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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:

Russell

Wednesday 1st of April 2020

Into the first week of CV-19 lockdown, I decided to get the Crazy Games out. It took me 3 days to get the Cow, Plane, Rainbow, Golfer and Witch completed. My son used to do these as a 9 year old and im now 62. Took great pride in taking photo and sending to him.. Totally excellent puzzles. Wish I could buy some more.

Christian

Saturday 23rd of February 2019

While I understand that the purpose of this post would be to give a little insight into the difficulty of these puzzles, and thoughts on how to solve one, I thought that I would add my 2cents from a programmer point of view.

First, if you're just after a solution, there are pictures of 24 different puzzles here https://www.penguin.com/static/packages/us/yr-microsites/crazygamesolution/ , they didn't have the one I was after (they don't have Crazy Dog puzzle pictured here), and the email link at the bottom of the page doesn't work anymore.

We have the Crazy Unicorn puzzle, and neither my wife, myself, or any of the kids/grand-kids who tried it could figure it out. After some searching, I found a program which revealed 4 solutions to that particular puzzle. We were shocked, since we couldn't make any headway with it.

After some re-writing of the code, I ran it against the Crazy Dog puzzle in the picture here, and it turned up 8 solutions, one of which you can see in the picture linked here https://www.dropbox.com/s/7l7h36iq9o5riz5/puppy_sol_01.png?dl=0

I will agree that these are 'crazy' hard puzzles. It also seem odd that they discontinued these, as they would be the perfect gift for avid puzzlers.

Eric Mortensen

Monday 25th of February 2019

I totally agree with your thoughts that the puzzles are quite difficult. The idea of looking at the puzzles from a programmer's point of view is also really interesting as it seems like the puzzles require a lot of trial and error which a computer program could quickly run through.

As far as why the puzzles are no longer made, I am not exactly sure. The most recent versions of the puzzles that I have seen were from the early 2000s. I am guessing they either didn't sell well enough or Price Stern Sloan decided to focus on other things instead of the Crazy Game line of puzzles. With how much interest there has been in this post, I am not sure why they don't bring them back. There are some other similar puzzles though including Scramble Squares.

Lydia

Tuesday 18th of September 2018

The other day, my Language Arts teacher spit my 8th-grade class into groups of three and gave each group one of these puzzles. Neither of the boys in my group had any idea of how to do them, so it was up to me. I eventually figured out a pattern to solve the puzzle by, and from there it was a little bit of trial and error. Overall, it took a 14-year-old girl twenty minutes to solve one of these puzzles.

Tom Gaston

Saturday 3rd of February 2018

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 .

Heather

Tuesday 3rd of September 2019

I would love to see the solution to this!

Erwin

Monday 29th of January 2018

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!

Eric Mortensen

Tuesday 30th of January 2018

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.

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