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File:Odino dig skeleton.jpg

See those bones? Either position each of them in that exact orientation by hand (possibly several times) without hints, or just stop playing The Dig.

"So it's about this point in the game that the programmers looked at each other and asked themselves 'Um, did we actually have any puzzles in this game? It is a graphic adventure after all, I mean, the people are going to demand puzzles at some point or another', and so finally the other guy got really upset and he's like 'Alright, you want a puzzle? I'll give you a puzzle, motherfucker! Here's your fucking puzzle!', so he coded in the most illogical, impossible-to-comprehend, stupid-looking trial-and-error-based just-click-'till-you-accidentally-find-the-answer puzzle in the history of gaming, and here it is."

That One Level / Boss, for Solve the Soup Cans and other similar adventure game puzzles. These may sometimes require the use of bizarre logic to solve.

Remember not to list "every puzzle in game X" as an example; the whole point of That ONE Puzzle is that it's remembered to be much harder than the others around it, not simply that it's difficult.

Examples of That One Puzzle include:

Action Adventure

  • La-Mulana:
    • The mantras. While you are given reasonable hints where to find the tablets that have the mantras written on them, you are given little to no hint as to what room you are supposed to actually chant or rather, type them. To find the room to chant the mantras in you have to Find one of those compass things you occasionally see in the background of the front-side area, and find the boss room in relation to the compass. Then use the compass in the backside equivalent and take the same path you used to find the boss room to find the room for the mantra. Oh, and the front and back are reversed in the case of the Dimensional and Endless Corridors, respectively. Good luck figuring it out on your own.
    • There's also the lantern puzzle in the second level of the Endless Corridor. You're required to light the lanterns that correspond to the end year of the Aztec Fifth Age (2012). However, the lanterns are labeled with the various glyphs that represent numbers. Remember those little symbols that show up near ladders to new areas? Those are the numerical glyphs, and that's the best clue you're gonna get. Thought they were eye candy? You're wrong. Just to add to the frustration, the game's not guaranteed to acknowledge the correct solution. You can fiddle around with the lanterns and waste weights all day, but the third level will only open up when it feels like it.
    • The platform puzzle for the Life Jewel in the Dimensional Corridor. First off, you have to use the Lamp of Time to freeze time and stop a block in midair at a very specific point. Then, you have to jump down a spike-lined shaft, land the jump, and get off the block before the Lamp expires. Then, you have to pull off a very tricky series of jumps, where one misstep will send you into a spike. It gets worse: every time you fuck up (and you will fuck up), you have to wait three minutes for the Lamp of Time to recharge. That's three minutes in-game; you can't boot up any of the minigames or listen to the jukebox. If you kill the miniboss in the room below, then it becomes almost impossible to reach the Life Jewel room. And you can't leave the room until you kill the miniboss.
    • The Room of Gems and Scales, the puzzle for the Mace. You have to balance a number of gems on a large scale. The game does tell you the weight of each gem...on two different tablets hidden throughout the ruins. But that's not all it tells you. You have to figure out Lemeza's weight, which is done by finding a scale in the Mausoleum of the Giants, pulling off a tricky jump to get to it, and figure out his weight from the numerical glyphs the scale shows. Even worse, one side of the scale weighs slightly more than the other, and this is never mentioned anywhere. And it's Lost Forever if you mess it up and don't have a save to reload to.
  • Shadow of the Beast 3 has the slab puzzle in Caves of Bidhur; every other puzzle can be solved consistently, but this essentially involves approximating a physics puzzle in a game without physics. You have to get a large slab across a long (but shallow) pit by placing (and moving them as you shift the slab along) three balls in said pit correctly so they evenly balance the slab correctly, one mistake and it falls in the pit and you have to go back to the last checkpoint. In itself this would only be kind of irritating, but the last checkpoint is at least a few minutes back and requires you to enter a cave full of respawning Goddamned Bats that you need to kill a certain amount of to get the hammer you need to do the slab puzzle, so you end up getting drained each time you screw up. Finally, there's a boss fight straight after solving the puzzle; while not too difficult it's another way to get sent back if you mess up and die.

