Hide & Seek

The story behind the creation of Hide & Seek Safari

Raf Peeters, January 2005


The concept for “Hide and Seek” is so simple that when I came up with it, I could hardly believe a puzzle like this didn’t already exist. How can you make a game with only 4 puzzle pieces AND keep the 48 challenges interesting and fun? This SmartGame proves it is possible and that “less is more”. Four years after I created GoGetter, Hide & Seek Safari was the first real SmartGame and probably the one (together with Camouflage) that started the success story of SmartGames.


The object is to cover a game board with puzzle tile cutouts, so that some areas of the board remain visible. The puzzle tiles always fit, but they show or hide different artwork depending on how the cutouts are positioned.

My inspiration for this SmartGame came from a ‘key’ for writing secret messages that I found as a child in a magazine for kids. It was a cardboard square with a number of holes cut out of it. In each hole you wrote a letter. After writing the letter, you rotated the card 90° so the holes would be in a different location. After 4 turns, you ended up with a square completely filled with letters. You could only break the code if you had the right key: 


I reversed this idea. By using 4 puzzle tiles, there are 3,072 different ways of placing them together on the game board, each time hiding and showing a different combination of animals. The position of these animals on the game board is carefully chosen, so that enough unique combinations remain to create 48 challenges.


The original version was Hide & Seek Safari. A year later I made an easier version with fewer ‘holes’, for children aged 5 and up, Hide & Seek Pirates. In 2009 we added a much easier version for children aged 3 and up (Dora is searching for her friends). For the original Safari game, there is also a booster pack with an extra puzzle tile and 60 new challenges. In 2010 Pierre Bellevédère released a version of Pirates with a special theme: Hide & Seek Canada. And for the Danish market there is now a special version with Rasmus Klump with the same easier challenges as the version with Dora the explorer. 

Both games were sold as Safari UnderCover and Pirates UnderCover in the USA in the past. In 2011 Smart also published 2 cheaper and more compact versions with completely different artwork, but with the same 48 challenges as the original games. These games are in the shape of a booklet and the pieces are magnetic, so these travel games are perfectly for on the road: Waterworld (based on Pirates) and Busy Bugs (based on Safari).


In 2016 SmartGames replaced the original games with two completely different versions, named Jungle Hide & Seek and Pirates JR, but these new versions will be discontinued in 2024. In 2019 Smart made a magnetic version named Coral Reef. This travel game is identical to Waterworld, except for the artwork and is still available. And in 2021 Smart added a new compact version with monsters: Monsters Hide & Seek.

For 2023 we created another compact version. This has also new challenges and artwork: Savannah Hide & Seek. This game will not be sold worldwide, so it might be very hard to buy one.

example of a challenge (left) and solution (right)  of Hide & Seek Safari

Top left: game board of Hide & Seek Safari. Top right: game board of Hide & Seek Pirates.

Website ©2005 Raf Peeters

Products and images: © Smart