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Puzzle Games

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Solving mathematical and word games, mysteries, codes and brain teasers are the main elements in puzzle games. They challenge your logical and abstract thinking in order to crack a tough nut.

Many puzzle games involve mazes, rebuses, tangrams and mechanical riddles.

You can find a deeper definition here

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Kinds of PuzzlesEdit

There are many kinds of puzzles out there and some games may even have more than one. For simplicity, this page will list only the two most prevalent types found in each game in the game sections. See the game description for a more rounded idea of the puzzles represented.

For your convenience, here is a list of the most common puzzle types and their definitions. If something looks close, it most likely fits under one of these types. For example, Dr. Mario may use pills instead of squares but it's still a falling block puzzle, not a "pill matching puzzle".

Color Matching Remove blocks by matching the colors up. If the screen fills with unmatched blocks or you run out of moves, you lose. Some variations require that all the blocks in a given area be the same color instead. Unlike falling block puzzles there typically are blocks on the screen at the start and more blocks do not fall from the top of the screen. Some variations may allow new pieces to be manually added by the player, however!

Oldest Archetype: Lights Out, Puzzle Bobble


Critter Guidance Guide the critters through assorted obstacles and try to keep as many alive as possible. Frequently involves the use of special moves, powerups, and lots of multitasking. You lose if too many of them die.

Oldest Archetype: Lemmings


Drawing Puzzle variation during which lines must be drawn to complete the puzzle. Typically involves using a track ball, stylus, or touch pad, though older games may use the keyboard or mouse. The lines can be used to do many things from sectioning off a screen to completing a level, and usage will vary from game to game.

Oldest Archetype: Qix


Falling Block Blocks fall from the top of the screen. They must either match colors or fill areas in order to be removed from the game. The game ends when the screen is full. Unlike color matching puzzles, your screen starts empty in this game and pieces are added at a steady (possibly increasing) rate from there.

Oldest Archetype: Tetris


Logic These puzzles don't look like puzzles. Instead you must solve problems by cleverly using items and tools around you. For example, you may need to find rope and sticks to create a ladder in order to get down from a high ledge. Adventure games love this kind of puzzle.

Oldest Archetype: Zork


Mixed This indicates a game with an extremely broad spectrum of other puzzle types inside. You may literally find no two puzzles alike in this game! One moment you are clearing falling blocks and the next you are jumping pegs. It is not an actual game genre by itself, it just warns that the game is extremely multi-genre.

Oldest Archetype: Shivers


Maze Guide the character through the maze, avoiding traps and enemies along the way. This is different from an arcade maze game because the maze itself is the puzzle and the enemies/traps are just there to increase the difficulty of the maze itself.

Oldest Archetype: Maze for Dos/Windows

Physical This puzzle type generally is accompanied by other puzzles or as a gaming element in a non-pure puzzle. These puzzles involve you physically moving your character to complete a task such as jumping across blocks in order or pushing boulders to activate switches. They are similar to logic puzzles in that you must use environmental tools to meet your goal, but they are not logic puzzles as logic puzzles are generally more abstract and do not leave all the parts in the open in front of you.

Oldest Archetype: Lode Runner (contains both block pushing & jumping style physical puzzles)


Physics Attempt to complete various tasks with care taken to obey the laws of physics. These vary wildly from building puzzles to using momentum and logic to navigate obstacle courses. Many of these games require good timing and spacial skills.

Oldest Archetype: Jenga (yes, a board game)


Strategy Carefully place piece/units/whatevers in order to defeat the opponent. The movement of the pieces in respect to the location of the opponent's pieces is where the real puzzle lies. Typically there are no dice involved so luck is less important than skill. Rules vary wildly from game to game as do the pieces moved. For example, Go, Chess, and Risk are all strategy games.

