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Moon Logic Puzzle

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"'Ninja star + Chess + Watermelon + Sand = Swimsuit. I need to bring a banana with me 'cause... it makes me immortal if I get shot. My teddy bear can find pieces of a screwdriver, but it is useless without fish.' I know that this game took a lot of work, but you can't make people think they'll need to take the cat and cover it with gasoline if they want to proceed..."
0EndlessNameless0, Pursuit user review

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 and have nothing to do with what you're doing, but given enough thought, the solution at least is logical.

And 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.

If it is poorly written or implemented, you still may not think anyone could possibly solve it on their own. You may also find yourself cursing the developer for expecting you to make overly arcane connections, notice absurdly minute details, or for throwing in intentional or unintentional Red Herrings; but even a badly executed but successful moon logic puzzle makes sense after you read the answer. The pieces of the solution were in fact provided, and the solutions make logical sense in hindsight, just in strange or hard to notice ways. Even a highly skilled 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.


Failed attempts at creating a moon logic puzzle, on the other hand, will have the player screaming at the ceiling in rage upon reading the solution, and are generally unsolvable except by accident. The worst offenders cross the threshold from "convoluted but comprehensible logic" into Non Sequitur or even pure Insane Troll Logic — for example, you should just know which three rocks should be arranged on the three pedestals and in what order.note  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 Entendre someone 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, knowing some obscure pun in a language other than English that got Lost in Translation, or not being familiar with a common custom of the writer's culture. note 

This 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.

Moon logic and soup can puzzles tend to still be in favor more amongst hardcore traditionalists than casual adventure gamers who prefer storytelling and puzzles that actuallyu make sense within the context of the story. There seems to be a niche group who enjoys whimsical brainteasers exercises in quirky thinking more than serious attempts at a story. For them, it is more about the pride of figuring out on their own just how to get the Babel Fish, this example being perhaps the Trope Maker.

Far, far too many moon logic puzzles are based on Puns.

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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Video Game Examples

    Adventure Games 
  • Douglas Adams's text adventure Bureaucracy is filled with this; in order to progress, you frequently have to use strange leaps of logic to deal with a world designed and run by demented Obstructive Bureaucrats. (For example, a creditor sends you a "bill" in the form of a check for negative three hundred dollars. Simple; deposit it in your account, but use a withdrawal slip instead of a deposit slip. Since the negative of a withdrawal is a deposit, the negative of negative three hundred dollars is three hundred dollars.)
  • Discworld. Most of the puzzles don't make sense even in retrospect. Terry Pratchett jokingly summed it up as follows:
    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 croquet 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's Adventures in Wonderland: a flamingo. The third is a pelican. What leap of logic connects it with croquet is unclear.
  • The Dig has places where you can't use certain items until you progress to the point where you need them. There is a patch of dirt that you can't interact with until you do several other things, and a rock that you can't interact with until you enter a particular code into a map room.
  • Due to Epiphany City's theme of thinking outside the box, several puzzles are solved in unintuitive ways, usually involving the shape of objects mimicking another—the Ocean Flower, for example, is discovered by placing 4 unrelated setpieces together in such a way that, when combined with a setting sun for the middle piece, they become a flower.
  • Gabriel Knight 3 was 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 mustache, to impersonate someone, to get a motorcycle, because the hero refuses to drive a scooter. The guy you are impersonating doesn't have a mustache. You also need to steal his driver's license and find a pen, to draw a mustache on his picture. The last part makes some sense, as an eye-catching feature on a face draws attention away from a face's bone shape, and other characters hint at this; but it does nothing to explain how cat hair glued with maple syrup can make a convincing moustache.
    • In addition, the article highlighted there was an Interface Screw aspect as well; several objects involved in the puzzle don't show up as interactive until you've reached the point in the plot where the puzzle must be solved, but at the same time they have nothing particular to do with the puzzle, so the only way to find them was to visit every previous location and mouse over everything to find if something had become available that wasn't before.
  • 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 LeMans 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. You need to find something that can be used as fuel. You have a coffee mug. There is a coffin full of packing foam. There is a room with a toaster that catches fire if you put buttered bread in it. The station employees will put out the fire using fire extinguishers if that happens. Fill the mug with packing foam, place it next to the toaster, and put bread and butter in the toaster. The fire extinguisher spray will chemically react with the packing foam and make the mug jet around the room. If you missed the optional conversation or forgot about it, you have absolutely no way of knowing that the extinguishers and packing foam will react together like that.
    • 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.
  • The text adventure version of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984) 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 that this is what you need to find. However, there doesn't seem to be any source for it 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 message changes to reflect your newfound lack of common sense. Douglas Adams once described the game as moving beyond user-unfriendly, to user-hostile.
  • King's Quest:
    • King's Quest I: Quest For The Crown contained one optional 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. In a further bit of mercy, the game also accepts both Rumplestiltskin and Rumpelstiltskin.
    • 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. Even the novelized walkthrough in The King's Quest Companion, which makes a point that Graham can be an eccentric and a daydreamer to explain how he just happens to blunder into the correct solutions to the games' more counter-intuitive puzzles, couldn't come up with a better explanation for this one than that Graham threw the bridle completely by accident.
      • The Fan Remake splits it into several puzzles, but using an opal necklace to stun the snake so you can get past, create an Anti-Magic item in the sorcerer's home, use it on the snake, and THEN get the bridle using a Solve the Soup Cans riddle is only marginally less out there.
    • King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! 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.
      • You're lost in a cursed forest. How do you get out? Simple: Squeeze some honey onto a completely arbitrary spot on the road, and drop your emeralds into the puddle until an elf gets stuck in it. Incidentally, if you drop the emeralds without putting down the honey, the elf will just take them and run, and that's it for that playthrough.
    • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow:
      • 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).note 
    • In King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride, this is taken literally. In one chapter, a hunk of green cheese falls into a fountain in the town of Falderal which Chicken Little claims to be the Moon. Despite it being clearly within her reach, Valanice claims she can't reach it. The idea is that, being cheese and in water, it is slippery and has to be retrieved a different way. You must instead obtain a book and trade it to Roo Rat for a shepherd's crook and then use the crook to get the Moon. After being then found guilty of "Moon theft" and ordered to put it back into the sky, you then have to use the rubber chicken and a tree branch resembling a slingshot to fling the Moon back into the sky.
    • Gets played for laughs in the 2015 reboot. At a certain point, Graham gets stuck in quicksand and the apparent solution is to grab a nearby bucket, umbrella and a wheel to build a sort of impromptu watermill and then use a nearby skeleton to hold it. Graham looks proudly for a few moments at his contraption, and then Vee throws him a vine which allows her to pull him out, throwing in a comment that she's amazed you really thought something like that would actually work.
      • Later, in the epilogue, Gwendolyn references the trope directly when the player attempts to use an item on an object it's not meant to be used on.
        Gwendolyn: Moon, meet logic.
  • Monkey Island:
    • 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 hypnotized monkey into the pump and turning its tail. Yup, it's a monkey wrench. Bonus points to players of non-English versions, because that's not a puzzle that translates very well — the Spanish version of the game, for one, resorted to putting a book in the Phatt Library which flat-out tells you that monkeys can be used as "English wrenches", the Spanish equivalent of "monkey wrenches".
      • Near the end of the game 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:
      • At one point you need to make a snake throw up. What's the answer? Put an ipecac flower into a carafe of pancake syrup! There is a hint where you get the flower stating that natives use it as a 'purgative', but if the player is unfamiliar with that word or if they read the hint hours earlier...
      • When you first climb aboard the The Sea Cucumber (which is commanded by the Pirates Of Danjer Cove), Mr. Fossey accuses you of trespassing and forces you to walk the plank. Well, that obviously didn't work, so now what? Well, while Mr. Fossey is talking to Captain LeChimp, you need to saw the plank off with the serrated bread knife, which will suddenly lead Mr. Fossey to decide to tar and feather you. By real world logic, a serrated bread knife is hardly strong enough to cut through wood. And Mr. Fossey could've just thrown you overboard instead of going through the trouble of tarring and feathering you after noticing the plank was missing. The remainder of this puzzle is pretty easy. But, unless you're familiar with the cartoonish logic that dominates the Monkey Island games, be prepared to be stumped by puzzles like this.
  • The Mystery of the Druids opens with one of these. You need to contact someone by phone; your office phone in Scotland Yard doesn't let you make external calls. There's a pay phone available, but you don't have change. None of your co-workers will let you use their phone, and nobody will give you change or make change for you. The solution: talk to a hobo on the street, and have him ask you for a drink. Then go to the Scotland Yard lab, tease the lab technician about having alcohol in the lab, and have him dare you to drink medical alcohol. Drink it (which in reality would be potentially fatal), pass out, wake up, use fingerprinting powder on the bottles to see which one held the medical alcohol (even though it's labelled), tip it into a bottle with some apple juice, and feed it to the hobo - who falls unconscious letting you steal the change out of his hat. It is an important hint to how deranged and unscrupulous the player character is (your boss actually chews you out for doing such a ridiculous and dangerous thing), and the fact that the office doesn't give him the money to make external calls hints at how little they trust him; but it's also a very unintuitive puzzle with no hint but to try everything.
  • The Quest for Glory games is generally more fair with its logic than most Sierra games, but still have a few moon logic puzzles. These mostly pop up for the Magic User, who tends to be a more cerebral class to begin with.
    • In particular, the WIT entrance exams require some particularly outside-the-box thinking.note 
    • Another for Quest for Glory IV in theory is that you need to get Bonehad a hat to gain access to Baba Yaga's hut. But you can't just go and buy him one. Instead this requires completing a small and unrelated subquest by reuniting senile old Nikolai with his deceased wife, Anna. At which point his ghost gives you his hat...somehow. The "in theory" part comes in because Anna is located so close to the townnote  it's incredibly likely the player will run across her long before encountering Bonehead, so will already have the hat by the time he meets him and doesn't ''need' to puzzle out how to get it.
  • From the Sam & Max series...
    • Sam & Max Hit the Road wouldn't be a '90s puzzle-adventure game without a few moments of this, such as:
      • Combining a severed hand, a broken golf ball retriever, and a fridge magnet to create a device to extract a mood ring from the world's largest ball of twine;
      • Using a wrench to loosen a giant ceramic fish so that you can crawl into it and be mistaken for a real fish by a fisherman literally five feet away from you who saw you do all of this, so that you can be stolen from his pile of caught fish by a helicopter pilot who ALSO mistakes your giant fake fish for a real fish, so that you can be dropped onto (sigh) the same goddamn giant ball of twine in order to snip 91 yards of twine off of it.
    • In Sam and Max Beyond Time and Space: Moai Better Blues, you have to travel between Stinky's Diner and 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.
  • Sanitarium has a few of these. Want to get to the other side of a creek spanned by a broken bridge? Just throw a broken children's rider pig on a spring into the creek, counting that it will land standing up with the spring extending down to the creek floor, and then bounce on it.
  • Polish adventure game Skaut Kwatermaster runs on this trope. The most egregious example, however, is how to make tinder necessary for the game's final puzzle. Namely, first you need a poster. Then you make the poster into an origami hammer, which you use to hit a piece of uranium ore and split the atom that way, making it radioactive. Then, you irradiate a piece of cheese using the uranium, lure a mouse out of a hole and feed her with the radioactive cheese. That causes the mouse to mutate into a mole, which you stretch over a bucket to make a drum. Then, you need to talk to a tree, nail a "high voltage" sign on it, put on a Native American war bonnet that you got from a bum earlier and use the mole drum to summon lightning. This knocks a piece of wood off the tree, which you combine with a bow that you got from a bum earlier in order to light a campfire.
  • 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. Specifically, you need to pick up a metal bowl. The metal bowl is fastened to the table it's on. The fastener is easily undone, but you can't reach it because the bowl is full of pistachio nuts. Rather than, say, eating some of the nuts or scooping them out of the bowl, you have to send the ship's parrot through the on-board vacuum-tube based mail system to the room where the bowl is, so it can eat them for you.

