"First, think of a problem that the player has to get around - like, say, helping a cat down from a tree. Then, think of how a normal, sensible person would solve the issue with the objects that would be close to hand. Then seal your head inside of a half-full vat of boiling chlorine for about twenty minutes, and write down another way you'd solve the problem that at that moment makes perfect sense to your probably fatally poisoned mind. Repeat this process until you have discovered the most circuitous possible solution."
Sometimes, it's easy to see how to Solve the Soup Cans - give the chicken noodle soup to the guard with the cold, trade the tomato for the red orb, and pour the cream of mushroom into the chalice with Mario engraved on the side. The puzzles may be challenging, but given enough thought, the solution follows a logical progression.
And then sometimes, standard logic just won't get you to the right answer, no matter how hard you try. To find the solution, you have to look at the problem in a way that may seem entirely unintuitive on its face. This is not a Guide Dang It; all the information you need to complete your objective is right there in the source. Some people will be able to make the intuitive leap almost immediately, others will struggle for hours and still never spot the bend in logic that leads to the answer.
If a frustrated player eventually does reach for the strategy guide, there will be two common reactions on discovering the answer: If the puzzle is well written, the answer will make complete, brilliant sense in hindsight, and the player will respect the puzzle designer, perhaps curse themselves for giving in to the strategy guide, or for needing it in the first place. Other times, the clues that would have led to the solution seem so out of left field that it leaves the player wondering "how was I supposed to know that?" Such "out of left field" examples might entail figuring out the third meaning of a Double Entendresomeone you talked to 20 hours ago made, listening to the unlisted audio track included on the bonus disc that didn't come with the rental, or knowing some obscure pun in a language other than English that got Lost in Translation. It makes sense after you read the answer, but you still don't think anyone could possibly solve it on their own. Even a highly skilled, Genre Savvy puzzle-solver will occasionally get stuck on one of these. When this is bad enough that hundreds of players will get stuck on this puzzle, it's That One Puzzle. This trope can go full circle into its polar opposite, Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay, where players get so used to game logic that Real Life logic is now what's alien.
If a character In-Universe has to solve one of these without player interaction, they may best display the skills necessary to tackle these kinds of problems if they're the Cloudcuckoolander; anyone else will have to rely on Bat Deduction. And in either case, the solution will turn out to be an Unexpectedly Obscure Answer.
In real life, the genre of brainteasers known as "lateral thinking puzzles" or "insight puzzles" often fall in this category. Compare and contrast Stock Lateral Thinking Puzzle.
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Riff's ocean puzzle in Kingdom of Loathing took the player base months to figure out (and they only succeeded after he posted a hint): during exploration of the sea, 43 islands were found that each had a single strange tiki idol, and when those islands were plotted on a grid and connected with lines, they spelled out a name which could be used to summon the tiki god himself.
"Big Rock + Hot Buttered Roll = Heart of Rock and Roll" almost makes sense in retrospect, but there are others, like "bunny liver + popsicle stick = liver popsicle", that seem to strictly come from left field. And there are others, like lihc eye pie (that's the correct in-game spelling), that are based on puns. These also make sense in retrospect, but first have to be found by trial and error.
Some of the puzzles require the player to know what the devs' favorite band is. This would be the Brick Joke variant, since hints at that very fact are sprinkled throughout the game.
The final form of the final boss is unbeatable without a specific item; if you don't have it, the only hint is that you need to "rearrange the situation." Obviously, this means you need to craft a "WAND" out of giant letters, with which you can kill the boss with anagrams of her otherwise-deadly attacks.
Unlocking the hard mode form of the Zombie Homeowners Association boss in Dreadslyvania took the playerbase significantly longer than any other boss in the dungeon. Each boss requires a certain item to be worn or eaten or drunk before fighting them. How do you get the item to trigger the Zombie's hardmode? Obviously you need to get a muddy skirt to drop off of a zombie in the village, get a seed pod from the woods outside the village and then dance in a ballroom while wearing said skirt so that the seed pod breaks open and covers your skirt in seeds that then sprout into weeds. Homeowners hate weeds after all.
King's Quest I: Quest For The Crown contained one puzzle where the player had three attempts to guess a Rumplestiltskin character's name, with the sole hint in the game being a letter saying "sometimes it pays to think backwards". In the original edition, this implied spelling "Rumplestiltskin" using an alphabetic cipher where Z=A, Y=B, and so on (the answer was thus "Ifnkovhgroghprm"); this proved too difficult for most players even in its time, so for the game's Enhanced Remake the solution was simplified to just spelling "Rumplestiltskin" backwards. And worse yet, that's not even the correct way of spelling it. It's actually Rumpelstiltskin, so even if you should happen to actually figure that out, you could still get the solution wrong unless you have the same linguistic problem as the developers.
King's Quest II: Romancing The Throne has a point where you're blocked by a pOIsonous snake. You can kill it with your sword (which even has a snake inscribed on it, inclining players to think that's what they're supposed to do), but the correct thing to do is to throw a bridle at it so it becomes a talking pegasus. In the novelized walkthrough in The King's Quest Companion, the only explanation the author could come up with for Graham throwing the bridle was that it was a complete accident.
King's Quest V also has the infamous puzzle in which you kill a yeti by throwing a pie in its face.
And chasing a snake away with a tambourine. And powering a piece of magical equipment with some moldy cheese.
Casting the "Make Rain" spell might qualify. You need to combine three different liquids in a teapot. There are no teapots in the game, and the only hint (not explicitly mentioned in the game itself) is that the old hunter's lamp looks a bit like a teapot. Considering that in a previous game (King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human) spells had to be cast exactly according to the instructions (it doubled as the game's Copy Protection, so failure meant Have a Nice Death), it's easy for veteran gamers to be Wrong Genre Savvy on this one.
Later on there's an even more unintuitive puzzle: Jollo informs Alexander that you can get the Big Bad's right hand genie out of the way by switching the genie's lamp with an identical one. Conveniently, there's a peddler selling lamps out on the street but you don't know which lamp to pick. What's the solution? Go to the pawn shop where the genie is there in disguise and make Alexander drink a fake death potion so that a cutscene appears where the genie goes to report this to his master and the player can get a look at the lamp and choose it when Alexander wakes up. What makes this completely out of left field is the fact that not only have the prior cutscenes between the genie and the Big Bad not shown the lamp meaning there would be no reason to believe this would work, but the puzzle itself breaks the fourth wall since the knowledge of the lamp's appearance is only shown to the player, meaning that from an in story perspective Alexander got the right lamp via a lucky guess (Alexander himself claims this when he is later asked how he chose the right lamp).
Some of it's a bit closer to plain ol' soup cans but especially terrible bits include, in Uru, when you have to take hydrophobic one-jump fireflies into a cave behind a waterfall to have enough light to see. You're an explorer, and you don't have the sense to bring a flashlight? Or go back to Relto and grab a firemarble? And even if you DO get through with some other light source or by feeling your way through, you can't activate the triggers until you come back with fireflies!
