Countdown is an exciting toy for playing hide and seek. In addition to being a small toy that can be hidden anywhere, it adds a timed element to win. Once hidden, whoever is finding Countdown has to find it and beat a set of puzzles using the game buttons, lights and sounds. When developing the puzzles, we established a set of guidelines for how each puzzle should challenge the player. These guidelines are meant to make sure that each puzzle throws something different at the user and, if when done well, there will be some puzzles that you're better that than others. The end-goal is a hide & seek game that the excitement doesn't just end when the toy is found.

Puzzle Development Guidelines

With 6 buttons, each with a bright multi-color light, and our screen for instructions, there's a lot of variety to each puzzle we create. At the concept stage, we categorize each puzzle into one (or more) of the following groups:

  • Reflex - Puzzles that require quick movements to hit a button at a specific time.
  • Cognitive - Use your brain to figure out a reading, math or other challenge to proceed.
  • Memory - Remember a light, sound or text pattern and repeat some or all of it.

Countdown's First Puzzles

Once the guidelines were in place, we set out to bring some familiar and easy-to-pick up puzzles to Countdown. The initial selection of puzzles was selected based on variety of challenges, pick-up ability for a new player to understand quickly, and ease of development. With all that in place, we set to work on the 3 puzzles that have been the mainstay of Countdown for the last few months.

Whac-a-Mole

An oldie but a goodie, a simple game of turning off the lights as fast as you can. This game was extremely quick to develop, the logic is pretty easy, and it's super colorful and engaging. But simplicity doesn't matter to kids as we're still surprised at how often this puzzle is selected as a favorite.

Trigger Finger

A solid reflex game that's taken a huge amount of iterations to get right, Trigger Finger is all about having the fastest reflexes in the room. To play, just watch the lights as they cycle from color to color and press whenever they're green. At lower levels, it's not so bad, you'll have up to 2 seconds to react. Great for younger ones, but not too challenging for a 10 year old. Step up to level 9 and you'll have as little as 300 milli-seconds (0.3 seconds) to hit at the right time. You have to see it to believe it, and while many players have said it's impossible, we've seen flawless playthroughs by others.

Cut the Wire

One of the original ideas behind Countdown, and the philosophy behind Pressure Games itself, is that stress is fun. Cut the Wire leans into that with an imaginative challenge of the hero defusing a bomb. The buttons will light up in different colors and the player has to read the screen to know which 'wire' to cut next. Hit the wrong one, and the timer speeds up! At lower levels, there's fewer colors and less of a penalty. At higher levels, you'll be challenged with cutting multiple wires at the same time and other unexpected difficulties.

Over 5 months of development, those 3 games have been refined by an enormous amount of feedback and have helped us refine Countdown to the exciting, fast-paced game it's become. Of course, we're not done yet. Our goal is to have at least 10 different puzzles in the launch product, and we'll be adding more games through updates as time goes on. We already have a list of 10 more concepts that sound great on paper with 3 more in active development now which we'll be writing about soon. Make sure you sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on Countdown and how to get it for under $20 (nearly 40% off our retail prices) later this summer!