    Other Video Games 
  • L.A. Noire is filled to the brim with this during its interrogations. Typically it's an issue with the game expecting players to understand that they need to purposely ignore logical fallacies, side-step incomplete deductions, and purposely aim for tropes such as Conviction by Contradiction. All of which can be incredibly non-intuitive, particularly during the early cases. There is also an issue with the game often expecting players to treat circumstantial conjecture as evidence, and even a couple of moments where Cole will use Insane Troll Logic to make a correct answer work within the context of the questioning.
    • One of the most striking examples occurs in the case "The Fallen Idol". You're investigating a car crash to see if it was an attempted murder of the driver and her passenger. At the crime scene, you find ripped underwear belonging to the female passenger, Jessica Hamilton. When you interview the female driver, you ask her about Jessica, and she says that Jessica had a rough day, and has stars in her eyes with dreams of being an actress, ending with "what more can I say?" By this time the player is expected to have already pieced together from the highly ambiguous circumstantial evidence (the ripped panties) that Jessica was raped the prior day. The player is then expected to contradict the driver, and present the underwear. This prompts Cole to accuse the driver of hiding the fact that Jessica was raped. The clue, of course, was the dismissal "what more can I say?" As if this wasn't bad enough, there's also a giant red herring in the form of a letter from Jessica's mother, revealing Jessica is a runaway. Trying to present this as evidence is a no-go, even though it's also something the driver is hiding. L.A. Noire keeps player statistics for these things, and this particular line of questioning has a 90% failure rate — after hints.
    • Another example comes when Cole asks the husband of a murder victim what size shoes he wears. The husband responds by saying, "size nines, I think." The player needs to accuse him of purposely lying, then present his real shoes... size eights. Not the strongest case, Cole.
    • The game's issues stem from the "Good Cop", "Bad Cop", and "Accuse" system, wherein everyone is being knowingly truthful or lying, without grey areas. While the game sometimes requires normal human intuition/leaps of logic, sometimes it instead wants game logic, leading to great angst.
  • These are somewhat par for the course in Kingdom of Loathing. The game's humorous nature means that a lot of puzzles rely on puns, jokes, or even information that is totally unrelated to anything in the game. As a result figuring out new challenges or recipes can take a long time even with large numbers of people working on it.
    • Riff's ocean puzzle 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.
    • Recipes. "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. explanation  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. This was later changed to simply having to go dig up the wand from a wizard's grave.
    • 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. And this is derived from a specific experience one of the devs had with his own homeowners' association. Players who listened to the radio show may remember him talking about it, but for the majority of players who don't it was completely out of left field.
  • Max Gentlemen Sexy Business!: The third campaign opens with one. Cashious Villionaire uses the Sanctus Lapis Fortunum to control your actions, changing all of your dialogue options to do whatever he tells you. He will do this over and over again, in an attempt to break the player, but there is no option to resist him, or even to give in and stop the loop. How do you break out and continue the game? You have to skip the cutscene. Fortunately, if you go through the loop too many times, Cashious and your friend Angel will start dropping increasingly obvious hints about what you're supposed to do.
  • A few parts of Myst games. Some are a bit closer to plain ol' soup cans but especially terrible bits include, in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, when you have to take aquaphobic 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.
  • Machinarium is mostly straightforward in its puzzles, but a few of these fall squarely into Moon Logic territory. For instance: After powering up an electric fence so you can trick a cat into being shocked by it and stunned, you're then able to collect the cat. Why did you need a cat? Why, obviously to give to the didgeridoo player so it can chase the critter out of his didgeridoo!
  • The Witness:
    • Usually averted. Even if a puzzle doesn't seem to make sense, there is a logical explanation for its mechanics. However, there's one particular puzzle in the jungle (specifically, the last puzzle in the first set) that's so excruciatingly hard and makes so little sense, that even the most hardcore fans who otherwise tell people not to use walkthroughs will make an exception with this puzzle, and often refer to it as "the one single puzzle I had to brute force". There have been many debates, after figuring out the solution, about exactly why it is right. The puzzle requires you to input a five-note chirpnote  into a panel that only has room for four notes. To complicate things further, there's another audio that is seemingly a distraction but does have four notes. The solution? Input the four-note distraction into the panel instead of the five-note chirp.
    • You progress by tracing the correct path through mazes presented on various electronic panels and other surfaces. Once you've played long enough, you may start to notice similar shapes in the surrounding environment. These can actually be interacted with and traced like any other maze.
  • Metal Gear:
    • 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 nighttime, and switches off the gate.
    • Metal Gear Solid:
      • The Codec number is an odd intersection of this and All There in the Manual, in that it's literally in 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 will also dodge most of 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. And if you still have problems, he will offer up an alternative solution which doesn't require messing with the console setup.
  • Professor Layton series:
    • Professor Layton and the Curious Village
      • 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. Luckily for Europeans this puzzle was replaced with a mathematical puzzle; whether it was because it was deemed too difficult or because not all of Europe uses QWERTY is unknown.
      • One puzzle mentions a device that makes a hole in a piece of paper and then marks the hole 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" you're never going to figure it out and this puzzle comes off as a particularly bizarre jump in logic.
      • Another puzzle features ten lit candles; three have the flame blown out and you are asked how many candles are left "at the end". The answer is three because the other seven lit candles are allowed to burn until there is nothing left; "at the end" referring to when this has happened.
    • Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box has one puzzle that involves a bottle with three long, twisty openings that form a maze and two corks. The bottle contains garlic, and you must block two openings with the corks to stop the person who gave it to you from smelling the garlic. No matter what combination of openings on the bottle you block, you will fail the puzzle because all three of the openings lead to the garlic. The solution is to put the corks in the nostrils of the person who gave you the puzzle, which are also openings. The puzzle didn't specify that the openings were on the bottle.
    • Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy has the games second puzzle. Prima's friend sent her a gift inside a block of ice, with a card saying that "you can use five 150 ml cups of hot water to melt 30 g of ice" and that she'd need to work out how many cups she'd need to melt the 2kg block of ice encasing her gift. The answer: 0. Prima just needs to stick it in front of her fireplace. The image displayed during the puzzle does indeed display a fireplace in the background, but the puzzle puts itself as a simple word based mathematics puzzle, meaning that most players just pay attention to the text and take the image as just being there for the sake of flavor.
    • Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy has a number of these, more so then is even usual for Layton. One of the puzzles gives the player a brief explanation on the pH scale, and describes that pH 3 indicates acid and pH 7 indicates alkaline. It then asks what pH 0+0 would indicate. The answer is "photo". Because pH 0+0 kinda looks like "photo".note  Another puzzle has a man talking to his wife about how last year it was their seventh wedding anniversary on the 30th of June, while next year it'll be their tenth wedding anniversary. You have to say when the conversation was taking place. The conversation started on the 31st of December at 11:59 at night and halfway through the sentence it became midnight and the date changed to the 1st of January. Meaning the start of the sentence took place in the year of their 8th anniversary, while halfway through, it became their 9th. Just forgetting about the fact that it's pretty awkward that you have to put the date that the conversation specifically started, you don't exactly expect people to change the context of what they're saying based on a to-the-second clock, mid-conversation.
  • The Trapped Series (not The Trapped Trilogy, which is also very guilty of this trope but that'll come later; the Series 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 Vader Expy 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.
  • One that may take hours or be solved instantly, depending on how you think: in Blades of Exile you encounter a group of GIFTS: Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Spiders, each named Spider. One acts as a Beef Gate and won't let you past unless you can prove you know the chief. The proof is to tell him the chief's name. Yes, the chief's name is Spider.
