Camouflage North Pole is one of the first games I designed for SmartGames and it will be a hard mission to ever come up with an idea and a gameplay that is so “transparent”. The object of the game is simple and it’s always clear when you found the right solution. This aspect in combination with the theme, makes it a perfect gift, for young and old, for puzzle fanatics but also for people who normally would not consider themselves as players.
For this puzzle “Camouflage” I was also inspired by something I remembered seeing when I was a child. Someone in my family had a book of animal images. Between the normal pages, it also had transparent pages with artwork on. By turning the page over, the reader saw the animals camouflaged in their natural environment. I hope to find a copy of the book again someday, although I doubt that it would live up to my memory of it.
THE OBJECT OF THE GAME
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The object of Camouflage is two-fold. The polar bears should be placed on the ice and the fish in the water. But the 6 puzzle pieces should also fit on the game board, without anyone needing to break any pieces. Because Safari and Camouflage were developed at the same time, they have many things in common. In both games you need to make sure that the animals are shown in the right locations. In Camouflage the game board changes (there are different challenge cards) but the object of the game remains the same for all challenges. In Safari the object of the game changes but the game board remains the same. Although they don’t really fit in any existing puzzle category, both games can best be classified as ‘tiling puzzles’, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiling_puzzle
I wanted to make games that were distinctly different from games by Thinkfun (Binary Arts). Since they were already doing a lot of transport puzzles (like Rush Hour, River Crossing, Hoppers etc), I wanted to do something else.
Camouflage is one of my favorite games, because it comes so close to what I find important in a good design. The concept is simple, but the resulting gameplay can be complex. And everything fits the theme, even the choice of materials. For example, the puzzle tiles are transparent, just like water and ice are.
CAMOUFLAGE BOOSTER PACK
In 2009 I made a booster pack for Camouflage with an extra puzzle piece and 60 new challenges:
You need to replace the puzzle piece of the killer whale with the new piece showing 2 seals. You can place the seals in the water or on the ice (which means everywhere on the game board). But you can only place a seal on the ice if a polar bear is not already on the same piece of ice. This makes this extension different from the original game, because now the placement of one element (the seals) depends on the placement of another element (the polar bears).
UPDATE 2016: There is now a new version of this game with 2 x 40 challenges, named North Pole Expedition. The Booster Pack can not be used with this new version!
UPDATE 2020: This new version is also no longer in production. There is not really a new alternative, but if you are looking for a simple packing problem, Apple Twist is a good choice.