Puzzle video game

Puzzle video game

Puzzle video games are a genre of video games that emphasize puzzle solving. The types of puzzles to be solved can test many problem solving skills including logic, strategy, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion.


Definition and gameplay

Puzzle games focus on logical and conceptual challenges, although occasionally the games add time-pressure or other action-elements. Although many action games and adventure games involve puzzles such as obtaining inaccessible objects, a true puzzle game focuses on puzzle solving as the primary gameplay activity.[1] Games usually involve shapes, colors, or symbols, and the player must directly or indirectly manipulate them into a specific pattern.[2]

Rather than presenting a random collection of puzzles to solve, puzzle games typically offer a series of related puzzles that are a variation on a single theme. This theme could involve pattern recognition, logic, or understanding a process. These games usually have a simple set of rules, where players manipulate game pieces on a grid, network or other interaction space. Players must must unravel clues in order to achieve some of victory condition, which will then allow them to advance to the next level. Completing each puzzle will usually lead to a more difficult challenge, although some games avoid exhausting the player by offering easier levels between more difficult ones.[1]

Types of puzzle games

Minesweeper, a popular computer puzzle game found on many machines.

Some puzzle games feed to the player a random assortment of blocks or pieces that they must organize in the correct manner, such as Tetris, Klax and Lumines. Tetris, designed in 1985, is considered one of the most important video puzzle games and has spawned many sequels, variations, and clones of the "falling block" variety.[3] Others present a preset game board or pieces and challenge the player to solve the puzzle by achieving a goal (Bomberman, The Incredible Machine). Some of the games in the former category have a mode that plays like the latter.[clarification needed] For example, in both Tetrisphere and Tetris Attack, there is a "puzzle mode" in which the player must clear a pre-defined board within a certain number of moves. Another type of puzzle game requires you to build systems out of supplied parts. These games include Microsoft Tinker, Crazy Machines, and Crazy Machines 2.

Puzzle games are often easy to develop and adapt, being manifest on dedicated arcade units, home video game consoles, personal digital assistants, and mobile phones. Because puzzle games are often so abstract, the term is sometimes also used as a blanket term for games with unique and otherwise difficult to describe gameplay.[citation needed]

The game Minesweeper is notable because of the large installed user base, as the game comes bundled with the Microsoft Windows operating system, many distributions of Linux, and some older Palm OS operating system variants, among others.

Action puzzle

An action puzzle or arcade puzzle requires that the player manipulates game pieces in a real-time environment, often on a single screen and with a time limit, to solve the puzzle or clear the level.[4] This is a broad term that has been used to describe several subsets of puzzle game. Firstly, it includes falling-block puzzles such as Tetris and KLAX.[4] It includes games with characters moving through an environment, controlled either directly (Lode Runner) or indirectly (Lemmings).[5] This can cross-over with other action genres: a platform game which requires a novel mechanic to complete levels might be a "puzzle platformer", such as manipulating time in Braid.[6] Finally, it includes other action games that require timing and accuracy with pattern-matching or logic skills, such as the first-person Portal.[7]

Other notable action puzzle games include Team Ico's Ico, and Shadow of the Colossus.

Hidden object game

The first level of Cassandra's Journey, published by Big Fish Games, an example of a hidden object game.

A hidden object game (sometimes called hidden picture) is a genre of puzzle video game in which the player must find items from a list that are hidden within a picture.[8] Hidden object games are a popular trend in casual gaming,[9][10] and are comparatively inexpensive to buy.[8][9] Time-limited trial versions of these games are usually available for download.

Publishers of hidden object games include Sandlot Games, Big Fish Games, Awem Studio, SpinTop Games, Codeminion and many more.[8] Examples of hidden object game series include Dream Chronicles (PlayFirst), Mortimer Beckett (RealArcade/GameHouse), Hidden Expedition and Mystery Case Files (both by Big Fish Games).[11]

A recent Social Network variant of hidden object games is the free-to-play (Facebook) game Gardens of Time.

Reveal the picture game

A reveal the picture game is a type of puzzle game that features piece-by-piece revealing of a photo or picture.

Physics game

A physics game is a type of puzzle video game wherein the player must use the game's physics to complete each puzzle. Physics games use realistic physics to make games more challenging.[12] The genre is especially popular in online flash games and mobile games. Educators have used physics games to demonstrate principles of physics.[13]

Popular physics games include World of Goo, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and Peggle.