Oldest Archetype: Mancala (yes, a board game)


Unit Based This puzzle type is based around the interactions of several kinds of characters/creatures. If the units work well together, the puzzle may progress. If he units do not work well, the game may end. Each unit often have abilities, "likes" and "dislikes". Sometimes health and level up systems are involved. Due to the high number of other non-puzzle factors, any puzzle like this is not used in a "pure puzzle" game. RTS games and strategy games may use this puzzle type.

Oldest Archetype: Tactics Ogre

Word Puzzle This puzzle type has you arrange letters, words, or sentences to try to solve the puzzle. A puzzle only counts as a word puzzle if the words themselves are the puzzle, having to type things in (such as in an adventure game) is not a word puzzle.

Oldest Archetype: Hang Man, Scrabble (yes, more board/paper games)

Pure PuzzlesEdit

100% puzzle solving action. There are no worlds to explore or anything else: just beat those puzzles! If there is a plot, it comes between rounds or after solving the puzzle and is advanced only by solving more puzzles.

Box Art Title Genre Description System
Bookworm boxart Bookworm Word Puzzle If you enjoy Scrabble you should definitely take a look at this puzzle game: You form words out of random letters that are mixed together. The longer the word the more points you gain. PC, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, Smartphones, Xbox Live, DSiWare
Chuchurocket ChuChu Rocket! Maze

Critter Guidance

You save mice via arrows. They escape via rockets. That's all you have to know about the game. (guide mice to their rockets through a maze and avoid roaming cats - the mice just run forward and change direction with your help) Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, Android
32510 1307129130 Columns Crown

Falling Blocks

Color Matching

Trios of jewels fall down from the top. Stack 3 or more jewels of the same color to score. Sounds generic and therefore the devs included a little story, power-up items and the possibilty to erase jewels diagonally. A cute cartoonish mix between Tetris Attack and Super Puzzle Fighter. Game Boy Advance, Sega Genesis, Game Gear
Cub chase Disney's Hot Shots: Cub Chase Maze Help the cubs Kiara and Kovu cover a maze with their paw prints. The whole path has to be covered to win the level. To make it difficult you need to evade your baby-sitters or scare hyenas with masks (and run away from them respectively if you don't have the power-up). Actually a pretty fun game that can also be played with a friend at the same computer. PC
Drmario box Dr. Mario

Falling Blocks

Color Matching

In this tetris-like game you have to defeat all the viruses (aka blocks in tetris). You do so by moving and rotating the falling capsules to stack them until they are 4 of the same color. NES, Game Boy/Advance, Nintendo 64
1953dd772c1af3b32d851504b6115b7d-98 Hexic HD

Color Matching

In the preinstalled game Hecix HD made by tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov you rotate hexagonal pieces to form specific patterns, clusters and flowers. Sounds easy but requires clever puzzling. The pressure of ticking bombs that you have to erase in time only increases the difficulty. (Which is not a bad thing since it makes the game more exciting) Xbox 360
Lemmings Cover Lemmings Critter Guidance

Logic

Try to get as many lemmings across the screen as possible by making them build bridges, giving them parachutes and occasionally blowing some up. It sounds simple but can be Nintendo Hard to master. Avoid Lemmings 3d, but the rest is good. Various

(Nearly on every system available)

Lumines Lumines Rhythm

Falling Blocks

Imagine Tetris had a child with Audiosurf. Lumines lets you drop 4 differently colored boxes at once. The thing is, you need to stack them in the same color combined with the rythm of the track to score. High scores are a need to unlock skins and more songs.

There is also a similar WiiWare called Groovin' Blocks.

PSP, Playstation 2, PC, Xbox Live, Playstation Network
Mr Driller Pal Mr. Driller series

Arcade

Physics

The world is being overrun by colored blocks. Put on your awesome Mr. Driller suit and start breaking through all the damn blocks in Boulderdash style. Be careful though: The blocks might crush your skull or you'll run out of air if you don't collect air tanks. The difficulty is just as crazy as everything above sounds but the game becomes really addictive when you got the hang of it. Playstation, Dreamcast, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, GameCube, WiiWare, Xbox Live, PC
One Piece Mansion Cover One Piece Mansion Strategy

Unit Based

This is a very rare case of a unit-based pure puzzle. You run an apartment building ("Mansion"). Try to place your tenants so they will all be happy. You also need to ward away burglars and vandals on your property. If the tenants get angry enough to leave, they will not leave their room in one piece. See what they did there? This game has no relation to the similar-sounding anime.

