Puzzle video game

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Puzzle video games make up a genre of video games that emphasize puzzle solving. The types of puzzles can test many problem-solving skills including logic, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion. The player may have unlimited time or infinite attempts to solve a puzzle, or there may be a time limit, or simpler puzzles may be made difficult by having to complete them in real time, as in Tetris .

Video game electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.

A puzzle is a game, problem, or toy that tests a person's ingenuity or knowledge. In a puzzle, the solver is expected to put pieces together in a logical way, in order to arrive at the correct or fun solution of the puzzle. There are different genres of puzzles, such as crossword puzzles, word-search puzzles, number puzzles, relational puzzles, or logic puzzles.

Logic Study of inference and truth

Logic is the systematic study of the form of valid inference, and the most general laws of truth. A valid inference is one where there is a specific relation of logical support between the assumptions of the inference and its conclusion. In ordinary discourse, inferences may be signified by words such as therefore, thus, hence, ergo, and so on.


The genre is very broad, but it generally involves some level of abstraction and may make use of colors, shapes, numbers, physics, or complex rules. Unlike many video games, puzzle video games often do make use of "lives" that challenge a player by limiting the number of tries. In puzzle video games, players often try for a high score or to progress to the next level by getting to a certain place or achieving some criteria.

Level (video gaming) in a video game, space available to the player in completing an objective

A level, map, area, stage, world, track, board, floor, zone, phase, mission, episode, or course in a video game is the total space available to the player during the course of completing a discrete objective. Video game levels generally have progressively increasing difficulty to appeal to players with different skill levels. Each level presents new content and challenges to keep player's interest high.

Definition and gameplay

Puzzle games focus on logical and conceptual challenges, although often 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]

An action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games and platform games. Some multiplayer online battle arena and real-time strategy games are also considered action games.

In video game culture, an adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of a protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media, literature and film, encompassing a wide variety of literary genres. Many adventure games are designed for a single player, since this emphasis on story and character makes multi-player design difficult. Colossal Cave Adventure is identified as the first such adventure game, first released in 1976, while other notable adventure game series include Zork, King's Quest, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Myst.

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 unravel clues in order to achieve some 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]

In adventure games, some stages require solving puzzles as a way to advance the story.

Types of puzzle games

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

There is a large variety of puzzle game types. Some 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 . Others present a preset game board or pieces and challenge the player to solve the puzzle by achieving a goal ( Bomberman , The Incredible Machine ).

<i>Tetris</i> tile-matching puzzle video game

Tetris is a tile-matching puzzle video game originally designed and programmed by Soviet Russian software engineer Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov. The first playable version was completed on June 6, 1984, while he was working for the Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre of the Academy of Science of the Soviet Union in Moscow. He derived its name from combining the Greek numerical prefix tetra- and tennis, Pajitnov's favorite sport. The name is also used in-game to refer to the play where four lines are cleared at once.

<i>Klax</i> (video game) Puzzle video and arcade game by Atari from 1990

Klax is a 1990 puzzle video game designed by Dave Akers and Mark Stephen Pierce. The object is to line up colored blocks into rows of similar colors to make them disappear, to which the object of Columns is similar. Atari Games originally released it as a coin-op follow-up to Tetris, about which they were tangled in a legal dispute at the time. Released in the summer of 1990, it is also known for being the last game to be released on the Atari 2600 before the console was discontinued in early 1992.

Lumines is a puzzle video game series developed by Q entertainment. The core objective of the games is to survive by rotating and aligning 2x2 blocks varying between two colors to form 2x2 squares of a single color which will be erased when the Time Line passes over them. The game is lost when the blocks reach the top of the playing field.

Puzzle games are often easy to develop and adapt, being implemented on dedicated arcade units, home video game consoles, personal digital assistants, and mobile phones.

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. [3] 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. [3] It includes games with characters moving through an environment, controlled either directly ( Lode Runner ) or indirectly ( Lemmings ). [4] 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 . [5] Finally, it includes other action games that require timing and accuracy with pattern-matching or logic skills, such as the first-person Portal [6] and The Talos Principle .

Other notable action puzzle games include Team Ico's Ico , a linear, story driven game with puzzles based around traversing puzzle environments while protecting a helpless companion. Also made by Team Ico is Shadow of the Colossus , a game in which the player solves puzzles that involve finding and exploiting the weaknesses of giant beasts in combat. Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is another example of an action puzzle game, the primary objective being to seek out and solve physics-based puzzles which offer helpful upgrades for defeating the final boss.

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. [7] Hidden object games are a popular trend in casual gaming, [8] [9] and are comparatively inexpensive to buy. [7] [8] Time-limited trial versions of these games are usually available for download.

