|(Click to Enlarge)|
If you find yourself struggling with the heat outside, SmartGames has the perfect solution for you with an icy adventure through the Antarctic. Designed by Raf Peeters, Penguins on Ice is a packing puzzle with a twist - a pentomino twist.
Being a packing puzzle fan, I was very excited to discover the original way the designer found to change an apparently simple game into a rather dynamic one, with its pieces constantly changing the landscape of the board, while at the same time providing a really good challenge for puzzle lovers.
(Click to Enlarge) - Starter and Junior Challenges
The game is very well made, just like any other from SmartGames. The pieces are transparent-blue, to give the effect of ice blocks, and the penguins are attached to one particular spot on each one. You can rotate the penguins in 360º, but this is not relevant for the solutions, because only their relative position within the game board is important.
The game consists of only five pieces, each one with the ability to change into three or four different pentomino shapes by sliding the two parts back and forth until you find the desired piece. The sliding movements can only be made in two opposite directions (a straight line). The pieces have a locking mechanism that alert you with a click when it's in place. Also, the game board is neatly divided into a 5x5 grid, with raised contours around each square, so the pieces fit perfectly without moving. You can see in the example below one of the pieces with its three different positions.
(Click to Enlarge) - Same Piece with 3 Different Positions
The rules are simple: Just choose any of the 60 included challenges in the booklet and heed the position of the penguins in the picture - Note that the penguins are stationary within each piece. The only way to change their positions is to rotate horizontally any given piece. Next, you need to find a way to arrange all five pieces inside the game board, while still making sure that the penguins match the same positions of the corresponding challenge. You can choose the positions of the penguins that don't appear in the challenge you're currently solving.
The first challenges start off quite easily, with the shape of all the pieces already outlined in the game board and a couple of penguins in place. As you work your way through the 60 challenges and four difficulty levels you'll see that fewer pieces remain outlined and more penguins start to show up for the party. The last challenges are really tough, and you'll find yourself continually changing the shape of the pieces to see which ones fit in a particular spot. All challenges have only one possible solution.
(Click to Enlarge) - Expert and Master Challenges
The design of Penguins on Ice is pure genius. It's incredible how such a simple concept of sliding two parts to make different shapes can turn an ordinary game into an extraordinary one, becoming a great brain exercise in the process, while providing a completely fun and cool experience. This is now one of my favorites from SmartGames.
Availability: You can find any game from SmartGames at your usual puzzle places, from Amazon to PuzzleMaster.