Adventure Game

  • The Dig:
    • It has, at one point, a puzzle where you have to re-assemble the skeleton of an alien turtle. No Rule of Fun Translation Convention is applied, other than that each part can snap to an arbitrary position in the turtle's shell, and the shell gives no hints to the orientation of the several near-identical small, straight bones. The only thing in the game that comes even close to a hint for this is a fossil on the ground up the stairs from where you have to do the puzzle. Oh, and by the way, if you don't add a specific additional item before you finish it? The turtle is killed once more, and you have to do it all over again. This is known as the place where most people stopped playing the game.
    • The interface made it even worse: For months after the game came out, just about every other post on was "How do I rotate the bones in the turtle puzzle?".
    • Another infamous puzzle, which the player discovers at a roughly similar time in the game, is the "rat-cage" puzzle, where an alien creature snatches a vital part of an alien gizmo away, leaving a nearby room inaccessible. To get the part back, the player first has to construct a primitive cage by using a long hook and a dead animal's ribcage, then lure the animal out of its hidey-hole and chase it into the cage[1], and then place a tracking device around the creature, so that you can find the creature's lair and dig up the missing part. And all of this is without any indication that there's even a puzzle in the general vicinity, or how to solve it, with an added dose of Pixel Hunting.
  • Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned has a ridiculously infuriating first puzzle, involving Gabriel trying to rent himself a moped by pretending to be Moseley, who can rent one. To do this, Gabriel must distract Moseley with a piece of candy and swipe his passport from his pocket, steal his hat and jacket, draw a mustache on the face of the passport photo with a marker to hide the face, and then construct a fake mustache by putting some masking tape on a small hole and chasing the cat past that hole, leaving some of its fur on the tape, and then using the fur to create a fake mustache by gluing it to Gabriel's face with a packet of syrup. As Old Man Murray put it:

 "Maybe Jane Jensen was too busy reading difficult books by Pär Lagerkvist to catch what stupid Quake players learned from watching the A-Team: The first step in making a costume to fool people into thinking you're a man without a moustache, is not to construct a fake moustache."

  • Another literal puzzle in Under a Killing Moon, where a note has been torn into tiny pieces. The pieces have to be reassembled, and Tex will not be able to read it until each one is in exactly the right place- a single pixel off, and it's illegible as far as he's concerned. To top it off, the pieces don't snap into place or give any other hint that they've been correctly aligned. The end result is that it's easy to have a puzzle that looks completed but isn't recognized as so by the game, forcing the player to randomly move pieces around one pixel at a time to trigger the next cutscene.
  • Then there's the 'cubes in the vault' puzzle in Infocom's Spellbreaker. (A variant of the Twelve Coins Puzzle) There are a dozen or so magical cubes, but only one is the true cube you need. In order to determine the actual cube, you'll need to resort them a number of times, and cast the 'detect magic' spell. Problem is, you can only do this three times before being caught by security — and if you haven't truly narrowed it down to one cube, it will use Schrodinger's Gun to move it away from the one you pick to another one that fits all clues so far — and you're not allowed to save the game while in the vault (to prevent solving the puzzle with trial and error, and hide the fact that it's cheating). One of the toughest puzzles ever in Interactive Fiction, if you're not familiar with the Stock Puzzle beforehand.
  • Full Throttle features a puzzle late in the game where the player has to find a secret passageway to Malcom Corley's office in an alley behind Corley Motors' headquarters. As a hint, Maureen mentions that she used the passageway to get into the office by lining her eyes up with a crack on the wall, then kicking the wall at that spot when a nearby set of switches were all green. Also, she was six years old at the time. This had many players stumped, because the spot itself was already difficult to find, but the timing had to be precise as well, so it wasn't easy to tell whether they had the wrong spot or their timing was off. (The spot made a different sound when thumped- not that it helps if you think you've got the right spot with the wrong timing.)
  • Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle Of Flesh has precisely two actual puzzles, at least, according to Spoony that is. One of them, the final one, is this.
  • Space Quest 3 has a puzzle near the beginning where the player has to repair a spaceship to escape from the garbage scow on which Roger awakens after drifting through space. One of the items required is a fusion reactor, found deep in the scow's depths; a reactor that the game steadfastly refuses to even acknowledge unless you specifically ask about it, and which is hidden behind a chunk of scenery. In other words, the only way you're going to find it without buying the hint book is if you possess the gift of second sight, or you happen to be one of the designers.
  • Mystery of Time and Space has the green wall, an oversized 'turn-on-the-lights' puzzle where even if you know the exact series of panels to click, will take several minutes to go through and click all of them. If you don't know the exact series of panels to click? Forget it.
  • For a time, there was a screenshot from Ripper that was universally used as the example of a "ridiculously hard" puzzle. Specifically, you're given a motherboard with a bunch of microchips with arcane instructions and serial numbers on them and expected to put them all in the right places. The real kicker is this is just the most visually intimidating puzzle; there are puzzles that are even harder in Ripper.
  • Of all the ridiculous puzzles in The Trapped Trilogy, the infamous banana-glue-rope-knife puzzle takes the cake.
  • Another Space Quest example comes in the sixth game, where the player has to reprogram a tricorder-like device by rearranging various chips and switches inside it. The solution is to decipher a series of clues in the game manual--"the red chip does not go next to the blue chip," that sort of thing--which, while not impossible, brings the game to a dead stop for anyone unskilled in such puzzles. (Amusingly, the puzzle hints were originally supposed to be in the game itself, not the documentation; because something got screwed up along the way, the puzzle was treated as copy protection on the Sierra message boards, meaning that posting an entire solution was a bannable offense.)

