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That One Puzzle

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Hope you can reconstruct this skeleton perfectly.
Good luck if you never found the one easy-to-miss hint!

"The world's most difficult trick is beyond this point."

The equivalent of That One Level or Boss for Solve the Soup Cans and other similar adventure game puzzles. These may sometimes require the use of bizarre logic or unforeseeable actions to solve.

Remember not to list "every puzzle in game X" as an example; the whole point of That ONE Puzzle is that it's remembered to be much harder than the others around it, not simply that it's difficult.

Video Game Examples:

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    Action Adventure 
  • One puzzle in Brain Lord presents you with two floor switches and a plaque that tells you that the answer is "right in front of you". The solution? Press the Y button in front of the door.
  • La-Mulana:
    • The mantras. Essentially, after finding a certain set of items you have to find a tablet that tells you the mantra, then find the correct rear-side room to chant (type) the mantra. Finding the tablets and the items required isn't terribly hard, but figuring out the correct room is. To find the correct room to chant the mantra, you have to find a glowing compass on the wall in the front-side room, traverse the path from the compass to the boss room, then go to the rear-side, find the compass there, then traverse the same path, and finally chant the mantra in the room you are led to. Alternately, save yourself two hours and your sanity and just look up the rooms on the internet.
    • There's also the lantern puzzle in the second level of the Endless Corridor. You're required to light the lanterns that correspond to the end year of the Aztec Fifth Age (2012). However, the lanterns are labeled with the various glyphs that represent numbers. Remember those little symbols that show up near ladders to new areas? Those are the numerical glyphs, and that's the best clue you're gonna get. Thought they were eye candy? You're wrong. Just to add to the frustration, the game is incredibly picky about the correct solution, and will sometimes flat-out refuse to acknowledge that you've solved the puzzle.
    • There's a similar puzzle to the Endless corridor puzzle one in the Tower of Ruin, specifically in the remake. You're given 6 glyphs instead of 10, and you only need to enter two of them. In the original, they're English letters, but in the remake, they're glyphs that correspond to letters (which never show up even as background decoration, unlike the letters). It's easy enough to figure out that you're meant to type Mu thanks to a pair of signs talking about a 'Nameless one' elsewhere in the ruins, but good luck figuring out how you spell it with the glyphs. What you're meant to do is go to the sign that says the name you're meant to type, take note of where the name is on the sign, unequip the glyph reader (which is something that's required to read every sign in the game and is generally unwise to unequip) and take note of the glyphs that correspond to m and u, then enter those glyphs, unlocking a chest. You're much more likely to find the solution through trial-and-error, or if you played the original game, which has the same solution. It's one of the only situations where the remake made the puzzle harder.
    • The platform puzzle for the Life Jewel in the Dimensional Corridor. First off, you have to use the Lamp of Time to freeze time and stop a block in midair at a very specific point. Then, you have to jump down a spike-lined shaft, land the jump, and get off the block before the Lamp expires. Then, you have to pull off a very tricky series of jumps, where one misstep will send you into a spike. It gets worse: every time you fuck up (and you will fuck up), you have to wait three minutes for the Lamp of Time to recharge. That's three minutes in-game; you can't boot up any of the minigames or listen to the jukebox. If you kill the miniboss in the room below, then it becomes almost impossible to reach the Life Jewel room. And you can't leave the room until you either kill the miniboss or die.
    • The Room of Gems and Scales, the puzzle for the Mace. You have to balance a number of gems on a large scale. The game does tell you the weight of each gem... on two different tablets hidden throughout the ruins. But that's not all it tells you. You have to figure out Lemeza's weight, which is done by finding a scale in the Mausoleum of the Giants, pulling off a tricky jump to get to it, and figure out his weight from the numerical glyphs the scale shows. Even worse, one side of the scale weighs slightly more than the other, and this is never mentioned anywhere. And it's gone if you mess it up and don't have a save to reload to.
    • The remake tweaks all these puzzles slightly, making them easier (or at least more fair) with the possible exception of Endless Corridor. The map now shows compass locations, so finding the right locations is easier - and chanting the mantras takes a single button press, so finding them through trial-and-error is less tedious. The platform puzzle for the Life Jewel no longer requires the Lamp of Time; getting to it does, however, now that the Dragon no longer has a platform on his back (you have to stop time when he fires a water column and swim up through it to the platform; altogether, the timing is much more forgiving). Also, the Room of Gems and Scales starts with balanced scales (and Lemeza's weight has been adjusted to compensate). The Endless Corridor puzzle now requires you to pass through only 4 lanterns in the correct general sequence. The clue still requires knowledge of La-Mulanese numbers, but Mulbruk may glitch out and not give you a hint on the last two numbers. You also don't need to pass by all the lanterns, but many players make this assumption and give themselves further headache doing so. Ironic, since the order of the other incorrect lanterns is ignored in favor of the correct order of the 4 required lanterns.
  • La-Mulana 2, while a little more forgiving than the first game, is no slouch in this department either. A standout is the puzzle required to access the Ancient Cog. While opening the chest isn't particularly difficult, getting to the chest definitely is this. Throughout the game, there are tablets hinting about an Infernal Fiend biting into the neck of a Colossal Dragon, with one even giving you a mantra combination to use at the dragon's neck, but with no indication of where the dragon or the fiend actually are. While the save tablet in Heaven's Labyrinth (where the cog is located) makes reference to the Infernal Fiend, almost nothing is said about the Colossal Dragon. The solution? You need to work out that the Infernal Fiend that the area references is the weird blob-like creature that appears on all of the tablets in the area, and that the shape of that creature roughly corresponds with the shape of the area, with the mouth the Fiend being the room where the Ancient Cog is, and remember that the image appearing on Takamagahara Shrine's tablets is a dragon, and realise that that's the Colossal Dragon it's making reference too, and use the mantra on the room corresponding to the dragon's neck, which opens a path that drops down to the Ancient Cog chest in Heaven's Labyrinth. Luckily, there is a secondary hint for the location where the mantras are needed: a tablet in that room is written by the Olympians (who live in Heaven's Labyrinth) simply states "Where is this?". Most players end up solving this puzzle through trial and error on this tablet rather than through the intended method.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: The Ice Palace has the infamous block-and-backtracking puzzle. You need to find a way to keep a switch held down so that you can advance, but there's no objects in the room you can use to do that. The solution is to push one of the blocks upstairs into a hole and then use that to hold down the switch. The reason this is hard to figure out is because this is the only time you're required to use a movable block to hold down a switch and said movable blocks can only be moved for a single tile by default, as opposed to a statue that always stand out and can be moved around freely. There's also the fact that none of the other puzzles in the game require you to move puzzle elements between floors, and any other time you can throw or push something into a hole that isn't a Bottomless Pit and jump after it, it's guaranteed to disappear by the time you reach the bottom. Or you could just do some Sequence Breaking and use the Cane of Somaria, which generates blocks for you. Even if you do figure it out, half of the room the blocks are in is blocked by colored pillars which you might need to lower to access the right block, making for annoying backtracking. The puzzle was made easier for the GBA remake.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The Sacred Grove's Master Sword puzzle. Guiding the statues back to their positions in order to be granted access to the Master Sword is often called one of the hardest puzzles in the game and the series. Even worse, you can inadvertently get yourself crushed by them if you both end up on the same pillar, or stuck, sandwiched in a corner by one of the golems, meaning you have to reset the puzzle for another attempt.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: A few puzzles in the game, including at least one shrine and one chest on a divine beast, require you to freeze a metallic object with Stasis, move another object blocking it with Magnesis, and then use Magnesis again to quickly catch the frozen object before it falls once Stasis wears off. While Stasis is basically a Hitscan ability which hits instantly, Magnesis has a slight delay between activation and when it actually affects the object, with the distance between you and the object making the delay longer. Perfect timing is required in these puzzles, which the delay in Magnesis can make very frustrating to accomplish. Further, because shrines and divine beasts send you back to the beginning if you reload a save while inside, you cannot simply Save Scum in front of the puzzle in question to keep trying without having to go all the way back through the shrine/beast.
