Created By: PsychoFreaX on October 30, 2012 Last Edited By: PsychoFreaX on November 14, 2012

Puzzle Scenario

The heroes obstacles are solved like a logic puzzle

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Trope
Just to clarify, this is Up for Grabs now.

Pretty much what the laconic says. It can be used to give Awesome Moments to some of the characters for cleverness, particularly the Smart Guy. It can also challenge fans to guess how the heroes are going to find their way through the puzzle and like how drama helps fans connect with the heroes emotionally, this trope can help them connect mentally as well.

It's often found in Shōnen (Demographic) manga, usually in the form of fights or Serious Business sporting games. But is definitely not limited to those. It's also a given in most adventure and puzzle games so it might be easier not to list those. They even have a subtrope of this. It can also be used for a mystery case.

Usually works that plays this will describe every aspect of the puzzle clearly. Sometimes to another character, other times as a monologue of the heroes, train of thought and also in cases of Explaining Your Powers To The Enemy. Then usually if the audience doesn't get how the hero found out the answer, it's usually explained after. Expect lots of Exposition Diagrams.

The scenario can sometimes even take the form of some Stock Puzzles. Knights and Knaves is a popular one.

Also beware of spoilers.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Spiral runs on this trope. From the beginning it's played in investigations, later it's played for Absurdly HighS takes Games to test the The Hero and even later, applied to gun fights. Any episode in the anime where this isn't present can be counted on one hand.
  • Hunter Hunter does this quite a lot. Most notable example being when Gon and his friends are cornered by snakes in a cave and the master who controls them is dead and covered in snakes as well. Gon solved it by reaching into the snake master's pocket, getting bitten by a whole lot of snakes in the process, to get an antidote. The odds were in his favor in that most poison users like to carry an antidote to use as a bargaining chip. Yoshihiro Togashi probably popularized this in the 90s Manga industry.
  • Most Shounen fighting/sport anime tend to have these half of the time when they don't go with the Deus ex Machina victory route. Examples of fighting series that use these are as follows:
    • Naruto: Particularly with Shino's and Shikamaru's fights.
    • YuYu Hakusho, well it is another Yoshihiro Togashi work. Non fighting examples include the Gate of Betrayal and when Yusuke has to Spot the Imposter among his friends. The imposter could copy their target's appearance and memories. The answer was, which one of them was the most likely to walk into a trap for there to be an imposter to begin with.
    • Rave Master
    • Fairy Tail. Much like from the creator's previous work. At least until he starts to run out of ideas.
    • The Doraemons Special series does this for almost every fight and unlike most examples, hardly ever goes the dramatic power up victory route. There are non fight examples though. Such as when the gang has to survive a tornado and of all the gadgets Doraemon pulls out, it was a tornado making machine which at first they thought would make it worse as they don't need another tornado. Wangdora however used the tornado making machine to create another tornado with the opposite rotation so the two cancel each other out.
  • Serious Business gaming/sport examples:

Literature

Tabletop RPG
  • Dungeons & Dragons adventures sometimes had these, depending on the writer's preferences.
    • Frank Mentzer's D&D Immortals adventure IM1 The Immortal Storm. A couple of the sub-adventures had logic puzzles, including the initial test by the Hierarchs and the PCs' exploration of the plane of music.
    • Lawrence Schick's S2 White Plume Mountain. In one room the PCs encounter 5 flesh golems, each with a number on its chest (5, 7, 9, 11, 13). The PCs have 60 seconds to figure out which golem doesn't belong with the others. If they choose the right one it will serve them. If they don't, all of the golems will attack them. The right answer is 9, because the other numbers are all prime numbers.

Live-Action TV
  • NUMB3RS uses these for quite a lot of the cases, prominently in the second and third season. Usually the FBI would run into a trouble in their investigation and go to Charlie for help. Charlie then explains and solves the problem(which will occasionally resemble a game theory scenario) with an Exposition Diagram. Sometimes it goes beyond just investigations too, like disarming bombs.

Video Games

General
  • I know I'm still missing quite a few. Feel free to add examples.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • October 31, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Maybe related to Solve The Soup Cans?

    Harry Potter: The puzzle with the magic fire and the seven bottles at the end of the first book.
  • October 31, 2012
    PsychoFreaX
    I don't think so. We were informed of the puzzle and that Hermione solved it. Other than that it's not descriptive enough to be this.
  • November 1, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons adventures sometimes had these, depending on the writer's preferences.
      • Frank Mentzer's D&D Immortals adventure IM1 The Immortal Storm. A couple of the sub-adventures had logic puzzles, including the initial test by the Hierarchs and the PCs' exploration of the plane of music.
      • Lawrence Schick's S2 White Plume Mountain. In one room the PCs encounter 5 flesh golems, each with a number on its chest (5, 7, 9, 11, 13). The PCs have 60 seconds to figure out which golem doesn't belong with the others. If they choose the right one it will serve them. If they don't, all of the golems will attack them. The right answer is 9, because the other numbers are all prime numbers.
  • November 1, 2012
    PsychoFreaX
    Thanks! Added.
  • November 1, 2012
    mew4ever23
    This is at the heart of the Ace Attorney series, but it's especially notable in Ace Attorney Investigations Miles Edgeworth, where logic was a core component of the investigation.
  • November 1, 2012
    Duncan
    Knights And Knaves is a very popular logic puzzle to use.
  • November 2, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • In Labyrinth, Sarah has to solve a Knights And Knaves puzzle in order to choose which door to go through. She solves the puzzle and goes through the correct door, but ends up falling through a Trap Door because of a Tempting Fate comment she made.
  • November 2, 2012
    JenBurdoo
    Would the many, many riddles in the Redwall series count?
  • November 2, 2012
    PsychoFreaX
    Depends. Is there any example you can pick? Maybe just one would do.
  • November 4, 2012
    PsychoFreaX
    I think I did all I can for this YKTTW. Though I don't think people gave me enough opinion on it. I'll just leave it up for grabs and there could be chance someone could take it a little further.
  • November 6, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    Oh. Hey. Awesome. I think this is basically a more-clearly-thought-out version of what I've previously left stagnant as Rules Thriller, isn't it?
  • November 6, 2012
    PsychoFreaX
    Hey you know, what you have is actually quite an intelligently thought out trope on it's own too and can be a subtrope of this. Congrats and I also added a hat ^^.

    The main difference I think is that Puzzle Scenarios can use the general laws of nature. While Rules Thriller would be a form of a Puzzle Scenario where the writer added there own set of rules or something like that.
  • November 14, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    Err, well, thank you! I'm not quite satisfied with it, though - the name, for one thing, is really awkward right now, and I think the description needs work too. (I'm not sure how I ended up with five hats when I'm not even quite sure what I'm describing exactly yet myself!) I guess so much approval is a sign I shouldn't abandon it, though.

    I think the relationship might be more that a Rules Thriller is a type of plot - a subtype of mystery, I think, with the driving question how does this work? or how can this be used?, with many facets explored over the course of the story - whereas a Puzzle Scenario can be a much briefer obstacle in the way of the larger plot. You're right that this tends to involve additional rules imposed by the author beyond the normal laws of nature, but I think that's more a side-consequence of the presumed difficulty of holding the reader's attention with real-world details, sometimes perhaps with a side of Artists Are Not Architects / Writers Cannot Do Math. (I think Puzzle Scenario is going to end up as a supertrope to a lot of puzzle tropes - Set Piece Puzzle, in particular, comes to mind.)

    Here are a couple more examples I thought of -
  • November 14, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Would National Treasure count as this?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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