Traditional puzzle

There have also been many digital adaptations of traditional puzzle games, including solitaire and mahjong solitaire. Even familiar word puzzles, number puzzles, and association puzzles have been adapted into games such as Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training.[14]


Origins and popularity

Puzzle video games owe their origins to brain teaser and puzzles throughout human history. Many educational games were created in the early years of game consoles, and created a template for games that involved thinking and strategy without any action or adventure. Likewise, maze games in the arcades were another precursor to puzzle games (see 1979's Heiankyo Alien, for example). Several action games also focused on mental challenges, including the action-puzzle hybrid Q*bert from 1982. Another early example of a puzzle-oriented game was Konami's Loco-Motion that same year. Skyler Miller of GameSpot argues that Atari Video Cube, also from the same year, "gets my vote as the first true puzzle video game," involving gameplay similar to a Rubik's Cube in a 2-dimensional space.[2] Later implementations such as GNUbik provided a more faithfull reproduction of the original puzzle. Other early puzzle games included puzzle-platformers such as Enix's Door Door (1983),[15] Sega's Doki Doki Penguin Land (1985),[16] and the earlier Space Panic (1980).

Tetris is credited for revolutionizing gaming and popularizing the puzzle genre. The game was created by Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov in 1985, but did not become popular until it was released for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1989. Tetris was inspired by a traditional puzzle game named Pentomino, where players would have to arrange falling blocks into lines without any gaps. The game was a moderate success on the PC and in arcades, but it sold 30 million copies on the Game Boy alone.[2]


Several dozen puzzle video games were created in the 1990s, with many games allowing players to arrange falling blocks as seen in Tetris.[17] The original Tetris itself inspired a series of sequels, clones, and knock-offs.[2] However, there were several innovative games, including Pipe Dream (also known as "Pipe Mania"),[17] a 1989 release that challenged players to create an unbroken chain of pipes to divert a toxic liquid.[2]

The 1990s also saw the release of Lemmings, which is considered one of the greatest puzzle games of all time.[18] The game involved a series of creatures who mindlessly walked into deadly situations, and the player was given the ability to assign jobs to specific lemmings in order to guide the swarm to a safe destination.[2] 1994 was marked by a surge in interest in mahjong video games from Japan.[17] When Minesweeper was released with Windows 95, mainstream audiences embraced using a mouse to play puzzle games.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b Rollings, Andrew; Ernest Adams (2006). Fundamentals of Game Design. Prentice Hall. http://wps.prenhall.com/bp_gamedev_1/54/14053/3597646.cw/index.html. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Miller, Skyler. "History of Puzzle Games". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/features/vgs/universal/puzzle_hs/. Retrieved 2010. 
  3. ^ Miller, Skyler. "The History of Puzzle Games: Tetris". GameSpot UK. http://www.gamespot.com/features/vgs/universal/puzzle_hs/tet.html. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  4. ^ a b "Action Puzzle Games". allgame. Rovi. http://www.allgame.com/style.php?id=112. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  5. ^ "Capcom looks back on 2009, teases new stuff for 2010". http://www.destructoid.com/capcom-looks-back-on-2009-teases-new-stuff-for-2010-159647.phtml. 
  6. ^ Magrino, Tom (August 4, 2009). "Braid tangled up in PSN". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. http://uk.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/braid/news.html?sid=6214712&om_act=convert&om_clk=newsfeatures&tag=newsfeatures;title;2. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  7. ^ Edge staff (June 15, 2007). "Report: Half-Life: Episode 2 Coming Oct. 9". Edge (Future). http://www.next-gen.biz/news/report-half-life-episode-2-coming-oct-9. 
  8. ^ a b c "Ally Noble Desert Island Disks". Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (53): 79. "Hidden object games ... For example, you're a detective looking for clues in a picture ... they might be in monochrome on the wallpaper or peeping out from behind something." 
  9. ^ a b George Roush (October 17, 2008). "Everest: Hidden Expedition iPhone Review". IGN. http://uk.wireless.ign.com/articles/921/921322p1.html. 
  10. ^ Albert Kim (September 30, 2008). "Casual Games: 'Peggle Nights' and 'The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes'". EW.com. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20229840,00.html. "Mystery titles, particularly hidden-object games, have become a hugely popular segment of the casual-game market." 
  11. ^ "First casual game with a 'Collector's Edition'". Game Hunters. USA Today. November 27, 2009. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gamehunters/post/2009/11/first-casual-game-with-a-collectors-edition/1. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  12. ^ Ward, Mark (2005-05-14). "Game physics starts to get real". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4530631.stm. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  13. ^ Thompson, Jane (2007-06-15). "Video games getting deeper". The Star. http://www.thestar.com/living/article/225568. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  14. ^ Jim Thompson, Barnaby Berbank-Green, Nic Cusworth. Game design course: principles, practice, and techniques. Wiley. pp. 30–31. 
  15. ^ "Door Door". GameSpot. http://uk.gamespot.com/nes/puzzle/doordoor/index.html. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  16. ^ DokiDoki Penguin Land at GameFAQs
  17. ^ a b c Mark J. P. Wolf. The video game explosion: a history from PONG to Playstation and beyond. Greenwood Publishing Group. 
  18. ^ Rusel DeMaria, Johnny L. Wilson. "High score!: the illustrated history of electronic games". McGraw Hill. 
  19. ^ Jeff Fulton, Steve Fulton. The Essential Guide to Flash Games. Apress. 

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