  • 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. And even for Americans who just don't know the compass directions of baseball fields. Not to mention the necessity of assuming (for no good reason) that home plate is on the west corner of the diamond.Here's why  In the hint book they even apologised for what a difficult puzzle it was, in particular for non-American Zorkers.
  • Scooby-Doo Mystery Game:
    • The game involves a puzzle where you actually have to microwave a cowbell that's lodged inside a block of ice. Metal. In a microwave. 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.
    • Another scenario example is, when having a motor without belt ("They often break"), and a new belt, you should use the belt as a rope in another place, and use toffy instead of belt.
  • 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.
  • There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension: Parodied during the Sherlock Holmes game. Game constantly points out how the solutions to each puzzle are ridiculous and nonsensical. Some of the game's actual puzzles can be downright outlandish, with lampshades aplenty, but exploration is often limited so you should quickly realize what to do anyway. Special mention to the Allegedly Free Game part, where a series of in-game switch combinations have to be found in the pop-up ads, hidden in a QR code and a game of sudoku respectively, that otherwise have nothing to do with Legend of the Secret.
  • Another Code:
    • The game has 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.
    • 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 put your device in "sleep mode," which instantly kills the pig since its weakness was apparently sleep.
  • 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 (one puzzle requires you to know basic color theory and the attendant terminology).
  • Assassin's Creed II
    • 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 targeted 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.
  • Assassin's Creed: Unity has the Nostradamus Enigmas. These are 18 challenges throughout the game that contain 3 or 4 riddles each. Each riddle leads the player to another riddle until they reach the end. What makes this challenging is the locations of the next riddle are never consistent. Sometimes one Enigma's riddles will keep the player within a small area, other times the next riddle will be hundreds of kilometers away.
  • 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. While the correct order is found in a few places in the game, it's very rarely in a way that call attention to it. The most obvious place is a boss that uses it as the answer to riddles, but this is A) optional and B) perfectly possible to mess up.
    • Also of note is that the tune that the Chrono Cross plays is composed of the first few notes that make up what is 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 that at a certain point, you need to steal an item from Bubs' concession stand and blame the theft on Coach Z to progress. Bubs is away and has a solid gold record sitting on his counter. There is nothing there to interact with aside from the record. However, the gold record is super-glued in place — it cannot be stolen, and if you try, a flashing alarm appears with a robot that summons Bubs. You have to steal the flashing alarm.
  • 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 ...
    >With what? Your bare hands?
    >Congratulations! You have just vanquished a dragon with your bare hands! (hard to believe, isn't it?)
  • The Trapped Trilogy consists near-entirely of unintuitive trial-and-error puzzles, but each game has its own That One Puzzle:
    • 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 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 half the time, from using a fire extinguisher to cross pools of lava and using a shovel to smash a crystal to upgrade your main weapon.
  • 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, ranging from the hard to the ridiculous. 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 Silent Hill 3 become this on Hard Riddle difficulty.
    • This hideous puzzle, involving a keypad, and a poem about mutilating a face from which you are supposed to deduce the code. Even if you manage to figure out that the face corresponds to the keypad, you also need to figure out what parts of the face correspond to which buttons, and even then you end up with five numbers instead of the four needed. If you want to know exactly how much effort it asks of you to solve it, see here (search for "puz_02") for the solution. It doesn't help that a note from Stanley about the puzzle mentions "4 numbers would've been good enough, but he kept on going", even though the code is only four numbers. Even worse, it turns out the puzzle was made much, much harder due to a miscommunication during development. The writers assumed the first row of the keypad would be "7-8-9", and the artists assumed the first row would be "1-2-3", and then when someone tried to fix the puzzle to match the new keypad layout, they switched two of the numbers.
    • Even worse is the Crematorium puzzle on Hard, where you are required to know the habits of a bird most people have never heard of, and the hint also contains a false pointer. Like the keypad puzzle, this was made harder due to a developer error. The dev notes say you're supposed to rank the birds in order from Heaven to Hell once you've figured out which stanza matches which bird. This is never mentioned anywhere in game.
    • Hard Mode has the Shakespeare puzzle, which requires intimate knowledge of Shakespeare's plays to decipher a numeric code. Failing that, you had other subtle clues in most of them to decipher if you don't. The first two stanzas aren't too hard to match up, but the other three are trickier (it doesn't help that even the developer notes are vague about which stanzas match which play, or even if the "one stanza = one play" rule still applies.) Even if you figure that out, you still have to figure out that the last stanza doesn't refer to a play at all, but means that you need to multiply two of the numbers corresponding to the plays and remove another one.
  • The video game adaptation of Who 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's review, 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.
  • The Longest Journey:
    • At the beginning of the game 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 glitches 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. 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 bar 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.
    • A powerful wizard can be defeated by handing him a calculator, causing him to be sucked inside when he starts messing with it. Why? Fan Wank has suggested that it is something to do with the calculator being an object of pure logic that conflicts with the wizard's magical nature but the game doesn't bother to explain this at any point.
  • 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!).
  • The following quote for the Zero Punctuation review of Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is actually talking about how the game averts this by only holding one item at a time.
    "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."
  • In Time, Gentlemen, Please! (the sequel to Ben There, Dan That!), 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.
  • Paper Mario:
    • 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 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.
    • Paper Mario: Color Splash features a selection of nearly 30 "Thing" objects — real-world items you can use to solve certain puzzles. Each Thing puzzle has strictly one solution, and the answers can be quite nonsensical. For example, there's a big block of ice that you have to destroy. You'd assume the right Thing is the ice pick, which you've been carrying for about half the game, but the only solution is to use a hair dryer to melt the ice. Other bizarre puzzles include bringing a bottle opener and a basin to a volcanonote , or balloons to a military basenote .
      • This is, however, mitigated significantly by the fact that the game's hub area has an NPC that will tell you which Thing or Things you need next, which means you just have to find a spot where you can use a Thing and then use the one he said you'll need.
  • 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 parodies 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.
  • 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?)note 
  • 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 really 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.
  • Simon the Sorcerer 2:
    • The game 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.
    • The game also features a magical sword that cannot be removed from its stone because the protagonist is not of royal birth. The solution? To get a tattoo of a crown. Huh?
  • 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-of-eight path around some palm trees in the desert. How do we locate the place in the huge desert (it isn't even on the map that came with the game)? You have to have noticed that screens with a dungeon entrance usually lack enemies.
  • Final Fantasy X: Accessing the ultimate weapons involves deciphering puzzles hidden in seemingly random locations, written in a language you need to be quite far along the game to understand, translated into phrases you enter in the map on the Global Airship. Solved about five times in recorded history; mostly, people just get the answers on the internet.
  • 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.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 3 features one combined with Lost in Translation. 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. 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. More awkwardly, nearly every other job request in this game plays 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. But even if you know Japanese, it doesn't really look like writing either unless you know in advance it's supposed to be text:
      That's supposed to say ハニワ haniwa, for the record. What does haniwa mean, then? They're 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.
    • 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 there were symbols on it that explicitly says it's a haniwa. 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 its glory here.
  • Shin Megami Tensei series:
    • 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.
    • In Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth's third dungeon, a puzzle requires you to fill two blank spots in a school schedule. The solution is extremely obscure, requiring you to shorten each class's name to a two-letter abbreviation (something which is never brought up) and arranging the schedule like a grid where each day of the week is one row (which is not exactly obvious since there are more blank spots on the schedule than the two you need to fill). On this grid, each diagonal line consists of the same letter, at which point you can deduce the two classes. Fortunately, you can just ask Naoto to solve the puzzle for you, which was probably what players were expected to do as a way to establish her genius deductive skills.
    • Persona 2: Innocent Sin has a part where the party are trapped in an air raid shelter under a school. The rules of this area are as follows: once you've entered, you can't find the exit, but one person did get out by using a mirror to find it. The solution requires you to notice that the rumour system relies on exact wording (which was pointed out subtly in the previous dungeon). No one knows where the exit is, which means that an exit must exist. One person got out, so finding it is possible. A mirror reflects things, including the normally unseeable exit. This means you can find the exit by looking at it indirectly. The party accidentally broke their only mirror, but another party member has a digital camera, which can take a photograph of the exit. Doing so allows her to point out where the exit is, revealing it to the rest of the party. Maya will explain how the puzzle works to you if you don't figure it out, but if you do work it out, it feels awesome.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening: During the fourth mission you enter 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 the staircase, it will break send you to a room full of enemies. After you beat them, you're returned to the previous room 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 staircase will appear where the first staircase was! You can now use the invisible staircase to reach the next door.
  • Attack of the Mutant Penguins is as close to a Moon Logic Game as you can get. The Angry Video Game Nerd describes its bizarreness:
    Angry Video Game Nerd: From what I understand, there's a bunch of penguins walking around. You buy tickets and they go into a transformation booth where they become evil mutant penguins. And from there, they go to the Doom Scale — yeah, the Doom Scale. They jump in the mouth, and appear on the scale. So, you gotta stop the penguins by using a weapon, for example, a baseball bat. How do you get the bat? You gotta collect letters that spell the word "BAT". Where do you find the letters? Inside treasure chests. But how do you open the treasure chests? A key, right? NO, GREMLINS! Yeah, you collect what they call "gremlins" and supposedly, you drop the gremlins inside the treasure chest, and then it opens. But no, it doesn't open right away, it takes like ten seconds. The more gremlins you use, the faster it opens. But it doesn't open, it like, explodes. When you get the bat, you gotta kill all the penguins, but they don't die if you hit 'em, instead there's a bunch of power orbs that scatter all over. You gotta get all the power orbs to power up your bat so you can kill the penguins, but you only kill the penguins wearing hats because the ones that don't wear hats fight the ones that do wear hats. If the mutant penguins on the Doom Scale outweigh the regular penguins, the Doom Scale starts screaming and going apeshit!
    Angry Video Game Nerd: This is the weirdest game I've ever played.
  • 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.
  • Antichamber intentionally 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 raison d'etre of McPixel, where the entire appeal of the game is to intentionally seek bizarre and hilarious outcomes in order to find the (usually) contrived solution. It helps that the interface is bare-bones as possible so that all possibilities can be boiled down to just clicking everything.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda has many hints that are near impossible to decode thanks to their vagueness and "Blind Idiot" Translation. 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 an area 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. Nintendo Power contained a short story soon after the debut of the game that narrated Link being stumped by this riddle, and sitting down next to the lake to relax and think the problem through. How does he relax? He takes out his recorder and plays some music. Given that the recorder usually whisks you away to a place that contains active enemies, this is especially counterintuitive an action, but the hint worked.
    • 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 still makes some clever sense if you're playing on a 3DS, but will prove impossible to figure out to anyone playing the game for the first time on any console that doesn't have a clamshell design; playing on other consoles like the 2DS or Wii U require the player to enter sleep mode or back out into the home menu.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest. In the first dungeon, there's a room with a pool of water and a floating platform moving back and forth, which you have to ride in order to reach the other side, but the way is blocked by a spiked log. The original game has a switch that lowers the water level, creating a safe gap between the log and the platform. This switch is gone in the Master Quest. The solution? Roll under the log (or "crouch" with your shield).
    • The rest of the OoT Master Quest isn't too bad, with most puzzles revolving around looking for torches and switches hidden in the most obscure places. But when all else fails, play the Song of Time - you might just make a block materialize out of thin air. Because by the time you get to the temples, you're expected to know that playing the Song of Time when Navi turns green would make a giant blue block appear, because similar blocks removed with the song earlier would reappear when playing the song again, and Navi turned green around them. Furthermore, playing the song while standing on (or under) one of these time blocks doesn't affect it at all, which of course you have to find out by yourself (thankfully it's not above a Bottomless Pit). Probably the most egregious example is in the Spirit Temple: in one room, you have to play the Song of Time three times at very specific locations, in order to safely drop a box you need to hold down a switch from one time block to another so you can reach it, and if you screw up, the box falls into a Bottomless Pit instead and you have to Puzzle Reset.
    • Hero's Cave in a linked Oracle of Ages game has a room with a Hamiltonian Path Puzzle. However, no matter which path you take, you're always going to end up with at least one spare blue tile. You're supposed to use the Cane of Somaria to cover this tile with a block (which is red!).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: "The Eighth Heroine" sidequest requires Link to find a statue of the titular heroine, with the only hint given that someone in Gerudo Town might know about her. One would assume it would be the librarian who tells Link about the seven other heroines, but she doesn’t even interact with the quest — her dialogue stays the same as ever. Instead Link finds the Eighth Heroine's location by... feeding the chief's pet seal, who turns out to be an oracle and can at random tell Link the rough location of the statue or just give him pun-heavy advice, either of which it only gives if fed a certain type of fruit (all other fruits randomly pull from a different pool of advice). Also it's the only talking animal in the game (in seal-speak; it requires a human translator), so most players wouldn't even be aware that asking an animal was a possibility.
  • 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 then lightly and slowly closes the trunk on him, somehow knocking him out.
  • There's an obscure series of first-person web games by flash developer Afro-Ninja, 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.
    • Another one, which many players could only solve by forcing themselves to Try Everything, has several ingredients being put through grinders and added to a bowl to make the infamous salmon mousse from the film. The trick is not to use the grinders - just put all the ingredients directly into the bowl.
  • Chaos on Deponia has an especially awful puzzle that relies on Moon Logic AND Cruelty Is the Only Option to solve. You need to break into a house, which has a cat food bowl outside. So, you put some fish bait on a burning tire, which you put on the window of a kitchen with some baby dolphins in a pool just outside. They jump through the hoop and get turned into cans of tuna. Then you feed the cat so your character can 'discover' (and finally interact with) the cat flap which has been clearly visible to the player the entire time.
  • Broken Sword has these in several games. At one point in the second games one of the players solves a puzzle and notes that it was done "Using the form of lateral thinking that can get you institutionalized."
  • The superhero adventure game, Noctropolis, is full of these. To enter a cathedral guarded by a lethal, flying gargoyle, the player must A) locate the couple pixels representative of the only loose bar in the iron-wrought fence, B) open utility panel of a nearby streetlight, C) attach fifty-pounds worth of cable to connect the fence post to an arbitrary lead, and d.) throw the bar, like a spear, some 20-yards so that it lands upon the fountain on which the beast occasionally perches so that it is electrocuted the following time it does. This puzzle was one of the first in the game and significantly simpler than later examples.