First-Person Shooter

  • In the original Marathon, there was a puzzle in the level "Colony Ship for Sale, Cheap" that required you to extend a number of platforms to specific heights in order to construct a staircase (they did not automatically stop at appropriate levels, so you had to time the switch hits exactly right). Unfortunately, the switch to do this was in another room and it was rarely possible to place them correctly on the first try. This puzzle was so loathed by fans that level creator Jason Jones apologised for it in the second game's secret credits terminal and when the game was remade for Aleph One, the puzzle was simply taken out (the pillars extended to the correct height automatically; this was one of the few changes made to the game, apart from aesthetic modifications to the first level to create Continuity Nods with Bungie's previous game, Pathways into Darkness). Unfortunately, this puzzle was put back in later versions.


  • RuneScape:
    • Shortly after the start of the quest "Monkey Madness", you must solve an infuriatingly difficult 5X5 sliding puzzle or pay 200,000 gold to skip it.
    • One of the newer quests, Elemental Workshop III, makes it far, far worse. A room-sized, three-dimensional sliding puzzle, of the same difficulty as the one in aforementioned Monkey Madness, except you can't bribe your way past it and it uses an irritating interface that'll probably take a few tries to get used to. And it has five parts to complete. Oh, and did I mention you have a limited number of moves for each of the first three parts? Have fun.
    • Also, for high level Treasure Trails, you will frequently get slider puzzles as your next clue. If you work them systematically, they're not terrible, but it gets tiring quickly.
    • In A Void Dance, you have to solve a very irritating Block Puzzle, this time with beer barrels, just to get an empty barrel out the door. Apparently, the barrels are made of an indestructible material that resembles wood, because the idea of smashing the top of a barrel never occurs to your character, despite the fact that the mission is clearly a time-critical situation!
    • There's also the Temple of Light from Mourning's End: Part 2. It involves changing the path and color of a light beam using crystals in pillars, in a huge multilevel dungeon, filled with respawning, aggressive shadow monsters that frequently knock off 100+ health in one hit and will constantly mob you. In addition, there's also several Agility obstacles scattered around the dungeon, which you can (and will, frequently) fail, dropping you into pits filled with shadows and forcing you to run all around the dungeon. Words cannot describe the incredible frustration of this quest.