Myst. The underground train where there are small noises at each intersection, each different noise indicating a different direction. This particular puzzle is easier if one has completed the Mechanical Age, or at least used the fortress-rotation simulator in another save, as it uses the exact same sound cues. The train puzzle still has a twist, though: at some points, the train needs to go in a secondary direction (southwest, northeast, etc.), and the cues for those consist of two sounds playing at once.
Riven has a puzzle that requires the player to figure out both a Base-25 and Base-5 number system.
That codec number from Metal Gear Solid is an odd intersection of this and All There in the Manual, in that it's literallyin the manual (well, on the packaging at any rate). Many people thought that when they told you to look on the back of the CD case, they meant the case of the CD you just got in the game (which you can't look at), or another similar in-game item, leading players to wander all over the levels either trying to use the disc, or finding whatever item was being referred to.
There is a way around not having the game case: call Campbell about four times and Meryl's number will be added to your list of Codec frequencies.
This is actually an important exercise for a later puzzle, which you only can solve if you already encountered the game's weird puzzle logic. The telepath Psycho Mantis can play around with the vibration of the controller and makes comments on your save games. He also can dodge all your attacks since he knows them before you start doing them. The solution is to plug the controller into controller port 2, since he is only monitoring the controller port 1. Once again, Campbell will eventually flat out tell you the solution.
While the puzzle isn't particularly difficult or strange in terms of effect, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake deserves a special mention for containing one of the best/worst puzzles ever to be placed in a video game. It is replicated here in text form for your troping entertainment:
You are attempting to bypass a gate, which has a high-voltage laser across it. Behind the gate, there is a guard, who has the ability to shut the gate off, and has been instructed to do so only at night. Your task is to somehow trick the guard into shutting off the gate. Thought about it? Good. Look behind the spoiler tags for the solution.
You must backtrack to a laboratory, where there's a pair of eggs which can be taken. One egg will hatch into a snake, which eats your rations - the other will hatch into an owl, which will eat the snake if it hatches while the snake is in your inventory. Hatch the owl, and head back towards the fence. Then, equip the owl. The owl hoots, the guard, despite the BROAD DAYLIGHT, declares it night-time, and switches off the gate.
Pterry: "To get the walkthrough, you have to take the sponge from Nanny Ogg's pantry and stick it in the ear of the troll with the tutu, then take the lumps and put them in the pouch with the zombie's razor."
Here's the worst from Discworld II, which was somewhat saner, and where most puzzles made sense if you read the books. You need some sticks. That's easy — steal the mallets from cricket players by swapping them with something similar, so that they wouldn't notice. One is simple: a hammerhead shark, who does look like a mallet. Another is OK, if you remember Alice in Wonderland: a flamingo. The third is a pelican. What leap of logic connects it with cricket is unclear.
One puzzle which frustrated many players literally requires knowledge of the QWERTY keyboard layout — which is, of course, not actually used within the game, but which can be found within PictoChat on the DS if someone doesn't have a keyboard at hand. It also requires seeing that the candy bar on which the puzzle is written has bite marks in it which are easily missed, but which make up part of the solution, and which are not mentioned in any of the in-game hints. Oh, and also, the puzzle is phrased in terms of SMS messaging, thus suggesting a completely different keypad layout that's entirely a Red Herring. This puzzle was so absurd that it was completely changed in the European release of the game, replaced with a mathematical puzzle. It was probably changed because the QWERTY keyboard isn't consistent throughout Europe. Germany's top row says QWERTZ and France's says AZERTY, for example.
One puzzle mentions a device that makes a hole in a piece of paper and then marks the whole with a line. The answer they're looking for is "compass" as a compass is used to draw a circle by hinging a pin with a pencil. Of course, if you think "line" means "straight curve" (arguably the correct definition) you're never going to figure it out and this puzzle comes off as a particularly bizarre jump in logic.
The Trapped Series (not The Trapped Trilogy; these games have entirely different subtitles of "The White Rabbit", "The Dark", and "The Labyrinth") employs many instances of "dream logic" to fit with the odd setting the main character finds himself in. Just one of many leaps in logic you need to make is what to do with the mutant pear you get in the first game; turns out you need to dip it in red paint to make it look like an apple and then place it on top of a frightened-looking boy statue so that the second statue(?) of a rabbit aiming an arrow can shoot it off his head a la William Tell. An even more unintuitive case in the second game involves a rabbit Statue of Liberty: you need to use an icepick and a dead frog on it, so that the icepick will catch a bolt of lightning and make the frog come back to life. Who'd have guessed that?
The Fool's Errand. Sure, most of the riddles still had text in the help menu, but while that might have provided theory, ambiguous wording obfuscated mechanisms. The Death Puzzle in particular is a huge leap from anything else in the game (mostly wordplay and logic challenges). Players needed to catch a fast-moving symbol with the mouse pointer (while avoiding another). The only way to solve the puzzle is to interfere with the mini-game by activating the program's pull-down menu, halting the animation and allowing the user to align the mouse for the payoff click, or find a way to move the symbol without moving the mouse (the latter was the intended solution, but the former, a glitch caused by the Macintosh's single-tasking nature, was deemed a valid alternate solution by the developer).
An example of when this goes wrong can be found in an obscure puzzle game called The Crystal Key. At one point, you're in an alien docking bay, trying to get a ship to take off before a Darth VaderExpy can find you and force-choke you. All the keys on the ship's control panel are labeled in an alien language. You're supposed to have written down the coordinates of the ship you docked at the very beginning, then you're supposed to enter in those same coordinates. Apparently, it's taken for granted not only that you remember the coordinates, but that you'll know the aliens use base-10, arrange their keys in the same order as on a telephone number pad, and use the same coordinate system as is found in your ship. Note in particular that the keys are arranged as on a telephone keypad, with 123 at the top. Which, of course, is different from the layout of the PC keypad that's likely to be closer at hand for someone playing the game.
A puzzle in the "oddly-angled" room within Zork II required the player to traverse it in the traditional directions of a baseball field, starting from home plate: southeast, northeast, northwest, southwest. Though hinted with various baseball puns and equipment in the room, the concept seems out of place in the fantasy setting, not to mention kind of unfair for non-American players.
Scooby-Doo Mystery Game involves a puzzle where you actually have to microwave a cowbell that's lodged inside a block of ice. Metal. In a microwave. Yeah. That makes sense. Also, you can't enter a maze until you hang one of those little tree-shaped air fresheners on a tree branch. Then, in order to see once you're in the maze involves building a homemade flashlight, one piece of which is behind a refrigerator. Which you're supposed to just push out of the way. That wouldn't be such a leap if you played Fred, but you play Shaggy...
Death Gate had two infuriating puzzles of this type.
One was opening the treasure room in the tower of the Brotherhood. You have a code list, but all it says is "Buy their time to die" above a list of in-universe Arianus continents. You also can find a book that explains the codes change based on the time of month. To open the wall with lots of hands, you have to look at what continent currently obscures the sun from that place, then use that continent to figure out what word to use from the "Buy their time to die" phrase (it's the word above the name of the continent) then if it was for example "die", you have to press Diamond Iron Emerald hands. First letters for the materials they're made of. Aside from the Brotherhood book, and the code list itself, there are NO clues about this whatsoever. Good luck getting this without a walkthrough. They do show you the materials in the item descriptions at least.