PS One
Pac-man-INTV Pac-Man series

Maze

Arcade

Eating pills, chasing ghosts or rather running away from them, listening to techno music, feeling retro. To be fair it's not a real puzzle game but the prime father of maze puzzles and therefore worth mentioning. Pac-Man clones and sequels are everywhere available
Polarium Advance-1- Polarium

Drawing

Color Matching

The goal of each level is to simply flip tiles so they are either all black or all white. You flip differently colored tiles by drawing a line. In the DS version you draw lines with the stylus. Easier said than done. Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS
Pokemon Puzzle League Pokémon Puzzle League

Falling Blocks

Color Matching

Basically Tetris Attack but with Pokémon in it. Just as fun as Tetris Attack, with even many of the voices being annoying at times. N64, GBC
33962-500m Puzzle Bobble series Arcade

Color Matching

Also known as Bust-A-Move. You and your avatar have to stack at least 3 balls of the same color to erase them. Meanwhile the remaining wall of balls comes nearer and if it reaches your avatar you lose. Many combos can be made such as shooting down a pair that carries other balls.

Various

(Nearly on every system available)

-Sheep-GBA- -1- Sheep

Critter Guidance (Sheep herding)

You're a little dog who looks after several sheeps and guides them to the end of the level. You make use of the same methods as real sheperd dogs such as rounding up the animals and protecting them from danger. (Electric fences etc.) The GBA version looks really cute. Recommended for breaks. Game Boy Advance, Playstation 2, PC
Super-puzzle-fighter-ii-x-for-matching-service Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

Falling Blocks

Color Matching

A puzzle game featuring chibi Darkstalkers and Street Fighter characters. Even a couple of guest characters here and there. Very fun and inventive game that's worth a try if you like both puzzle and fighting games. PS1,SS,DC,360,PS3
256px-SuperMonkeyBallDeluxeBox Super Monkey Ball series Physics

Arcade

Super Monkey Ball resembles the classic puzzle of dexterity. You control a monkey of your choice in a ball and maneuver him through the stages while collecting bananas for more points. Be aware: It requires a lot of training and the difficulty grows rapidly. (It's sad that they didn't include a rotation sensor in the GBA version like they did with WarioWare Twisted) Game Cube, Xbox, N-Gage, Game Boy Advance, Wii, Playstation 2, PSP, Nintendo DS
Swing GBC Swing

Color Matching

Physics

Drop balls onto seesaws and match their colors. If 3 or more balls of the same color lie horizontally in a row you score points and they vanish. The balls have different weights (described as numbers) and depending on their weight they move the seesaw up or down. Also available as a free opensource remake on xswing.net. Game Boy Color, Java (PC/Mac/Linux), Playstation
Tetris-nintendo-game-boy-25-ans Tetris Falling Blocks The ancestor of all falling block puzzles had an addictive influence on the gaming scene and got people to play who were never interested in vidya to begin with. Simple, yet challenging.

Various

(Nearly on every system available)

C22107b99b117948aad94fff30aaad9b-Tetris Attack Tetris Attack

Falling Blocks

Color Matching

A really fucking neato puzzle game by nintendo. Basically re-invents Tetris in a nutshell to a great extent. The formula makes you like up 3-or more blocks horizontally or vertically to make sure the upcoming blocks don't fuck you over. It's better to get in the habit of getting 4 or more blocks to add up garbage blocks for your opponent in a V.S. type match. Called Panel De Pon in Japan, but renamed and retextured from little girls to Yoshi's Island characters in USA for REAL MEN. LOOK AT THAT BOXART GODDAMN! SNES
Warioware WarioWare series Microgames The WarioWare games include tons of mini games which are fast paced and very short. Not every mini game can be considered as a puzzle but needs to be solved quickly and with fast thinking. Game Boy Advance, Game Cube, Wii, Nintendo DS, DSiWare, WiiWare
Wetrix cover Wetrix Physics

Falling Blocks

Use the pieces falling from the sky to create dams and walls to contain the rain. If too much water spills, you lose. Also, don't build too unevenly or an Earthquake will destroy everything.