Platform Game

  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 is already aggravating in a lot of ways, but when you take every element that made it suck and condense it into one simple section, you get the Billiard Ball puzzle. Basically, it's a section where you guide your telekinetic hedgehog around a corridor, all the while pushing a giant billiard ball as you go around. The hall has several obstacles and pitfalls littered around it, and it's only possible to hit the ball around nine times per run. Also, there's a time limit. This is already challenging enough, but combining it with the game's ridiculous physics makes it nearly impossible - and the worst part is that there was no "trick" to solving it, apart from glitching the game and walking through a wall to skip it.
  • Little Big Planet has the multiplayer puzzle in Serpent Shrine. Here's the picture: There's a tunnel that has massive, flaming snakes running through it. They appear too fast to just run through. There are 3 balls that are lowered by winches, and can be grabbed. Up top, there is a button that lowers the winches, allowing the partner to grab onto one. Step off the switch, and the balls go back up. At the end, after the third ball, there are two Prize Bubbles. Understand, now? Well, it's just frustrating. Your partner will invariably be worse than you, and will either not grab on in time or step off/on the switch in time to get roasted by the snake. Did you know that if the person in the tunnel dies, you only have 4 chances, total? The puzzle's location is far in the level, making it irritating to get to. It's a subjective puzzle, since it depends on if your partner is absolutely perfect at doing one of the tasks. Honorable mention goes to the 4X puzzles, but the trouble in that is merely getting four players together to attempt them.
  • The Lion King on Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis has the infamous monkey puzzle in Can't Wait To Be King, the second level: To advance, the player has to roar at a selection of monkeys to get them to change their position, after which the player has to jump into them to let the monkeys toss them around - and if they're lucky, all the monkeys will have been organized in such a way that they can move on to the next section. It's especially aggravating in the second section, where the player will have to organize one set of monkeys perfectly to even get to roar at a specific monkey, who needs to be turned to finish the level. The fact that these puzzles sandwich an infuriatingly difficult ostrich-riding section doesn't help, and rumor has it that the game's chief designer had never once passed the second level.
  • Wario World has a puzzle in Pecan Sands that involves punching some arrow blocks around to get to a red diamond. It is very tough to figure out how to do it without a guide.
  • Fez contains several puzzles that can only be solved by deciphering a set of symbols that can be found in various areas of the world. Well, three different sets of symbols, actually. You must figure out how to read the game's number system, alphabet, and a button based code. You are never outright told the significance of any of these symbols and, even if you find the key to deciphering one of them, you probably won't notice. Thankfully, these are optional puzzles.

