Squid Game: All differences in The Challenge explained

Daisy Phillipson
Still from Squid Game: The Challenge and Squid Game

Not long to go now until we find out who won the first season of Squid Game: The Challenge – until then, check out all the differences between the original Squid Game and its reality show spinoff.

Netflix’s new Squid Game: The Challenge bears many similarities to Squid Game, with the competition spinoff featuring 456 players all competing for a whopping cash prize of $4.56 million.

As per the synopsis: “As they compete through a series of games inspired by the original show – plus surprising new additions – their strategies, alliances, and character will be put to the test while competitors are eliminated around them.”

Alongside those “surprising new additions,” there are a number of changes made to the games and tests in Squid Game: The Challenge to make sure every contestant has a fair shot. So, let’s get into it. Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Squid Game: All differences in The Challenge explained

Below, we’ve broken down all of the differences between Squid Game: The Challenge and the original Squid Game, as is shown in Episodes 1-9. 

We’ll be sure to add any further differences when the finale drops on Netflix.

No one dies in Squid Game: The Challenge

Still from Squid Game: The Challenge

First and foremost, let’s highlight the obvious – whereas contestants were ruthlessly killed if they failed in Squid Game, the reality TV counterpart just sends eliminated players home with nothing more than a bruised ego. 

And that means there are no weapons involved, either. The staff do don the same masks and pink suits, though. 

Squid Game: The Challenge overcomes Dalgona issue

Still from Squid Game: The Challenge

Since the contestants will have already seen Squid Game, the creators had to find a way to overcome the fact that they’d know to choose the easiest shape for the Dalgona cookie game

To refresh your memory, the game sees players split into four groups before choosing between a circle, triangle, star, or umbrella. In Squid Game, the players don’t realize until it’s too late that they’re going to have to carve this shape out of a honeycomb cookie – and if it breaks, they’re killed. 

It goes without saying that none of the contestants want the umbrella. To deal with this, the creators of Squid Game: The Challenge get them to split up into four groups in a blank room and stand in queues. The first four players from each of the queues enter the Dalgona room and choose one of the shapes. 

They have two minutes to agree among themselves who gets what shape for their teams. If they can’t decide within two minutes, all four are eliminated and the next four people from each team are sent in to do the same.

This process is repeated until they can all agree and every group has been assigned a shape. 

Tug of War is replaced by Warships

Still from Squid Game: The Challenge

Although Squid Game taught us that physical strength isn’t necessarily all you need when it comes to winning Tug of War, there’s the worry that Squid Game: The Challenge players might use the same tactics as Seong Gi-hun and his peers. Or, it could ultimately see the strongest players band together to win. 

To overcome this, the creators scrapped the game altogether, which proves to be a bit of a curveball for the players. Instead, they play Warships, which is essentially a human-sized version of Battleships.

Contestants vote for different reason

Still from Squid Game: The Challenge

In Squid Game, the players are made to hold a vote after Red Light, Green Light as to whether or not they want to continue with the games and risk their lives. 

While literal murder is off the cards in Squid Game: The Challenge, they still hold a vote – only this time it’s to decide who each player wants to eliminate. 

Each contestant is made to vote for one other player, and the three with the most votes at the end of it are eliminated. 

Squid Game: The Challenge adds tests

Still from Squid Game: The Challenge

Since so much of the original Netflix series centers on character development, as well as part of the story being set outside of the Squid Game world, the creators of its real-life counterpart supplement the main events with additional tests. 

In between each game is a test, which may involve one, two, or all of the players – and that includes the aforementioned voting challenge. It’s a great way to raise the stakes further, while also boosting the entertainment value of the show. 

Ddakji takes a lesser role in Squid Game: The Challenge

Still from Squid Game: The Challenge

Ddakji – the tile game used as the recruitment process in Squid Game – doesn’t play such a significant role in The Challenge since the recruiting was done off-screen.

Instead, two Ddakji tiles are left on the side of the kitchen area in the reality show. Two players eventually stumble upon them and start playing, with the winner earning a chocolate bar. 

The cash prize is marginally different

Still from Squid Game: The Challenge on Netflix

Squid Game: The Challenge players are competing for a $4.56 million prize, while Squid Game’s fund was 4.56 billion won, equal to approximately $38.5 million.

Let’s get this straight – both are significant, life-changing sums of money. And while it might not quite match the show upon which it’s based, Squid Game: The Challenge is offering Netflix’s largest cash prize in reality television history.

There are no VIPs or masterminds 

Still from Squid Game

There aren’t any secret masterminds in Squid Game: The Challenge à la Oh Il-nam, as every contestant is on a level playing field. 

The same goes for VIPs, the mask-wearing billionaires watching Squid Game from afar and placing huge bets on the chaotic events. 

But that doesn’t mean the players don’t struggle with trust – when $4.56 million is at stake, can they rely on their peers?

Circle of Trust is added to the mix

Still from Squid Game: The Challenge on Netflix

Speaking of having no VIPs, before the grand finale, the producers of Squid Game: The Challenge needed a new game to whittle down the players, and that brings us to Episode 9 and the Circle of Trust.

For this game, which isn’t included in the flagship series, the players must sit in a circle with a present in the middle and put on blindfolds. One player is selected at random and tapped on the shoulder to take their blindfold off. They must quietly place the present on the desk of one contestant they wish to eliminate before sitting back down.

Here’s the twist: once everyone’s blindfolds are off, the player with the present has to leave the game unless they can correctly guess who gave it to them. This continues until just three players are left for the finale, as is the case in Squid Game.

Squid Game: The Challenge Episodes 1-9 are available to stream on Netflix now, with the finale dropping on December 6. You can check out our other coverage below:

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About The Author

Daisy is a Senior TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's a lover of all things macabre, whether that be horror, crime, psychological thrillers or all of the above. After graduating with a Masters in Magazine Journalism, she's gone on to write for Digital Spy, LADbible and Little White Lies. You can contact her on daisy.phillipson@dexerto.com