Has two player mode and challenge mode. It also has a sequel called "Aqua Aqua".

Wetrix: N64, Dreamcast, PC, Game Boy Color Aqua Aqua: Ps2
World of Goo Screen World of Goo Physics

Building

You use the little goos to build bridges and other constructs to make obstacles and even gravity your bitch. Diversity comes in form of different kind of goos and cut-scenes. PC, WiiWare, Android
Zen Bound 2 comparison Zen Bound

Physics

(copied from iOS)

A puzzle game involving wrapping rope around wooden objects. Currently one of the most critically-acclaimed iPhone games. A sequel was recently released. Newer devices can run a version with enhanced graphics. The sequel, Zen Bound 2, is bigger and better.

iOS, PC
Zoocube-front-1- ZooCube

Physics

(Animal) Matching

You're a cube and you have to save animals from the apocalypse. Saving them means stacking two of the same animal figurine to free gorillas, tigers, cows etc. You're able to rotate the cube diagonally and horizontally since all 6 sides are under pressure of stacking random animals. You obivously lose if you stacked too many wrong parts. During it's release the game has been smiled and laughed at but really doesn't deserve all the hate. It's not a totally awesome game but mediocore and fun for a while. Game Cube, Game Boy Advance (GBA version doesn't have animals but other things to stack), Playstation 2

Puzzle Heavy GamesEdit

These games have other major themes, but still feature puzzles heavily. Typically the puzzles are used to advance the plot or to unlock new areas of the game in titles like these. These games often have a "world" to explore and may feature other non-puzzle elements such as combat, platforming, a health bar or an upgrade system.

Genre is arranged by primary puzzle type, then main game category.

Box Art Title Genre Description System
Bomberman 64 Bomberman series

Maze / Action

Bomberman games let you play as Bomberman (& co) who shits out bombs to destroy enemies and/or obstacles. Most famous for it's multiplayer qualities the franchise offers many ways to kill your enemies such as timed bombs or upgrades to your speed and explosives. Newer games even have a little story and more zelda-like mazes.

Various

(Nearly on every system available)

Ico Ico Physical

Action-Adventure

(copied from Playstation 2)

You, as the young Ico, join the ethereal Princess Yorda in a bid to escape the massive, seaside castle where you were imprisoned and left to die. Gameplay mostly consists of solving architectural puzzles to progress, with occasional, cumbersome fighting segments in between. The cinematic, HUD-less presentation and "soft lighting" technique, which gives the game world a nostalgic, vaguely Impressionistic feel, work very much to its favor. The game is quite short (~5 hours) and much replay-only content was removed from the NA version. Its story is sparse and ambiguous. Its atmosphere and unique feel make it endlessly replayable, and are what made director Fumito Ueda famous. Ported to PS3 in HD.

Playstation 2
Limbo Box Art Limbo Logic

Platformer

A black and white story that features a boy in a strange environment who tries to discover his sister's fate. PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Machinarium-cover art Machinarium Logic

Adventure

(copied from Adventure Games)

An award-winning indie adventure about the tale of a little robot in a city made of machines. It's kind of similar to The Neverhood in the sense that puzzles are generally logic-based and that there is no spoken dialog. The artstyle is amazing and can best be described as a mixture of bleak, dystopian, industrial and completely adorable.