An early hidden object game was Alice: An Interactive Museum . Computer Gaming World reported in 1993 that "one disadvantage of searching through screen after screen for 'switches' is that after a while one develops a case of 'clickitus' of the fingers as one repeatedly punches that mouse button like a chicken pecking at a farmyard". [10] Other early incarnations are the video game adaptations of the I Spy books published by Scholastic Corporation since 1997.

Publishers of hidden object games include Sandlot Games, Big Fish Games, Awem Studio, SpinTop Games, and Codeminion. [7] Examples of hidden object game series include Awakening , Antique Road Trip (both by Boomzap Entertainment), Dream Chronicles (PlayFirst), Mortimer Beckett (RealArcade/GameHouse), Mystery Trackers (by Elephant games), Hidden Expedition and Mystery Case Files (both by Big Fish Games). [11]

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. A free online example is PicTAPr, which divides an image into 16 square pieces.

Physics game

The Splatters, a physics based Xbox Live Arcade game The Splatters 03.jpg
The Splatters , a physics based Xbox Live Arcade 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 these games to demonstrate principles of physics. [13]

Popular physics games include The Incredible Machine , World of Goo , Crayon Physics Deluxe , Angry Birds , Cut the Rope , Peggle , Portal , Portal 2 , Monster Strike and The Talos Principle .


In tile-matching video games, the player manipulates tiles in order to make them disappear according to a matching criterion. The genre began with 1985's Chain Shot! . It includes games of the "falling block" variety such as Tetris , games that require pieces to be swapped such as Bejeweled or Candy Crush Saga , games that adapt the classic tile-based game Mahjong such as Mahjong Trails , and games in which are pieces are shot on the board such as Zuma . In many recent tile-matching games, the matching criterion is to place a given number of tiles of the same type so that they adjoin each other. That number is often three, and the corresponding subset of tile-matching games is referred to as "match-three games."

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 as games such as Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training . [14]


Origins and popularity

Puzzle video games owe their origins to brain teasers and puzzles throughout human history. The mathematical strategy game Nim, and other traditional, thinking games, such as Hangman and Bulls and Cows (commercialized as Mastermind ), were popular targets for computer implementation.

The University of Tokyo's 1979 Heiankyo Alien for the PC-8001 and arcades was an early "trap 'em up" puzzle action game. It was a precursor to later puzzle action games such as Lode Runner. [15] Another early action game with puzzle elements was Konami's Loco-Motion (1982), elements of which are seen in Pipe Mania from LucasArts (1989).

Blockbuster, by Alan Griesemer and Stephen Bradshaw (Atari 8-bit, 1981), is a computerized version of the Rubik's Cube puzzle. [16] Snark Hunt (Atari 8-bit, 1982) is a single-player game of logical deduction, [17] a clone of the 1970s Black Box board game. Sokoban's crate-pushing puzzles from 1982 have been widely cloned and its core mechanic incorporated into other games.

Other early puzzle games include puzzle-platformers such as Door Door (1983), [18] Lode Runner (1983), and Doki Doki Penguin Land (1985). [19]

1984's Puzzle Panic for the Atari 8-bit computers specifically uses the word puzzle in the game's title. 1984 also saw the release of the action-puzzle game Boulder Dash , where the goal is to collect diamonds while avoiding or exploiting rocks that fall when the dirt beneath them is removed. It led to a number of clones categorized as "rocks and diamonds games."

In 1985, Chain Shot! introduced removing groups of the same color tiles on a grid, then the remaining tiles falling into the created gap. [20] Uncle Henry's Nuclear Waste Dump (1986) has similarities to Tetris, though it was published prior to Tetris reaching the US, and the author claims he hadn't seen it. [21]

Tetris is credited for revolutionizing and popularizing the puzzle genre. The game was created by Soviet game designer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, who was inspired by a traditional puzzle game named Pentomino in which players arrange falling blocks into lines without any gaps. The game was a moderate success when released by Spectrum Holobyte for MS-DOS in 1987 and Atari Games in arcades in 1988, but it sold 30 million copies on the Game Boy alone. [2]


1991 saw the release of Lemmings . [22] The game involves a series of creatures who mindlessly walk into deadly situations, and the player assigns jobs to specific lemmings to guide the swarm to a safe destination. [2]

1994 was marked by a surge in interest in mahjong video games from Japan. [23] [24]

When Minesweeper was released with Windows 95, mainstream audiences embraced using a mouse to play puzzle games. [25]

In a 1996 interview, Claude Comair recommended that budding video game developers start learning with a puzzle game. He elaborated that the genre provides a good beginning test of programming skill and creativity, since it does not allow the developer to substitute audiovisual impact for genuine imagination. [26]

In 2001, PopCap Games released a graphically-enhanced clone of an obscure 1994 MS-DOS game, Shariki , [27] where the player must touch groups of three or more jewels on a grid, causing them to disappear and new stones to fall into place. A decade later, the match three mechanic was the foundation for popular games, including Candy Crush Saga and Puzzle & Dragons , both from 2012.