The second is even more egregious, especially because it's the final puzzle. You have to continuously fend off Sang-Drax while figuring out the correct starting rune for the Interconnection spell. Fending off Sang-Drax is simple enough (figuring out which elemental storm to use against his current form, which isn't hard) but figuring out the starting rune without trial and error is nigh impossible. The character who could tell you the rune is dead so the logical option is to resurrect him. Problem: he only says "the heart, the heart" which is a very obscure reference to a back-then-didn't-seem-important conversation near the beginning of the game. Again, good luck. Fortunately this time there are only six options, logic whittles it down to five, and a possible in-universe logical trick diminishes it to four, so trial and error (along with save scumming) gets there FAST.
If you're desperate and your monitor's contrast is good enough, you can actually make out the answer in your magic book in spite of the damage to the page, rendering your little dabble in necromancy redundant.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 has a puzzle where you have to close the DS to give someone CPR. This comes up another time in the game too: when you have to close the DS to flip over a jigsaw puzzle you just put together to see a note written on the back of the pieces.
Another Code had a puzzle where you had to close the DS enough so you could see the reflection of one of the screens on the other without closing it so much it went into standby mode. It also had no hints other then the fact that it was simply a photo frame that folded the same way. Also, should you be playing without a backlight on, good luck seeing the reflection- or, for that matter, be using one of the more recent versions of the DS, in which case the two halves of the clue will not line up properly.
Fortunately, simple brute force also works for solving the puzzle. The reflected image is supposed to tell you which section of the nearby bookcase to inspect, but if you systematically click every section of the bookcase, you'll eventually find the one that triggers the puzzle solution.
Similar to the Hotel Dusk examples above, there is one puzzle where you have to complete a picture using a pair of stamps; this is done by closing the DS twice.
One optional battle in The World Ends with You pits the player against a pig lying asleep on the battlefield which wakes up and instantly escapes after a single hit. Pigs can usually only be killed by the weakness shown in their thought bubbles. The solution is to close the DS, thereby putting it in "sleep mode," which instantly kills the pig since its weakness was apparently sleep.
The Secret of Monkey Island has Guybrush being thrown off a bridge attached to an idol. You have exactly 10 minutes to solve this problem, that's how long he can hold his breath (as was stated earlier, and indeed after 10 minutes you die, one of the few times you can actually die in a Monkey Island game). There are TONS of sharp objects all around you, just barely out of reach, so the solution is...? Just do what you did in Space Quest and Larry all the time: pick up the idol and walk away. You had it in your pockets for a while before that sequence. It could be less of a Moon Logic Puzzle and more of a Late to the Punchline moment.
If you wait long enough, you get a scene where two guys meet up on the bridge. One of them has a knife he just committed a felony with and thinks about throwing it in the water. If he dropped it, it'd be right next to Guybrush. He decides to keep it and walk away.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. At a certain point you have to find something to turn off a pump to reveal a pathway behind a waterfall. The solution was to plug a hypnotised monkey into the pump and turning its tail. Yup, it's a monkey wrench. (Bonus points for non-English players - that's not a puzzle that translates very well.)note There's a slight exception to the Spanish version of the game, as the Phatt Library contains a book "101 uses for monkeys", which explains that monkeys can be used as "english wrenchs", the spanish equivalent of "monkey wrenchs"
Also in the second game, near the end you have to use an elevator, but the door won't close because the combined weight of Guybrush and a huge immovable crate exceed the weight limit. Guybrush has to be holding a balloon and two surgical gloves filled with helium in order to be light enough to ride the elevator.
The Curse of Monkey Island has an even better one. You need to make a snake throw up. So what's the answer? Put an ipecac flower into a carafe of pancake syrup!
Laura Bow: The Dagger of Amon Ra has this. The player will be hinted toward two questions throughout the game "What room do you leave without entering?" and "What room do you enter without leaving?", twin riddles that will come to haunt you near the end of the game in the cult of Amon Ra's secret meeting room. The answers are given, but in a slab found in Olymia's office. In hieroglyphs. Even if you take the time to decipher the message, it is told in a long passage that still doesn't directly give you the answers and, to the ones that don't know the answers otherwise, will sound interesting but otherwise useless and will be very easy to overlook what the answers were. womb and tomb.
A Vampyre Story has a lot of Moon Logic Puzzles. The solution to almost every puzzle is hidden either in dialog (when you look at a critical item, its ingredients will be described; you will later need to replenish this supply, and to complete a different puzzle you collect the source of these ingredients), in characterization (you need to distract a man; he's a bit of a womanizer, and if you're willing to stretch your imagination real hard, the courtesan outside could be considered mildly attractive), or in the expectation that you will possess some bit of knowledge which is fairly common, but easy to overlook because it's not brought up in conversation much (I shit you not, one puzzle requires you to know basic color theory and the attendant terminology).
The glyph puzzles, where a common theme must be found between paintings, a code cracked, or anomalies found in photographs. Most of them are fine, but one or two of the painting puzzles are outright frustrating if you don't pick up on the weird hints they give you, or haven't been following the framing story too closely. Luckily, if you get it wrong enough times, Shaun Hastings can give you some advice that makes it clearer, but until then, who knows! (and sometimes that doesn't help much) The codes can be even worse.
Of particular note is the code wheel in the 18th glyph- for one thing, it involves Sumerian Numerals, and it's highly unlikely you'd know what they were in the first place until Shaun gives you the hint, but even with the hint, it's still an absurdly difficult puzzle.
And then there's the code in the 20th glyph, which gives no real hints to the solution, and even Shaun is so puzzled he can't give you any help.
The glyph puzzles seem to be targetted directly at players familiar with the puzzle style of alternate reality games, and as they're off the critical path you don't actually have to solve them to complete the game.
The Hell's Gate dungeon in Tactics Ogre. Checking the Warren Report has a rumour about Hell's Gate opening up, but a player would have to specifically check for that rumour in particular in order to access it. The Shaman sidequest also has a similar example, as well as recruiting all the four sisters - If one has Sisteena and Seleye, they will show up in a scene when Olivia is recruited (she is the only one who joins by default), then before one fights the fourth sister, Shelley, you are given a large hint that she's playable and that you shouldn't kill her. Of course, after that, it's a wonder how people discovered it.
The Nancy Drew game Danger By Design requires purchasing an ancient decoder from a vendor and a book of ciphers from another vendor, then finding a message in the final room, then encoding that message with the date shift cipher from the book, then inputting the encoded message into the decoder to eventually get a message in French with the numbers to unlock the door.
Beating the Final Boss of Chrono Cross (correctly) requires spells with certain colors and sounds associated with them to be cast in a certain order. Without casting the spells in the correct order, beating the boss correctly would be impossible. It would be a Guide Dang It, but the correct order is found in the game... in two random rooms of the final dungeon, the order the second last boss first attacks in, the order you face the previous bosses, or the order of the solutions to a side boss' riddles, with no indication that they would be important later on.
