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Grid Puzzle

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A Stock Puzzle that presents a grid, and a bunch of elements that must be put in appropriate cells of the grid. There are usually constraints in which elements must or cannot be placed in the same rows, in the same columns, in the same diagonals, or touching on certain cell boundaries. The constraints may or may not determine a unique solution.

Unlike the sliding block puzzles (such as 15 Puzzle and Klotski) and Rubik's Cube, there are no restrictions on the way elements can be repositioned, except for possibly a few cells fixed at the start. Once you think you have figured out a solution, you're free to put any available elements where you think they ought to be. (The selection and availability of elements is non-random, too.)

Usually, the grid is square, but it need not be quadrilateral; it could even have irregular boundaries.

Super-Trope of 15 Puzzle, sliding numbered tiles in a 4×4 grid so they are arranged in ascending order; Crossword Puzzle, using clues to fill words into overlapping horizontal and vertical lines; Magic Square Puzzle, a square array of integers that sum the same in each row, column, and main diagonal; Match-Three Game, a game involving matching three objects that are similar in some way; and Queens Puzzle, put eight queens on a chessboard so they can't capture each other. Contrast Block Puzzle, puzzles solved by arranging blocks to interact with the environment. Can be part of a Metapuzzle, a multi-layered puzzle of which the solution requires solving other individual puzzles first. Not to be confused with Set Piece Puzzle, a puzzle isolated in an object from the main game by gameplay mechanics.


Anime & Manga

  • Beelzebub: In Chapter 135, Pillar Head Quetzalcoatl sets up a Sudoku puzzle locking a door that Oga or Tojo must beat (along with other three puzzles hidden in the school) in order to get to Hilda. Quetzalcoatl, who is fascinated by human games, is also the one to explain the rules to Oga. As the Idiot Hero he is, this proves too much for Oga's intellect and he gives up.
  • Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God: The tenth episode revolves around Kaito solving one of these.

Alternate Reality Games

  • MIT Mystery Hunt: Puzzlehunts like this one often have puzzles that riff on pre-existing grid puzzles like sudoku, nonogram, etc.; but may also introduce plenty of twists and extra constraints that solvers need to deduce on the fly.


Films — Animation

Films — Live-Action

  • Happy Death Day: Sudoku puzzles are used as a metaphor for The Protagonist Tree's situation —similar to how Sudoku gets easier the more cells you fill, the clues to reveal Tree's murder are made more evident as the day passes by and she discards suspects and killing methods.


  • Sword Art Online: The Irrational Cube is a giant Rubix-cube-like creature with a Sudoku puzzle on each of its sides whose particular nature causes almost every door in town to be locked by puzzles. This makes it a Puzzle Boss of challenging difficulty seeing that solving the sudokus of each side could undo one you already solved on another side if you mess up the colors.

Live-Action TV

  • Taskmaster: In Series 5, the participants are tasked with recording the most incredible footage with a camera on their heads. Nish merely completes a Sudoku puzzle as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for him, he solves it the wrong way.

Puzzle Games

  • Latin Square puzzles such as Sudoku, Futoshiki, and Kenken.
  • Nonogram, variously known as Griddlers, Pic-A-Pix, and other names. In it, an assortment of numbers in a chart at the side determines the cells to be colored. This creates of pixel art-like picture.
  • Challenger is a four-by-four spreadsheet that includes totals of the rows, columns, and diagonals. Given four starting digits, the challenge is to supply the missing digits that will add up correctly. These puzzles include a difficulty timer that rarely exceeds nine minutes, and is often less than five minutes.


  • Survival of the Fittest: The conclusion in Anton Wykowsku's file has been replaced by a Sudoku puzzle by an unknown party. It's not clear whether solving it would reveal key information about the aforementioned student.

Tabletop Games

  • Battleship: It's a two-layered grid puzzle, with the first layer being figuring out the optimal placement of your ships and the second being deciphering the ship arrangement of your opponent with a limited set of missiles.
  • Scrabble: The goal is to arrange letters on a 15x15 grid in order to maximize the amount of points. There are tons of possible solutions to the puzzle since it all depends on the arrangement of the other tiles and where the multiplier cells are.