  • Shadow of the Beast 3 has the slab puzzle in Caves of Bidhur; every other puzzle can be solved consistently, but this essentially involves approximating a physics puzzle in a game without physics. You have to get a large slab across a long (but shallow) pit by placing (and moving them as you shift the slab along) three balls in said pit correctly so they evenly balance the slab; one mistake and it falls in the pit and you have to go back to the last checkpoint. In itself this would only be kind of irritating, but the last checkpoint is at least a few minutes back and requires you to enter a cave full of respawning Goddamned Bats that you need to kill a certain amount of to get the hammer you need to do the slab puzzle, so you end up getting drained each time you screw up. Finally, there's a boss fight straight after solving the puzzle; while not too difficult it's another way to get sent back if you mess up and die.
  • StarTropics has an infamous puzzle that is not that difficult, but left players confused since it breaks the fourth wall. Attached to the game's instruction booklet is a letter from the main character's Uncle; you learn late in the game that your Uncle has a transceiver in his shoe. You must enter a three digit combination to track the transceiver. Your only clue is "dip my note in water." If you dip the letter attached to the manual in water, invisible ink appears to tell you the combination. It's a simple puzzle, since the game outright tells you what to do, but even people who owned the manual and had the letter were confused, since actually dipping the physical letter in water makes no freakin' sense and many assumed the letter in question was an in-game item. Nintendo got so many questions about it that they published the solution in Nintendo Power. The code is 747
  • Superman 64 is a very puzzle-oriented game. Many of the puzzles are simple, but there is a puzzle in the final level of the game that is maddeningly hard. Brainiac sends you to a room with several portals (Word of God is that it's a time machine) with a number in the center of the screen. Players must go through portals until the number in the center of the screen equals 2000, causing Brainiac's computers to go haywire. The puzzle itself is self explanatory, but immeasurably difficult because this portion of the level is heavily glitched so that the player dies at complete random. Yes, this will happen even if you're using a Gameshark and have infinite health. The glitches make the final puzzle nearly un-solvable. One of the many reasons why this game is considered among the worst in the history of video games isn't just because of the convoluted gameplay and rushed release, but because this very puzzle screwed up an already bad enough game.

    Adventure Game 
  • The first game in the Black Mirror trilogy has a few difficult sliding puzzles that cannot be skipped (unlike in the later games), but the one you find in the crypt in Wales during the third chapter is a doozy. On top of being a tricky 4 x 4 tile sliding puzzle with which you only have one empty tile to work with, just knowing what you need to do requires you to have a deeper knowledge of Western astrology than many people would likely have, specifically knowing the exact order the twelve astrological signs come in a year.
  • The Goat Puzzle from Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars is so notorious in its difficulty that it has its own Wikipedia page. George must allow the goat to butt him, then click on the machinery as the goat returns to its position to move it, then let the goat charge again and get tangled in the machinery. This puzzle runs counter to every other puzzle in the game and has Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay to boot, and its legacy lives on in the minds of gamers.
  • There's a puzzle in Dark Fall: The Journal which, while not difficult to figure out, can be incredibly frustrating to actually complete: placing four alchemical symbols on a table in exactly the right places. All four of which need to be lined up perfectly with some chalk lines and the wood-grain of the tabletop. With your only guidance being two halves of a black-and-white photo, which depicts their proper positions from a tilted angle, so it's extra-hard to see exactly where the symbols' edges are supposed to lie. Did I mention that one of the scraps of photo isn't even on the same floor of the building as the puzzle, and neither clue can be removed from its location?
  • Day of the Tentacle. Use Squeaky Mattress with the other bed. You would think it's simple, but the game will frequently mistake you for trying to make noise with the mattress or Hoagie will say, "Where'm I gonna put it?" when you just try to use the mattress.
  • Then there's the 'cubes in the vault' puzzle in Infocom's Spellbreaker. (It's a variant of the Twelve Coins Puzzle.) There are a dozen or so magical cubes, but only one is the true cube you need. In order to determine the actual cube, you'll need to resort them a number of times, and cast the 'detect magic' spell. Problem is, you can only do this three times before being caught by security — and if you haven't truly narrowed it down to one cube, it will use Schrödinger's Gun to move it away from the one you pick to another one that fits all clues so far — and you're not allowed to save the game while in the vault (to prevent solving the puzzle with trial and error, and hide the fact that it's cheating). One of the toughest puzzles ever in Interactive Fiction, if you're not familiar with the Stock Puzzle beforehand.
  • From Next Door: As acknowledged by the creator, many players get stuck on the safe code puzzle. You get a hint from Daisuke Sen, but it's quite vague. The part that really seems to stump players is the understandable assumption it's a mathematics puzzle due to being located in a maths book. Technically it is, but it's deceptively simpler than it initially appears; all you have to do is count how many times the words Sen mentioned appear on the page, and that gives you the four-digit code.
  • Full Throttle features a puzzle late in the game where the player has to find a secret passageway to Malcom Corley's office in an alley behind Corley Motors' headquarters. As a hint, Maureen mentions that she used the passageway to get into the office by lining her eyes up with a crack on the wall, then kicking the wall at that spot when a nearby set of switches were all green. Also, she was six years old at the time. This had many players stumped, because the spot itself was already difficult to find, but the timing had to be precise as well, so it wasn't easy to tell whether they had the wrong spot or their timing was off. The spot made a different sound when thumped- not that it helps if you think you've got the right spot with the wrong timing.
  • Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned has a ridiculously infuriating first puzzle, involving Gabriel trying to rent himself a moped by pretending to be Moseley, who can rent one. To do this, Gabriel must distract Moseley with a piece of candy and swipe his passport from his pocket, steal his hat and jacket, draw a mustache on the face of the passport photo with a marker to hide the face, and then construct a fake mustache by putting some masking tape on a small hole and chasing the cat past that hole, leaving some of its fur on the tape, and then using the fur to create a fake mustache by gluing it to Gabriel's face with a packet of syrup. According to the programmers in a Game Informer interview, nobody at Sierra liked that puzzle. However, Roberta Williams had left the project by then without telling anyone what she'd planned for that sequence, and this was the first replacement puzzle anyone could think of. Under time and budget pressure, they had to go with it. As Old Man Murray put it:
    "Maybe Jane Jensen was too busy reading difficult books by Pär Lagerkvist to catch what stupid Quake players learned from watching the A-Team: The first step in making a costume to fool people into thinking you're a man without a mustache, is not to construct a fake mustachenote ."
  • The Journeyman Project is infamous for the bomb defusing puzzle on the Mars Colony. It consists of Agent 5 disarming a bomb before removing it from the base's core before it explodes. The puzzle requires guessing a combination of three nodes (red, yellow and green) in the correct order. Level 2 adds a blue node for a total of four, and Level 3 adds a purple node for a total of five. What makes this puzzle so difficult is that there is no strategy involved, and looking up a guide won't help. The combination is random every time you enter a level, and all the help you get after entering a combination guess is how many nodes are in the correct places. The game doesn't tell you which nodes are correct, just how many are correct, and that's all. This isn't so bad on Level 1, since you get enough chances that guessing every possible combination of red-yellow-green will eventually produce the combination. But Level 2 and Level 3 could potentially end without you guessing a single correct node before you run out of chances. And if you fail at any level, you go back to Level 1. All of this would be frustrating enough, but on top of all of that, there's a ten-minute time limit, and every node guess eats a few seconds away. Failing to clear the puzzle in time means Agent 5 dies of radiation poisoning. The Pegasus Prime remake alleviated the difficulty somewhat by making selecting nodes take less time, but it's still an exercise in frustration, and a pure guessing game.
  • In a game that was not too difficult for the time, especially if one was up on their Western fairy tales, King's Quest I: Quest For The Crown had a notorious example that got programmer Roberta Williams flooded with letters. To get a special item a character obviously reminiscent of Rumpelstiltskin would give you three chances to guess his name. But the correct answer was to actually use an alphabetic cipher (Z=A, etc.) and come up with the name "Ifnkovhgroghprm." The only clue was a note in a completely unrelated part of the game that said "It's good to think backwards." Tellingly, you could still win the game, just not score full points, if you used up all three guesses, and the remake just required players to spell "Rumpelstiltskin" backwards (although it didn't help that the programmers misspelled the name...). This puzzle was completely omitted in the fan remake Kings Quest (2015), although there is an in-game reference to it.
  • Life Is Strange's second episode features a section where the player is required to find five glass bottles in a junkyard. The only hint given for one of the bottles is that it's near a bonfire, so the logical conclusion is that it's near the old bonfire on the edge of the junkyard. Except there's also a second bonfire, which is completely hidden between two cars and the only way to find it is through the light smoke it puts out. The game creators realized how difficult this was and as such during the final episode, during the nightmare sequence, Max will get annoyed at the prospect of having to find bottles again.
