My six-year-old Philip loves maze puzzles. He often asks me to find him a good maze puzzle game on the App Store, but I wasn’t sure I could find one. Until I found this brand new app called National Geographic Puzzle Explorer. It’s a game from Fingerprint Play Network that includes content from National Geographic, such as photographs, facts, and insights about selected regions around the world.
But, to be honest, that’s not why I’m so excited about this game. Both Philip and I are really excited with the ability to create our own maze puzzles with dynamic game elements in this app.
First Area: The Yucatan Region
Before you start creating your own puzzles, it would be wise if you start by following the in-app tutorials on how to create your own puzzles. For the first area, the Yucatan Region, you will find seven instructions that introduce the different design elements.
First, you will be introduced to the goal of every puzzle, which is to move your explorer to where the compass is. Next, you will be taught how to add obstacles — walls and trees — to make the puzzle a bit challenging. Then, you can add one or more cameras to hide the location of the compass. Having cameras in the maze will require you to collect them all before the game reveals the compass’ location.
The next set of tutorials shows you how to add locked gates, foot traps, and iguanas. To pass through any locked gate, you have to collect all the keys first. Once you have collected all the keys, all the locked gates in the maze will be opened at the same time. A foot trap will cause a wall to arise once you set foot on it.
Iguana is the dynamic element of the game. It will try to chase you if you are within its line of sight. If you’re caught by an iguana, you must restart the puzzle.
Once you’ve understood all the game elements, you can start creating your own puzzles. You can put in as many obstacles as you like, and up to three keys and cameras.
The entire puzzle creation process gives kids a great experience to build their planning and sequencing skills. A good puzzle design requires strategy and logic, too.
Parents Need to Knows
The tutorials in Puzzle Explorer are easy to follow. I’d suggest you complete all the instruction levels to fully understand all the game elements. After all, the best part of the app is the ability to create your own puzzles. Without fully understanding the game elements, it would be difficult to create a great puzzle.
National Geographic Puzzle Explorer is a free app with in-app purchases to unlock other areas, such as the Nile River and the Australian Outback. By default, you will get the first area — Yucatan Region — for free. By purchasing additional content, you will get a new set of instructions, game elements, and exploration photos.
You can also download free Instructor and Parent Toolkits on their official website. I have read them, and they’re resourceful and useful.
Things I Like
The Puzzle Explorer is not just a great puzzle game, but it’s also a great puzzle maker. With different people designing the puzzles, the difficulty level of each puzzle can vary dramatically. For example, if you add three or more iguanas into the game, it can be quite challenging to complete.
And once you have designed the perfect puzzle, you can share it with the world — so that your friends and everyone else can also play it. Simply click the Share icon on the top right of the screen — immediately after you conquer your own puzzle — and a link to your puzzle will be added to the clipboard. You can then paste it via iMessage, email, or any social network. For example, here's a link to the puzzle I’ve created. (It’s quite a challenging one.)
National Geographic Puzzle Explorer provides a great experience for both the maze designer and the players. I’ve tested it with my kids and colleagues at work. Everyone — including my six-year-old — loves to create their own mazes. Once the maze designer has successfully beat her own maze design, it’s time for everyone else to give it a try. I highly recommend this app for any gathering or holiday getaway. Install it on as many iOS devices as possible, then start having fun creating your own design and solving others at the same time.
App was suggested to us.