Temple Trap

The story behind the creation of Temple Trap

Raf Peeters, January 2012

Temple Trap is really the kind of puzzle that I like to solve myself. I designed IQ-Fit and Bend-it because so many people seem to like abstract puzzles with balls. But I am not really one of them, I prefer games with a theme. I want to forget that I am solving a puzzle when I am solving one. The inspiration for Temple Trap came from adventure movies. As a child Indiana Jones must have made a big impression on me, especially the scenes were he tries to escape from a temple with all the walls moving or collapsing. Because that is where this game is all about: You try to get out of a moving maze!


Temple Trap is a sliding puzzle on a 3x3 grid with following special features:

• You need to slide the puzzle pieces but you also need to move a figure (the green pawn). The puzzle piece where the figure is standing on can't be moved, because there is a pin underneath the feet of the pawn that goes through a hole in the puzzlepiece and blocks it. Sometimes your figure is on the right place, but your puzzle pieces are not. But often it's the other way around. You made the right corridors with all the puzzle pieces on the right place, except that your figure is trapped somewhere in a place where it can’t get out.

• The corridors have 2 floors. The exit is on the top floor and there are two puzzle pieces with stairways that can connect the ground floor with the top floor.

• The addition of a second floor was crucial to make this concept work. For 6 months I tried all kind of combinations of puzzle pieces, but the result was always disappointing. Easy challenges were possible, but really hard ones were always easier to solve than the solution I had in mind. But by adding this second floor, the function of a puzzle piece could be double. It can be a connection if it is moved next to another tile with the same floor. It becomes an obstacle when it is slided next to a tile with a different floor. 

• There is something special about the top floor. You can use it to go from one tile to another (by using the stairs to go up and down again), but you can't place your pawn there, if you want to move a puzzle piece. Even if you wanted to do this, it would be physically impossible, because there is no hole in those tiles.


One solution is shown in the booklet, but other solutions are often possible. That doesn't mean that they are easy to find. Just like any other sliding puzzle, it's not that hard if you understand how a sliding puzzle works (but most people don't). The difference with other sliding puzzles is that harder challenges need to be solved in steps. Although you can use logic to find out what the end position of a challenge could be and it is not so difficult to slide the puzzle pieces to to match this position, it can be very hard to get the pawn on the right place at the right time. Easy challenges can be solved in less than 10 moves. For the hardest ones you sometimes need more than 50 steps. In theory challenges with almost 200 moves are possible too, but most people can probably never escape from those. Temple Trap should be a maze not a prison.

update 2012: Some products can make an irritating scratching noise when you move the tiles. You can easily avoid this by making the floor of the temple where the sticker with the crocodiles is, slightly greasy. I took the silicone spray I have for my bike. I only used a little drip on a paper tissue and wrapped it on the floor. You don’t even feel or notice it, but the sound goes away completely. Products made after 2012 don’t have this issue any more, because we changed the material for the sticker.

update October 2013: There is now also an App of Temple Trap, also with different challenges than the physical version and with better graphics and STARTER-challenges than the online version on SmartGamesLive.

update 2016: The updated 2016 version of the real game (new line look) now includes 60 instead of 48 challenges including one with 189 steps!

update 2019: There is now also a new version of the App that looks more 3D and has completely new challenges, developed by my colleague Bart!

update 2021: In 2021 we will update the original game with a new figurine instead of the abstract pawn (see image on top and below). 

The steps needed to solve this easy challenge of Temple Trap


1) Choose a challenge and place all the puzzle pieces as indicated by the symbolson the walls. Place the pawn on the right starting position.

2) Slide the puzzle pieces so you can move your pawn:

A. Your pawn can never move over the empty space (water with crocodiles):

B. When sliding the puzzle pieces with walls, the pawn always has to be placed upon a puzzle piece with a hole. The puzzle piece the pawn is standing on is locked at that time and can’t be slided.

C. The maze has two floors. You can only change floors by using a puzzle piece with a staircase on it.

D. While solving the challenge the pawn will mainly change position through the puzzle pieces on the bottom floor. It is also possible for the pawn to move over the top floor, but it will always stop its movement on the bottom floor. This is because the puzzle pieces on the top floor do not have holes to contain the pawn.

E. Puzzle pieces with walls can only be slided, never lifted off the board. The exit of the maze is located on the top floor. So your last step will always have to make a passage so that the bottom floor is connected to the exit through a puzzle piece with stairs.

3) You have found a correct solution when your pawn can escape the maze.

Most challenges have multiple solutions. You can find one of them at the back of the booklet.

>>> indicates the minimum number of moves to solve the challenge.

Website ©2012 Raf Peeters

Products and images: © Smart