Puzzle Game

  • Sliding-tile puzzles are usually considered this, and they appear in too many games to list here.
  • The oft-used puzzle with water containers with 5 gallons and 3 gallons where you have to get 4 in one container is very hard the first time you try it.
  • The Seventh Guest:
    • Aside from the bizarre and arbitrary Guide Dang It Trope Namer for Soup Cans, it has The Microscope Puzzle, which is a game of Ataxx against the AI. Whose intelligence, unfortunately, is based on the computer's processor being able to figure out the best possible set of moves in a set amount of time. It was probably possible to beat back in the days of Windows 3.1, but now it's borderline impossible without locking the available processor speed using an emulator such as DOSBOX.
    • The Soup Cans puzzle is also infamous because it demands the player to spell out a coherent sentence using a handful of letters...and the only available vowel is Y. The solution provides foreshadowing for later events in the game ("Shy gypsy, slyly, spryly tryst by my crypt"), but there's no way the player would know about it at that point. Fortunately, this puzzle is a lot easier if you check the in-game hint book ("Bashful nomad, craftily, agilely, meet secretly near my underground vault.") and have a thesaurus on hand.
    • There's also the attic puzzle, which also happens to be the very last puzzle in the game, and to an untrained eye will seem completely illogical and solvable only through trial and error: It's a model of a tower, with its walls laden with windows, and clicking on some makes lights appear in the windows, until the game seemingly takes over for you. There's a method to the madness, however: The puzzle is essentially a programming puzzle, where the game remembers what kind of move was made for each shape of window, and will repeat that move for each window encountered. The challenge is to choose your moves so that you can advance to the top of the tower without bumping into the walls or going over previously-lit windows, but it gets even worse when you can make the puzzle Unwinnable even if you get all the way up to the last part.
  • As for the sequel to The Seventh Guest, The Eleventh Hour, there's the infamous Beehive puzzle, also known as the Honeycomb puzzle or "Blood and Honey" officially, which is essentially another version of the aforementioned Microscope puzzle from the last game, but played on a six-sided grid made of hexagons. The shape of the grid makes it just a bit easier to trap the AI and capture new cells, and the AI itself isn't quite as ruthless as before, but the game is still hard enough to be generally recognized as the point where most players quit the game.
  • The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain:
    • It had an entire level on "Music Theory." The idea was to rearrange sheets of classical music so they matched up with the song they played. The difficulty could range from notes on the wrong line or stanzas switched up, to entire stanzas jumbling and symbols needing to be rearranged. If you knew nothing about classical music, let alone music sheets and music theory, this was 20 puzzles of pure hatred. And that's on Easy![2]
    • The "File System" level is a simple case of memory on Easy... and when you get on harder difficulties, it becomes similar to a shell game with items going into and out of the drawers as you go. So, how's that eidetic memory coming along?
    • The previous two installments in the Doctor Brain series have a couple of widely hated puzzles. In Castle Of Dr Brain it's either the magic square in the maths hallway or the find-a-word in the language hallway. In The Island Of Dr Brain, it'll be the randomised magic square in the volcano or the microscope puzzle on any difficulty other than Easy.
  • Myst:
    • Many people will cite the animal puzzle in Riven (which relies on your finding five animals around the world of the game, three of which are obvious, but two of which are... not), but the two timed puzzles in Revelation also stand out. They're not hard, exactly, just incredibly fiddly, especially when done very very quickly, as the game requires.
    • The problem with the animal puzzle in Riven isn't necessarily solving it (though this isn't exactly easy); it's telling the game you have solved it. Imagine having to enter a code in a 25 button keypad. In addition to the usual 0-9 digits, you have multiple copies of the same digit in different fonts. And then you're asked to enter a 5-digit code into this. You can know that the first digit is 8 all you want; that won't tell you if it's the Helvetica 8, the Times 8, or the Courier 8. Note to game developers: if you're going to have people pick animals from a 25 digit keypad, don't put three fish on there and then ask the user to figure out which fish is the right one. Fortunately, there is no penalty for guessing wrong — the "lock" just resets and you have to try again.
    • The subway puzzle in Myst can be a terror.
  • The Professor Layton series probably has several, however many players can't go past that damned chocolate bar.
    • Usually, it will be a 'that one puzzle' if it's worth over 50 Picarats.
    • "that damned chocolate bar" refers to the infamous "Chocolate Code" puzzle. You must crack a fiendish code, with only 6 characters to work on. One of them isn't even in code, which makes it harder! The message is written on a chocolate bar with seven squares (one blank to represent a space), and there are small bites taken out of some of the squares. This indicates the postion of the decrypted letter relative to the encoded letter on a computer keyboard, so for example a bite on the left would mean "d" gets decoded to "f". The in game hints never mention the bites, and you would assume they're eye candy (no pun intended).
    • One of a few puzzles the European edition of the game replaced entirely, instead giving you a trick question about probability that was simple once you spotted the trick.
  • Ace Attorney has a couple.
    • Sometimes you don't have to prove what the game says you do, or you can only present the correct evidence once you've pressed a seemingly innocuous comment or three first. At other times logically, you could present any one of three pieces of evidence could prove the point, or there're three statements that it's perfectly reasonable to try presenting evidence on, but you have to have the RIGHT evidence on the RIGHT statement.
    • One end-of-case puzzle requires you to notice that a character accidentally said the wrong name. Sure, an obvious contradiction, but you'd be surprised how many people miss it.
    • A few moments in Investigations 2 qualify. One of the final testimonys in Case 3 has one statement that, when pressed, offers you two options, and the testimony 'branches' depending on which one you select. Except neither contains a contradiction. It turns out, the contradiction is in The last statement, but even if you know the evidence you need to present, it won't work until You activate the first branch, press it, then go back and trigger the second branch and press IT. Then you have the Logic Chess battle against Bansai Ichiyanai in Case 4. It requires you to go back on previous lines of questioning to discover options that weren't there before. (Something you've NEVER had to do in LC before.) And contains one dialogue option that only gets you penalized if you select it... Unless you choose it right at the very end.
  • Axis Mundi in Catherine. As if the stage itself wasn't ridiculously difficult, add in the Mystery Blocks. They have no problem spawning black holes, which spell instant death.
  • Ghost Trick has its share of tricky puzzles, such as the prison break in Chapter 9, and saving the Justice Minister from a fatal heart attack in Chapter 10.