  • The Longest Journey's infamous rubber ducky puzzle. It isn't considered a bad puzzle by some, but it's very poorly placed. Within the first chapter (Wherein April has almost no reason to try and pick up everything that's not nailed down or go out of her way to obtain things that have no apparent use), April must obtain a key from a track that is not only out of her reach, but is electrified. How does April get this? Jerry-rig a grappling hook using an inflatable rubber ducky, a rope, and a clamp tool. It makes sense and is clever, but the problem comes more from the fact that April must gather a rubber ducky (that she has to chase for several screens) and examine the rubber ducky so that it will deflate in time to operate the clamp. This is also one of the only two times in the game you have to examine an item and interact with it up close.
  • An infamous example occurs in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. The player must open a pipe with no hint as to how to do so. The solution? Stick a banana on the spike of a ticking metronome, causing a piano playing monkey to become frozen and usable as a "monkey wrench". Even worse is that this solution often got Lost in Translation and overseas; "monkey wrench" is a term often only used in America, which confused the living heck out of those living in other English countries. Translators had no fun working a way to make this puzzle sensible in other languages. Ron Gilbert made very dang sure after this fiasco not to use puns for a puzzle solution in future games. The Spanish version of the game went around this by adding a book to the Phatt library titled "101 uses for monkeys", which explains how monkeys can be used as llaves inglesas (Spanish for "monkey wrenches"). True, there's a chance that people might not take the book and miss the clue, but in general, the humor of the game made it more likely that people would read all the books in the library at least once, so there was a big chance to get it. The book doesn't explain WHY a monkey can be used as a wrench, though, which of course will confuse players.
  • Mystery of Time and Space has the green wall, an oversized 'turn-on-the-lights' puzzle where even if you know the exact series of panels to click, will take several minutes to go through and click all of them. If you don't know the exact series of panels to click? Forget it.
  • Ripper:
    • For a time, there was a screenshot from the game that was universally used as the example of a "ridiculously hard" puzzle. Specifically, you're given a motherboard with a bunch of microchips with arcane instructions and serial numbers on them and expected to put them all in the right places. The real kicker is this is just the most visually intimidating puzzle; there are puzzles that are even harder in Ripper.
    • The first puzzle in Ripper is an adventure in terrible puzzle design. You have to reassemble a shattered coffee mug in a 3d object viewer. The problem is, the interface is awful; you can't rotate the pieces smoothly, you can only rotate them in static 90 degree turns, and there's several pieces that just look like a mash of polygons no matter how you spin them. To add to this, there's no way to rotate the entire puzzle; you can only rotate individual pieces, meaning you essentially have to assemble a 3d object in a 2d plane, which is much harder than it sounds. Infuriatingly, assembling the puzzle gives you...a password, written in a small font, that you could easily have gotten by putting two or three pieces of the mug together and throwing the rest in the trash.
  • The Secret Files games have been known to have very unorthodox solutions to inventory puzzles that reviewers even call ridiculous, leading players to guess all combinations of items and environment until they get the right one for reasons they don't even realize. But the most notorious example of this is when you have to tape a cell phone to a cat and guide it into a man's kitchen to record his conversation.
  • Secrets of da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript has the Mona Lisa puzzle. The player character is Valdo, who has a lot of talent as an art forger; near the end of the game, he has to make an exact duplicate of the Mona Lisa as part of his efforts to thwart a treasonous plot. First, the picture must be drawn using an Albarti's grid, which by itself is a bit annoying but not too hard. But then the different squares of the picture must be painstakingly rearranged so that they're in the correct positions, and clicking on each square also rotates the squares adjacent to it. This puzzle is so baffling that most online walkthroughs don't even bother trying to explain how it's actually solved. There's a seriously helpful glitch which basically gets the game to solve it for you, and the majority of walkthroughs just include the instructions for triggering the glitch instead.
  • Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon has a puzzle near the beginning where the player has to repair a spaceship to escape from the garbage scow on which Roger awakens after drifting through space. One of the items required is a fusion reactor, found deep in the scow's depths; a reactor that the game steadfastly refuses to even acknowledge unless you specifically ask about it, and which is hidden behind a chunk of scenery. In other words, the only way you're going to find it without buying the hint book is if you possess the gift of second sight, or you happen to be one of the designers.
  • In Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier, the player has to reprogram a tricorder-like device by rearranging various chips and switches inside it. The solution is to decipher a series of clues in the game manual—"the red chip does not go next to the blue chip," that sort of thing—which, while not impossible, brings the game to a dead stop for anyone unskilled in such puzzles. (Amusingly, the puzzle hints were originally supposed to be in the game itself, not the documentation; because something got screwed up along the way, the puzzle was treated as copy protection on the Sierra message boards, meaning that posting an entire solution was a ban-worthy offense.)
  • In Still Life there's the infamous lock picking puzzle, which seems simple and trivial at first, but quickly shows a more sinister design when you're expected to make moves that would seem backwards and counter productive, but are in fact essential to progressing the puzzle, by tripping certain tumblers that you just moved back to where they were so that they trigger a distant unrelated tumbler to move into position.
  • Another literal puzzle in Under a Killing Moon, where a note has been torn into tiny pieces. The pieces have to be reassembled, and Tex will not be able to read it until each one is in exactly the right place- a single pixel off, and it's illegible as far as he's concerned. To top it off, the pieces don't snap into place or give any other hint that they've been correctly aligned. The end result is that it's easy to have a puzzle that looks completed but isn't recognized as so by the game, forcing the player to randomly move pieces around one pixel at a time to trigger the next cutscene.
  • The Trapped Trilogy is infamous for ridiculous and confusing Moon Logic Puzzles. The one that springs to everyone's mind is the nonsensical fishing rod (glue a banana, rope, and knife together), although the evidence puzzle in Escape is even more confusing.
  • YU-NO: In Mio's route, while underneath Triangle Mountain, you get trapped in a room with two skeletons and a dead body (which is a whole other story), and the only way out appears to be through a crazy-difficult puzzle in the center of the room. You are able to use an in-game laptop that translates the symbols in the grid puzzle to numbers, which doesn't make it any easier at all. Thus, Guide Dang It! fits here well.

    Edutainment Game 
  • Multiple minigames in The Cluefinders:
    • The Rings of Fire in 3rd grade. You are given a grid, but instead of coordinates, it’s all a bunch of seemingly random numbers. You are given two numbers, and you must add, subtract, multiply, or divide them to find out if the answer is on the board. The problem is, the numbers are not truly random and you can find multiple "correct" answers, making it into trial and error. This is especially true on Challenge difficulty where you can find all four potential answers.
      • There is, however, a pretty big loophole: If you get a successful hit or had any tiles revealed at the start, you can actually just start aiming at adjacent tiles even if none of them are the sum, difference, product, or quotient of the two numbers you are given. The game will acknowledge this as “Correct” anyway.
    • The last challenge of Reading, the Gates of Mount Valdrok, is Trial-and-Error Gameplay. You must guess the password, and are told if you have any correct letters in the right place, or correct letters in the wrong place. You are not SHOWN - only told - meaning you must guess, much like Mastermind. It’s much harder than it looks, and it’s very hard to complete all four without having run out of guesses and needing to start over at least once. On higher levels? It will give you five letters.
    • One puzzle in Search and Solve is a simple coordinate puzzle. The player must figure out which colour and shape match which lines on the X and Y Axis. Unfortunately, it’s possible for the player to lose simply because of poor luck. Every initial ‘guess’ may be clustered to one side, while all the required spaces to hit are on another. Higher levels also give you fewer guesses.
  • JumpStart Adventures 3rd Grade: Mystery Mountain's constellation at the Observatory minigame is disliked. You’re supposed to listen to the hint to figure out which constellation is being referenced. Unfortunately, there are a lot of them to wade through - and a few are very hard to find (Crux, for example, is a Pixel Hunt) in the mass of constellations. Most people just double-click until the game just gives you the answer.
  • JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Haunted Island
    • The Toad Well. The controls are awkward, and requires multitasking. There is also no on-screen timer to tell how far you’re going.
