique. All artwork is done by my colleague Hans. There was some discussion with people from sales about the girl on the green matras. She has untied her bikini, so this means she is practically naked (if she would turn around)!  Well, we are all naked below our clothes…

From left to right: example of an easy challenge (left), hint for this challenge (middle)  and solution (right) of Puzzle Beach

Example of a difficult challenge (left) and solution (right) of Puzzle Beach

A magnetic travel game with 48 challenges and solutions


1) Select a challenge.

2) Place all of the puzzle pieces on the game board so that the figurines and beach objects are all covered - except the ones shown in the challenge, which remain exposed:

• Figurines and objects that are connected in the challenge must be also be connected with a path on the puzzle pieces. 

• Figurines can only connect to other figurines and objects when they follow the paths. They cannot move over empty squares or the border of the game board.

• Sometimes multiple paths start at a figurine or object. In these cases a figurine or object can be connected to several things at the same time.

• You must use all of the puzzle pieces, even if they are not needed to make the required connections. Paths cannot be dead ends. They must end at figurines, objects or connect with other paths.

• To get you started, the first level shows the position of one or more puzzle pieces.

3) There is only one solution, which can be found at the end of the booklet.

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Products and images: © Smart