Also of note is that the tune that the Chrono Cross plays is composed of the first few notes that make up what is arguably the theme song of the game: The Unstolen Jewel.
Additionally, the order is intentionally hinted at and countered by the final boss, who will use the opposite element of whatever the next in the order is until he is low on health. When his health is low, he will instead casts the elements in the correct order, allowing you to simply use the MacGuffin when the pattern is done.
Temujin. Can't figure out how to fix the painting? Have you tried heading into that other museum room, throwing the ball to break off a bit of horn from that one goat head, and then adding that to the paint?What do you mean you didn't think of that?
Pretty much any question on The Impossible Quiz that isn't an outright Guide Dang It (or an Unexpected Gameplay Change) is this. For example, one question asks you to "Pick the smallest" of several circles. The correct choice? The dot on the "i" in "Pick", which is, indeed, the smallest circle.
Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People makes it clear, at one point, that you need to steal an item from Bubs and pin it on Coach Z to progress. Bubs has a solid gold record sitting on his counter and is away, but if you try to take the record, a flashing alarm appears with a robot that summons Bubs (and the record is super-glued to the wall, so it can't be removed no matter what you do). Would you believe you have to steal the flashing alarm?
At one point in the Sam & Max episode Moai Better Blues, you have to return to Stinky's Diner from Easter Island within a short time. Striking a magical red gong on Easter Island will open a portal to another red gong, and among the various trash in Stinky's is a nondescript gong. So what to do? Paint that gong red too!
Humorously, Sam and Max comment on how gullible whatever mystical force controlling these gongs must be for that to work.
One of the first interactive-text games, Colossal Cave (aka Adventure) required you to state what weapon you were using to attack an enemy. If you just typed "attack monster", the game would reply, "With what? Your bare hands?" Normally, you'd have to enter "attack monster with sword". An exception to this rule was when you were faced with a fire-breathing dragon ...
In Trapped, the player is stuck in a room with a locked door, and finds an amputated finger in a wallet, along with some matches. Turns out the finger is artificial, and the player has to use the matches to burn the flesh off the finger to reveal the metal bone, and use that to pick the lock.
In Pursuit, the player has to feed a fish to a storekeeper's cat. To do this, the player has to go down to the sewers, coat a banana and a piece of rope with glue, attach the two together, then stick a knife through the banana to make a fishing rod to catch the fish with. The storekeeper thanks you by giving you an empty blowtorch.
In Escape, one of the first puzzles involves putting a valuable silver coin in a sink to let the water pour on the floor, and then summoning a guard so that he can slip on it. But that's nothing compared to a later puzzle that involves busting a square-shaped hole in a wall with your bare hands, taking a photo with an inexplicable pinhole in it, hammering a nail over the hole with a toilet lid, putting a lit lamp in the hole then covering it by hanging the photo over it, then clicking where the light shines on the opposite wall to reveal an instant cache with "evidence" in it. There is nothing in the game that hints to this in the slightest.
Everything about the recently unearthed old PC game that time (wisely) forgot, Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge, follows a form of moon logic that even the developers probably didn't get it half the time.
Limbo of the Lost has the now-infamous Soul Vial puzzle, where the player has to obtain a green-tinted vial containing the also-green soul of a warrior. To do this, the player needs to find an empty green-tinted vial, fill it with water (which is rendered as thick blue instead of clear) and mix that with saffron to create a substitute to make the exchange with. This puzzle, of course, not only relies on the fact that the player assumes that the Water Is Blue instead of clear, but also assumes that the player knows what saffron is and what it does — and by extension, you would also know that putting saffron in water makes it yellow, not green!
At one point in Stupid Invaders you have to get down a hole in the middle of the desert. In order to do this, you have to use a garden hose as a rope. Fair enough. However, instead of throwing one end of the hose down the hole and climbing down, as any normal person would do, the character decides to hold onto the hose and jump down the hole. Since he held onto a point of the hose that was too low, he smashes on the ground and dies. So what do you do? The interface doesn't allow you to tell him to just climb down the hose or to hold onto a higher point of it. Turns out, you need to find a skull in the desert and use its teeth to cut the hose shorter. Yeah, that's right, the character simply refuses to hold onto the correct point of the hose until it has been shortened for no good reason at all! Guess they call the game Stupid Invaders for a reason...
Some of RuneScape's quests have puzzles like this. Some just plain have ridiculous logic, while others are just stupid hard.
Just one example. At one point, you find yourself in a prison cell. You need to attract the attention of your deaf neighbour through the window between your cells. To do this punch a hole in an accordion with a broken ink bottle, put a pipe into the hole, airproof the hole with inky paper, use your makeshift vacuum pump to catch a seagull, then play the accordion to fire the seagull into your neighbour's room.
Collecting a footprint clue in Murder on the Orient Express requires that you cast the thing in cake batter, then prevent the batter from falling apart by putting it in a big bowl of ice. Even your character's own dialogue admits how goofy the resulting "evidence" looks.
Many puzzles in the Silent Hill series, such as the hospital keypad and crematorium puzzles in 3 on Hard Riddle difficulty.
The video game adaptation ofWho Framed Roger Rabbit has a puzzle requiring the player to call Jessica Rabbit for clues on how to progress. As noted in the Angry Video Game Nerd'sreview, most players would think to find a phone in-game to call Jessica with, when they actually have to call her toll-free number in real life and get the clues from Jessica's recording. But don't bother calling nowadays; it now leads to a porn line.
In The Longest Journey, at one point you need to get a large piece of iron off an electrified metro track. How does one accomplish this feat? By combining a clamp, a clothesline and a rubber ducky. And to get the clamp you need to use the ring your father gave you to close an electrical circuit to fix the plumbing system of your apartment building so the clamp isn't needed to hold a pipe shut? And the duck requires the player to feed a pigeon outside their window, and it will fly down to the grate in the canal the duck is trapped under. The pigeon jars the grate, which both releases the duck, and the chain the clothesline is on. The worst part is that this action is prone to a bug in which April will act as though there's something missing from your Rube Goldberg contraption — so that even if you managed to figure it out, you still might be told that you're wrong (incidentally, this is one of several game-breaking bugs which can only be got around by restoring a previous saved game). Also, there's a band-aid on the duck. April has to remove the band-aid, blow up the duck, and then remove it so it'll deflate and the clamp will close automatically. This puzzle stands in stark contrast to most of the other ones in the game, seeing as they are generally based on actual logic, instead of a college student, for no good reason, meddling with several pieces of machinery she has no business operating.
Cracked.com: Now you're ready to get that key! Wait, what key? Oh, right — you were doing something at some point before you got high and started fucking with these birds.