    • The Mummy’s tomb as well. In essence, it’s a simple Solitaire Mahjong, using history and geography to match the tiles. A simple puzzle, but what makes it into this is because of how easy it is to render unwinnable. Every puzzle has two matches of a particular subject (Four tiles each), but sometimes a valid match will appear that will cause it to be unwinnable - because you must clear any tile that is “above” a tile to match it. There are also no “Undo” or “Reset” mechanics, meaning the only way to ‘reset’ the puzzle is to just go until the game declares you to be stuck.
  • The Crossword puzzle in JumpStart Adventures 5th Grade: Jo Hammet, Kid Detective You are given clues about Art History and Geography to fill in the clues. What you are intended to do is to walk around the museum and click on paintings, the globe, or pictures of the world for what it’s talking about. In practice, this is a massive pixel hunt and many players simply brute-forced it by going through the alphabet until a “Correct” letter is detected by the game.
  • Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? (1997)
    • Case 7 has a trial and error part where you must balance salt with gold. There is no way to know apart from trial and error which pieces you must use. Even though the answer is fixed, there's very little to let you know how much the block of salt is worth.
    • Beethoven’s level (1808) can be very hard to complete if one is hard of hearing or tone-deaf. There is a deaf-friendly version of the level, except it's not inherently obvious to unlock.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Several in Descent II, notably the secret to getting the Helix Cannon in level 2, and the Omega Cannon in level 13. The former requires you to use the Phoenix Cannon to bounce shots off a wall to hit a switch you can't see, then find two secret doors, drop a smart mine near the first one, and rush back to the other one and hope the blast from the smart mine unlocks it in time for you to get inside. The latter is even more complicated, requiring using markers to hold open doors and multiple guided missile tricks to access.
  • In Marathon, the level "Colony Ship for Sale, Cheap" required you to raise seven platforms to specific heights in order to fashion a staircase (they didn't automatically stop at appropriate levels, so you had to time the switch hits exactly right). Unfortunately, the switches to do this were divided between three observation bays separated by lots of walking, and it was rarely possible to set them correctly on the first try. This puzzle was so loathed that the designer apologized for it in the sequel's credits terminal. When fans remade the game in an open source engine, the platform heights were initially made automatic but later restored to full difficulty for authenticity's sake.

  • Final Fantasy XIV has the infamous Kugane Tower jumping puzzle in Stormblood. It has a ton of extremely tight, tricky, and precise jumps where you have to be near damn perfect in executing it or risk falling off the tower completely. Due to realistic Jump Physics (i.e. no mid-jump adjustments) and the collision boxes on the platforms and walls being very wonky, you can find yourself either overshooting your jumps and falling down, falling short, or hitting a wall as you leap forward. The reward for making it to the very top? A cool bit of scenery in which to take/pose pictures, and a vista for your sightseeing log. And you know that one sight seeing marker that's on top of a lamp post right next to Kugane Tower? Take everything from the above point, and add on a precise jump all the way back down. If you miss, you have to climb the entire tower all over again.
  • Kingdom of Loathing's co-developer Riff loves these puzzles. Almost every puzzle on this list is one of his creations.
    • The Nemesis sidequest gives you a puzzle involving rising and falling stepping-stones in a volcano, which can easily be locked into an unsolvable position, and the Puzzle Reset deals a ton of hot damage. The game itself lampshades this before you start the puzzle. It's easily scripted (and most long-time players will do just that), but if you're trying to solve it yourself, you're going to burn through a lot of HP.
    • Figuring out Ak'gyxoth's True Name. 43 islands, when visited for the first time ever, would yield a "strange tiki idol". Someone at some point probably figured out that you were supposed to play connect-the-dots with them, but the absurd number of combinations meant that they were getting nowhere, until Riff released a "hint" which was itself That One Puzzle — but, when solved, listed the number of islands in each group, from left to right.
    • The mysterious cartouches of Ed the Undying. When adventuring with the Crown of Ed the Undying equipped (a bind-on-equip donation item), a cartouche would occasionally appear. Assembling these cartouches in the correct way would allow them to be decrypted into a message, which contained another hidden message inside of it. This puzzle took the playerbase seven months to solve.
    • The invisible string puzzle took five months to solve, primarily because every step in the solution had a very short time limit.note 
    • Riff's penchant for extremely difficult puzzles was parodied with the intriguing puzzle box, dropped by his butt on April Fools' Day. As far as anyone knows, it has no solution whatsoever.
  • RuneScape:
    • Shortly after the start of the quest "Monkey Madness", you must solve an infuriatingly difficult 5X5 sliding puzzle or pay 200,000 gold to skip it.
    • One of the newer quests, Elemental Workshop III, makes it far, far worse. A room-sized, three-dimensional sliding puzzle, of the same difficulty as the one in aforementioned Monkey Madness, except you can't bribe your way past it and it uses an irritating interface that'll probably take a few tries to get used to. And it has five parts to complete. And you have a limited number of moves for each of the first three parts.
    • Celtic Knot puzzles in Elite Treasure Trails. Even players who don't bat an eye at the slider puzzles hate the sight of these; even some people who enjoy fussing with the Celtic Knots do.
    • In A Void Dance, you have to solve a very irritating Block Puzzle, this time with beer barrels, just to get an empty barrel out the door. Apparently, the barrels are made of an indestructible material that resembles wood, because the idea of smashing the top of a barrel never occurs to your character, despite the fact that the mission is clearly a time-critical situation!
    • There's also the Temple of Light from Mourning's End: Part 2. It involves changing the path and color of a light beam using crystals in pillars, in a huge multilevel dungeon, filled with Shadows that frequently knock off 100+ health in one hit and will constantly mob you. Even worse, getting hit by a shadow while attempting to interact with a pillar will close the menu, making it extremely difficult simply to input the commands even if you already know the solution. In addition, there's also several Agility obstacles scattered around the dungeon, which you can (and will, frequently) fail, dropping you into pits filled with shadows and forcing you to run all around the dungeon. Words cannot describe the incredible frustration of this quest.
  • The Secret World actually encourages players to use the internet to look up many of the obscure terms and references used in the investigation missions, but despite this there is one puzzle that is borderline impossible due to the fact the solution is in Morse code. There is a visual aid but the message flashes past so fast it's impossible for anyone not skilled in Morse to decipher, even with a guide to Morse to hand. That's right: the game requires players to learn an entire form of communication just to complete one puzzle!

    Platform Game 
  • Fez has many inside its arsenal of brain-melting puzzles, but one in particular is known throughout all of the people who played this game: the infamous Black Monolith Puzzle. It required the player to decode an entire language where some characters have multiple different meanings, and an entirely new numeral system where multiple symbols could have the same meaning. After that, you had to translate a tome which only looks like gibberish unless you read it in 3 dimensions, where you read from the first character in each page systematically, which gives you 8 entirely new riddles to solve! But that's not all, you have to use the page numbering in the tome to rearrange the numbering of the game's release date, and you translate THAT into Fez's language again, stack it into a 3 dimensional object and cast a shadow onto it at a certain angle to get the code. Fun fact: nobody did that. They brute-forced their way through by systematically going through 82,000 combinations of button inputs in order to get the correct code to complete the puzzle.
  • The Lion King on Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis has the infamous monkey puzzle in "Can't Wait To Be King", the second level: To advance, the player has to roar at a selection of monkeys to get them to change their position, after which the player has to jump into them to let the monkeys toss them around - and if they're lucky, all the monkeys will have been organized in such a way that they can move on to the next section. It's especially aggravating in the second section, where the player will have to organize one set of monkeys perfectly to even get to roar at a specific monkey, who needs to be turned to finish the level. The fact that these puzzles sandwich an infuriatingly difficult ostrich-riding section doesn't help, and rumor has it that the game's chief designer had never once passed the second level.
  • LittleBigPlanet:
    • The first game has the multiplayer puzzle in Serpent Shrine. Here's the picture: There's a tunnel that has massive, flaming snakes running through it. They appear too fast to just run through. There are 3 balls that are lowered by winches, and can be grabbed. Up top, there is a button that lowers the winches, allowing the partner to grab onto one. Step off the switch, and the balls go back up. At the end, after the third ball, there are two Prize Bubbles. Understand, now? Well, it's just frustrating. Your partner will invariably be worse than you, and will either not grab on in time or step off/on the switch in time to get roasted by the snake. Did you know that if the person in the tunnel dies, you only have 4 chances, total? The puzzle's location is far in the level, making it irritating to reach. It's a subjective puzzle, since it depends on your partner being absolutely PERFECT at doing one of the tasks. The player on the buttons has to be in the exact center or else the snakes will kill the other player regardless of being raised or not.
