Flippin’ Dolphins

Magnetic Travel Game with dolphins on transparent puzzle pieces.

The product development of Flippin’ Dolphins (for SmartGames) 

Raf Peeters, January 2020

For many years I wanted to make a puzzle game with dolphins. When I use animals as a theme in a puzzle, there needs to be a link between the game mechanism and the chosen animal. In most cases, this comes down to simplifying a typical behavior of that animal. For example: rabbits hide in holes (Jump’In), squirrels hide their acorns (Squirrels Go Nuts) and frogs catch insects with their tongue (Colour Catch). So what do dolphins do? They play! And they jump out the water.

And when dolphins dive back below the surface there is a short moment that you only see their tail fin. The concept started with this iconic view. I wanted to use that for the challenges. Similar to how IQ-Focus only shows the colors of puzzle pieces in the central square, in this game you would only see what is above the surface of the sea. This is your setup. You still have to figure out yourself how the other dolphins below the surface need to be placed, like in any other 2D packing problem.

To make harder challenges possible, sometimes the setup is already part of the challenge. All adult dolphins have the same tail fin, although  some dolphins jump left or right. And also the 3 young dolphins look similar. This makes it not always obvious to place the puzzle pieces from the setup on the right position. To make this ambivalence possible we took the liberty to change the angle of the tail fin of the adult dolphins on the puzzle pieces. So the reason why the tail fins look more like the ones of a fish is not caused by a lack of our knowledge about the anatomy of dolphins, but was needed for the game mechanism. I don’t think many people will notice. If it bothers you, on  the cover we got the tails right. After all, it’s a puzzle game, not a biology lesson. But normally,  I try to get details like this right,  whenever possible. Try to see it as part of my artistic license.

example of a easy challenge (left) and solution (right) of Flippin’Dolphins

example of a difficult challenge (left) and solution (right) of Flippin’Dolphins


1) Select a challenge. Note challenges show the part of the game board which is above the water.

However, to get you started the first level also shows the position of dolphins just below the water surface.

2) Place all the puzzle pieces with dolphins on the game board:

• The position of the dolphins that are visible in the challenge must match with the position of the dolphins on the game board.

• You can freely choose the position of the dolphins that are not shown in the challenge, but pieces cannot not overlap each other or the border of the game board.

• Tip: The adult dolphins share similar features. If the challenge only shows a tail fin above the water, it is not a given as to which dolphin it belongs. 

3) One solution can be found at the end of the booklet. Your solution might look slightly different, because you can often rotate puzzle pieces 180° if the dolphins are below the surface.

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Products and images: © Smart