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Metal Detector Puzzle

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An archetypal adventure game puzzle — an object is buried underground (or otherwise hidden) and the player needs to figure out where the item is buried, either by using another item to reveal its location (magnetic compasses, for instance) or by using knowledge of the contents of the treasure to one's advantage.

See also Beachcombing.


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    Action-Adventure Game 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight has a sequence around the middle of the game where you must use a sonar device to find the center of a root system so Poison Ivy can grow a giant tree.
  • In The Immortal one of the hardest rooms in the game is a maze with worms under the floor, and stepping on a worm kills you instantly. You must use a worm sensor to detect how far ahead of you the worm is, and all you get is a beep of varying volume as an indicator, making navigation really hard since there's always a worm within a few steps. Managing to navigate the room without ever using the sensor will open up an easter egg, which can kill you.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, one of the keys in Snowpeak Ruins is buried in the snow and it simply cannot be dug up until Link finds the Compass.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, if you take Bow-wow with you around the island, he'll start barking to tell you which areas have buried seashells.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you can use Magnesis to spot buried treasure chests, as all Magnesis-susceptible items glow when looking for a target for Magnesis or Stasis. When you get there, simply aim at the ground and yank away. This also has the added effect of blowing the cover of Treasure Octoroks, as since the chest is part of their body, it won't glow when you scan it with Magnesis or Stasis.
  • La-Mulana has the Detector which beeps when you enter a room with a secret door.

    Adventure Game 
  • Grim Fandango:
    • The secret entrance to Rubacava in the Petrified Forest has to be found by using a signpost that magically points towards the town. The sign tries to fool you into thinking that it's pointing at one of the forest "doors", but its "keyhole" is really a tiny dark spot on the ground.
    • Rubacava itself has an oddly inverted example of this, where you need to use your scythe to find a handheld metal detector in a giant cat litterbox.
    • Near the end of the game, you are required to find Salvador's buried remains by using a Number 9 Ticket, which is magnetically drawn to its owner.
  • The second episode of the Tales of Monkey Island series has a puzzle that requires the player to hide a voodoo-charmed pyrite parrot in a treasure chest, so the player can eventually find the buried treasure based on the parrot's sound cues.
  • In Discworld, you have to assemble a "dragon detector", which turns out to be a precious metal detector that you can use to find the dragon's hoard.
  • The Dig has one particularly infamous example: To find out where a local rat has taken a useful-looking trinket, you have to bait and catch the critter, bind an alien bracelet around it, let it loose, and use a compass that always points to the bracelet's location to find the creature's hidey-hole and dig out the trinket.
  • Averted in the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game; in the case where it appears, the metal detector automatically goes off when you get to a certain location (assuming, of course, you have it in your possession). Played straight in the second and third games.
  • This is slightly easier than normal in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. The item you're using need only be pulled out once per screen to see in what direction you should head next. The problem is that it'll only point to your sidekick unless you can convince her to put her orichalchum necklace in a lead-lined box.
  • The episodes of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People have a bonus puzzle where you try to find metal items by walking around with The Taranchula (sic) Black Metal Detector And Shovel Attachment! and listening for its call, in hopes of a Cosmetic Award. In Strong Badia The Free, you're required to use the metal detector in order to find some of a set of artifacts needed to convince Homsar to ally with Strong Bad.
  • In the first Simon the Sorcerer game, the player has to literally use a metal detector to find a mythical metal known as "milrith", said to be stronger than even mithril. This pretty much involves trying the detector on every screen until it picks up the ore.
  • 5 Days A Stranger requires you to track down a hidden body with a makeshift dowsing rod of sorts - specifically, a teddy bear suspended from a stick - which you'll have to wave around the house. It's fairly easy to miss a step in the enchanting process, which means it won't do anything but won't say clearly that you have to do anything else. At least one Let's Player spent a full video clicking the rod on every object in the house before he figured out the last step that had to be done.
  • Subverted by The Haunted Inn, which has a metal detector, but nothing you can find with it (the present-day commentary informs you of this to avoid you trying to use it in every single room). This is either a Red Herring or a symptom of how broken and unplayable the game is in its original form.