  • Curse of Enchantia is composed mostly of these puzzles; as a largely textless adventure game with little dialogue, everything is conveyed via thought balloons and similar image bubbles. This leads to very bizarre puzzles, but even that is no excuse once the game takes a turn for the completely surreal. For instance—at one point, your path will be blocked by an anthropomorphic nose. There is no reason given for why it's there or why it wants to stop you, you just have to get past it somehow. What you have to do is find a giant pile of cut hair on the ground a few screens back, grab a handful of hair, and shove it into the nose to make it sneeze itself out of the way.
  • Silence of the Sleep generally averts this trope with logical puzzles like matching the rotating segments of a skeleton key to a painting of a city skyline (the arrangement of buildings and their reflections is identical to the required arrangement of grooves on a key). Some puzzles still require rather illogical thinking, though.
  • 3D Puzzle game Outcry had invoked this on purpose in its latter half, where the landscape is shaped by your brother's subconscious. While the previous puzzles were mainly about studying abandoned/incomplete instructions to operating mysterious machinery, the puzzles in the so-called "Shimmering World" will have connections to psychotropic drugs, ancient monoliths and other things your brother knew very well but the player might struggle to figure out.
  • Another World had a particularly obnoxious one near the end of the game, where you climb a flight of stairs to encounter an armed alien soldier. Instead of immediately blowing him away like any other enemy, you instead have to run to the other side of the room where, instead of blowing you away at first sight like any other enemy soldier, he'll instead start deploying mobile bombs that will never reach you and instead travel down the stairs and explode on the screen below you, blowing a hole in the floor. But you can't stop him after just one! You have to let him deploy about five of these things before they break through the floor completely. If you screw up and kill him before that, it's time to suicide and start over.
  • Parasite Eve 2: The only way to return to Dryfield is blocked by a gate that requires knowledge of Japanese calender phraseology to open. The only hints you get to the solution lie in a cryptic hint that the answer is the "age of the full moon" and that there is some Japanese writing that Aya can't read. The game actually gives you the answer as well, but you can only get it from an optional bit of dialogue in an earlier area of Dryfield (the area you're trying to return to, so you better remember to do it before the disc change) where you fought a boss. The puzzle is optional, but failing to complete it locks you out of the Golden Ending.
  • Out of Order has a couple:
    • At one point, you need to obtain a device called a "MotorTroll" from a shopkeeper named Bob. It just happens that Bob has a bunch of cardboard boxes behind his shop, including one for the MotorTroll. If you look into it, you obtain an instruction manual, and if you look into it again you get a warranty. If you show Bob the warranty he'll say that he'll give you a new MotorTroll, but only if you bring him the old broken one. So what do you do? You're supposed to mess with an electrical transformer in the doctor's office to obtain a pile of burnt-out wires, and show them to Bob claiming that they're the broken MotorTroll. There's absolutely nothing connecting the wires and MotorTroll other than the fact that they're both electronic.
    • The puzzle required to obtain the bumper sticker. You need to prove to the doctor that you own a car so that he'll give it to you. How do you do that? How about going into the doctor's reception office, looking in the toy box to get a toy car, looking again to get a doll, going through more convoluted and unrelated steps to convince the doctor you're sick so you can steal his scalpel while he's looking up your symptoms, use the scalpel to remove the doll's head and cut out the photo from your ID card, stick the photo on the doll and then the doll on the toy car, then go through even more unrelated steps to get your celebrity neighbor to talk to you about her interest in photographing objects, then give her the car with doll, then wait until the photo is complete, then finally showing the photo of the doll in the car to the doctor so he'll give you the bumper sticker? For starters, there's no reason to think of using the scalpel on the doll unless you already knew the full solution beforehand.
  • Prince of Persia 2 has one at the end of Level 13, with a message on the wall saying "He who would steal the sacred flame must die", and a giant torch that kills you if you touch its flame. To obtain the sacred flame and exit the level, you have to let yourself be killed by a mook on the same screen as the torch.
  • The old role-playing game The Standing Stones ends with a trivia quiz (a Shout-Out to the bridge scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail) where you need to answer several questions correctly to get the McGuffin. First you're required to remember how many experience points your character has (and no, you can't look it up at that point), then you're asked several questions about real-world trivia. You have only ten seconds to answer each question, and if you aren't intimately familiar with U.S. culture (e.g. "How many home runs did the Sultan of Swat [i.e. Babe Ruth] hit?") or nerd culture ("How many crew members were on the U.S.S. Enterprise?"), you're screwed.
  • In Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star, unlocking Artoria Pendragon as a playable character is a doozy to say the least. The first thing you do is go into your system settings and set your clock between 3:00 and 4:00 pm if you have version 1.00 of the game. This is only for patch 1.00 of the game (if you have patch 1.01 then you can skip this part). Next up you'll need to choose one of the main levels with a "Mystery" side mission on any difficulty. Then, you have to complete the Regime Matrix but don't defeat the boss in the stage. From there, you'll need to go to one of the following locations: Sector D in the Jeanne d'Arc stage of Nero's arc; Sector J in the Nameless stage of Tamamo's arc; Sector E in the Cu Chulainn stage of Altera's arc; or Sector H in the Tamamo stage of the Special arc. After completing the Regime Matrix and have gone to one of those sectors, begin to kill the enemies and make them drop health power-ups. Consume 5 health power-upsnote  in that sector after completing the Regime Matrix. After completing those steps you'll be informed that Artoria, King of Knights, will challenge you to a fight. Once you defeat Artoria (force her to retreat) you'll need to defeat the boss Servant and then you'll unlock her as a playable character.
  • Dark Souls II has Earthen Peak, a giant windmill tower filled with deadly poison, including inside the boss room. How does one remove the poison? Why, set the blades of the windmill on fire with your torch, of course! Despite there being no indication in any of the games that you can do this to an environmental object (only enemies can normally be struck with the torch) and it being in no way obvious that the windmill mechanism is pumping the poison (most of it is just sitting in still pools with no obvious source.)
  • In the titular Ringed City from the Dark Souls III DLC, there's a wall with the inscription "Show Your Humanity". How do you show your humanity? Being embered? Unequipping your armor to show your human-looking skin? Bringing some specific NPC with you? No, you have to step into the water outside, use a Young White Branch (or cast the Chameleon spell) to transform into a Humanity sprite from Dark Souls 1, and then walk back up to the wall while transformed, which reveals a ladder leading up a hidden path. There's absolutely no indication whatsoever that using an item or sorcery that normally disguises you as something found in the local scenery suddenly transforms you into a Humanity sprite in a specific area, let alone that you have to transform into something at all, other than an obscure connection to the lore.
  • Paradigm, being a surrealist point-and-click adventure game that pays homage to obtuse point-and-click adventures from the 90s, is chock full of these. For example, the puzzle to obtain crack for the local drug addict so he'd let you have some backup disks needed for the power plant's computer so it doesn't melt down. This requires solving a three-layer nested puzzle that requires you to move around several locations and can take several hours to solve if you don't know what you're doing. Even if you know what you're doing, it takes about half an hour to move around and solve the puzzles. And no, it doesn't get easier once you gain access to the drug dealer's mansion.
  • Parodied in Earthworm Jim 2's sudden quiz show in "Villi People"/"Jim is a Blind Cave Salamander", where neither the questions nor the answers make any sense (though, as suggested in the manual, the "right" answer is usually the most nonsensical/wrong of them). In order to answer questions, you require mealworms (each question costs a mealworm, and you need 9 to join the show). Unlike other examples, you don't need to join the show to proceed in the level (but once you join it, you cannot leave until you spend all mealworms), and answering "correctly" only earns you either more mealworms or rewards you cannot use for the rest of the level.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: Re-recruiting Shinon. You have to talk to him with Rolf, and then defeat him with Ike. The latter part is logical enough given the sheer contempt Shinon shows Ike in basically every conversation they've ever had (though still something of a Violation of Common Sense in a game that otherwise employs Permadeath) but Rolf? Prior to this, the two have never had a single onscreen interaction. See, you're supposed to remember a seemingly throwaway line from 10 chapters ago where Rolf played coy about how he learned to use a bow, deduced that Shinon must have taught him because he also uses a bow, and that because of this Rolf holds a special place in Shinon's heart that can be used to return Shinon to the side of good, but only if Ike humiliates him in a duel first.
