Puzzles » The Crazy Game Puzzles – Puzzled

The Crazy Game Puzzles – Puzzled

In the 1980s and 1990s the company Price Stern Sloan created a set of puzzle games called Crazy Puzzle Games. Over the years the company had to have made at least 100 different versions of this simple puzzle game. Each Crazy Puzzle came with 9 square cards. Each card displayed half of an image on every edge. The object of the puzzle was to arrange the nine pieces in a 3X3 square where all of the images matched up. For example the top half of a baseball player would be one card and that would need to match the bottom half of the player which was on a different card. Crazy Puzzle Games are similar to another type of puzzles called Scramble Squares which were created by another company.

So you probably are thinking how hard can a nine piece puzzle be? The simple answer is much harder than you would suspect. These puzzles look deceptively simple but they are very hard puzzles. These puzzles are hard for several reasons. These puzzles are hard because each images is repeated several times because there are only four different types of images. Generally each half of an image has between three to six copies within the nine puzzle pieces. This means that each side of each puzzle piece can match between three to six other pieces. The puzzle has no distinguishing characteristics that help you figure out which piece goes in the center and which pieces go on the outside either. Essentially you are left trying every possible combination until you come upon the right solution.

You might still think these puzzles are easy since there can’t be that many different combinations to go through. As it turns out there are over 1,000,000 different possibilities. While the puzzle only has nine pieces, all of the pieces can be rotated in four different directions. On top of that each piece could be placed in any of the nine different positions in the 3X3 grid. Adding all of that together gives you over 1,000,000 different combinations which means that you will be trying combinations for a very long time if you don’t utilize a strategy.

Like most people I thought the crazy puzzles weren’t going to be that difficult. To begin I just randomly tried to put one of the puzzles together. That was a huge mistake since I was making no progress. Even though there are so many different combinations I thought that there had to be a method that would reduce the number of possibilities that I had to check since there was no way I was going to try all of those different combinations. I first tried my own theories but none of them seemed to work.

Searching the internet I couldn’t find any real solid plans on how to quickly solve one of these puzzles. I did eventually find a mathematical research paper on how to solve Scramble Squares . After reading the paper I tried some of the suggestions and they seemed to help but Crazy Puzzles pretty much become a test of endurance and systematically going through all of the possible solutions. After trying the strategies for quite a while I decided to give up on the puzzle I was working on. There are only so many times that you can get one piece away from solving the puzzle to find out that the last piece doesn’t work.

I will put it bluntly. Crazy puzzles are very hard. What I don’t get is that these puzzles were marketed for children. Unless I was missing something, I have a hard time believing children would be able to solve one of these puzzles. Outside of randomly guessing the right solution (very unlikely) you need two things to solve a crazy puzzle. First you need a good methodical strategy. Check out the strategy section below to see what is generally accepted as the best strategy to solving these puzzles. You also need to have great patience in order to go through all of the possible solutions. While using a good strategy can eliminate a lot of possibilities, you will probably still have to test hundreds to thousands of different combinations. I find it hard to believe that children around the age of six (the recommended age on quite a few of the games) will be able to follow the methodical strategy required or have the patience to go through all of the possibilities.

If you are looking for an easy to moderately difficult puzzle, crazy puzzles are not for you. While some of the puzzles may have more than one solution which should make them considerably easier, it appears that most only have one or two solutions. Crazy puzzles are pretty much a test of endurance. Anyone can solve them with the right strategy but the question will be whether you actually want to solve them. As I have already said, I tried a couple of the different puzzles that I own and I gave up on solving all of them because they just became too tedious and boring. If you like a good challenge though you may enjoy the crazy puzzle games.

How to Solve Crazy Game Puzzles

Before I get into the strategy of how to solve Crazy Game puzzles I would like to reiterate that I didn’t solve any of the puzzles that I used this method on. The method appears to do a good job creating a system so you don’t miss any possible solutions. I believe I would have solved the puzzles using this strategy but I didn’t have the patience or interest to continue trying new possibilities for up to several hours. Unless you randomly guess the right answer quickly, this method can take a lot of time.