Later on, you have to take some candy from the jar April works at. Problem is, if the player chooses to look at the bar instead of manipulating it, April specifically says her boss doesn't like the employees eating the candy. The player might reasonably assume that this is just for the characterization of April's boss, and they shouldn't or can't take the candy, and not even bother to try. The player, admittedly, might decide to go all the way back to the bar just to retrieve the candy when they need it, so they can roll it in stinky ooze and give it to a cop. The cop spits it out, and the guy he's watching thinks it was on purpose and chases him off. Yes, April will decide to, as far as she knows, poison a police officer to meet her admittedly-desperate goals.
How do you remove a police officer from an accident scene? Bribe him with a soda, which the game indicates is the right thing to use? Nah, that won't work. Ride the subway clear across town to put the soda in the paint shaker you may have noticed some time ago, then ride the subway all the way back, then walk to the cop and hand him the soda which has somehow not gone flat so that it sprays him in the face, forcing him to leave to change his armor? Correct! Please note that the solution is, in essence, intuitive, but the game forces the player to go about it in a really convoluted way. The game could've simply had April shaking up the soda behind her back before handing it to the cop. It would've been a bit of a Deus ex Machina, but given that the audience knows April is an intelligent and capable young woman, it would probably be a more logical solution than the one that made it into the game.
In Phantasmagoria 2, one of the first puzzles you must solve is getting your wallet out from under the couch. You can very clearly reach all the way under there with your hands (though the actor makes a valiant effort to pretend otherwise when you try), and could likewise move the couch itself without difficulty (this option doesn't present itself). The solution is to entice your pet rat to fetch it for you with a granola bar. If you listed the hundred most intuitive ways to retrieve a wallet from under a couch, this almost certainly wouldn't be on there.
Police Quest: Open Season: The skeleton key you have to obtain from a mundane-looking soda can, and the lighter in the mouth of the severed head in the refrigerator, which you combine with a can of hairspray to make a flamethrower to neutralize the Big Bad (the lighter isn't there the first time you look in the fridge, Guide Dang It).
"Most of your average adventure game experience was spent carting a truckload of miscellaneous knick-knacks around, patiently rubbing them all one by one against everything else in the hope of hopping onto the train of logic unique to the game's designer."
Douglas Adams's text adventure Bureaucracy is filled with this; in order to progress, you frequently have to use Insane Troll Logic to deal with a world designed and run by demented Obstructive Bureaucrats. (For example, what good is a check for negative three hundred dollars?) On the other hand, there's one puzzle, consisting of a Locked Door, for which the solution is so straightforward that being too familiar with adventure game tropes can be a problem. To get inside, just knock on the door.
The text adventure version of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is notorious for abusing the player with this kind of puzzle logic. In order to solve one particular puzzle, you are told that you need to show exceptional intelligence. A bit of research in the Guide reveals that in order to do so, you need to both have something and not have something at the same time. Given that "no tea" is listed as an inventory item—and has been since the beginning of the game—it's increasingly clear you need to find some tea. However, there doesn't seem to be any source for tea in the game. Even a machine that seems perfectly suited to dispense it will, maddeningly, produce a product that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike it. It's not a Stock Lateral Thinking Puzzle either—you can't simply DROP NO TEA to get it. Once you finally do get the tea, after acquiring a proper interface for the Nutrimat, you still have to deal with getting both the "tea" and the "no tea" at the same time, as "your common sense tells you you can't do that". You eventually have to go inside your own brain and remove said common sense, which finally allows you to possess the tea and the "no tea" at the same time. Oh, by the way, even after removing your common sense, you still can't DROP NO TEA if you don't have tea, though the I Can't Use These Things Together message changes to reflect your newfound lack of common sense.
Starship Titanic can be like this at times. Even one of the developers admitted "These are not the thoughts of a normal person" when discussing a puzzle that involved a chicken and a suction tube. Another Douglas Adams game.
In Time Gentlemen Please, there's a moment where you have to uncork a bottle, obtaining both the cork and the bottle's contents. The bottle is made of glass. However, Ben pointedly refuses to break the bottle with any of the heavy or sharp junk in his inventory, and refuses to open it with his bottle opener magnet, insisting on uncorking it. Turns out uncorking it requires a pig's corpse and a time machine.
In Super Paper Mario's fifth chapter, all the Cragnons are kidnapped by the Floro Sapiens. Now, seeing this, you'll more than likely go ahead and follow them, hoping to save them. Your progress will then be stopped by a series of three blocks. Seeing this, maybe some rather Genre Savvy people will realize that you need to hit these in a specific combination. Not too difficult, you only had to hit each of the three blocks once. However, you'll later come across another series of blocks. If you tried to hit them once each again, you'll be waiting a while. Turns out this combination is much, much longer. So how does one figure out this combination? Well, it turns out the Floro Sapians didn't kidnap all of the Cragnons, just a lot of them. If you go back, you'll find several, specifically one named Jasperoid, who will give you this combination. But only if you'll ask for it nicely, for which you have to type in the word "please" five times. He'll then give you the combination. Also, some may be tripped up by the fact that the combination is spread on two different text sheets, which you may think implies that there is a third series that the second sheet is for. It's all for that one, second series. And the "please" dialogue box is case sensitive, and you have to do it several times to finally get him to tell you.
Strife features an interesting mess. A man at the tavern asks you to steal a chalice from the Order's sanctuary and bring it to the governor for a reward. This will probably get you killed when the governor locks his office door and sics several dozen Order mooks on you. You can escape out a window but it's still a pretty bad idea. You wouldn't figure this out unless you talked with the guy you were sent to kill by another man and managed to put two and two together. Notably, doing this early on makes the game unwinnable since after finishing a few Front missions, you need to talk to the Governor to get your next mission. So even if you survive the attack you cannot advance the plot.
Earthbound has a few of these. Getting past a giant statue of a pencil, for example, requires you to obtain and use a Pencil Eraser.
And to get past an eraser statue? Eraser Eraser.
These solutions are not particularly hard to come by, especially if you're paying attention. They're mostly to parody these types of puzzles found in other games. That's not to say the game doesn't have these puzzles, especially Moonside. How do you get by invisible walls? Talk to men with Hawaiian shirts so they teleport you. Not so hard if you talk to everyone you meet. But then you have to talk to someone that doesn't have a Hawaiian shirt, say "no" when he asks if you actually want to be teleported, and then find a guy with gold teeth and a unibrow. Where can you find a guy like this? He's invisible.
Grim Fandango mostly plays fair with its hints (and changed the genre by trying to make it obvious what objects could and could not be interacted with), but it has a few of these, mostly late in the game:
At one point, you're trying to get into the lair of a psychotic florist without him shooting you. He's holed up, yes, a florist shop, where everything is covered with cloth and/or tape. How do you get him to calm down and stop taking potshots? Cut the tape off the bell above the door, go out, and come back in. The noise of it ringing makes him go into "florist mode," and talk to you normally.
At another, a bouncer is keeping you from meeting with the mob boss who runs the casino you're both standing in, unless you prove that you know said mob boss by answering a series of number-based questions about him ("How many Limos does Hector LeManns own?"). You know none of these things, but you will inexplicably succeed if you always answer the number that just won on the roulette wheel behind you.
