Puzzles in Pop Culture: The Challenge: Champs Vs. Stars

One of the first reality TV shows to make an impact was MTV’s The Real World, which debuted back in 1992. A show wherein seven strangers would live together in a house and have their lives and interactions taped, it is credited with helping launch the modern reality TV genre.

In the decades since, one of the show’s longest-lasting spin-offs has been The Challenge, a competition show where former Real World alums and other reality show figures compete against each other in physical and mental games, both individually and as teams. There is also a social element to the show, as players form alliances, scheme against other competitors, and often vote out players at regular intervals.

As you might expect, puzzles have worked their way into The Challenge from time to time. Memory games, sliding tile puzzles, and variations on the Tower of Hanoi puzzle.

The most recent iteration of the show, The Challenge: Champs Vs. Stars, pits celebrity guests (athletes, reality stars, actors, etc.) against some of the top competitors from previous seasons of The Challenge. Each player earns money for a certain charity as they win challenges and outmaneuver their opponents.

At this point in the game, there were four teams of two remaining: the all-stars team of Louise and Casper, the all-champs team of CT and Tony, the star/champ team of Kailah and Drake, and the star/champ team of Wes and Robert.

In last week’s episode, as the four teams arrived, there was a puzzly surprise waiting for them: the Text Tile Challenge.

In teams of two, the competitors had to roll a giant crate across a length of beach — one player lifting and rolling the crate while their partner scrambled atop it to avoid falling to the ground — until they reached an empty grid.

An empty crossword grid, complete with clues. (Technically it’s a criss-cross, but hey, most non-puzzlers don’t know the distinction.)

The competitors then broke open their crates to retrieve lots and lots of letter tiles, which then had to be placed into the grid.

The teams had varying strategies. CT and Tony opted to just fill in words as fast as they could, choosing to ignore that other competitors could cheat by looking over at their board. (Kailah and Drake, in fact, did precisely that, stealing looks at everyone’s boards in order to make up time.)

Louise and Casper, on the other hand, laid out their tiles in the sand, spelling words out and eliminating tiles, but not making it as easy for other players to cheat off them.

The criss-cross itself was pretty underwhelming, consisting mostly of straightforward clues for contemporary slang and Internet terms, like NO FILTER, THIRSTY, WOKE, and SHADE.

Although Casper and Louise’s technique was good, and they were the first team to get their crate to the grid area, CT and Tony ended up completing their grid first, and achieving victory.

In the end, CT and Tony would choose Casper and Louise to go into elimination, and the remaining three teams voted Kailah and Drake to join them, meaning that Wes and Robert were safe, and made the finals alongside CT and Tony. The winner of Casper and Louise vs. Kailah and Drake would be the third and last team in the finals. The loser would go home.

Honestly, if the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is looking to beef up the level of competition, this might be a cool place to start. If nothing else, it would make for one heck of a pairs challenge.

Although this wasn’t the most difficult puzzle-based event I’ve seen in previous editions of The Challenge, it was a nice variation and certainly kept the competitors on their toes. I look forward to seeing if there are any puzzly obstacles awaiting the three teams that’ll be competing in the finale of The Challenge: Champs Vs. Stars.


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

PuzzleNation App Review: TRUpuzzlE

Welcome to the another edition of PuzzleNation App Reviews! Today we continue our quest to explore the world of puzzly games and apps for your tablet or smartphone!

Our resident app player and puzzle fiend Sherri has a new game for us today, so let’s get down to business and dive into her review of TRUpuzzlE for iPad and iPhone!


TRUpuzzlE is an iOS app where you’re tasked with moving the group of green pieces to a specific location.

If you like straight puzzles, then this is the game for you. Your goal is to shift the green group of pieces to the green squares. Easy, right? Well, guess again. Blocking your way are other groups of colored pieces that you have to move around in order to get the green pieces to their proper squares.

This is a real corker of a game, as the levels get progressively harder. Much harder. You have set paths to move the pieces through; in order to get the full three stars for each level, you have to move the green pieces to their squares in a certain number of steps. Of course, you can take as many steps as you need and earn one star, which is good, as completing one level opens up the next.

The graphics are pretty good. Each level’s puzzle board is superimposed on machinery, with moving gears in the background. It has a steampunk flavor that I really enjoy. To reset a level, you simply flick a switch.

Since you’re pretty much solving the same type of puzzle for each level, if you aren’t a lover of this type of puzzle, the game can get a bit tedious. The graphics keep levels interesting, though, and the increasing difficulty really works your brain. This is one game that keeps your puzzle-solving abilities sharp!

Ratings for TRUpuzzlE:

  • Enjoyability: 2/5 — It’s a very straightforward game that really depends on if you like solving that particular type of puzzle. Since each level is essentially the same, just increasing in difficulty, it can get a bit tedious.
  • Puzzle incorporation: 4/5 — This game is all about the puzzle. Each level gets progressively harder with the same type of puzzle.
  • Graphics: 3/5 — They’re minimalist but have a good steampunk flavor. The moving gears really add atmosphere to the game.
  • Gameplay: 3/5 — It’s a fairly easy game to play. Good luck trying to get three stars on each level. Those levels get very tricky!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!