The Crystal Maze Challenge

By | October 18, 2017

Let’s be clear here, if you hadn’t guessed I don’t love the Crystal Maze reboot. At its best it’s OK, but it shouldn’t just be OK, it should be one of the best things on TV.

From having fewer games to concentrate on the contestants’ personalities, to the tediously matey social media presence, to declaring the games to be “multilayered” which seems to just mean “you have to get TWO riddles right instead of one now” and various other issues in between, not least Richard Ayoade’s wildly inconsistent likability as Mazemaster, it’s been a very difficult series to love. And there are still eight more of this one to be shown! Instead of making The Ironic Crystal Maze, they should have just tried making The Crystal Maze.

And yet! There may be interest from an unlikely source in the form of the official Christmas cash-in book which I’m sure they’d love to advertise on telly, only there was very definitely always going to be a split in the series at this juncture. Out Thursday, it’s The Crystal Maze Challenge. It promises to let you play the show in your very own home with over 100 ideas.

And this might be ingenious. I suspect there is nobody reading, of a certain age and persuasion, who didn’t try and emulate The Crystal Maze in their bedrooms with friends in some capacity, even if it’s just endless variants of The Floor Is Lava or throwing things at cuddly toys. What will this book teach us? I do hope it’s not as disappointing as the show.

It’s priced £7.50 on Kindle, but the hardback version can be ordered in many places for £7. I hope to devour it over the next day or so when it downloads.

What were your homemade Crystal Maze games from twenty years ago?

13 thoughts on “The Crystal Maze Challenge

  1. Alex

    I thought I was the only one with the Floor Is Lava thing!

    I could walk on the skirting boards at my physical peak (age 6).

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I had a brilliant variation where not only was the floor lava, you had to do it whilst balancing the crystal on the edge of quite a thick hardback book.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Actually to be fair, in our heads it was just “you shouldn’t touch the ground”, I didn’t realise it was called The Floor Is Lava until a few years ago.

  2. Brig Bother Post author

    Book’s downloadable. Features the same sort of tone you’ve come to expect. Big thing out of making games around things found at home, some quite fun interpretations of current games. Kindle edition seems to omit most of the time limits, the ones shown are ‘2-3 mintes’ which isn’t greatly useful.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      The Kindle version of this really doesn’t feel like a great choice whilst the hbk’s cheaper. Feels like a lot of information missing with the layout, and they’ve duplicated the game sign for You Win Sum You Lose Sum and Double Trouble.

      Many of the games closer in style to The Cube than Crystal Maze really, but as suggested, some quite fun cheap interpretations of current games as well. Some of them a bit lazy when they could go into useful details (i.e. “the Mazemaster should make an obstacle course” – some creative hints might have been fun). Surprisingly high reliance on “memorize the thing, do a second thing, recreate first thing”.

      Quite good interviews with ROB, Malcolm Heyworth and David Croft, if not especially revelatory. James Dillon reveals what the Maze is made out of. Surprisingly no interview with Richard Ayoade, but you do get a few pictures.

  3. John R

    I had Aztec style timers made from empty pop bottles. Also my mother had a very expensive vase BUT it had a crystal just like the maze ones as the lid!

  4. Alex McMillan

    I used to make a game called “Puzzle Pyramid” using squares of paper which were all the same size. There would be a 4×4 picture of a bird, a 3×3 picture of the sun, a 2×2 picture of the moon, and then 1 square with a picture of the crystal on it. You’d have to put all 4 puzzles on top of one another to release the crystal. When that seemed too easy I made the puzzle pieces double sided so there were red herrings.

    I still think I have my binder of ideas somewhere…

  5. Chris

    I played the computer game on Acorn (I think) at school during lunch breaks. It was *really* hard, probably because the computer couldn’t handle the graphics so the shooting games and the dome were low fps nightmares.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      The Sherston Software Crystal Maze wasn’t great really, although it was quite funny when it forced you to play the “catch the balls going down the pyramid” with reverse controls because you picked the wrong “player”.

  6. Will Tennant

    On at least two different occasions I somehow persuaded my dad as a kid to buy me 6ft guttering just so I can roll crystals down them with water in the garden.

    Those were the days.

    1. Chris P

      Incredible – as a child I did exactly the same, asking for guttering for my birthday to build crystal runs in the garden. Managed to replicate the ‘crossbow targets’ game with a nerf gun as well. Who knew. Wonder how many others who grew up with TCM persuaded their parents to buy strange hardware from B&Q to replicate the games at home.

  7. Weaver

    Might have adapted some of the puzzles from the 1991 book to play at a party.

    And might have included a “murder mystery” trail using things on the bookcase. (First clue: 10 notes of £100,000, which should have led the player to a tape of The Million Pound Radio Show…)

  8. Mathew Palmieri

    I get the revivals claums, something dosent feel right….Escpecially ayoade. its like they tries going for ” only nerds/intellectuals watch this show, so lets cast the most famous nerd we know!” (hes not really a nerd channel 4, only plays one on tv) i… think i prefer stephen merchant over ayoade. at least he had the enthusiasm instead of “dry smug mocking of show and its budget. I dont get the choice. cast derren brown or susan calman or hell, ill get Russel brand if he kept his BB big mouth style!

    this show feel’s overall more… Produced than the original. although (i think) it was filmed over 2-3 days in the 90s, it felt like everything was real time, and unscripted, like classic big brother. that is what i feel helped its charm, as unlike, well shows going up to today, thee’se no noticeable edits, the camera followed the contestants where ever they went like its first person, no confessionals, no special gimmicks. it was just them playing games in each zone with no music while ROB talked to you like you were really there and did-int pander to you. not helped that when a commercial break, it was sudden and out of nowhere, but when it returned, it put u back where u left off instantly but here…… music during gameplay, overproduced cinematography while in the zones moving from game to game, shitty cgi for future transitions, a Smug and smarmy millenial “Cool but still nerdy host” and obnoxious play along factor. not to mention the shorter timelimit and less games.

    what a dissapointment. if it gets axed, im not surprised. we have the live experience. we can move on. if your going to bring it back, make it like boyard and add stuff like the judgement room and council. at least boyard is still going strong.


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