And then there's the one you solve using something an NPC said to you in passing in an optional conversation 8-ish hours (or four in-world years) ago.
Yet another illogical puzzle involves you trying to retrieve your car from a booby trapped garage. The villain has rigged a bomb that will be set off if you disturb the giant domino chain that runs all over the floor and the hero is not confident of his ability to step through the trap or disarm it by removing dominoes from the chain. The solution is to have Glottis drink a huge vat of liquid and then make him queasy so that he violently vomits all over the floor. The liquid can then be frozen with liquid nitrogen to prevent the dominoes from moving, although quite why uncontrollably puking over the dominoes is considered less risky than manually picking them up is not explained. Luckily you are stuck in quite a small area with few items so it isn't hard to find the solution.
Albion has a weird little example. You are in a room. There are two doors and a sign on the wall saying you may go through the doors if you want. Naturally, if you try to open the doors, they are locked. The solution? Well, if you try a door a second time, it will open with no problem. Likely, you'll puzzle over it for some time the first time and try everything (there's not much you can do), and then manage to get out without knowing how you did it, but if trying it a second time immediately see what the trick was.
In order to beat the next to last level of the first X-Men game for Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, you need to destroy a computer terminal and wait for Professor Xavier to tell you to "Reset the computer now!" How? By pushing the reset button on the console itself. This made the game impossible to beat on the Sega Nomad since that system didn't have a reset button. Way to think ahead, Sega.
Doodle God is this. It's all that is. There is no plot except you combining random objects, sometimes sensibly (lava + water = steam and stone), sometimes randomly (fish + knowledge = octopus?).
7th Level's Monty Python And The Quest For The Holy Grail involved this throughout the whole game. A parody of point-and-click adventure games, this involved a reeeeeally long registration process at the very beginning. Guess what? The registration is necessary to complete a later section. Fortunately, you get to go back if you didn't complete it the first time around.
Gabriel Knight 3was accused by Old Man Murray of being an excellent example of what killed adventure games: themselves. It featured a very nonsensical puzzle that includes using honey on an old piece of tape to steal hair from a cat, to make a fake moustache, to impersonate someone, to get a motorcycle, because the hero refuses to drive a scooter. The guy you are impersonating doesn't have a moustache. You also need to steal his drivers license and find a pen, to draw a moustache on his picture.
Disregarding the overcomplicated process of making the moustache, it actually makes a bit of sense; by adding an eye-catching feature like a moustache to the person you're impersonating, you're drawing attention away from other facial features that would've been much more difficult to emulate, such as jawline or nose shape.
The Submachine series has a lot of point and click puzzles going on. Often times it makes sense; you put the "Lightning Stone" into the exactly-same-shaped-hole in a device to power it up, that sort of thing. But then there are the times that you patiently mouse over the entire screen of 12 different areas to find one background stone to shift aside which gives you a seemingly normal rock that you use to counterbalance a seemingly immobile statue's set of scales to open the door and let you fill a basin with lava and... The scary part is that this sort of trail is less of a Mind Screw than the overarching story of the series itself.
Simon the Sorcerer 2 features a puzzle that is relative straightforward: Use a pair of fuzzy slippers to sneak past a monster. But the way of GETTING those slippers is absolutely bizarre, you have to use the "wear" command on a dog, which turns said dog into a pair of slippers via magic. Note that while Simon is a sorcerer that is the only point in the game where you can do magic just like that.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: In order to cross through the final Miasma Stream and face the final boss, you need to find the Unknown Element hidden in the desert. Getting the Unknown Element involves casting certain spells on certain landmarks in a certain order throughout the desert. Said order is disguised as a poem told to you by Gurdy. Problem is, Gurdy tells you the poem in a sequence of Random Encounters with him. This combined with the extreme non-linearity of the game means that the player might not have gotten the poem from Gurdy before reaching the desert -or worse, gotten it so long before that by the time it becomes relevant they've forgotten about it. Once you've triggered the random encounter the only way to see the poem again is to flip through your journal... Assuming you even remember you have it.
A well written one appears in Final Fantasy Adventure. Eight and Palm Trees, got it? Some people got it right away. Others spent years trying to figure out the puzzle. The solution? Walk in a figure eight path around some palm trees in the desert.
In the final puzzle in System's Twilight, your goal is to reboot the system by quitting and reopening the game but requires a giant leap of intuition since there are no hints given and most (if not all) game guides only partially reference the solution. Or, more likely, you get frustrated by it to the point where you Rage Quit in mid-puzzle, thus solving it accidentally.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: "THE GOAT LEAVES NO TRACE BEHIND." The puzzle consists of three goat statues with differently-shaped bases, three correspondingly-shaped holes they need to go into, and a floor that changes colors where one goat has passed, so the others won't cross its trail. It would be an impressively tough puzzle anyway, but the hint pretty much tells you the opposite of what you need to know to solve it. However, Insight Psynergy maps a possible solution if you think to use it here.
The previous game, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, had the secret to navigating to Lemuria cryptically explained through a completely missable and rather convoluted children's song in a remote and completely optional town on an entirely different continent.
Megaman Battle Network 3 features one combined with Lost in Translation and They Just Didn't Care. There's this sidequest called "Legendary Tomes", in which an NPC asks you to find the three legendary tomes that were stolen from him, and bring them back to him. The three tomes are Earth, Sky, and Sea, and you eventually find them in the possession of random Undernet thugs. But you're told a few vague hints about a "secret" the tomes have, and you're given fragments of a riddle (Sky upon Earth upon Sea) to go with them. Turns out, they point to hidden treasure. But there's a catch. Several, in fact:
In order to get the treasure, you need to have the tomes on you. Which means you need to solve the riddle and hunt down the treasure before giving the tomes back to your client, or it'll be Lost Forever. Nothing hints at this, and it runs contrary to RPG sidequest logic, which generally rewards you for being nice and returning the NPC's lost items as soon as possible. (and nearly every other job request in this game has pretty much played that straight)
Secondly, that "Sky above Earth, Earth above Sea" thing? It's not as obvious as it sounds. If you look at each tome in your key items menu, you'll see their description, followed by a seemingly random series of black blobs and dashes. What do you need to do? Stack the three tome's lines on top of each other, in the order the riddle says. Then you'll reveal a message...
And herein lies the third problem. You see, the message is in Japanese. So if you haven't studied that language, you're stuck here. Furthermore, it's a Hiragana word written in Katakana, which could throw off even fluent speakers. Presuming you can read it, you now need to know what it means. It says "Haniwa". Translation: "unglazed earthen objects fashioned in ancient Japan". So now what?
As it turns out, this refers to a random object that appeared to be nothing but decoration in an area you visited right at the start of the game. In the Teacher's Lounge is a statue that fits the description of a Haniwa. Except it was never referred to as a Haniwa before. And if you're not Japanese, you probably don't know what a Haniwa looks like anyway.