  • Dino Crisis's door passwords each have to be deciphered from a Code Disc and a Digital Disc Key, with increasingly convoluted rules. Surprisingly, the final password ends up being DOCTORKIRK.
  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • Using The Bible on Mom will instantly kill her, unlocking the Halo (a pretty useful item). Nowhere in the game itself is this explained, and The Bible isn't an item you're likely to randomly use in a boss fight (it normally just grants temporary flight). At least the game justifies this, since a Bible falls on Mom's head and kills her in a cutscene, but no other item in the game has this kind of special rule.
    • Unlocking The Lost in Rebirth. First, you have to kill yourself in a Sacrifice Room while holding the Missing Poster. This will display one of several unique death screens on your last will. Each death screen needs to be pieced together in the right order, then you need to kill yourself as each character in the right order with the methods listed. There are no hints that any of this will happen anywhere in the game. This was a deliberately impossible puzzle that was supposed to be solved by the community as a whole, although the character and solution ended up getting datamined instead.
    • Afterbirth+ added an even straighter example. To unlock The Forgotten, you have to beat the boss on the first floor in under a minute. This will cause Mom to laugh. If you return to the spawn room, you'll see an odd shadow looming over it. Placing a bomb in the center of the room causes the handle of a shovel to fall down. While holding the shovel, Mom will constantly try to stomp on you, which will only cease for a single room when you activate the item. You need to carry this shovel all the way through the Mom fight and into Boss Rush, beat Boss Rush, then complete the shovel (mercifully making the feet stop). Then you need to take the shovel all the way to The Dark Room and use it on an innocuous patch of dirt in a random room. Good luck even starting the puzzle.
  • PRICE has a few bizarre puzzles involving a doll that looks like the protagonist's sister. Examining the doll while having a separate item - a Hanged Man tarot card with an upside-down depiction of said sister - equipped gives the protagonist the completely-out-of-nowhere idea to hold the doll upside down, which causes the head to pop off and reveal a key. You're also required to mutilate the doll with a knife for no particular reason to find another key item.
  • Common in the Grow games where you need to place items in a certain orders to see them evolve and interact but they often interact in unexpected way and it's impossible to know in advance how each item will evolve the first time you play these games.
  • Armed & Delirious is a game infamous for being nearly entirely made of Moon Logic, with many puzzles involving using inventory items at random, clicking VERY specific pixels on the screen, and requiring strange/incredibly specific timing in order to proceed. A particularly infamous puzzle requires you to use the discs of the game itself to solve a colour matching puzzle, including the disc that is currently inside of your PC as you are playing it.
  • Borderlands 3: Played for Laughs on Eden-6, where Wainwright Jakobs and his boyfriend Hammerlock have to progress through the Jakobs family puzzles. Thankfully you just have to shoot people while they help you behind the scenes, but judging from Hammerlock's commentary the puzzles make no sense. And to top it all off, it turns out that the solution was written on the ceiling.
  • The MegaZeux adventure game Weirdness: Chapter I, by the engine's creator Alexis Janson, is weird not just in its sense of humor but also in some of its puzzle solutions, which the game admits upfront. The most obvious example is when you descend into the sewer and find a doorway into a first-person maze crawl leading to a key that you need. However, it's sealed off by running sewage and you must find a way through. The solution: turn on all the sinks in your house, which somehow causes the sewer to drain. In the fanmade Special Edition, you'll have to turn on both of your bathtubs as well.
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the Midnight Burrows sidequest has befuddled many players. At the dungeon's entrance, Tokk deduces that the tall, medium, and short obelisks in the background are notes to a song that opens the gate. To do so, you have to Bash the high, medium, and low hanging bells on the corresponding order. After completing the dungeon and showing him the Ancient Tablet, he notes that it has the song inscribed backwards, which implies that, to access the Ancestral Light tree that increases your attack power by 25%, you must ring the bells in reverse.
  • Smartphone game series Lets Mischief To Couple is all about screwing up the relationships of happy couples by manipulating circumstances in insane ways. For example: how do you screw up a quiet walk in the woods? Obviously you take a knife from a nearby overweight kid's backpack, use the knife to cut down a flower from a nearby tree, and give that flower to said overweight kid, so that he can use its intoxicating pollen to brainwash a nearby deer into attacking the couple. Obviously.
  • Garfield: Big Fat Hairy Deal has very little instructional text and no hints. Combined with the game's overuse of Red Herrings, it's almost impossible to figure out without a guide.
    • How do you get rid of the giant rat in your basement? Find Nermal in the sewers, kick him and collect a wind-up mouse, drop it on the desk of the health food store so you can scare the owner and steal a spinach donut, then feed that to the rat.
    • Then there's the question of how Garfield is supposed to get to the animal pound. You find a trowel in Jon's garden, sell it at the hardware store, buy birdseed, go to the park, and drop it so a giant duck will fly you over there.
    • What makes this even worse: Those two examples above? That's all the puzzles in the game. Getting rid of the rat gets you the key to the pound, and getting to the pound with it frees Arlene and wins the game.
  • Super Mario Sunshine's infamous "Yoshi's Fruit Adventure" manages to do this in a Platform Game. The goal is a Shine Sprite on top of a series of elevated platforms above water, but Mario is not able to reach it with his regular tools. However, there are leaping Cheep-Cheeps in between these platforms.note  The solution? As the title suggests, you're supposed to get Yoshi to eat certain kinds of order to spray the Cheep-Cheeps with juice in order to create platforms which you can use to get to the Shine.note  But that's not all. You first have to specifically eat a durian, which in the level only comes out from Ground Pounding a hut that drops random fruit, in order to turn Yoshi purple and generate a horizontally moving platform to get to the elevated platforms in the first place. Then you have to stray off the path to feed Yoshi a coconut, which will turn it pink and make it generate vertically moving platforms. The only way anyone would know any of these mechanics is if they had idly experimented beforehand and then connected the dots somehow, which is unlikely for most players since you never have to use these mechanics in any other level. It's no wonder that whenever people cite the game's flaws, this level will usually come up.
  • The Atari action-adventure game Artefakt Przodków has a puzzle like this. How do you get past a wall? Why, you need to give poison to a small animal, then use its corpse near the wall to destroy it. There are no in-game hints to this either. That said, the solution to this puzzle is directly given in the manual (with a hand-wavey explanation that it's an "explosive corpse"), and the other puzzles in the game make more sense.
  • The Secret Level in Commander Keen 4 can be accessed by collecting twelve inchworms together, so that they form a giant flying foot that takes you there. That explains the strange sentence in their description: "Watch out where you step or they'll be afoot!"
  • Survival Horror game Tormented Souls has quite a few. Here are two examples.
    • Setting a clock to the correct date and time. The key insight is realising that the paintings in the room and nearby corridors are clues and not local colour. One tells you the required date, and the positions of the weapons in the others tell you how to set the clock hands.
    • Opening a safe with an unresponsive dial: nearby you find a diary page, with a drawing of a safe and the numbers 2-8-4-3-6. Go through the magic mirror into another room, with another diary which mentions switching the TV channels from left to right. Turn on the TV. Instead of video, it has still pictures of a die (6 faces), a 4 leafed clover, a yin-yang symbol (2 halves), a tricycle (3 wheels) and a spider (8 legs). Now all you have to do is see the connection between the pictures and the numbers in the first diary, and view them in the order hinted at in the second diary.
  • Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It runs on a specific type of weird logic, dependent on wordplay, so some of the puzzles end up being quite obtuse if you aren't familiar with the terms. For example, one part in "Shake a Tower" has you save a shepherd from a rabid rat, and he drops a book of riddles. You also see a burning pile of soap suds, with an icicle hanging above them. The solution is to "riddle while foam burns", a play on the obscure expression "fiddle while Rome burns". This leads you to a well-boiled icicle, which you can turn into a well-oiled bicycle and use to get around. Other puzzles involve figuring out how to scare a portrait of Karl Marx and finding various ways to annoy a waitress.