Before starting the puzzle I would recommend numbering all of the pieces. You could either use sticky notes like I did or some people like to write the numbers on the back of the cards. When I first tried to solve some of the puzzles I didn’t do this and that was a huge mistake. It is way too hard to remember which combinations you have already tried without numbering the cards. The numbers are important for two different reasons. The numbers give you a systematic way to solve the puzzle since you can follow the numerical order while trying combinations. The numbers are also helpful to remember which combinations you have already tried.

Once you have numbered all of the pieces, you need to pick one of the numbers to start in the center. After that piece is placed it is time to start trying all of the possible combinations with that number in the center. When trying pieces always start with either the highest or lowest number remaining and continue going up or down. When placing puzzle pieces you should place them clockwise in the following order making sure they match the pieces already placed: middle right, bottom right, bottom middle, bottom left, middle left, top left, top middle, and finally top right. When you hit a roadblock, remove the last piece played and try the next card in your order that works in that spot.

Strategy on how to solve Crazy Puzzles
With this attempt I reached the top left corner piece before I reached a roadblock since the last two pieces don’t work in the top middle space. I would then have to remove the piece in the top left corner and replace it with the bottom piece to the right of the puzzle. Using this piece would also lead to a roadblock so you would then remove the middle left piece since there are no other options for the top left corner.

Once you have gone through all of the possibilities and they have all ended in roadblocks, it is time to turn the center piece 90 degrees (the right side is now the bottom side). Whenever a side has reached only roadblocks, you turn the center piece another 90 degrees until it reaches its’ original orientation. If all of the sides result in failure, this card cannot be the center card. You will then need to try a new card as the center card. Keep up this method and you will eventually solve the crazy puzzle game (hopefully sooner rather than later).

Different Versions of Crazy Puzzle Games

Here is list of some of the different versions of Crazy Puzzle Games that were created:

18 thoughts on “The Crazy Game Puzzles – Puzzled

  • August 29, 2016 at 9:38 pm
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    HI! I am looking for a few more of these puzzle to have a classroom set — where can I buy them??

    Reply
    • September 1, 2016 at 4:41 pm
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      Hello.

      As far as I know Crazy Puzzles are no longer being made. I don’t think the puzzles have been made since the early 2000s. If you were looking for specific puzzles I would suggest trying the links above since Amazon seems to be one of the best places to find the puzzles. Otherwise you can find the puzzles on eBay.

      If you are looking for puzzles that aren’t Crazy Games but are the same concept (3X3 grids) there are Scramble Square puzzles.

      Reply
  • September 21, 2016 at 10:18 am
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    Where can I get the “Crazy Christmas Game” 9 piece puzzle by Price Stern Sloan?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • September 21, 2016 at 1:54 pm
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      Hello.

      Since I don’t think Price Stern Sloan has made any Crazy Games since the early 2000s, some of the games can be a little hard to find.

      Crazy Game Christmas is listed on Amazon but currently there aren’t any for sale. You could occasionally check the link above to see if someone ends up putting one up for sale.

      Another option would be to occasionally check eBay. Currently there aren’t any for sale though.

      Those would probably be your two best options to find the game.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Eric

      Reply
  • December 14, 2016 at 4:47 pm
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    Years ago we owned an educational toy store and we have several NEW Price Stern Crazy Puzzles available to sell.

    Reply
    • December 14, 2016 at 6:06 pm
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      If you are interested in selling the puzzles you could list them on Amazon. A lot of them sell for $15-$30 used so you could probably put more on them being new. You should be able to list most Crazy Game puzzles on Amazon since most of them have a listing.

      I hope this helps.

      Eric

      Reply
    • March 14, 2017 at 7:11 pm
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      Hi Bob – Do you still have the NEW Price Stern Crazy Puzzles available to sell? I’m interested. Thanks.

      Reply
        • December 11, 2017 at 4:09 pm
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          Just posted a Planets Crazy Game Puzzle – BRAND NEW – on ebay a few minutes ago Starting bid $10.

          Reply
  • December 14, 2017 at 3:15 pm
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    thanks for the list of crazy game puzzles. they are hard to find. do you sell any or is this just an info site? thanks!