What makes this even worse is that when you FINALLY find it, which REALLY isn't likely without a guide, Megaman Handwaves the whole thing by claiming the statue has symbols on it that match the tomes. Symbols that are not visible to the player! Thankfully, the reward for all this is just money. An absolute fat ton of money, but still nothing required for 100% Completion. See it in all it's glory here.
So, you're Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, and you've just beaten the boss halfway down the last dungeon and found yourself in a huge, open area full of platforms supported high in the air on stone pillars. You explore a bit and... you're stuck. The path just ends. You can check everywhere for hidden doors, examine your automap for suspicious-looking squares with a missing wall, but to no avail (and the game itself gives you absolutely no hints). The solution? Walk onto the empty air. Indiana Jones would be proud.
Devil May Cry 3 on the fourth mission you enter in a room with two doors, a statue and a staircase which leads to another door. The doors before the staircase are locked including the one you just came through so you have to go through the staircase but once you're in the middle of it it will break send you to a room full of enemies and then back to the room you were but with the doors unlocked. You fight the miniboss after the door in the middle and the mission ends. On the next mission you will eventually acquire the item soul of steel which hints to the statue in the mission before. So, of course, you go back there but nothing happens if you try to use the item on the statue. What to do? After you acquire the soul of steel an invisible platform will be formed on where the stairs crumpled earlier on! You can walk on the air now and reach for the next door.
The Quest for Glory games have a few moon logic puzzles, mostly for the Magic User. The WIT entrance exams require some particularly outside-the-box thinkingnote The best and most devilish is acknowledged by the game. You have to open a door to expose the fire beyond it, then deal with the fire, after which you have to figure out some way to cross the gap the fire has burned in the path ahead. Assuming you've figured out that you can turn the door into a bridge, you still have a problem in that the door is wide open, preventing you from using it as a bridge. While you have an Open spell, you have no such thing as a Close spell. The solution is to use your Fetch spell on the door, which pulls it towards you, swings it on the hinges, and closes it, at which point the game explicitly states "Hey, are you just guessing here, or do you actually know what you're doing?", and the elementals can be a bit of a challenge too before you learn about Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors and containment.
Quest for Glory IV had one created in the German translation of the game. At one point when trying to get into the Thief's guild as a Thief you are confronted with a colour coded box. There isFlavour Text that suggests what the solution might be. In English this is Bad Boys Yell, Good Girls Giggle, Rich Girls Run to link up to the colour panels you can use (Blue Blue Yellow, Green Green Green, Red Green Red.) but in German this becomes "Böse Buben Schreien, Gutes Madchen Lachen, Reichen Madchen Rennen" which provides no clue.
Codename: ICEMAN was bad about this kind of puzzle. In one instance, you had to have the installation manual handy so you could manually type in the correct (according to the manual) procedure for giving CPR and in some cases, to get from one setting to the next, you might have to take an action that would result in getting stalled in the next scene.
Antichamberintentionally instills this atmosphere, although once the player gets used to the strange yet consistent dream-like logic, it gets a lot less frustrating. The puzzles in the game are usually either this or block puzzles, though sometimes both. The most common general principle is that areas will often change when you aren't looking at them.
Early on in the Very Big Cave Adventure, you come across a small spring with a little fence by it. After this, you can expect to wander aimlessly until you realise that the whole point of the game is to find valuable objects and take them to the fence for money. Yeah, that sort of fence.
Killer7 's puzzles are fairly easy to solve (especially when you can usually pay a guy to have him flat out tell you the solution,) but the logic behind them is frequently no less esoteric, like filling a vase with water to get an Odd Engraving to float to the top to grab it, instead of just turning the vase upside down and dumping it out, or summoning a pigeon by flushing a toilet. Since the whole game is one massive Mind Screw, the bizarre nonsensical puzzles don't stand out like they ought to.
The Legend of Zelda I has many hints that are near impossible to decode thanks to their vagueness and Engrish. One particular hint from an old man says "THERE IS A SECRET WHERE FAIRIES DON'T LIVE". Secrets in the game usually mean a hidden entrance that can be revealed by bombing a wall/rock or burning a bush, but the hint only tells you that there's something in areas where there's a lake but no fairies in it. What do you do? Use the Recorder to drain the lake and reveal a hidden staircase. Nothing in the game tells you that the Recorder has such power.
In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, there is a puzzle in the Temple of the Ocean King where you have to stamp your map with a mark to find the next spirit. The stamp is on the touch screen, your map on the top screen. How do you mark your map with the stamp? Close the DS so the stamp is "pressed" into your map.
This will become pretty much impossible to figure out to anyone playing the game for the first time in a 2DS console, since it's flat and can't be closed. The console has a slider to put it in "sleep mode", which achieves the same result as closing the lid on a regular DS or 3DS and solves the puzzle, but the clue won't make any sense for a 2DS user.
Urban Runner has a lot of these, but one in particular takes the cake. Late in the game, a corrupt cop catches up to Max and gets ready to stuff him in the trunk. Max needs to find a quick way to take the cop out, with only a bottle of ink, a bottle of whisky, a magnet, two keyrings, and a document. Smash the whisky bottle over his head? Throw the ink in his face to blind him? Put the keys between your fingers and punch him? Nope. Throw the ink into the cop's open trunk, at which point the cop dives in to grab it and Max knocks him out by slamming the trunk on him.
Pretty much the entirety of The Impossible Quiz series. All of the questions do have logic of some sort that will lead you to the right answer, but that logic is rarely what normal people would consider to be "logic" (and sometimes it asks a completely straight-faced, normal question just to throw you off).
There's an obscure series of first-person web games by flash developer Afro-Ninja, named the Escape Series. In each game, you're trapped in a different location under vaguely sinister, unexplained circumstances, and have to escape in the shortest possible amount of time by exploring your surroundings and using the odd found object or two that just happens to conveniently be laying around. There's no real story beyond that and no time limit, but there is a counter that records how long it takes for you to solve the puzzle and escape. The puzzles are intuitive just frequently enough to keep you from pulling your hair out, but the games are generally very unfair with their hints. Playing any one of them blind will frequently take at least ten minutes.
There are several of these in the game "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life". For example on the last level you need to generate power by turning a wheel, and you have a Rude French Mouse and several types of cheese. Since the Rude French Mouse doesn't want any of the cheese you have to use the mouse on a giant man's head to get a small elephant, use the Chocolate Mousse recipe to make a peanut, and convince the elephant to run in the wheel by placing the peanut nearby. You use the cheese to build a tower that lets you get into the attic.
You also bring a dead parrot back to life using spam, lupins, and a gumby brain surgeon.
Junko Junsui/She Stirs, which was only arguably even an ARG (it insisted it was not) was notable for being heavily investigation/communication based and only rarely involving puzzles, but it STILL gave into this several times. Resulted in several Facepalm moments for all of the major players when the solutions to each puzzle turned out to be obvious looking back, but only if you happened to guess just the right thing.
where.gif. Friggin where.gif! The image was a mirror image of a circle, with the square root of sixty four inside it. From this, the ARG gamers were supposed to figure out to find the digit location of eight eights in a row in the number pi, not including the 3 point. And then type it, backwards, in the admin box.