PC
Maxmagic demo Max & the Magic Marker Drawing

Platformer

Max & the Magic Marker is a mix between Scribblenauts and Yoshi Touch & Go. You draw bridges, destroy enemies and refill your marker with ink. Obviously requires permanent Wii remote action. WiiWare
Boxart eur might-and-magic-clash-of-heroes Might & Magic: Clash Of Heroes

Unit based

RTS style

A puzzle RPG with elements from the M&M franchise. (Units, skills, places etc.) The story starts with the elf Anwen who sees her relatives getting slain by demons. With the help of 4 other characters you solve a conspiracy. The battles are turn-based. You attack or create walls by combining 3 units of the same color and kind. Needless to say every unit has its own stats and tactics. There are also larger boss units who bring in more action.

Nintendo DS, Playstation 3, PC, Xbox 360
Portal standalonebox Portal

Physics

Platformer

A mind-teasing 1st person puzzle shooter. Your enemies are gravity, lava, evil robots and of course cubes which have to be manipulated with your portal gun. With it's help you're able to create 2 portals to go your way. (Don't buy it as a single game)

PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Layton Professor Layton series Logic

Adventure

You help Professor Layton to solve mysteries and puzzles. Most prominent DS exclusive title with a mysterious (duhu) atmosphere and lovely characters. Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, iPhone, iPad
Scribblenauts cover Scribblenauts series

Drawing Platformer

Solve puzzles using a magic notebook that spawns anything you write in it. And I do mean ANYTHING.  Nintendo DS
Shivers 2 Gameplay Shivers 2: Harvest of Souls

Mixed

Horror-Survival

Do you like scary games and... puzzles? Visit the desolate town of Cyclone, gather clues by solving various puzzles, and attempt to appease the wrathful ancients in order to save your friends. Puzzles vary from classic peg jumping to scanning music videos for subtle hints that can save your life. Put the second disc into your CD player for even more clues and awesome music!

PC
Maxresdefault
The Talos Principle Philosophical puzzle A game about a robot thinking he's human with A LOT of puzzles. Has been asked numerous time on the edgy board called /v/ and not many people seems to hate it. Hope you enjoy it. PC, PS4

Games with minor but mentionable puzzle content:Edit

Puzzles are not the focus of these games. In fact, there may only be a couple puzzles in the whole game. However, the few puzzles inside are good ones that people talk about!

Box Art Title Genre Description System
Amnesia-The-Dark-Descent-Cover-Art Amnesia: The Dark Descent Survival Horror

(copied from Scary Horror & Mindfuck)

By the same developers as Penumbra. You play as Daniel, an amnesiac who must investigate the mysterious Castle Brennenburg, with only two goals in mind: Find your memories, and kill the castle's owner, the mysterious Alexander of Brennenburg. VERY loosely based on Lovecraft's "The Outsider" (So loosely based that you will only understand the similarities after you beat the game). It uses the same physics system as Penumbra, but with an influence on pants shitting instead of hard puzzles (Though the stupid should beware, there are puzzles that could baffle you for a while, but nothing hard enough to require a walkthrough). TL:DR; Decently hard puzzles. No weapons. Loads of NOPENOPENOPE

Linux, Mac OSX, PC
2a91c523ba31031dffa83b8da3358916-The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past The Legend of Zelda series

Action

Adventure

Zelda games have always had some riddles and mysteries to solve. Many fans like the mix of fighting and solving riddles in dungeons. SNES, NES, Game Boy/Color/Advance, Nintendo 64, Game Cube, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Wii
The secret of monkey island sega cd Monkey Island series

Adventure

Logic

Guybrush Threepwood has to deal with many strange, funny and sometimes really hard problems whose solutions often require the combination of items and cleverness ... or rather wit. PC, Playstation 2, Amiga, WiiWare
Spyro Spyro series

Adventure

Platformer

A quirky dragon jumps, flys and runs through colorful worlds using magic, collecting a lot of stuff and dealing with riddles here and there. Playstation, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Game Cube, Wii, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Xbox, Xbox 360,

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