    • The multiplayer puzzle in the Great Magician's Palace in the first game is easier, but still irritating. The first part is the bad one, and it involves one player running back and forth pressing buttons to spawn cubes in a vertical shaft. The left button spawns a cube on the left, and the right one... well, it spawns a cube on the right. The trouble is that you need to move quickly, because the cubes will eventually despawn and leave Sackboy falling down to the bottom, but you also can't move TOO quickly, or else a cube will probably fall over and crush your Sackboy. When you get to the top, the game wants you to repeat this with the player on top jumping between buttons instead to spawn cubes for the player on the bottom, but you can just have the player at the top activate the checkpoint and have the player at the bottom kill themselves to spawn at the top. The second part is much easier than that; it just has the players syncing up their movements so that one spawns platforms for the other so they can get over a pit of fire.
    • Honorable mention goes to the 4X puzzles, but the trouble in that is merely getting four players together to attempt them.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) The Billiard Ball puzzle in Silver's version of Dusty Desert. Basically, it's a section where you guide your telekinetic hedgehog around a corridor, all the while pushing a giant billiard ball as you go around. The hall has several obstacles and pitfalls littered around it, and it's only possible to hit the ball around nine times per run. Also, there's a time limit. This is already challenging enough, but combining it with the game's physics makes it very frustrating - and the worst part is that there was no "trick" to solving it, apart from glitching the game and walking through a wall to skip it. In order to understand how bad this is, the Very Hard DLC mission for that stage replaces the section with a difficult gauntlet of enemies and traps that makes the rest of the mission seem banal in comparison, but even this is easier that the billiard ball puzzle.
  • Wario Land 3: The blue chest in E3 Castle of Illusions and green chest in S4 The Steep Canyon, which require you to fly through large spike mazes with the owl.
  • Wario World has a puzzle in Pecan Sands that involves punching some arrow blocks around to get to a red diamond. It is very tough to figure out how to do it without a guide.

    Puzzle Game 
  • On one of the last levels in the Web game 4 Elements, the arrows start firing as soon as the level begins. Even if you do get the energy to flow past the arrows, you need to connect enough red gems to charge the bomb powerup twice, or you'll never make a path through the boulders.
  • Small Radios Big Televisions has the "Waterfall Puzzle" in the third level, requiring the player to turn four large wheels such that the symbols on their edges align in a particular way. Next to the wheels is a diagram which seems to lay out the rules for the correct alignment. This diagram has absolutely no relation to this nor any other puzzle, and is so useless and misleading that one might wonder whether it's a hapless leftover from a beta version where the rules were different. The correct rules are actually given in the other puzzles on the same level — the same rules apply to all the "wheel" puzzles, and there are only two: #1: The solid yellow block must align with either a solid yellow or hashed yellow block. #2: The two yellow lines must align with an empty space, including the borders where there are no adjacent wheels. Many a player has completed this puzzle with pure trial and error, never really understanding why the solution is what it is.
  • In the iOS game Mystery Match, this applies to any level with countdown gems, which can be matched with ordinary gems of their color. If even one of them counts down to zero, it's a Non-Standard Game Over, regardless of how many moves remain.
  • The final segment in Mickey's Ultimate Challenge is a slider puzzle that, when complete, displays a picture of an alarm clock that wakes a sleeping giant. Cake and Medium are somewhat manageable on grids of 3x3 and 4x4, respectively. On Challenging, the grid is 6x6 which easily makes it the hardest part of the game and a headache for anyone in the target demographic.
  • The Cabinets Of Doctor Arcana has the infamous scarab puzzle, in which the player must use a scarab to push golden balls around on the playing field. It's so difficult that one wrong move may require the entire thing to be reset, and actually solving it can take literal hours. Some players who otherwise won't touch the Skip button will break down and use it for this puzzle just because it's so frustrating.
  • Axis Mundi in Catherine. As if the stage itself wasn't ridiculously difficult, add in the Mystery Blocks. They have no problem spawning black holes, which spell instant death.
  • Chip's Challenge: Many levels in the game feature difficult puzzles, but by far the most cruel is that of Level 131, Totally Unfair. To solve it, it is necessary to first play and memorize Level 122, Totally Fair, which has the same layout and concept but all of it can be seen and studied by the player. In 131, the large room where you have to carefully guide the monster to make it press a trap-disabling button without falling into water is sealed off, meaning that you have the replicate the puzzle of 122 blindly; one single misstep and you'll have to restart. Also, whereas 122 gives you a time limit of 300 seconds, 131 only gives you 60.
  • Cube Escape's puzzles are not particularly easy at even the best of times, but the fourth chapter of the Case 23 installment takes the cake. It's the only point in the series where you have to complete a puzzle (in this case, fixing an elevator) within a time limit and the time limit is extremely unforgiving, slapping you with a Non Standard Game Over if you don't find all the hidden elevator parts quickly enough.
  • Dark Tales: The Devil in the Belfry has one of these, very late in the game, when the player finds a diary belonging to the Big Bad. The player must then click on items which correspond to the highlighted words in the diary's narration. The diary has multiple pages, so the player can flip back and forth to find the items needed - but they're not all in the diary. Some are in the trunk where the diary is located, meaning that the player must close the diary to find the items. Absolutely nothing in the game hints that this is required, because normally, closing the diary would mean backing out of the puzzle. The frustration factor is multiplied because unlike most others in the game, the puzzle cannot be skipped; not only that, but using the hint button merely has the player observe that "I should move on" or a similarly worded sentiment; and the in-game strategy guide (included in the collector's edition) omits the puzzle entirely. Best of all, because the reward for solving it is a necessary Plot Coupon, the game cannot proceed until this puzzle is completed.
  • Many people considered the turtle puzzle (see above) to be "That One Puzzle" for The Dig. However, it became about ten billion times easier if you were lucky enough to accidentally mouse over a fossil in the foreground that basically gave you the answer. If you were one of those lucky few, then your "That One Puzzle" would have been the Planetarium, where the results of your dicking around in the planetarium could only be seen from a particular spot on a completely different spire, which you wouldn't notice unless you were taking screenshots before and after accidentally moving at least one of the moons into the right position. This was only ever solved by blind dumb luck or by reading the hint books.
  • The Dr. Brain series has a couple of widely hated puzzles.
    • In Castle of Dr. Brain, it's either the magic square in the maths hallway or the find-a-word in the language hallway.
    • In The Island of Dr. Brain, it'll be the randomised magic square in the volcano or the microscope puzzle on any difficulty other than Easy.
    • The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain had an entire level on "Music Theory." The idea was to rearrange sheets of classical music so they matched up with the song they played. The difficulty could range from notes on the wrong line or stanzas switched up, to entire stanzas jumbling and symbols needing to be rearranged. If you knew nothing about classical music, let alone music sheets and music theory, this was 20 puzzles of pure hatred. And that's on Easy!note 
  • The Fool's Errand
    • The word formula puzzles in which you need to click a series of buttons in the right order to produce a coherent sentence. This might not sound hard - and one of these puzzles is pretty straightforward with the buttons simply adding letters to the beginning and end of the current phrase - but many of these puzzles give you buttons that don't just add letters, but change a certain letter to another one or reverse the entire current phrase, which can fast lead to headaches trying to figure out just what kind of sentence you're supposed to create. The one from "The Dream" scroll, in particular, is so fiendishly difficult that it took weeks when the game first came out (back when GameFAQs didn't exist, mind you) for someone to solve it - and the computer program they used to find the solution back then took sixty hours to do so!
    • The High Priestess. You have 99 numbered buttons scattered across the screen, and need to click them in descending order. Sounds easy? The buttons are flashing, and so is the background, and clicking the mouse causes the entire screen flash. And once you click enough buttons, they start jumping around the screen, meaning the only thing you can do is look at a specific area of the screen and hope you're fast enough if the button appears there.
