This article contains spoilers for Squid Game: The Challenge through episode 10.
Squid Game became a global hit for many reasons: its bloody violence, its scathing criticism of late-stage capitalism, its Jung Ho-yeon, and so on. But perhaps the most underrated reason is the most obvious: its games.
Never before has the survival horror genre depicted lovingly-crafted high stakes versions of children’s games quite like Squid Game. When it came time for Netflix to adapt the show into reality competition Squid Game: The Challenge, it obviously couldn’t include murder, capitalistic critique, or Jung Ho-yeon. It could, however, include those games. So it did.
Squid Game: The Challenge is full of contests that should be familiar to dedicated Squid Game fans. It also tosses in a few new curveballs to keep the players on their toes. Here you can find every game that Netflix’s Squid Game reality series has staged so far, new and old. For organizational purposes, we’ve categorized each contest as either a “Main Game” or a smaller “Side Game” that takes place within the players’ barracks.
Main Game 1 – Red Light, Green Light
Squid Game: The Challenge opens the same way the original drama does: with the massive culling that is “Red Light, Green Light.” The competition even gets a close approximation of the creepy robotic girl who has what appears to be incredibly sensitive motion sensors in her eyes.
As was certainly intended, “Red Light, Green Light” wipes out roughly half the crowd before they even get to choose a bunk bed. This challenge also sees the elimination of our favorite contestant: 385 who muses “why did I squat?” upon freezing and immediately tumbles over, accepting her fate.
Side Game 1 – Chopping Carrots
Squid Game: The Challenge makes it clear early on that there will be opportunities for players to be eliminated outside of the main games. With that in mind, we’ve decided to refer to all of these events as “Side Games.” It’s a little confusing since not all of them are “games” per se but it’s the best we can do.
The first “Side Game” occurs when players 101 (Kyle) and 134 (Dani) head to the kitchen to chop carrots for dinner. A voice over the PA gives them the opportunity to either eliminate a player or grant a player an advantage in an upcoming challenge. They choose to eliminate player 200 (Mothi.)
Main Game 2 – Dalgona
The second main game “Dalgona,” reveals just how much these players have learned from the original Squid Game. Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) developed the strategy of licking the back of the cookies to extract the shape within late in this particular contest. Here, everyone knows to lick from the get-go. It creates what it surely one of the grossest scenes in Netflix history as all players quickly become coated with a brownish concoction of sugar and spit.
Shout out to player 299 (Mormon software engineer Spencer) here who experiences so much stress that it seems like he thinks Netflix is really going to kill him if he can’t get the umbrella out. Perhaps caving and condemning his team to umbrellas is a fate worse than death anyway.
Side Game 2 – The Ringing Phone
When some Squid Game goons roll out a rotary phone onto the barracks floor, the players don’t know what’s up but assume it’s something bad. Imagine their surprise when 198 (Husnain) answers the phone and is rewarded with a cheeseburger. Unfortunately, 198 falls for the bait when he answers the phone a second time. The voice on the other end informs him that he needs to find someone else to answer the phone or he will be eliminated. He is unable to do so and is sent away.
Main Game 3 – Warships
Here is where the players’ existing knowledge of Squid Game really works against them. Everyone who watched the show knows that the “Tug of War” rope pull is next. So they all seek out the strongest among them to form teams. Instead, however, The Challenge hits them with the more cerebral “Warships” competition. Better know by the Milton Bradley brand name “Battleships,” this game finds players arranging battleships on a grid and guessing the position of their opponents ships to sink.
The twist here, of course, is that the players are also the battleships. If one team sinks two other ships, they win the game and those players on the ships are eliminated. If they lose, their own “captain” and “admiral” are eliminated. A little bit more complicated than the usual Squid Game trial but still compelling nonetheless. This challenge also introduces two of our new favorite players – game expert 018 (Bee) and former NBA player 182 (T.J.).
Side Game 3 – Elimination Test 1 (The Vote)
By episode 4, Squid Game: The Challenge takes an extended break from the “Main Games” in favor of some elimination cullings. The first so-called “Elimination Test” is simple. All of the remaining players gather to cast out three of their own via a simple popularity vote. The unlucky three are 374 (whose strategy of appearing disinterested and wanting to go home backfired), 161 (for being annoying), 330 (also for being annoying).
Side Game 4- Ddakji
We debated on whether to include this one since no one actually gets eliminated but hey, it’s a game at the end of the day. Players 232 (Rick) and 243 (Stephen) are invited to the kitchen to perform a chore that really ends up being the Korean paper game of ddakji. 232 is good at it. 243 is not. When a Squid Game goon arrives it seems as though 243 is about to be eliminated. Instead, 232 is just given some chocolate.
Side Game 5 – Elimination Test 2 (The Jack-in-the-Boxes)
“Elimination Test 2” is pretty brutal as far as in-between game eliminations go. Five players must volunteer to open Jack-in-the-Boxes that have the power to eliminate or gift advantages. 141 chooses to eliminate 183. 375 is eliminated by his Jack-in-the-Box. 087 eliminates 176. 130 is gifted an advantage but is subsequently eliminated by 229 along with 232 and 243.