  • Any puzzle involving Peg Solitaire is often this. For example there was this one puzzle in Zork Zero..
  • Nethack implements several Sokoban levels in the game engine, using boulders and pits. Although each one starts out solvable without cheating, most of the normal game rules aren't suspended on the Sokoban levels, which can lead to things like monsters shattering boulders with wands of striking, immobile jellies spawning behind them, giants picking them up and throwing them at you, and so forth. Fortunately, it's possible to cheat the game in various ways, with only a relatively minor penalty.

Role Playing Game

  • In Tales of the Abyss, there are four puzzles in the Meggiora Highlands, the first of these being a Block Puzzle that makes the infamous Tower of Zosma feel like a pushover in comparison. You have to push four blocks onto four particular 1x1 spaces on a 12x12 grid. They all start unlit, and to push them, you must light them, rather like torches. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Forgot to mention that when you push one, the other blocks that are lit go in the same direction as the one you're pushing. And that the blocks that are unlit also go in the opposite direction. And that there are barricades around two of the spaces you're supposed to be pushing them onto, facing in different directions. AND the spaces you're pushing these blocks onto are very much spread-out. To add insult to injury, the other three puzzles are insultingly easy. To add more insult to injury, your reward for doing this is to remove one spell from the boss' repertoire, causing it to just cast the ones it'll still have; this is the case with the other puzzles as well, but at least their difficulty justifies that. To add MORE insult to injury, when you do three of the puzzles, the other one's reward becomes...nothing. The good news is that that last bit makes this one skippable, but good luck finding that out on your own.
  • Baten Kaitos:
    • While we're on the subject, let's talk about the Zosma Tower. There's five floors of fiendishly hard, timed, 3d block puzzles. This is the only part in the game where the camera will screw you over, and that just adds to the difficulty. To start the puzzles, you have to have a fire in your quest magnus, which you use to light a torch, which powers the puzzles. If you take too long, the torch goes out and the puzzle resets. If you run out of fire, you have to go back down the tower and get more from the bottom. Also, at the top of the tower is That One Boss.
    • Later in the game, you get Mizuti's sidequest, which involves going into the basement of the tower to solve five more block puzzles, which are even harder. The second puzzle is the worst, with one step that requires insane timing to bounce a block off an elevator. Also, at the end, you fight the Wizard Shadow, using the same mechanic as Xelha's fight against the Ice Goddess.
  • "THE GOAT LEAVES NO TRACE BEHIND." Of all the puzzles in the entire freakin' game, this is the one that gets you stuck. The rules are oblique - you have to move each goat statue to its proper hole (look at the base to find where it must end up), the statues can only move to a golden tile, and leave silver tiles in their wake. It is very possible for the uninformed to fubar themselves without realizing it (mercifully, you can leave the room to make it reset), and if you slide the wrong statue onto the wrong hole, the room resets immediately.
    • There's also the fact that unlike in every other puzzle where Insight Psynergy only shows you icons on objects that can be interacted with the respective Psynergy, here it actually reveals the entire solution. Good luck figuring that one out considering how utterly useless it is for most of the time.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 5 has a couple of puzzles that will throw you for a loop. When Lan's on a cruise ship, a major object on said ship is stolen. No one in the room has it, and no one's entered or left between the presentation (where the object is shown, secured) and when the object was taken. This one's fairly simple - Everything Is Wireless, and the various mirrors lying around could potentially reflect an infared signal to the jack-in port. Just after, though, is a very confusing puzzle - the place where the culprit fled is behind a door sealed with a code. All you have to go on is some odd word puzzle. Mercifully, the code is in all numbers, and the poem for the code is full of numbers.
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl:
    • Candice's gym. It's basically a pit made out of ice, and you've got to slide down the pit in ways that give you enough momentum to smash through the snowballs placed as obstacles to Candice. Unfortunately you've got stairs, rough patches, and Mooks placed in just the right areas to prevent you from taking the most logical routes.
    • Let's not forget Lt Surge's Gym in Red & Blue, which has the infamous switch puzzle that takes you forever to solve.
  • Chrono Cross has a locked chest in Viper Manor, in Zoah's room. Inside the room is a cat. Talking to the cat will make it stand up, walk to the right-most table, then down to the room's entrance, then to the crevice in the left wall, then to the upper part of the room, around the back of the chest, and repeats this pattern. If you talk to it again, the cat will sit down wherever you talked to it, resuming its course if spoken to after this. The solution is to bring Zoah to the room because he has the key.
  • Wild Arms 2 has one of these as the first puzzle in the final dungeon that had fans scrambling for answers on the message boards for a long while. Turns out you need to know how the days of the week got their names and have the information enough in mind to realize what the clues are referencing.
  • In Icewind Dale your party comes across a dilapidated bridge. When you approach you are presented with text stating that it doesn't look safe enough to cross. Unfortunately the game never actually hints that getting to the other side would be desirable, and given the large maps and the game's nature of forcing you to hunt through the Fog of War for hidden doors and barely visible corridors it is extremely easy to turn your attentions elsewhere. Even if you did know that you were supposed to cross the bridge the solution to this 'puzzle' is far from straightforward. The intended solution is to find a book on bridge engineering from a different part of the map, possesion of which apparently gives your party the architectural confidence to proceed. Unfortunately the game is full of useless and worthless books, and by this late stage is it highly likely that the player will dismiss any books they find out of hand without even bothering to read the title.