  • Ghost Trick has two. The first, breaking Detective Jowd out of prison, is a combination Stealth-Based Mission and Escort Mission done in mostly-complete darkness (you can see by switching to Ghost mode, but then you can't slide the screen), with the worst part being that you have to get your escort-ee to climb inside the ceiling. The second, saving the justice minister, isn't nearly as bad... except that it's the one time in the game that it's possible to have a checkpoint put in place after the situation has become unwinnable, and gives you no indication you screwed up except that you can't get anything done from your position and have to start over from the previous part.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984) has the notorious Babel Fish puzzle, which only allows you a limited number of tries before you figure out the non-intuitive solution involving an item that may already be lost.
  • Lighthouse: The Dark Being is filled with these puzzles, but two stands out:
    • In the temple you come across some kind of plant like shaped thing with two bell-arrangements on the outside and three levers on the inside. You get NO hints to operate the thing, there is no explanation anywhere, you don't even know what you are supposed to achieve and if you are making any progress at all. You can waste hours on that thing, just ringing the bells and pulling the levers.
    • The puzzle box in the House of the Inventor. It combines 4 or 5 puzzles in one box. A 6×6 sliding puzzle is under it, some arbitrary clicking is involved and then some. You get a code from the box from one of the puzzles that you have to enter in a different side of the box. It is styled with squares, triangles, circles and rectangles. Now now, easy enough, right? There are four rotating disks, stacked on top of each other, each containing all 4 symbols. The obvious solution would be to try the 4 piece code you got forward and backward. Nope, does not work. You have to turn all the disks to the first symbol, then all the disks to the second symbol and then enter the full code from top to bottom.
  • Myst:
    • The subway puzzle in Myst can be a terror. It's so bad that a lot of players ended up mapping it out just to figure it all out; the idea was to listen to sounds and make use of Trial-and-Error Gameplay to find out each of them represented a cardinal direction. Also, there's a problem in the Windows version of the game that causes the North and South sound to be flipped in this puzzle, but not in another puzzle that uses the same sounds. The worst part is that even if you know the solution, the puzzle takes an eternity and a half to complete thanks to needlessly long scene transitions. Oh, and you have to solve it twice to get both pages! The Miller brothers themselves have even acknowledged it as a mistake on a few occasions, such as this interview.
    • Just getting to the Selenitic Age in the first place required solving a certain piano puzzle that was not too hard in and of itself... but this was back in the days when selecting your sound card from a list of pre-approved sound cards was still a thing, and getting sound to work correctly at all was a crapshoot/miracle. Some players resorted to literally counting the number of keys on the piano, assuming 1 key/note = 1 pixel, and then adjusting the sliders by exactly that many pixels.
    • Many people will cite the animal puzzle in Riven (which relies on your finding five animals around the world of the game, three of which are obvious, but two of which are... not). The problem with the animal puzzle in Riven isn't necessarily solving it (though this isn't exactly easy); it's telling the game you have solved it. Note to game developers: if you're going to have people pick animals from a 25 digit keypad, don't put three fish on there and then ask the user to figure out which fish is the right one.
    • The Fire Marble Puzzle on Riven. You are given a grid with colored marbles corresponding to the typical ROY G. BIV mnemonic. You are expected to put the marbles in specific spots on the grid, and these spots correspond to the Fire Marble Domes on the five islands in the game, and the domes each correspond to a certain color given in a completely different in-game language than your native tongue, and to find the spots you need to go to a topography map on one of the islands and then figure out the location of the domes, then pinpoint those on the grid when the locations are extremely specific, and argh, Guide Dang It!! It's not illogical, just rather unintuitive, and if you're not good at topography, it doesn't help. Oh, and one of the marbles isn't even necessary to completing the puzzle.
    • The very first puzzle in Myst IV: Revelation, calibrating the crystal viewer, throws the player into doing Fourier analysis on a pair of waveforms while Atrus cycles through a list of useless hints. Fortunately, it's skippable, but players typically discovered that on accident, as the game decides you gave up only after the second time you leave the control panel.
    • The two timed puzzles in Myst IV: Revelation also stand out. They're not hard, exactly, just incredibly fiddly, especially when done very very quickly, as the game requires. Generally, one will be easier for a replaying gamer than the other, so if one is That One Puzzle for you, then the other will likely be easier for you to figure out. Ubisoft has acknowledged the problems with the timing on these puzzles too, and have released a patch for the game that makes the timing a bit more forgiving. They're still rather finicky, though.
    • When Uru: Ages Beyond Myst was reworked from an MMO into Uru: Complete Chronicles, several of the puzzles originally intended to be solved by multiple players cooperating did not transition well into single-player form, none more so than the hourglass-shaped Bahro cave in Path of the Shell. The lower chamber is completely dark, but has a pool of water in the middle; fortunately, you've previously developed a recipe for algae pellets that make water briefly luminesce, but because the player avatar is incapable of carrying anything you can only bring them to the upper chamber from which it's impossible to see anything in the room below. For lack of the ability to call a friend for help, the intended solution is to realise from the esoteric wall markings that the lower chamber is running fifteen minutes behind the upper chamber, allowing you to drop the pellet above, make your way below... and then do nothing for fifteen minutes waiting for your past self to catch up. Oh, and hopefully you enjoy doing nothing, because every batch of pellets takes fifteen minutes to make, and the clue you find in the lower chamber will tell you to stand absolutely still under a spotlight in a third place for another fifteen minutes to open a secret passage. Thankfully, the open-source fan project was able to greatly reduce the headache.
  • The Nancy Drew series has plenty of these—and given that they're up to thirty-one games, they've had plenty of practice in making them diabolical.
    • Treasure in the Royal Tower has a gold leaf jigsaw puzzle. The problem? The leaves all look exactly the same. And you can rotate the pieces, too. Not fun.
    • Curse of Blackmoor Manor has the moving rooms puzzle. And there is no hint before you go in that the rooms move. Take two clicks into that room without a walkthrough and you will end up screaming at the computer. Thankfully, once you've solved it once, there's an in-game hint that provides a much easier route.
    • The Secret of the Old Clock has a sewing machine puzzle. Basically, you have to slowly run your mouse along a seam on a dress—but the problem is that you get even slightly off, you have to start all over.
    • To complete The White Wolf of Icicle Creek, you have to win a Chinese Checkers-like game against the computer... three times. And you can't just beat it—you have to get your pieces into each of the four sides of the table once. This requires you to constantly change your strategy.
    • Ransom of the Seven Ships has a puzzle that requires you to flip a series of different-sized hourglasses so they all run out of sand at the same time. As always, extreme precision is necessary—if you click on one of them even a second too late, you're starting over.
    • Shadow at the Water's Edge has no less than three. The first requires you to arrange some wires in such a way that none of them are crossing. There are eighteen nodes with everything from three to eight wires on them. Good luck. The second is a recurring puzzle which has you arranging "bento boxes" for hungry customers (how bad is this one? There's a post on the game's message board solely dedicated to these). And finally, there's a puzzle which makes you cut a series of ropes to create a solid line of breaks. But there are about forty ropes to choose from, and there's a timer counting down: you have just enough time to make your cuts if you begin cutting the moment the timer does, so you'll probably end up restarting ten times just to get a grasp of the puzzle's layout.
  • The final puzzle of Obsidian is this for many players. When you're able to use the Crossover Switch that can seize control from the nanobot-controlling AI, Ceres, Max tells you to hit 8 buttons to access it. Except the AI put 8 fake buttons alongside them to delay you from interfering with its plans. The fake buttons move over each other if clicked on, and they all look exactly the same as the others unless the real ones are pushed, and the location of each button is random. The trick is to look where the fake buttons moved and not touch them.
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village: The infamous "Chocolate Code" puzzle proved so troublesome that the European edition of the game replaced it with an entirely different puzzle revolving around probabilitynote . The player has to decode a message written on a chocolate bar with seven squares (one blank to represent a space), and there are small bites taken out of some of the squares. The bites indicate the position of decrypted letters relative to the encoded letters on a computer keyboard (so for example a bite on the left would mean "d" gets decoded to "f") but since the in-game hints never mention the bites, most players simply assumed they were just eye candy (no pun intended).
  • Repton: The PC remake has one on Avalanche Level 15. Six rocks block the passage to the key, and you can't shunt them aside, because to get in position to start shunting, you have to take the diamond holding them up. If you do that, they will fall in a heap and can't be moved. The solution? Push an egg above the first rock, so that the falling of the others is delayed while it hatches. No previous level has used this trick. There isn't an egg anywhere nearby — you have to think of the idea and then fetch an egg from the opposite side of the level.