Video Games

  • Adventure Escape: A couple appear in Asylum, one involving musical instruments and another with butterflies.
  • Annalynn: Picture Prospector'' is a spin-off Puzzle Game centered around solving nonograms to advance mazes.
  • At the Carnival: Some puzzles involve unscrambling a 3x3 grid of letters so every row and column spells a word. Other puzzles involve unscrambling a picture like a jigsaw puzzle, but using squares in a grid.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm: Nearing the final stages of the game, the turn-based RPG gameplay will sometimes change to feature nonograms that need to be cleared in order to advance.
  • Brain Age: The first installment features tons of Sudoku puzzles as mini-games meant to unwind.
  • Callahan's Crosstime Saloon: In the video game adaptation, a simple marbles-in-the-holes puzzle is used to guard the ancient temple. The game then offers you a selection of more difficult puzzles that have nothing to do with the plot but hey, we designed the interface, might as well use it more than once.
  • Deadly Rooms of Death: The Second Sky has a level of Nonogram puzzles that make for an Unexpected Gameplay Change.
  • Exmortis: There's a sudoku puzzle to solve. Three cells are marked, and they're a 3-digit combination.
  • The Fool's Errand: Some of the puzzles are jigsaws.
  • Hebereke: O-Chan no Oekaki Logic revolves around solving nonograms with the help of The Ojou O-chan.
  • The Illogical Journey of the Zambonis: There is a puzzle based on Mudball Wall, except the results are already scripted regardless of what color and shape combination you enter.
  • Khimera: Puzzle Island: The puzzles of this island are nonograms.
  • Last Call BBS: Dungeons and Diagrams is a nonogram-style puzzle with a dungeon theme.
  • Logical Journey of the Zoombinis:
    • Mudball Wall has a grid with the color and shape of the ball determining which cell gets hit; "Very Hard" and "Very Very Hard" add a second color inside the shape. On "Oh So Hard" and "Very Very Hard", one variable doesn't correspond directly to its position in the grid, but a pattern still applies to it (e.g., the top row's shape order might be square-star-triangle-circle-diamond but the next row is star-triangle-circle-diamond-square).
    • Hotel Dimensia requires Zoombinis to be sorted by one of their features per dimension of the room grid. The size of the hotel corresponds with the difficulty: on "Not So Easy" there's only one dimension (sort by one of the four Zoombini features), on "Oh So Hard" and "Very Hard" the hotel expands to two dimensions (one feature for the row, another for the column; "Very Hard" has some rooms blocked off because of Fleens wrecking them), and "Very Very Hard" has three dimensions (the third one achieved by subdividing each of the rooms into a suite with five rooms apiece).
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The nicknamed "sudoku" puzzles consist of placing glyphs on a grid until you figure out the right sequence. This requires you to think some moves ahead since certain combinations of glyphs become incompatible. The hardest one so far is found in the Elaaden vault.
    • Mass Effect 2: A logic grid puzzle is a part of Liara's quest. There are five people —Turian, Salarian, etc.— and five jobs —merchant, killer, observer, etc. You need to find out who is the Shadow Broker's assistant, the Observer. The correct answer is none of the above, because all five are male, and Observer referred to herself as a female once. The whole thing is fake, and the Observer is actually Liara's secretary.
  • Nancy Drew: In "Shadow at the Water's Edge", the puzzles to solve are a master sudoku, a giant nonogram in the Senior Detective mode, and five connected sudoku puzzles in the Junior Detective mode.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis: One of the possible puzzle rooms in Leciel Exploration is a nonogram played with floor tiles.
  • Picross is the video game version of the nonogram puzzle.
  • Pixelo: A given since the game is based on Picross. Every puzzle is a 5x5, 10x10, 15x15, or 20x20 grid you have to fill based on clues on the walls.
  • Pokemon Heart Gold And Soul Silver: Instead of the original Game Corner, European releases get a minigame that mixes Minesweeper with Sudoku and a bit of luck. Among the prizes that can be gained, there's Dratini.
  • Riven: The Fire Marble Puzzle is one of these. You must deduce where to place the six colored spheres in a 25x25 grid. Overlaps with Enter Solution Here, since you're just re-creating a map. The trick is gathering the information to make the map, then figuring out the precise positioning through trial and error.
  • Super Mario Bros.: As its name indicates, Mario's Picross is based on solving nonograms. There are two modes —Mario mode, where the player's mistakes are corrected automatically and there's a time limit, and Wario mode, where the player is required to self-correct but there's no timer.
  • Statik: The first puzzle the players face is a variant of this idea. But before you can solve it you first must figure out the device to set all the pieces in place.
  • There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension: One of the in-game switch combinations is found in a Sudoku puzzle a pop-up ad that has nothing to do with the legit game mechanics. The solutions can be pretty nonsensical.
  • Trace: The lock on the outside door requires you to place the gold stars in the correct cells of the grid.
  • X3: Terran Conflict: The Hacking Minigame of the New Home plot consists of breaking a four-digit code that reveals a Sudoku.

Visual Novels

  • Charm Studies: Visual novel segments separated by Picross segments a.k.a Nonograms.
  • Fatal Hearts: The Box of Runes puzzle.
  • Murder by Numbers (2020): The player collects evidence to crack murder mysteries by solving nonogram puzzles, hence the game's title.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: The true route ends with such a puzzle. In the original Nintendo DS release it's a sudokunote  that needs the console to be held upside-down to be solved. Since the bottom part of the screen represents Junpei, it means that it's him who is cracking the puzzle instead of The Protagonist Akane (who is in the middle of a nervous breakdown due to the impossibility of the challenge and the previous reveals).


  • Erfworld: Axe Bodyspray's king passes along a coded message in the form of a sudoku puzzle that he solves easily.
  • Nine to Nine: When werewolves transform, they not only gain fur and wolf features but also a thirst for solving Sudoku puzzles. Unfortunately, they also become dumber, which makes the aforementioned task harder.
  • Problem Sleuth: Wizard's Sudoku is a Calvinball game that combines Sudoku with improbable stuff like jousting and chess. PI plays it with Death as one of the challenges to be beaten to achieve freedom.


  • SCP Foundation: One of the Joke SCPs, SCP-????-J, is a box that produces different locking mechanisms each round that the Foundation agents have to solve. There's a sudoku locking whose Flavor Text describes as "Prints and receives from the same slot and must be completed within ten minutes. Considered "fucking difficult".

Web Videos

Western Animation

  • Numberjacks: In the episode "In, Out and Shake it All About", Three and Five are sent to crack a Sudoku so they can clear and exit the puzzle bubble.
  • Winx Club: In "The Phoenix Revealed", the copied Codex pieces allow the Winx & co. an entrance to the dimension where Darkar and Dark Bloom are doing the ritual to open the Realix. For that purpose, however, there's a puzzle that involves some floating, colored tiles. Nobody can figure out how to solve it until Stella tries her hand at it. Being a Genius Ditz when it comes to fashion, she color-coordinates the tiles into a skewed grid of sorts; opening the portal as a result.

Real Life

  • Escape rooms often feature Sudokus that, when solved, reveal the correct sequence to series of buttons needed to exit the place.