That’s right. Those days of buying a nylon jumpsuit and turning your house into a makeshift obstacle course are over. Thanks to a crowd-funded project set up by three visionary twenty-somethings, you can now play the cult nineties gameshow The Crystal Maze for real in London. We sent Rough Guides editor Greg Dickinson along to don a bomber jacket and bag some crystals, and asked him how he got on.
In case anyone missed out on this slice of cultural history: in ten words, what happened in The Crystal Maze TV show?
Yelling instructions at friend locked in room solving puzzle for crystals, while bald host plays harmonica.
That was sixteen but we’ll let you off. How true is the experience to the TV show?
Pretty damn true. Like on the TV show, there are four fantastically constructed zones (Aztec, Medieval, Future, Industrial) and contestants are forced to jog, crawl and climb between tasks. Jumpsuits have been replaced by brightly coloured bomber jackets that you’ll want to nick (or buy afterwards for £60), and the epic theme tune from the show plays throughout.
Sadly, eccentric ex-TV host Richard O’Brien wasn’t available to run proceedings, but there are foul-mouthed Maze Masters to lead you around the course.
What do you have to do in these tasks?
They’re all recreations of actual tasks from the TV show: from navigating a maze blindfolded, to crossing a room full of lasers, to solving a poker table murder mystery. There are hatches or TV monitors looking into each room, so you can yell conflicting instructions to your sweating teammate as the Maze Master shouts “thirty seconds left!”.
Dare I ask, what happens if you lose a task and don’t get out the room?
Fear not. It’s not quite as brutal as the TV game show, where task losers would be “locked in” for the entirety of the show. If you don’t manage to escape the room in time, you are left to complete another smaller puzzle while your teammates jog to the next task. If you don’t complete the puzzle, that’ll cost one crystal thank you very much…
… and one crystal equals five seconds in the giant crystal dome finale. Are you keeping up?
What happens in the giant crystal dome finale?
Well this is the best bit. Just like in the TV show, there’s an enormous crystal (an exact replica of the TV version, no less) full of golden tickets. The Maze Master yells “Start the fans please!” and the tickets are blown around. You then have to catch as many as you can in your allotted time and cram them in a box.
There are four teams, although you only see the competing teams during the finale, and the team that collects the most golden tickets wins.
What do they win?
Well this sounds like a hoot anyway. Do you have any top tips for people doing The Crystal Maze?
- Communicate! When solving a puzzle, you’re essentially chucked in a room and don’t know what on earth is going on. Amid everyone shouting instructions, try to pick out the voice of your most trustworthy and level-headed friend.
- Listen to your Maze Master. Some of the tasks are really difficult, and your master will give clues when you get stuck.
- Don’t be tempted to cheat in the giant crystal dome at the end. If you scoop tickets off the ground and put them in the box, you’ll be disqualified.
- Play to your strengths. The task categories are physical, mental, skill and mystery. When you’re talking tactics in the pub beforehand, decide who is going to specialise in which category.
- Don’t have too many drinks in the pub beforehand.
The Crystal Maze experience lasts 90 minutes. It costs £50pp on weekdays and £60pp on weekends.