  • The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary has the Tax Factor minigame. The target audience for the game was grade school kids in the nineties. Tax Factor is basically an exercise in high-school algebra (especially on D. Feecult mode), and can stop adult players in their tracks if they're bad at math.
  • The 7th Guest:
    • Aside from the bizarre and arbitrary Guide Dang It! Trope Namer for Solve the Soup Cans, it has The Microscope Puzzle, which is a game of Infection against the AI. Unfortunately, rather than designing the AI to determine the best move with a limited amount of lookahead, the programmer wrote the AI to look ahead as far as it could - without limit - until a predetermined amount of time passed. It was probably possible to beat back in the days of Windows 3.1, but now it's borderline impossible without locking the available processor speed using an emulator such as DOSBOX.
    • The Soup Cans puzzle is also infamous because it demands the player to spell out a coherent sentence using a handful of letters... and the only available vowel is Y. The solution provides foreshadowing for later events in the game ("Shy gypsy, slyly, spryly tryst by my crypt"), but there's no way the player would know about it at that point. Fortunately, this puzzle is a lot easier if you check the in-game hint book ("Bashful nomad, craftily, agilely, meet secretly near my underground vault") and have a thesaurus on hand.
    • There's also the attic puzzle, which also happens to be the very last puzzle in the game, and to an untrained eye will seem completely illogical and solvable only through trial and error: It's a model of a tower, with its walls laden with windows, and clicking on some makes lights appear in the windows, until the game seemingly takes over for you. There's a method to the madness, however: The puzzle is essentially a programming puzzle, where the game remembers what kind of move was made for each shape of window, and will repeat that move for each window encountered. The challenge is to choose your moves so that you can advance to the top of the tower without bumping into the walls or going over previously-lit windows, but it gets even worse when you can make the puzzle unwinnable even if you get all the way up to the last part.
    • The Bishop puzzle is another notorious one. The objective is to switch the places of four white bishops and four black bishops on a 4x5 chessboard using standard diagonal moves without ever putting a bishop under attack by the opposing color. The small playing field makes movement very restricted, and because you can't ever put a bishop in harm's way, it's very easy to get turned around.
    • The 11th Hour:
      • There's the infamous Beehive puzzle, also known as the Honeycomb puzzle or "Blood and Honey" officially, which is essentially another version of the aforementioned Microscope puzzle from the last game, but played on a six-sided grid made of hexagons. The shape of the grid makes it just a bit easier to trap the AI and capture new cells, and the AI itself isn't quite as ruthless as before, but the game is still hard enough to be generally recognized as the point where most players quit the game.
      • The final puzzle of the game is difficult, as befits being the equivalent of the Final Boss. However, the problem is that it's another AI game — in this case, Pente — which must be completed three times in order to unlock all the Multiple Endings in a single save file; and each time you replay the game, the AI is given a bigger advantage over younote .
      • All of the AI games in The 11th Hour were designed on the basis that the AI should be as strong as possible, not that it should be fun to play against - which is not usual for AIs in computer games, except for serious games such as Chess. Unsurprisingly, players in general found them to be frustrating and not fun.
  • The Talos Principle:
    • The game, itself a game entirely consisting of brilliant puzzles, has a second mini-game layer of locks which you open by filling a rectangular space with a certain set of tetrominos. These are not bad as well, but they have a maddening, sharp difficulty spike where they go from absolutely elementary to exhausting (given a large enough space or specific enough figures set). If you're not a topography or geometry enthusiast, it often boils down to trying again and again blindly.
    • All puzzles that occupy a large area have a tendency to become annoying fast because of the inordinate amount of running that's necessary to figure them out. Road to Gehenna has the worst examples by far, chief among them The Crater, which is not only pretty huge area-wise but also insanely difficult if you're after its star. Most stars can be acquired within 60-90 seconds if you know the solution. This one clocks in at a minimum of 5-6 minutes, and if you make one mistake, rectifying it can be so frustrating you're better off with a reset.
    • "Egyptian Arcade" isn't the only "use jammers to skirt around mines" puzzle, but it's easily the most aggravating. Where most similar puzzles have two mines side-by-side so that jamming one for a time can create a window where you can zig-zag around the unjammed mines, this one has two mines on the same line in a corridor that's narrow enough to allow for no room to evade if you mess up your timing and short enough to make messing up the timing all too easy. To top it off, while struggling with this, you also have to juggle two jammers and two electric doors. Even "Nerve-Wrecker", a remarkably similar silver glyph puzzle, is easier to handle because of the increased space in spite of having a vastly larger number of mines.
    • Getting the star hidden in "Up Close and Jammed" is incredibly annoying for the simple fact that it's easy to get caught in a position that can only be fixed by starting the entire level over from scratch.
  • The Turing Test: The very last room before the epilogue is insanely involved, not least of all because unlike just about every single previous puzzle, you're not actually supposed to use all the components in the room - some of them are just there to distract you from the real solution.
  • Uncle Albert's Fabulous Voyage has an infamous puzzle where the player must place three toads on three different spots. Since picking up and placing a toad makes it jump toward a random location, most players place the toads on the middle on the page and pray that they jump in the right direction. While you can actually control the toads' movements by clicking on them to make them jump in the opposite direction of the cursor, the game never tells you this and the page's design has a circle in the middle, reinforcing the idea that you must place the toads in the middle so they can randomly jump where they should.
  • The Witness: Oh boy.
    • The entry into the vault on the shipwreck. Aside from the Timed Mission below, the infamous sunken ship panel has a reputation for being unintuitive in the extreme. Blow revealed in an AMA for Reddit that this was the puzzle he was thinking of when he off-handedly stated that "only 1% of players" would be able to solve it. It's a multi-layered, well hidden audio puzzle. It incorporates elements from puzzles all over the island, except mashed up to the point that realizing what's involved is half the puzzle. The bamboo forest's sound element is here, though it's part of the environment and not obviously artificial, leading some players to ignore it completely. The symmetry line from the ocean pillars is included as well, though it's invisible, and the colors that normally indicate its presence are muddled by a red light from the Greenhouse tinting everything.
    • The keep. The garden mazes themselves aren't too hard, but you have to remember the solution to all four puzzles in order to activate the beacon, two of the four at different angles from the original puzzle. The other side of the keep, with the pads you have to step on to activate, has a similar puzzle to activate the beacon, but the puzzles on this side don't line up with each other, requiring the player to come up with an entirely new solution to the combined puzzle. Thankfully, only one of the two beacon puzzles is needed to activate it.
    • For colorblind and/or hearing impaired players, there are two sections of the game which can be difficult, if not impossible, to complete. They can't be mentioned without spoiling the entire mechanics of the areas, but here goes, for those curious: the jungle area puzzles are based entirely on the audio pitches of birdsong, while the greenhouse bunker works entirely on manipulating colours of light to find the "true" puzzle. One puzzle in the keep also relies on audio cues to solve, and two additional (one in the hub/town and another on the shipwreck) run on recognizing how the audio cues work when translated to a geometrical representation — something explored in the jungle section. On this, Blow has said that he and his team ultimately decided to keep these puzzles intact, allowing the player to bypass them by only requiring seven of the eleven lasers to be fired the mountain in order to open it — which is alright, until one realizes that the endgame inside the mountain includes puzzles full of colour-based Interface Screw where solutions are required in order to finish the game. Color-blind players may also have trouble with the walkways through the trees, which are all about the different-colored suns. At one point, as many as five different colors are in the puzzle at the same time, and since color must match with color...
    • Most puzzles inside the mountain, including:
      • A set of puzzles with various Interface Screws, such as obstructive foregrounds, rapid panning and rotating, or the color-based ones mentioned above with flashing rainbow colors.
      • Puzzles whose solutions become Hard Light bridges that you have to cross. One has a blocking column in the middle, and the other couple are on opposite sides where you have to go back and forth altering the solutions until one of the bridges leads to the exit.
      • That column in the middle? It's filled with random junk, including puzzle panels that have to be solved from awkward angles.
      • A set of puzzles that are very easy by themselves, but are solved simultaneously, meaning they must share the exact same solution.
      • A nested puzzle, where a set of four puzzles become elements in a larger puzzle superimposed overtop of them.
      • And the final area, where each puzzle is wrapped around a column, obscuring most of it from view.
