Squirrels Go Nuts!

The story behind the creation of Squirrels Go Nuts! 

Raf Peeters, January 2018

As a child I lived close to a small forrest, but the only thing I ever saw were trees. Although I only knew the forest animals from pictures in books, they still fascinated me. In the past I made a lot of games with exotic or spectacular animals like penguins or dinosaurs, but like last year (Jump’In), I wanted to stay closer to home this year. 

I like nature. Many children and adults only see it on TV, for example when watching the fantastic BBC-serie “Blue Planet”. But sometimes we forget that the most amazing creatures live in our own neighborhood. You only need to go outside to find them. 


When I choose a theme, I look for two things: the theme should explain the main game rules and it should be visually attractive. Squirrels suited both requirements. I also like it when it’s very clear when a challenge is solved. This avoids that people need to check their solution. The concept for this game is straight forward: help the squirrels to hide their acorns underground. Although it’s a simple sliding puzzle with 2 L-shaped and 2 rectangular puzzle pieces on an orthogonal grid of 2x2, it has an extra feature: holes and acorns. When you move a squirrel with an acorn over a hole, the acorn will drop through the hole of the puzzle and will land in the hole of the game board. This game has some similarities with Titanic, although this game is much simpler and you can’t make any mistakes when you are playing. But you have to be careful not to drop your nuts in the wrong hole.


The downside of sliding puzzles is that many people try to solve it by moving the pieces randomly, because they can’t figure out that you can use logic to solve them. But of course you can. Before you start you can analyze the position of the holes and acorns. In most cases this will help you to determine which squirrel can fill which hole. After that, you only need to figure out how to move your squirrels to get there. The order in which you need to hide the acorns can be very important, because once a hole is filled, other squirrels can slide safely over this hole without dropping their own acorn.

The flowers were added to give the game some color, but also help you to place the puzzle pieces with squirrels in the right orientation. The word “SmartGames” is also added for the same reason.

There is a small metal ball inside every acorn. You can hear it when you shake it. The function of this metal ball is to avoid that the acorn bounces too much when it drops on the floor. This way we hope, not too many people will request spare parts. But if you loose more than 1 nut, you can also replace them with small marbles.

This game is slightly easier than Jump’In. That’s why the box says 6+ instead of 7+. I love the pictures made by Bert (by Milo Profi, a company only 2 streets away from our office in Belgium). Although it shares the size and a forrest theme with Jump’In, it’s a very different game. So you can’t go wrong with buying both. All good things come in threes, so if anyone has a good suggestion for the next forest animal, I am all ears.


In 2020 SmartGames will introduce an “XXL version of Squirrels Go Nuts” with 40 extra challenges, a black (rotten) acorn and a new puzzle piece with 2 squirrels!

example of a easy challenge/solution of “Squirrels Go Nuts” with 2 squirrels and the piece with the red flower

example of a hard challenge/solution of “Squirrels Go Nuts” with 4 squirrels

One player logic game


Before you start: Pay attention to the orientation of the game board, so that the holes are in the positions shown in the challenge. A quick tip: if you place the gameboard on top of the transparent lid you can prevent losing nuts!

1) Place the puzzle pieces with squirrels on the game board as indicated:

- Easy challenges use only 2 or 3 squirrels. More advanced challenges will use all 4 squirrels. 

- Place an nut in front of every squirrel.

- Some challenges will also feature the square puzzle piece with the red flower. This is a stationary obstacle and cannot be moved.

2) Slide the squirrels horizontally and vertically around the gameboard: 

- The feet underneath the puzzle pieces should always stay inside the grooves of the gameboard.

- The puzzle piece with the red flower cannot be moved and will always cover one of the holes.

- Every hole can only contain 1 nut. Once a hole is filled, other squirrels can pass over this hole safely without losing their nut.

- Avoid dropping your nuts too early in the wrong hole! Some holes can only be filled by squirrels in a specific orientation.

- If you need to redo a move (or re-start a challenge), just lift up the game board to pick up the nuts that were already dropped in holes.

3) The shortest solution is offered at the end of the challenge booklet.

After playing: You can store all the nuts inside the included transparent bag, which can be placed together with the puzzle pieces and challenge booklet on top of the game board and covered by the transparent lid. Without the bag, the nuts can fall through the holes inside the game board and could get lost. There is 1 spare nut included with every game …but not a second!

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