    Alternate Reality Game 
  • Junko Junsui/She Stirs, which 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 circle, and inside the circles was "square root of sixty four", mirrored horizontally. 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). Keep in mind it's not an easy number to find even once you realize that's what "square root of sixty four" refers to; you need to calculate pi to 400 million digits to see it. And when you get that number you had to type it backwards into the admin answer 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.

Non-Video Game Examples

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Pokémon: Sun & Moon, Lillie and Gladion traverse Poni Canyon alone and are stopped at a puzzle where three statues featuring the three Alolan starters must be pushed into the correct slots right in front of them to open the door...or that is what the enthusiastic Lillie assumes, because as soon as she tries pushing one of the statues across a square, she's pulled back quickly before rusty spears try to skewer her alive from underneath. To her shock and surprise, Gladion goes to the door and pushes it open without issues, telling her that the puzzle itself is a trap to make trespassers believe they needed to solve the "puzzle" just to be met with death. (Notably, at no point beyond the fatal trap is there another gruesome example of a trap.)
  • Paradox Blue runs on these - although since the entities setting the puzzles are literally aliens, it's perhaps unsurprising. Want to try one? A prototype high speed train is travelling along a track when an identical train appears on the track ahead of it, going in the opposite direction. There are no points, neither has time to stop and the head-on collision will be devastating. How can you stop the collision? The solution: since it's a prototype train it's unique, so the identical one is actually a time-shifted reproduction of the one you're on - specifically, shifted a moment into the future. So, decide to release either a red or a blue balloon out of the train window. Wait until the future-you on the future-train releases a balloon of one of those colours. Then release a balloon of the other colour yourself to destroy the symmetry. (To be fair, this was so obscure even to the characters in the Manga that Izanamiel had to show up on the train in disguise to give them a nudge.)

    Game Shows 
  • 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 was implied 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.
  • Many of Norm Blumenthal's puzzles on Concentration had easy enough clues to parse, but once in awhile, he'd throw in a doozy of a clue. For the puzzle "Great Day In The Morning", a drawing of a Great Dane would be used for the portion "Great Day In". Steve Ryan would get in a good one on Classic Concentration, using a pitcher of ice water for "Onions Make Your Eyes Water".
  • Idiotest is more or less based on these. Every question is presented as an image on a touchscreen, and contestants must touch the part of the picture that answers the question. Thing is, every question deliberately phrased in a way that makes the most obvious answer incorrect, and the right answer something else entirely. For example, the show might say "Touch the thing that always lets you see through walls", and include pictures of X-ray glasses, infrared cameras, and such. The correct answer? The window that looks like it's part of the background.
  • The UK gameshow 3-2-1 was notorious for this: the contestants were given a series of props and riddles and had to decide if it led to a grand prize or the Zonk — a dustbin. The clues were utterly bizarre. In one example that was featured on Room 101, the prop was a giant wishbone, and the clue was " "Take one that never changes, add a pub and a precious stone, bring them all up-to-date, and now, you're on your own." Obviously this refers to a package holiday to Istanbul (because the wishbone comes from a turkey, and the riddle indicates the modern name for Constant-Inn-Opal). The contestants seemed no wiser once Ted Rogers explained it, and who could blame them?


    Live-Action TV 
  • The puzzles in the Total Immersion game Red Dwarf from the Red Dwarf episode "Back to Reality" seem to be like this (justified in that the whole thing was an illusion designed to make the crew despair). For example, the one where their failure ended the game involved using the S.S. Esperanto's guns to destroy the Despair Squid, the "clue" being that "Esperanto" literally means "hope", and hope defeats despair. Another was realising that Rimmer couldn't swim, and therefore there must be a hidden message in his swimming certificates. Andy the game maintenance guy insists these are all blatant clues and anyone who didn't get them "must have been playing like puddings!"
  • Overlapping with Brick Joke: There's one episode of NCIS where someone is doing a crossword and says they are looking for a three letter word for "Mistake". This initially is just a set up for a joke, as the other person suggests "FBI", and the scene ends without giving a real answer. Near the end of the episode we learn the correct answer is "Err", which doesn't really work as "Mistake" is a noun and "Err" is a verb meaning "to make a mistake", so they aren't really synonyms. amusingly, this thread has people suggest "dud" or "sin" as answers, which actually make more sense than the canon answer.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Mindtrap is based on this kind of puzzle. For example, here's one: 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 pack of wolves. And this is one of the simpler puzzles in the game. For most of them though, you're allowed to get more information by asking the other player (who can read the answer) yes-or-no questions.

  • It may not sound like one to modern audiences because of how damn well-known it is nowadays, but the original Riddle of the Sphinx from Oedipus Rex is very much opaque if you don't already know the answer. "What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, three legs in the evening, and no legs at night?" This is extremely metaphorical, equating morning/afternoon/evening/night to infancy/adulthood/old age/death is nowhere evident, nor calling a walking cane a "leg". And note it is indeed treated as such in the play, since plenty were eaten by the sphinx for failing to answer before Oedipus.

