My daughter loves puzzles, I do too – they help flex those base-level problem solving and focus muscles that tend to get neglected by a lot of diversions nowadays. But pieces inevitably get scattered, we get frustrated, and once we finally finish the puzzle, it gets packed up (slowly) to do again much later after the memory of the solution has faded a bit.
But what if, once we finished, we could go on a hunt for hidden objects? Or a duel using the images in the puzzle? Or even a quick game of world domination? And then, when we were done, we could just roll the whole thing back up into its tube without dissasembling it?
Madzzle is bringing just that, and more, to the table. It’s an unique combination of puzzle and casual board game. Having found success in India, publisher Mad Rat has launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand their reach and distribute Madzzle worldwide. Mad Rat is trying something ambitious with their current Kickstarter: make a puzzle that’s as fun to assemble and play with as it is easy to clean up!
Our copy of The Bermuda Triangle arrived in a brightly-illustrated cardboard tube. Usually when I get something to review, my daughter dismisses it immediately, this caught her eye. When I told her it was a puzzle, she started campaigning immediately for us to put it together.
The solid packaging continues with the interior tube that holds the puzzle pieces, game cards, and magnifying glasses (don’t scoff, you’re going to need them!). This is wrapped in a bordered neoprene mat that has a convenient magnetic edge to lock everything into place. It’s a really nice touch that impressed me before we even got started. There’s even a packet of seeds hidden under the lid to offset the amount of paper that goes into producing the Madzzle. It’s a thoughtful, unexpected touch.
The puzzle itself is nicely illustrated and clicks together satisfyingly well. The tolerances between the pieces is tight, so there’s little to no gapping. When you step back, it looks as close to a poster as you can get with a puzzle. The mat that you build on has horizontal and vertical borders, which are fantastic when you’ve found the corner pieces, but have nothing to connect them to.
The only thing we ran into with putting the puzzle together was that there was a fair amount of ripple in the mat, which tended to push pieces out of alignment. I think next time we’ll assemble the puzzle on a hard surface, rather than a rug, to see if that continues to be an issue. (Update: Mad Rat said they noticed that too and have fixed this for future production runs, yay!)
Once assembled, the fun really began. My daughter couldn’t wait to get out the magnifying glasses and start hunting for hidden objects. They range from large features that you’ll find fairly quickly to things so small that, even with a hint that limits your search to a single row, it can take you minutes to find. After a few minutes her older brother joined in and I experienced one of those exceedingly rare moments when both kids were working together and having fun on something that didn’t need electricity.
Clean up is as easy as rolling the mat back up, assembled puzzle and all, around the interior tube. It’s all put away in a couple of minutes. We didn’t have a chance to do the data duel, where two players have to try and win cards based on where objects are placed on the board or their height or weight; but I know we’ll be pulling this back out again soon.
The Madzzle Kickstarter page offers you the choice of three different Madzzles. You can get their Classic Bermuda Triangle and the Mysteries of the Amazon (with glow-in-the-dark ink!) for $30 each. The larger Madzzle Deluxe Worldopedia (with even more games than the Classic versions) runs $40. There’s s little over a week left to go in the Kickstarter and they’ve still got a ways to go to reach their funding; but hopefully they find success towards the end of the campaign. Elevating puzzles to something that can compete with complex board games and video games is no small feat and I really admire Mad Rat for the obvious love and care that’s gone into Madzzle.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received a sample copy for this review.