In The Groove 2 released their song-unlock codes this way every month or so, but no matter how hard the puzzles got the rabid fanbase could always solve them in a matter of hours, if not minutes.
A common tactic on Jeopardy! is the "tease-out metric", or an extra bit of info in the clue that helps hint towards the correct response (e.g. "As Popeye's adopted baby could tell you, April brings this flower." "What is Sweet pea?").
Some of the Bonus Round puzzles on Wheel of Fortune seem practically set up to be lost — RSTLNE only reveals about 1/4 of the puzzle on average, and even "three more consonants and a vowel" (or four consonants if the contestant has a Wild Card) sometimes do only so much. Perhaps the most evil ones came in the mid-1990s, where it was frequent for the bonus puzzle to be only three to seven letters long, with RSTLNE occasionally MIA entirely. Good luck trying to figure out that the three-letter "Person" they're looking for is GUY in only 10 seconds. Or in the 2010s, something else heavy on the obscure letters like JACK BE QUICK or ZIP UP YOUR JACKET.
The Pyramid franchise sometimes had this in the Bonus Round, where the goal is to give a list of things that fit six given subjects in 60 seconds. No hand gestures, no prepositional phrases, just a list. While this may seem easy for something like "Types of Soup" (just list things like "chicken noodle" or "clam chowder", and so long as your partner says something with "soup" in it, you're good), try doing it with something like "Things That Are Enshrined". Turned Up to Eleven on the 2002-04 revival, which often had super-esoteric boxes like "What Tom Cruise's Dentist Might Say" or "Things on a Cave Wall".
Only Connect drifts from unusual connections into this at times, especially in finals, when they're deliberately being more obscure than usual. One quarter-final in 2010 had this sequence question, the answer being the next in the sequence: Central = 1, Circle = 2, District = 3, ??? - The answer being Bakerloo = 4. London Underground lines sequenced by the correspondingly coloured snookerball value.
Wipeout had one in the form of an obstacle known as the Shape-Shifter, a spinning wheel with three shaped cutouts in it that had to be traversed past. By how the hosts explained it, it inferred that you had to jump through the circular disc to make it to the other side utilizing whatever they gave you that way to do it (trampoline, zip line, swing, etc). However, in reality, it ended up being hard to do so without using the shapes as an assist of some form.
Then again, in a moment of disbelief that left even the hosts stunned, Rico "Rolling Thunder" Curtis actually horizontally dived through the hole and landed on the platform with a tummy slide.
Mindtrap: A well-known fashion designer wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. She decided to spend a few days at a rural resort. Feeling like some fresh air after a day of reading and relaxing, she decided to go for a winter stroll. That was the last time anyone saw her alive. The autopsy revealed that death was due to the pack she had on her back. What was so deadly about this pack? Answer: It was a wolf pack. And this is one of the simpler puzzles in the game.
Mindtrap, the game, is based on this kind of puzzle; for most of them, you're allowed to get more information by asking the other player (who can read the answer) yes-or-no questions.
Karl also thought up a few "lateral thinking" puzzles. They prompted Ricky Gervais to respond with this one:
"A bloke, just in his swimming trunks, walks into a swimming pool full of man-eating sharks. He walks around for a bit, and slowly gets out the other side, and he's not bitten or anything. Why not?" Answer: I was lying about the sharks.
The website/riddle game God Tower is a series of these. It is broken up into 99 levels; in each level you must deduce a secret password that allows you to unlock the next level. The only clues you're given are an extremely cryptic image (actually a Flash object) and the webpage title. Some of these clue images can be interacted with (which may guide the player in the right direction) and certain levels have multiple images. The game subtly hints that you may need to use the power and knowledge of the Internet to solve some of the levels by providing links to Google, an online calculator and a Thai-English dictionary (for the benefit of Thai players, as the website was made in Thailand) at the bottom of each level's webpage. Another peculiarity of the game is that it assumes you're playing on a Windows XP machine, as some of the levels may require you to use features from that OS (or at least have intimate knowledge of it).
One example, level 11 requires you to use the calculator on the Death Clock website to figure out the password. A more involved example is level 21. The solution involves the player having to know the features and options of Shockwave Flash objects, pixel hunting, searching outside the boundaries of the puzzle, knowing of how to deal with password-protected ZIP archives and manipulate WAV files.
The Ace Attorney online gag-trial "Glase Canon: Ludicrous Lawyer" is full of (failed versions) of this.
Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School is built around weird puzzles. How much is EARS plus HEAR?
The Adventure Time episode Time Sandwich has Magic Man steal Jake's sandwich and will only give it back if he gets past his time-slowing force field by solving his riddle which is, "When your face turns 7:20, when green leaves turn brown, the only way forward is down. Then you'll see, the wetter, the better." What does he mean? He meant that Jake has to be sad to be able to move normally. The arms of a clock at 7:20 resembles a frown, brown leaves stands for autumn which is associated with melancholy, moving forward by having a down-attitude, and wetter as in wet with tears. While the riddle makes sense with the answer in mind, it fits this trope.
Jake: That's not a riddle! That's wordplay at best!
Magic Man: You try to come up with something on the spot!
Zen Koans. Consider: A monk asked Zhaozhou, "What is the meaning of the ancestral teacher's coming from the west?" Zhaozhou said, "The cypress tree in front of the hall". This is an actual koan from The Gateless Gate.
The real trick is, that's not the answer. That's a question. The student is expected to learn and understand this exchange, and come up with the proper response.
Which weighs more - a pound of gold or a pound of feathers? Answer The feathers weigh more, being measured in avoirdupois pounds that are somewhat heavier than troy pounds.
Or alternatively, the gold, because Archimedes' Force is density times the gravitational constant times volume of object, and the feathers would have a larger volume.
Still more alternatively, you could interpret it as "How much of each material could you buy with the equivalent value of a pound sterling?", in which case the answer would almost certainly be the feathers.
Another answer: Drop them on your toes, you tell me!
Which weighs more; an ounce of feathers or an ounce of gold?Answer The gold weighs more by about 2.75 g, since Troy ounces are 12 to a Troy pound instead of Avoirdupois' 16 to a pound.
One movie has a character remark on the nature of problems like these by asking "Which weighs more, all the trees cut down to produce the paper for US currency, or all the trains that pass through Grand Central Station in a year?" Neither, they both weigh nothing. US currency is printed on cotton, and Grand Central Station is a post office.note The train station is Grand Central Terminal, not Station
Grand Central Station could refer to the subway station that serves Grand Central Terminal, which is regularly served by trains.
Cryptic crosswords. Instead of typical crossword puzzle clues, they will usually consist of two parts: a generic clue, and one that requires wordplay or some other contrivance to figure out. (For example: "Tragic arrangement in A-flat": "Tragic" is the generic clue for the word, and "arrangement in A-flat" is the "cryptic" part, suggesting that the answer is an anagram of "A-flat" — in this case, the answer is "fatal".)
To properly end this page, you must shave the bowling pin with the broken paperweight to make a key, and use that to return to... you know what? Forget it.