It’s a-maze-ing! There’s no place like dome! And other ‘Crystal Maze’ puns! Next Tuesday (March 15), the long-awaited real-life version of the ’90s game show finally opens, and last week we were the first people to go inside. What can we tell you about it? Lots, actually. Read on for our guide to everything you need to know about the new Crystal Maze game.
1. It's VERY MUCH like the original TV show
Fans of the Channel 4 gameshow: prepare to feel exactly like you're in the Channel 4 gameshow. As you work your way around the four different zones (Aztec, Medieval, Future and Industrial – none of that weird business with the ocean zone), you're forced to sprint about in an utterly unnecessary manner, just like on telly, back in the day. The games are all recreations of ones previously featured on the show. The Crystal Dome is an exact life-size replica of the original. And, like the original, you're led around by a maze master who occasionally touches his earpiece and says things like: 'Oh, I'm sorry! We don't have enough time for another game in this zone!'
In fact, the only slight disappointment is the fact that there's no truth to the rumour that suggested you'd be greeted by a Richard O'Brien hologram at the start of the game (apparently they tried it out, but it turns out that holograms look crappy up close). Instead, you begin with an old-school TV showing you a montage of O'Brien's best bits and then an introduction to your host: an actor playing an enigmatic maze master. Just check this guy out – he told us he was called Bison Manstrong. Which we're pretty sure is his real name.
2. You don't need to worry about being locked in
There's one key difference between this version and the original: no worries about spending the entire game locked in! As with the original, your team mates can exchange a hard-won crystal for your freedom. But here there's no umming and ahhing over the decision. Because game rules stipulate that after the rest of the team's played four games without you, they have to trade the crystal for your release. Which, basically means that there's no point to them leaving you in there at all. So you're pretty much guaranteed to get out (assuming your team-mates aren't meanies…).
3. The games are a bit arbitrary (but BRILLIANT)
At the start of the game, you'll have to pick a team captain (and a vice captain in case of lock-in). That captain will then spend the rest of your hour-long session being repeatedly asked to pick which team member is up next and what kind of game they should play (the choices being: mental, physical, skill and mystery). But you'll quickly realise that there's not a huge difference between them. We saw mental games that involved picking up hefty blocks and using them to rearrange a sun-dial. Frankly, we have no idea what differentiates skill games from mental or mystery ones. But then that was always the case with the original gameshow. And, like the original, they all manage to be panic-inducingly tricksy without being fiendishly unachievable. They are, basically, awesome. And it's not too hard to win crystals.
Which leads to more time doing THIS:
4. It's a ludicrously brilliant bonding experience
As one of your team-mates goes into their game, you'll find yourself frantically scrabbling to open the windows and yell abuse – sorry, advice – at them. In fact, most of the games require it – ranging from ones that need you to yell directions at a blindfolded team-mate, 'Knightmare'-style, to those that need you to shout out the answers to mathematical equations (more fun than it sounds, trust us). When they come out, you'll clap each other on the shoulders and whoop. Basically, expect to feel closer to your team-mates than if you'd all tried to jam yourselves onto the Northern Line at rush hour. Even better, you all get to bond over the wicked same-coloured bomber jackets you wear. Seriously. At least two members of our team were asking if you could buy them afterwards (you can). Just check out how cool that makes you look:
Alright, alright. You'll probably look cooler than we did.
5. There's real technique to beating the Crystal Dome
MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT! When you've worked your way around the four zones, you'll be led into a room containing the Crystal Dome. Each crystal you win will be exchanged for five seconds' worth of time to grab golden tickets. This you know already. But what you probably don't know is that you'll be competing against three other teams who were working around the zones at the same time as you. And we've come up with a sure fire way to bag yourself the most tickets. It's this: position as many people as you can by the letterbox into which you have to input the tickets. They're blown around by fans which are positioned near the walls, so that's where most of them collect (and not in the airspace in the middle). The more people you have shovelling them straight in through that letterbox, the better chance you have of winning.
Basicallly, you want to make sure that you do this:
And if possible, NOT this:
Still, either way. Doesn't matter. It's impossible not to leap about to the 'Crystal Maze' tune and not have fun. Particularly if you yell: 'START THE FANS PLEASE!'
Find out more at our full listing and review of The Crystal Maze.
PS. As you go around the maze, there's also a treasure hunt! Keep your eyes peeled for mini treasure chests and collect the gold tokens inside. Tokens = booze, so grab em to get a glass of Freixenet’s Cordon Negro at the end.