    Visual Novels 
  • Hotel Dusk: Room 215:
    • There is 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.
    • The electric room puzzle is a great example of a problem whose solution is perfectly obvious in real life, but obscure within the context of a Nintendo DS game. You need to flip two switches at the same time. You touch a switch, and it goes up. You release the switch, and it goes down. In real life, you'd just use both your hands to hold both switches up, but the Nintendo DS can only register one touch at a time and freaks out if you try to touch multiple spots at once. So what do you do? Just touch both switches at the same time anyway, and it will somehow work even though it shouldn't.
  • In Last Window:
    • There's a puzzle where you're trying to prevent a Marie from throwing herself off the roof. The main, Kyle, is on the left screen, while Marie is on the right one (the DS is held on its side like a book). What's the solution? Slam the DS shut when Marie isn't looking to make Kyle leap over to the right screen and pull Marie away.
    • A puzzle requires you to get a key out from a music box, where the key is trapped in the music box's cylinder. You have to close the DS when the cylinder's gap is showing, then while the DS is closed press the R button so that the pin presses at the key, before quickly opening the DS and pulling the key out with the stylus. This puzzle falls into Guide Dang It! for most players, due to how convoluted and finicky it is.
  • A key plot point of Umineko: When They Cry is the Witch's Epitaph, a riddle that supposedly points to the location of 10 tons of gold. Naturally, it is extremely difficult to solve, although the clues make some sense once you know the answer. How hard is it? For starters, you have to be fluent in English, Japanese, and Chinese to even stand a chance at solving the first clue ("Behold the sweetfish river running through my beloved hometown")Answer . You also need an atlas handy (although in-universe, there are scenes of characters consulting an atlas while solving the riddle, so this should be obvious).

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Ricky Gervais Show:
    • The much-hated "Rockbusters" segment. Example — "They're not the wooly ones, they're the ones that run and charge at you". Answer — the ram ones, i.e. The Ramones.
    • 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.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • 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!
  • Gravity Falls: "Irrational Treasure" has a series of these when Dipper and Mabel try to track down the secrets of the founder of the town. However, the founder's way of thinking is so strange that Dipper's logic can't figure out the clues, but Mabel's goofiness does. For example:
    • The note turns into a map if it's folded into a hat.
    • The map leads to a picture that looks abstract, but is in fact, just upside down.
    • The picture leads to a graveyard statue. Dipper tries to figure out what the statue is pointing at, while Mabel pushes a secret switch by pretending the angel is picking her nose.

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • This math problem: Three friends are having coffee. They have 12 sugar cubes to share between them. Distribute the sugar cubes such that each person puts an odd number of sugar cubes in their cup of coffee.
    The solution: Person A puts 1 sugar cube in their coffee, Person B also puts 1 sugar cube in their coffee, and Person C puts 10 sugar cubes in their coffee. While 10 is not an odd number mathematically, putting 10 sugar cubes in your coffee is very odd; the word "odd" in this case also being used in the same sense as "strange" or "unusual", and not just as in "leaves a remainder of 1 when divided by two".
  • The MIT Mystery Hunt is practically made of these types of puzzles. Here is an example of an easy puzzle: It looks like a simple 22x30 word search, right? Nope! Only 6 of the 32 words can be found. The solution (official link here) is to:
    • Notice that (1) all the words are related to fractals; (2) the word "LEVEL TWO" shows up at the top left, indicating a fractal's second level; (3) the word search has dozens of different 2x2 repeated blocks. This is a clue that level one expands like a fractal into level two by substituting each letter with its own 2x2 block. Now it's your job to recover level one, by doing the substitution backwards without knowing what the original letters were.
      For this, you have to notice three more things: (1) there are exactly 26 unique 2x2 blocks, so each represents an original letter; (2) the word "LEVEL ONE" has to show up at the top left of level one somewhere; (3) 25 of the 26 letters (no "X") show up in the word list. After praying that you have a good cryptogram solver on your team, this is enough information to fully recover the first level of the fractal word search. (It'll be half the dimensions of the second level, 11x15.) But wait! Only 18 of the words can be found here. You've found 24 out of 32 words so far. To find the last eight words...
      You have to dive into deeper levels of the fractal! Level three should be a piece of cake at this point; you've already figured out how to substitute backwards so it's much easier to substitute forwards. Poring over the 44x60 grid nets you three more words. But now you run into trouble, since level four's grid is 88x120 and you won't have enough time to dig through such a large grid by hand.
      Time to write a bot/program to generate and search the grids for you! A brute force searcher might be able to grind its way up to level 10 (a 5632x7680 grid) before it gets too slow to use. This earns you two more words, one at level 4 and one at level 6. The last three words have to be located at even deeper levels; you'll need to write a smart program that can discard unneeded grid segments without generating or searching through all of them. If you get this far, you'll find two more words, one at level 15 and one at level 17.
      The last word's location is probably meant to punish any programs that weren't smart enough. There's only one word the bot needs to find, so this tests if the programmer is good at quickly eliminating regions that can't possibly contain the answer. The last word shows up on level 86, somewhere inside a 425,541,888,504,349,469,496,573,952 x 580,284,393,415,022,003,858,964,480 word search grid.
      Now that you've found all 32 words, the staple secret of the word search genre shows up: Write down all the unused letters (from the first level), which spells out a message that finally, finally leads you to the answer. (The message asks about the exact location of each word, too, so you can't just find 95% of the words to read 95% of the secret message.)
      After all this, congratulations! Your team has successfully solved one of the over 150 puzzles in the hunt. Good luck getting to the rest of them (most of them harder) before the 72-hour clock runs out!
  • Sometimes invoked during job interviews as a means of testing for lateral thinking. A question may have a straightforward "correct" answer, but that would be impossible for the candidate to know. An example given on the show QI is "How many harpsichord repair experts are there in Britain?" (Here, nobody knows the answer. Even official census results don't have enough information since "harpsichord repair" isn't profitable enough to have as your primary occupation.) The interviewer is less interested in getting a "correct" answer and more interested in how the interviewee came about it, as a reasoning test.
    • Subverted by Google, which used to be infamous for asking its interviewees several such questions. Time and experience revealed little to no correlation between a hire's ability to provide good answers to brainteasers, and that hire's job performance. (For that matter, numbers like GPA and SAT scores were also shown to have little to no correlation. Google now no longer uses any of these three metrics.)
  • 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 (5)": "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".) During World War II recruiters at Bletchley Park used a particularly difficult cryptic crossword to find potential codebreakers.
  • The crossword puzzles featured in Harper's magazine not only use cryptic clues, they often don't follow the normal crossword-puzzle structure. Sometimes they're arranged in a spiral; sometimes they're a whole grid with a few bold lines to delineate where the black spaces ought to be...Suffice it to say that they're very, very devious, and anyone who's brave enough to try one had better learn to think way outside the box.
  • The book The Mother Tongue notes that British crossword puzzles tend to be much harder than American ones, and often rely on rather complicated wordplay.
    • A particularly vexing one it lists has a five letter word, and the only clue is "Sweetheart could take Non-Commissioned Officer to dance". The answer is "Flame". The explanation? NCO is short for Non-Commissioned Officer, another word for "sweetheart" is "flame" and the flamenco is a kind of dance. What?
    • A less ridiculous, but still really hard crossword mentioned in the same book: the word is three letters, and the only clue is "HIJKLMNO". The answer H2O, as it's the letters of the alphabet from H to O.
  • The famous phrase "think outside the box". The "box" itself refers a classic puzzle, in which one is supposed to connect 9 dots in a box shape with 4 straight lines — which can be eased by going beyond the "box" formed by the dots. The puzzle itself dates back to 1914 at least, but it was popularized as a test of lateral thinking by management gurus in the '60s and '70s, who coined the phrase to refer to it.
  • There's a famous chess puzzle where the only solution is to promote a pawn to a knight of the opposite color - an obviously illegal move, but the framing of the puzzle is phrased in such a way that it is considered an acceptable solution.

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.

Alternative Title(s): Insight Puzzle, See The Sailboat, Moon Logic