Simulation Game

  • Trauma Center: Under the Knife:
    • That one part with the Triti virus that kept reproducing itself again and again. Actually occurs more than once in the game, and is almost unbeatable each time. The key (which makes Triti the easiest GUILT, except for the Luck-Based Mission Deftera on a good run) is to extract thorns so that none of them are next to each other on their edges before treating the affected area, and always extract Triti in pairs. Naturally, all Angie will bother telling you is that there's a pattern.
    • The second time is the killer. Sometimes, one of the thorns you're trying to remove[3] will turn into poisonous gas that you must vacuum away or suffer tremendous damage. While you're vacuuming away the gas, the thorns you pulled previously will regrow, meaning you've lost all your progress.

Survival Horror

  • Silent Hill 1 has the infamous piano puzzle at Midwich Elementary.
  • Silent Hill 3:
    • This hideous puzzle. If you want to know exactly how much effort it asks of you to solve it, see here (search for "IV-b-3") for the solution.
    • Even worse is the Crematorium puzzle on Hard, where you are required to know the habits of a bird most people have never heard of, and the hint also contains a false pointer.
  • Fatal Frame had two kinds of regular puzzles. Slide puzzles (which are always fun) and numerical puzzles. Normally numerical puzzles of remembering a date mentioned in a scroll somewhere in the mansion would not be a problem...if they weren't in Japanese on the Play Station 2 original...and if the developers had made a bigger clue of telling you that the translation for the Kanji numbers were in your files.
  • Resident Evil 4 features a very annoying sliding puzzle when playing as Ashley.

Non-video game examples:

Live-Action TV

  • Each episode of Legends of the Hidden Temple ends with a timed run through a Temple of Doom, where each room has some puzzle you need to solve to proceed to the next room. Of import is The Shrine of the Silver Monkey, where you must find the three pieces of the monkey statue, reassemble them in the correct orientation on the pedestal in the middle of the room, and push down on the head to lock it in place and open the next room. Apparently this is really, really hard to do. Contestants couldn't find the pieces, or they would get the orientation wrong, or put the base on top of the torso, or couldn't press down hard enough to trigger the door. Many a game would go smoothly until they reached the shrine, then they would waste the game in that room.
  1. which requires going around a certain gate, not through it
  2. Playing on a harder Difficulty Levels would make the puzzles harder, but you wouldn't have to do as many. Additionally, there was only four states for each measure, so if the notes or rhythm is off in a measure, you can easily fix it.
  3. To defeat Triti, you must yank thorns, then cut out and remove triangles - and if you pull the thorns in the wrong pattern, there will be a net growth of triangles with each removal