    Eastern RPG 
  • Breath of Fire IV had an early mini-game like this where you had to find buried parts to repair your sand-ship with. The mini-game could later be revisited to dig up various materials with which you could craft special pieces of armor for Ershin.
  • Final Fantasy
    • Final Fantasy VII has a sequence near the end of the first disc where the player has to find an item (the Earth Harp) buried underground by hiring sentries, placing them around the area and then having them turn to face the general direction of the buried treasure. This minigame can also yield other rewards, including a card key that lets you re-enter the Midgar slums.
    • Final Fantasy VIII also had a digging minigame in the chocobo forests that you had to complete to get the Chicobo card. The actual items you dig up are worthless stones though.
    • Final Fantasy IX has this as a very extensive mini-game called "Chocobo Hot and Cold". Playing it is the only way to teach your Chocobo new abilities, and by extension the only way to reach certain areas and collect certain items (including Zidane's Infinity +1 Sword).
    • Final Fantasy X-2 has the digging/"archaeology" game (made more urgent by sandstorms and a Super Boss that would eventually show up, with no hope of defeating it at lower levels).
    • Final Fantasy XI also has a version of Chocobo Hot And Cold, though its rewards are far less vital.
    • And Final Fantasy XIII also has one in conjunction with chocobos, though this time they're hidden on the field and the chocobo gets an icon over its head when you get close. The icon bobs up and down faster when you're closer to the treasure.
  • In Suikoden IV, recruiting Adventurer Archaeologist Rene enables you to go treasure hunting with her dowsing rods. This relies on following a Treasure Map and running around; the dowsing rods cross to make an 'X' when she's standing right over the treasure. She also appears as one of the returning recruits in Suikoden Tactics; now, she can do her treasure hunting while the rest of your team is busy fighting!
  • Mega Man Star Force
    • The second-to-last main dungeon of the first game is set in a cyber junkyard. To open a path forward, Mega Man has to find Hertzes (the generic blue NPCs) hidden among the junkpile, using a sensor to pinpoint their locations as well as a few vague clues. Making the mission harder is the fact that after every set time limit, excavators will mow the screen in two directions, and Mega Man will have to dodge them or get bounced to another area.
    • The Loch Mess scenario in the second game sees Mega Man diving underwater and searching for Mr. Hertzes. Once again, you have to follow cryptic clues to pinpoint their location.

    Hack and Slash 
  • No More Heroes: You can buy an add-on for your beam katana that works as a metal detector to find hidden treasures throughout the city. There's also a Side Job minigame where Travis has to use a traditional detector to find and deactivate mines in the beach (said mines are remnants of the warlike activity in the Rank 6 stage, hence why the minigame is only unlocked after you defeat that level's boss).

    Massively Multiplayer Online Game 
  • In zOMG!, one of the quests in Gold Beach is to find five mementos buried in the sand. Though your only clue is from the beeping sounds, so if your volume is turned down you'll have some trouble. Or you can find a player-made map that shows where the possible locations are and just check them all.
  • World of Warcraft added the Archaeology profession in its Cataclysm expansion. This involves visiting designated areas of the world map and using a skill that causes a theodolite to materialize on the ground next to your character showing the approximate angle and distance to buried artifact fragments in that area. Once you identify the location of the fragments, using the skill in that location digs them up. The fragments can be assembled into items of varying values and degrees of usefulness.
  • Mabinogi has L-Rod exploration. They make more and louder beeps the closer one is to a hidden object, and when they reach four beeps can be used to uncover said object for some experience.
  • A lategame quest in Star Wars: The Old Republic is the search for HK parts. This is done with a small deployable scanner which emits several concentric rings of increasing diameter. If the part is located within a ring's radius, you're told the (approximate) distance to the part. But nothing else. Bit of a pain, really.
    • And then there's the GSI droid, which can also be used to locate buried loot. Also a pain, in that it doesn't tell you the distance to the object, but it does give you a general direction. "General" in this case meaning somewhere in a 180-degree arc unless you buy items to temporarily increase its accuracy.
  • RuneScape has the Enchanted Key activity, which is used to locate a dozen treasure site spots across the game map after the 'Meeting History' quest, and again another dozen after the 'Making History' quest.

    Mons Series 
  • A number of Mons games, like Spectrobes, have you adding to your collection by searching for and reviving fossils. In fact, this is practically a requirement when the Mons are dinosaurs (like in Dinosaur King and Fossil Fighters).
  • Pokémon:
    • The fossil hunting mini-game in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.
    • The Itemfinder (up to the GBA games) and the Radar Poketch application (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum).

    Platform Game 
  • Around the halfway point of Psychonauts, the player needs to buy a dowsing rod at the camp store and use it to find buried arrowhead stashes, so that the player may eventually afford some of the more expensive items at the store (including the required cobweb duster).
  • In Spelunky you can find Udjat Eye which, if there's a secret exit to Black Market in the level, will beep faster as you get closer to the entrance.
  • In the first Ratchet & Clank, there's a Metal Detector Gadget which you can use to find a few extra Bolts. It's not required to beat the game, and you can't find anything but Bolts with it.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In Minesweeper, the player must open all the squares that do not contain mines, based only on the number of mines adjacent to each open square.

  • InNetHack:
    • The Vibrating square, though the only way to discover its location is to actually find the appropriate square. (At least your god sometimes saves from you a game of Mastermind ...)
    • The cavern containing portal on the Ethereal Plane of Earth can be found through a variety of methods already established in the game such as reading a scroll of gold detection while confused.
    • This says nothing about the number of traps you can find and disarm by searching carefully and exhaustively before you move.

    Simulation Game 

    Stealth-Based Game 

    Strategy RPG 
  • Slightly difficult Final Fantasy Tactics A2, since you'll only be told there's something under you if you're standing exactly on top of it at the end of a move. You have only a few chances to dig, and will be told the approximate "size" (i.e. value) of whatever you're standing over before you do any digging. Choose well!

    Western RPG 

You found The Stinger!