Side Game 6 – Juicing Oranges
This is one of three “side games” that is introduced as a “chore.” It’s also not clear if it’s really anything at all since there are no eliminations and the contestants have no problems juicing those oranges.
Main Game 4 – Marbles
Our players have no problems juicing those oranges likely because The Challenge needed juice for its picnic that introduces the fourth Main Game: Marbles. First introduced at the end of episode 5, the challenge itself goes down in episode 6 and it’s quite the culling. As necessary by the 1 v. 1 nature of the contest, Marbles takes Squid Game: The Challenge down to 31 remaining players from 62.
One major player elimination from this game is 302, who is sadly dispatched by her own son 301. Additionally 065 and 399 can’t come to an agreement about what marble game to play and are both eliminated.
Side Game 6 – Test of Allegiance
Played almost immediately after Marbles, this game is a simple way for The Challenge to get its contestant number from 31 down to a more satisfying 20. The rules are simple. As if picking a team for kickball in gym class, one player selects another to save, who in turns selects another, and so on and so forth. The 11 unpicked players are eliminated.
Immediately prior to this challenge, the remaining nine women forge a pact to make sure they all make it through to the next round. The pact is successful and the final 20 is made up of 11 men and nine women.
Side Game 7 – Claw Game
The Claw Game is really just the first part of the Glass Bridge game but we’ll give it its own entry because it’s fun. In order to determine the all-important order of who will go when during Glass Bridge, players are asked to use a claw game to pick up a teddy bear with a number on it. That number represents the order in which Glass Bridge will be played and can be granted to any other player the claw game player chooses. 182 (TJ) gets number one. Ironically he draws the 20th and final number and grants it to his friend 287 (Mai)
Main Game 5 – Glass Bridge
This one should be recognizable to fans of Squid Game as it’s the penultimate game of the entire contest. The players here quickly agree to do the equitable thing by going in order once each and therefore ensuring everyone has a 50/50 chance of finding a survivable glass tile rather than letting the first in line to risk themselves multiple tiles.
Unfortunately that means little for the first player 182 (TJ) who picks the wrong tile right from the get go. Player 278 causes some controversy by not following the agreed-upon rules but eventually gives in after 301 is eliminated. Ultimately Squid Game: The Challenge sheds eight players in this game, leaving 12 left.
Side Game 8 – The Die
There really is no rest for the weary on Squid Game: The Challenge. Shortly after Glass Bridge, a Squid Game guard arranges a rope in a triangle on the barracks floor and places a die directly in the center of it. All remaining 12 players must announce whether they intend to nominate themselves or someone else, then roll the die. A rolled six will eliminate whoever they nominated.
Mai makes some waves by attempting to oust player 278 for her sins on the Glass Bridge but is unsuccessful. Ultimately three players end up eliminating themselves: 018 (Bee), 031 (Purna), 286 (Chad).
Main Game 6 – Circle of Trust
Nearly the entirety of episode 9 is devoted to this meaty main game that relies on the players’ knowledge of one another (and who they trust). The remaining nine players gather at a circle of desks, blindfolded. One player is instructed to remove their blindfold and place a gift on the desk of the player they’d like to eliminate. If that player guesses who placed the gift on their desk, the gift-giver is eliminated. If not, the gift-receiver is eliminated.
287 (Mai) and 451 (Phill) put on excellent performances in this round, being the only players to correctly guess who gave them a gift (Phill does so twice even). When the dust settles, only three players remain for the finale: 016 (Samuel Wells), 287 (Mai Whelan), and 451 (Phillip Cain).
Side Game 9 – The Last Supper
It feels a little weird to refer to this contest as a “side game” since it eliminates a whole 33% of the remaining players but one of the precedents we set for side games was “eliminations that happen in the dorm” so we’ll stick with it. This game is breathtakingly simple. The final three players are presented with three buttons: a triangle, a circle, and a square. When pressed, one button will turn green and advance a player to the final game (along with their choice of competitor), one button will turn gray and do nothing, and one button will turn red and immediately eliminate you.
Mai has the right idea in choosing to press her button first. She correctly reasons that if either of Sam or Phill receives the green light, they will invite the other into the final game. So she takes her own 33% chance of making it on her own. She’s unsuccessful but not eliminated. The next button press, Sam, receives the red light and is promptly cut.
Main Game 7 – End Game (Rock, Paper, Scissors)
The final matchup is between Mai (287) and Phill (451). Squid Game: The Challenge once again opts for 80% chance and 20% skill with a rousing set of Rock, Paper, Scissors games. The twist here is that upon winning, the winner selects a key from a big box to try to open a safe. If the safe opens, The Challenge is over and they’ve won. If it doesn’t, they play another round of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Mai proves to be an unusually good Rock, Paper, Scissors player and gets the statistical edge on Phill in selecting more keys, finally finding the winning key after about a dozen tries. And that makes 287 the first winner of Squid Game: The Challenge.
Squid Game: The Challenge episodes one through five are available to stream on Netflix now. Episodes six through nine premiere on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The 10th and final episode premieres Wednesday, Dec. 6.