By 2014, puzzle games had become the largest genre in the iOS App Store. [28]

See also

Related Research Articles

Solitaire Card game

Solitaire is any tabletop game which one can play by oneself. The term "solitaire" is also used for single-player games of concentration and skill using a set layout of tiles, pegs or stones rather than cards. These games include peg solitaire and mahjong solitaire. Most solitaire games function as a puzzle which, due to a different starting position, may be solved in a different fashion each time.

<i>Dr. Mario</i> arcade action puzzle video game

Dr. Mario is a 1990 action puzzle video game produced by Gunpei Yokoi and designed by Takahiro Harada. Nintendo developed and published the game for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy consoles. The game's soundtrack was composed by Hirokazu Tanaka.

<i>Lemmings</i> (video game) video game originally developed by DMA Design and published by Psygnosis in 1991

Lemmings is a puzzle-platformer video game originally developed by DMA Design in Dundee, Scotland and published by Psygnosis for the Amiga in 1991 and later ported for numerous other platforms. The game was programmed by Mike Dailly and David Jones, and was inspired by a simple animation that Dailly created while experimenting with Deluxe Paint.

Action-adventure is a video game genre that combines core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres.

Dick Tracy (video game) Wikimedia list article

Dick Tracy appeared in a number of video games released as tie-ins for the motion picture:

<i>Tetris</i> (Atari)

Tetris is a puzzle game developed by Atari Games and originally released for arcades in 1988. Based on Alexey Pajitnov's Tetris, Atari's version features the same gameplay as the computer editions of the game, as players must stack differently shaped falling blocks to form and eliminate horizontal lines from the playing field. The game features several difficulty levels and two-player simultaneous play.

A Mahjong video game is a video game that is based on the classical Chinese game mahjong. However, many mahjong video games, especially among those released in Western territories, do not depict the actual game of mahjong but rather mahjong solitaire.

A casual game is a video game targeted at a wide, mass market audience, as opposed to a hardcore game, which is a game targeted at a more niche audience of hobbyist gamers. Casual games may exhibit any type of gameplay and genre. They generally have simpler rules, shorter sessions, and less learned skill than hardcore games.

<i>Microsoft Mahjong</i> computer game version of mahjong solitaire published by Microsoft

Microsoft Mahjong is a computer game version of mahjong solitaire published by Microsoft. The version titled Mahjong Titans was developed by Oberon Games and included in Windows Vista and Windows 7. It takes advantage of the new graphical user interface (GUI) of Windows Vista, and includes features such as tile set and background choices. The game did not make it to Windows 8; however, a standalone version, developed by Arkadium and published by Microsoft Studios, can be downloaded from the Windows Store free of charge.

<i>Gemsweeper</i> video game

Gemsweeper is a thinking puzzle casual game developed by German studio Lobstersoft. During the game the player rebuilds the ruins of El Dorado by solving over 225 nonogram logic puzzles.

Game recreative activity

A game is a structured form of play, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements. However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be work or art.

Mahjong solitaire Solitaire game played with mahjong tiles

Mahjong solitaire, also known as Shanghai solitaire, electronic or computerized mahjong, solitaire mahjong and simply as mahjong, is a single-player matching game that uses a set of mahjong tiles rather than cards. Its name comes from the four-player game mahjong.

Tile-matching video game type of puzzle video game

A tile-matching video game is a type of puzzle video game where the player manipulates tiles in order to make them disappear according to a matching criterion. In many tile-matching games, that criterion is to place a given number of tiles of the same type so that they adjoin each other. That number is often three, and these games are called match-three games.

<i>Puzzlejuice</i> video game

Puzzlejuice is a 2012 indie puzzle video game for iOS produced and developed by video game company Sirvo. The game is a combination of Tetris, tile-matching, and Boggle: players rearrange falling tetromino blocks into rows of similar colors, which turn into letters that are cleared from the board by forming words. The fast-paced game also includes challenges and power-ups. The development team consisted of three people; programmer Asher Vollmer initially developed the game alone, before reaching out to artist Greg Wohlwend for advice on the aesthetics. Composer Jimmy Hinson produced the game's music.

Tetris is a tile-matching puzzle video game released in June 1984.


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