The story behind the creation of Butterflies

Raf Peeters, January 2015

Butterflies is a new puzzle game with 48 different challenges from easy to hard that I designed for SmartGames this year. Like all other new SmartGames is will be available in spring 2015.


It looks like a simple 3 x 3 sliding puzzle. But there is a catch. You have to figure out yourself what the right end position of the puzzle pieces is. The object of the game is to slide the puzzle pieces until all butterflies are whole again. A problem with standard sliding puzzles is that you can’t change the position of the puzzle pieces when you start a new challenge, because the tiles are fixed inside the grid through ridges and grooves. You can of course solve this by using loose pieces, but they have exactly that disadvantage: they are loose. To prevent this I created a game board with a border that covers part of the puzzle pieces. This way you can still change the position of the pieces, but they will not accidentally fall off when you are playing. To make it possible to have both easy and difficult challenges with the same puzzle pieces, all puzzle pieces are double sided. On one side there is artwork of butterflies, the other side is always empty. When you start, you place all puzzle pieces with artwork according the image shown in the challenge. Pieces with artwork that you don’t need for that specific challenge are flipped upside down can and be used anywhere there is an empty square. Easy challenges often have more than 1 possible solution, harder challenges not. Each puzzle piece has 4 little “feet” on both sides. These are added to protect the artwork from scratching when you slide the puzzle pieces with the artwork face down.

I always try to do my best to minimize the amount of packaging material. When the product is still inside the packaging, the puzzle tiles with artwork are visible through the transparent bottom of the game tray. This way we could avoid the need for a blister. It’s very easy to make different versions of this puzzle, just by changing the artwork. So if this puzzle is a success, you can expect other versions in the future.

update 2015:  there is now also a version with SpongeBob available: SpongeBob Mix Up.

update 2022:  the Butterfly edition will be replaced by one with robots (Robot Factory).

update 2023: there is now also a version named Ocean Life, with the same challenges as the SpongeBob version, but different artwork. This version will not be available worldwide, so it might be very hard to buy one.

top: example of a Starter challenge (left) and solution (right) of Butterflies

top: example of a Master challenge (left) and solution (right) of Butterflies


Object of the game: slide the puzzle pieces until all of the butterflies are complete.

1) To set up the game, place the 8 puzzle tiles on the game board as indicated in the selected challenge. Each puzzle tile has two sides: one side has artwork, the other side is empty. Start by placing the pieces with artwork first as indicated; all other pieces can be flipped over to the empty side and used anywhere an empty puzzle tile is indicated.

2) Slide the puzzle tiles to create complete, symmetrical butterflies. Puzzle tiles cannot be lifted to place them elsewhere; all tiles must remain on the board and can only be moved by sliding them.

3) You have found the solution when all the butterflies in the challenge are complete and whole. Half butterflies next to the borders are not permitted.

All challenges can be solved in 32 moves or less. Easier challenges can have multiple solutions, while more difficult challenges have only one solution. The end of the booklet includes a solution for each challenge.

Website ©2015 Raf Peeters

Products and images: © Smart