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. Games usually involve shapes, colors, or symbols, and the player must directly or indirectly manipulate them into a specific pattern.
Rather than presenting a random collection of puzzles to solve, puzzle games 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.
Types of puzzle games
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. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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. It includes games with characters moving through an environment, controlled either directly (Loderunner) or indirectly (Lemmings). 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. Finally, it includes other action games that require timing and accuracy with pattern-matching or logic skills, such as the first-person Portal.
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. Hidden object games are a popular trend in casual gaming, and are comparatively inexpensive to buy. 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, and SpinTop Games. Examples of games include Mystery P.I.: The Lottery Ticket (2007; SpinTop) and Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove (2009; Big Fish).
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 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. The genre is especially popular in online flash games and mobile games. Educators have used physics games to demonstrate principles of physics.
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.
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. That said, several action games focused on mental challenges, including the action-puzzle hybrid Q*bert from 1982. However, Atari Video Cube from the same year has been called the "first true puzzle video game", involving gameplay similar to a Rubik's Cube in a 2-dimensional space.
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.
Script error Several dozen puzzle video games were created in the 1990s, with many games allowing players to arrange falling blocks as seen in Tetris. The original Tetris itself inspired a series of sequels, clones, and knock-offs. However, there were several innovative games, including Pipe Dream (also known as "Pipe Mania"), a 1989 release that challenged players to create an unbroken chain of pipes to divert a toxic liquid.
The 1990s also saw the release of Lemmings, which is considered one of the greatest puzzle games of all time. 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. 1994 was marked by a surge in interest in mahjong video games from Japan. When Minesweeper was released with Windows 95, mainstream audiences embraced using a mouse to play puzzle games.
Recent history and casual gaming
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