Video games that require mental skill as well as, or instead of, dexterity and quick reflexes.
The term includes both games such as Lemmings that involve solving a series of puzzles, and the Tetris subgenre in which, although nothing that fits the usual dictionary definition of "puzzle" is present, doing well at the game requires mental skill in working out the best way to manipulate pieces to attain a certain objective.
A single round of a puzzle game may appear in a game of another genre, particularly Adventure, as an obstacle to the player.
One of the most classic examples is the "sliding tile" or "fifteen" puzzle, where a player must rearrange tiles to form a picture by sliding them around a grid.
It can be broken down into these sub-genres:
- Action\Survival: There is some randomness in the playfield and\or the pieces given to the player (if any), and the player is tasked with keeping pace with the game; most often, this means clearing blocks fast enough to prevent the playfield from filling up. Sometimes there is an objective, other times it's an Endless Game. Both Type-A and Type-B of the famous NES Tetris play this way.
- Pure Puzzle: The playfield and pieces are set up by the developers (or fans), and the player is given a set number of turns\moves to satisfy an objective, like clearing the playfield. If a puzzle game advertises having X number of levels, it's probably a Pure Puzzle or one of the next two below. It's also common for Action\Survival Puzzle games to have a "Puzzle" mode which has this kind of gameplay (or Hybrid). Some pen-and-paper puzzles, like Sudoku, can fall under this category.
- Action-Puzzle Hybrid: Like Pure Puzzle, but on the clock. Either there is a time limit, or pieces start appearing, disappearing, or get placed automatically (whichever is bad) if the player takes too long. Sometimes the turn\move limit is removed. These usually play out less rigidly than pure puzzles, giving the player a little more freedom without resulting in an Unwinnable situation.
- Puzzle Platformer: Similar to Pure or Hybrid, but here, the player is actually controlling a character, tasked with an objective such as getting to the other side of the room. The character will need to push or slide blocks, toggle switches, spin turnstiles, and interact with other puzzle-oriented obstacles to advance.
- Rhythm Game: May or may not be a sub-genre of Puzzle Game depending on who you ask.
- Actual Puzzle: The puzzles presented are actual puzzles in the classical sense, such as logic problems like Knights and Knaves, lateral thinking puzzles, mathematical problems, and so on. Once rare, the success of such games as the Professor Layton series have brought more of these to the forefront.
Other well-known puzzle games include:
- Mastermind, where a player must deduce a combination within a set number of guesses, being told after each guess how many digits he has guessed correctly.
- Samegame (not a strongly associated title, but this game doesn't have a single title strongly associated with it), where the player must clear a playfield of tiles by selecting adjacent groups with the same marking.
- Shanghai (Activision's trademark) or Mah-Jong Solitaire and a million variant spellings thereof, where the player must clear a three dimensional playfield by selecting unblocked tiles with the same marking (often Mahjong tiles).
- Klondike (also known as Solitaire or Patience), a simulation of the card game.
- Freecell, a solitaire card game similar to Klondike, but with certain mathematically interesting properties.
- Minesweeper, where the player must find mines on a playfield by uncovering tiles based on a number in each uncovered square giving the number of adjacent mines.
- Memory (or Concentration), where the player must clear the playfield by locating identical pairs of face-down tiles.
- Sudoku, a logic puzzle where players must fill the empty spaces in a grid with numbers such that every row, column, and sub-grid contains each digit from 1 through 9. It has spawned many variants, some of which introduce other complications, such as arithmetical problems.
- Candy Crush Saga, an Action-Puzzle Hybrid where the board starts filled and candies are removed when three or more are matched; the player has a limited number of moves in which to clear the board.
Here are some sites that offer online Puzzle Games, in no particular order:
- Yahoo! Games
- Bob Harris' Puzzle Pages
- Popcap, famous for Bejeweled
- Vegard Hanssen, who creates online versions of many Sudoku-type games.
- Eyezmaze, a Japanese site (English-friendly) renowned for its Grow series and other quirky titles.
- Pogo, EA's games portal
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