Sleeping Beauty deluxe

The story behind the creation of Sleeping Beauty Deluxe

Raf Peeters, January 2018

Preschool maze game with 60 challenges

Sleeping Beauty is the last fairy tale game I designed for SmartGames. Originally I was working on a completely different game, but after months of work, I realized that the concept didn’t work as I wanted. 


So last summer I was suddenly faced with the problem that I didn’t have a fairy tale game for 2018. We always try to have new products finalized in January, to present them on the major Toy Fairs. From concept to final product I normally need about a year. Because I had to start all over, Sleeping Beauty was not finalized until July and won’t be available before September 2018.


KNIGHT IN A SHINING ARMOR

Since many years I wanted to make a game that included a knight and dragon. As a child I have been playing a knight for too long and things like that leave their marks. Although “knights and dragons” sound like perfect theme for a fairy tale, only very few well known fairy tales include them. To solve this, we took a famous fairy tale with a knight and princess and just added the dragon. If Disney does it, why shouldn’t we?

But the concept for this game started as an idea for a more adult, compact game. One of the few typical puzzle concepts I haven’t explored yet in any of the SmartGames I developed, is a classic maze. There are a few of my puzzle designs that look like a maze, like City Maze, Temple Connection and Metroville. But these are not real mazes but connection puzzles. The object of those games is to “create” a path from point A to point B. In a real maze, the path is already there. The challenge in a real maze is not that you don’t have a path, the problem is that you have too many paths to choose from. The complexity of the challenge hides the solution.


For months I tried to find a way to make a game board with a maze that would be different every time. At first, I did something similar to Quadrillion, using 4 big puzzle pieces that could be connected in different ways to each other. This didn’t work very well. Only when the 4 puzzle pieces were placed together in the shape of a big square, it resulted in interesting challenges. At that moment we were also looking for alternatives for a fairy tale game. The combination of both ideas (maze + fairy tale) resulted into “Sleeping Beauty”. Because everybody knows that the castle of “Sleeping Beauty” is surrounded by a enchanted forrest/ garden with roses and thorns.


EDGING CLOSER TO A SOLUTION

But we were not at the end of the story yet. We looked into different options to keep the 4 puzzle pieces of the game board together, but none of them seemed satisfying. In the end we decided to add a “border” piece for the game board. This was much simpler than all other options and had the extra advantage that part of the path could run over this border, creating even more options for different challenges. 


It also created a new problem. A game with this border would not fit into our standard size box. We couldn’t make everything smaller, because than the figurines would become too small to manipulate. So we split up the border in two pieces that needed to be assembled by the consumer. Moulds were ordered, but when the first samples arrived, we were not completely happy with the result. We were afraid that young children would damage the game when (de)assembling this border. 


So we changed the design again and made the border in one piece. This is the reason why the final box of this game is bigger than the other fairy tale games. Other changes we made was the addition of 4 flowers to make it easier to distinguish the different parts of the game board.


From day one, the object of the game was to find the right path from the entrance of the maze to the castle (or visa versa). We wanted to include a dragon, but we didn’t really know what to do with it. In most designs it was nothing more than a piece of decorum. It would be a nice game, but not a great game yet. But then in December I got this “aha” moment: the dragon could do the opposite of the normal challenges. Instead of finding the right path, it should be blocking ALL paths to the castle. Now the concept was complete and we could finally focus on the design and technical solutions.


The challenges for the dragon are completely different, because you have to find a position on the game board where the dragon fits. The dragon stands on a puzzle pieces with a simple, recognizable shape. To find the right place for the dragon, you need to look for a pattern on the game board where that puzzle piece fits. Sometimes there are multiple places where the dragon fits, so you still need to check if the dragon piece blocks all routes to the castle. I am very happy with the final result. You basically get two different games for the prices of one. There are 30 challenges without the dragon and 30 challenges with the dragon. The ones with the dragon are a lot harder. When you play this game with young children, the adult can look for the position of the dragon and the child can check if all paths are blocked. Sleeping Beauty is perfect for preschool. It’s a good exercise in fine motor skills. Moving the figurines through the maze prepares them to similar movements when they learn to write. However, please note that it is (because of the small figurines) not suitable for children under age 3.


LIGHT MY FIRE 

Similar to previous fairy tales, this one also includes a story book, illustrated by my colleague Hans. I think it’s exciting and funny at the same time and as usual we managed to give the wolf a “guest appearance”. We tried to avoid too much violence (so no dragons were seriously harmed during the making of this book) and we also tried to avoid the typical “prince saves princess” story. The prince does save the day, but more by accident than because he is such a great knight in a shining armor.


Winner of the Toy of the Year 2018 Award in Belgium

example challenge without a dragon for Sleeping Beauty (SmartGames)

example of a expert challenge/solution without the dragon of Sleeping Beauty 

Sleeping Beauty, a maze game with 60 different challenges
Sleeping Beauty, example of a difficult challenge with dragon

example of a challenge/solution with the dragon of Sleeping Beauty 

Illustration from the picture book included in every game

Doornroosje, La Belle au Bois Dormant, Sleeping Beauty

GAME RULES SLEEPING BEAUTY 


Challenges without the Dragon (3+)


1) Select a challenge. Place the 4 maze pieces inside the border of the game board as shown in the challenge. Each maze piece features a flower with a different color in one of the corners to help you place it in the correct position.


Place the castle on the puzzle piece with the red flower. Place the knight at the entrance of the maze and Sleeping Beauty at the gate of the castle.


2) In half of the challenges you play with the knight, in the other half you play with Sleeping Beauty:


• BLUE ARROW (Knight): Find the path from the entrance of the maze to the gate of the castle by moving the knight through the maze.

• YELLOW ARROW (Sleeping Beauty): Find the path from the gate of the castle to the entrance of the maze by moving Sleeping Beauty through the maze.


You are not allowed to lift the knight or Sleeping Beauty. They can't climb over walls.


3) You have found the solution when the knight reaches the gate of the castle or Sleeping Beauty reaches the entrance of the maze. The shortest solution is shown in the challenge booklet. Longer solutions are sometimes possible.


Hint for parents and teachers:

As they set up the game, young children may need assistance assuring that all four maze pieces are in the correct position for each challenge.



Challenges with the Dragon (5+)


1) Select a challenge. Place the 4 maze pieces inside the border of the game board as shown in the challenge. Each maze piece features a flower with a different color in one of the corners to help you place it in the correct position.


Place the castle on the puzzle piece with the red flower. Place the knight at the entrance of the maze and Sleeping Beauty at the gate of the castle.


2) In these challenges you play as the Dragon! Find a place on the game board where the puzzle piece of the Dragon fits in entirely in between the walls of the maze.


Sometimes there are multiple paths to the castle! Sometimes there are multiple places where the Dragon fits. But there is only one position of the Dragon will block all paths to the castle.


3) You have found the solution when the knight cannot reach the castle without meeting the dragon.

There is only 1 solution for the dragon, shown in the challenge booklet.


Hints for parents and teachers:


• The challenges with the Dragon are much more difficult than the ones without! If kids struggle with the Dragon challenges, try to play together. For example: The adult can play the as dragon and the child can check if all paths to the castle are blocked.

• Challenges with the Dragon can also be played without him: In these cases the object of the game is to find the path to the castle, as in the 30 first challenges.

Website ©2020 Raf Peeters

Products and images: © Smart