    Reply
    • December 14, 2017 at 4:48 pm
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      I don’t have any crazy game puzzles for sale. This post was written as an informational post about crazy game puzzles.

      Reply
  • December 22, 2017 at 8:14 pm
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    We bought crazy dinosaur for our children. My 7 year old daughter solved it in no time. She did it again when she was nine. That time we took a picture which we put I the box with the puzzle. We found the puzzle in the closet the other day. My daughter now 23 cannot solve it again. Maybe children use a different thought process than adults? I have spent hours and never solved it.

    Reply
    • December 23, 2017 at 10:48 am
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      That is an interesting idea and it might be true. I also had a lot of trouble trying to solve the puzzles. The only way I can think of approaching the puzzles would be to systematically try all of the different options. Eventually this would lead you to the solution. I just didn’t feel like it was worth taking the time going through all of the different options until I found the solution that worked.

      If there was actually a way to solve the puzzles outside of just trying every option until you found the correct one I would love to hear it.

      Reply
    • February 1, 2018 at 7:40 am
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      Children are capable of far more than people give them credit for!!
      Our 8 year old boy spent about 2 hours of great persistence and patience until he finally solved Crazy Kitty. He then spent hours again the following day to no avail, but the next evening solved it quite rapidly.
      I (50 yo lady) have solved it in less than 5 minutes, repeatedly – but I have my own simple, logical strategy!
      Drives them crazy but I never tell… My lips are sealed

      Reply
  • December 23, 2017 at 3:01 pm
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    We have sold thousands of these crazy puzzles to teachers at teacher conventions across the nation. The ability to solve them seems to be based upon ones problem solving and visual perception skills rather than age or intelligence. Some people seem to have a system they use to help them solve these brain teasers…although I do not know their trick. As you know, there are thousands to possible combinations. One Texas Elementary Teacher of gifted 4th graders claimed many of the puzzles have two solutions. I personally have never been able to solve even one!

    Reply
  • January 29, 2018 at 4:18 pm
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    Hi, I only have experience with the “Crazy Kiwi” version of the game, so these hints may not work with other versions. How I solved this was that I made a tally of the number of heads and rears per color of each Kiwi. I found that there was a significant asymmetry of white heads/rears and blue heads/rears. Specifically, there were only 3 white heads and 3 blue rears, as opposed to 6 of the complementary pairs. For red and black, there 4 and 5 each of head/rear parts so these I ignored. I reasoned that you should then aim to make sure all 3 (read:rare) white heads and blue rears were in the inside, i.e. paired, in all of my trials. My reasoning was that if you do not, you run the risk of having an unpairable white rear or blue head since there are much more of them. This greatly reduced the number of combinations and I was able to solve it in a matter of minutes. FWIW, my solution ended up with all 3 white kiwis in a row. As I don’t own other versions, I’d be curious to know if this helps anyone else. Please let me know if so!

    Reply
    • January 30, 2018 at 10:56 am
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      That is really good advice. I would recommend trying to use that method when you start solving each puzzle. Unfortunately I don’t think it is going to work with every puzzle. I tried something similar with some of the puzzles that I have and it doesn’t always lead you to the correct solution. I think it mostly comes down to whether the designer of the puzzle choose to utilize all of the rarest pieces. Some puzzles seem to use all of them while others seem to use some of them for the border. If you have one of the puzzles that utilize all of them this tip will really help you saving you a lot of trial and error. If your puzzle is not one of them though it will give you a starting point but might not lead to you solving the puzzle.

      Reply
  • February 3, 2018 at 11:02 am
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    I recently found our 1989 Cool Cat Combo card game and it took me 1 hour to solve. Here is how I did this : look at each car and notice how there are 2 cards with the Piano Player Cat that have both the head and legs ( top and bottom) of the cat on them. These are the only cards out of the 9 cards as such. In placement of the 9 cards , these 2 must be put down first placing them on the upper left corner . work your way left to right in a 3 rows of 3. See photo on my Facebook (Tom Gaston) Or email me for photo and graph .

    Reply

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