    • The triangle puzzles leading to and inside the underground cavern, which the player receives no tutorial for, except for some hidden puzzles scattered around the map (which not only are hard to find, they're also much simpler than the puzzles in the mountain, which means you don't actually have practice in solving those unexpectedly harder puzzles, if you even managed to figure how they work at all).
    • The Challenge in the underground cavern. Where does one even start with this monstrosity? First, almost all of them are extremely tough. Second, there's over a dozen of them. Third, they're all random. Fourth, in at least two places, the location of the puzzle is random as well, one of these sections being in a maze chock full of shifting walls and blank panels (though this one is properly foreshadowed in another puzzle in the challenge). Fifth, in one section, you're given multiple panels to solve at once, in which only one of them can actually be solved; you have to figure out which one it is in addition to actually solving it. And the massive rotten cherry on top? It's all timed: if the music stops (or you pause), all the panels shut down, meaning you have to go back and do the whole thing over again. It goes without saying that by the time you actually manage to conquer this beast (and give yourself a huge pat on the back if you can), you will come to loathe In the Hall of the Mountain King with a burning passion for the rest of your days.

  • In the mobile game Toy Blast, level 336 requires you to rescue an elephant and a rhino. The animal toys start at the top of the left side of the playfield, a 2×9 column with warps at the bottom. The warps lead to the center of a 6×9 area on the right side. Unfortunately, those warp exits are blocked by two columns of white bricks, each of which starts with two smaller black bricks attached; to clear just one brick on this level requires that three matches be made next to it. And both animal toys have to be rescued within only 36 moves.
  • Any puzzle involving Peg Solitaire is often this, since your average player wouldn't know enough about group theory to solve the problem in an elegant manner and therefore has to brute-force a solution via Trial-and-Error Gameplay. For example, there was this one puzzle in Zork Zero...
  • NetHack implements several Sokoban levels in the game engine, using boulders and pits. Although each one starts out solvable without cheating, most of the normal game rules aren't suspended on the Sokoban levels, which can lead to things like monsters shattering boulders with wands of striking, immobile jellies spawning behind them, giants picking them up and throwing them at you, and so forth. Thankfully, not only are the Sokoban levels optional (although you'll probably want the rewards for the long term), but you can cheat the game in various ways with only a small Luck penalty.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Baten Kaitos:
    • The Zosma Tower has five floors of fiendishly hard, timed, 3D block puzzles. This is the only part in the game where the camera will screw you over, and that just adds to the difficulty. To start the puzzles, you have to have a fire in your quest magnus, which you use to light a torch, which powers the puzzles. If you take too long, the torch goes out and the puzzle resets. If you run out of fire, you have to go back down the tower and get more from the bottom. Also, at the top of the tower is That One Boss.
    • Later in the game, you get Mizuti's sidequest, which involves going into the basement of the tower to solve five more block puzzles, which are even harder. The second puzzle is the worst, with one step that requires insane timing to bounce a block off an elevator. Also, at the end, you fight the Wizard Shadow, using the same mechanic as Xelha's fight against the Ice Goddess.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In a DLC for Dragon Age II, Mark of the Assassin, there is a very sophisticated puzzle. 25 tiles form a 5x5 square portrait of a man, or rather you need to flip them all to make them form the portrait. In the beginning, all tiles are face down. When you flip one, all tiles adjacent to it flip as well. Sounds easy? Well, good luck solving this puzzle without looking up how to do it.
      • There are two more of the same type of puzzle in the Jaws of Hakkon DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Instead of flipping all of the tiles, however, you need to flip them to create a certain pattern, as hinted by nearby mats in front of locked doors. Creating the patterns will unlock the doors in question. Thankfully, unlike the DAII example, these are optional.
    • In the base game for Dragon Age: Inquisition are the floor puzzles at the Temple of Mythal, during the big push in the Arbor Wilds near the end of the main campaign. The player must walk over a series of floor tiles, changing them from blue to gold, without stepping on the same tile more than once. The first such puzzle (which acts as a tutorial for them) is simple, and one of the other three is relatively straightforward. The other two? One has a pair of gates which have to be opened using switches in order to access all of the tiles, and both gates cannot be open at the same time. The other takes the player across three separate sections of the floor, including stairs. It's unusual to meet someone who completed the floor puzzles without consulting a walkthrough or video guide. They are optional, in the sense that the game can be finished without completing any of them (except the tutorial one, which is needed to unlock a door); however, not doing them makes going through the temple that much harder.note 
  • Dungeon Encounters has Math Riddles, which are puzzles where you must solve for the location of a tile somewhere in the 99-floor dungeon (with 88,000+ tiles) given a hint card. Problem: many of these puzzles are downright insane and appear specifically designed by whatever cruel employee at Square Enix or Cattle Call to make the player scream at the game in frustration after racking their brain for an hour before going on the internet and looking up the answer. Many of these puzzles require acquired knowledge of mathematical concepts that the average player would most likely not have memorized ("What do you mean I need to know the digits in the square root of 2?" or "What's a cyclic number?" or "What's a perfect number?"), and some of them aren't even related to math and expect you to recognize a relationship between the given numbers that is not only not hinted within the game itself, but isn't even related to video games ("What the fuck do I need to know Super Bowl scores for?!" is a fun one).
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has plenty of puzzles, but the Game Mod called Breezehome Fully Upgradable introduces That One Puzzle to many who install it. There is a shelf at the head of the bed that can be filled with shrines to the Nine Divines. Finding some of those shrines (Arkay and Zenithar come to mind), however, can be rip-your-hair-out madness inducing. Thankfully, this is totally optional. note 
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has one mission where you have to interview several people in town about their New Year's Resolutions and then tell the question petitioner what the most popular resolution was. Sound easy enough? It would be except that some people either give no proper answer at all or give resolutions that could cover multiple answers, making it difficult to determine what the most popular resolution is. To make the situation worse, the entire quest takes place on a battlefield screen, which means you're forced to have your party go door to door and person to person to conduct the interviews, which can take awhile to cover the entire town unless you cast Haste on everyone and/or use units that have a high Move stat. If you fail the quest, then you get to have fun repeating the quest again and running all over the map listening to everyone yet again.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, in order to get the huge materia out of the rocket, you need to insert a four-button code. The problem? You're on a strict time limit, the code is randomized for each playthrough, and Cid knows some of the code but his hints are unbelievably vague, in some cases listing 2 different buttons and saying what the button is not. Unlike other games this doesn't tell you which buttons you got right and which you got wrong. This can lead to you losing out on the Bahamut ZERO materia which requires each piece of huge materia to claim.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has The Hands of Time, one of the three Temporal Rift puzzles. You are presented with a clock face that looks like this. When you start the clock on a crystal number, the hands move to the number you pick, and then spread apart, i.e. if you pick a 1, then the hands move to the 1 space and they each move over one space, and then the 1 disappears. If both hands land on empty spaces, then you have to reset the clock. The objective is to clear all the crystal numbers, of which there can be up to thirteen. For extra fun, most of the clock puzzles have a short time limit.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: "THE GOAT LEAVES NO TRACE BEHIND." Of all the puzzles in the entire freakin' game, this is the one that gets you stuck. The rules are oblique - you have to move each goat statue to its proper hole (look at the base to find where it must end up), the statues can only move to a golden tile, and leave silver tiles in their wake. It is very possible for the uninformed to fubar themselves without realizing it (mercifully, you can leave the room to make it reset), and if you slide the wrong statue onto the wrong hole, the room resets immediately.
    • There's also the fact that unlike in every other puzzle where Insight Psynergy only shows you icons on objects that can be interacted with the respective Psynergy, here it actually reveals the entire solution. Good luck figuring that one out considering how utterly useless it is for most of the time.
    • Golden Sun had a minor one: a simple sliding block puzzle where you moved a torch-bearing pillar onto a tile. However, water keeps falling on the one spot the pillar has to go through, and it takes very precise timing to avoid the torch being extinguished. When you finally succeed, the game plays a little victory chime... the same as when you unlock the final dungeon.
    • The Lost Age has one in the Great Gabombo statue filled with enormous rotating gears. The only hint you get is a rat that bounces from one gear to another, and is liable to be dismissed as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, since it doesn't show how you climb the gears in the first place.
  • In Icewind Dale your party comes across a dilapidated bridge. When you approach you are presented with text stating that it doesn't look safe enough to cross. Unfortunately the game never actually hints that getting to the other side would be desirable, and given the large maps and the game's nature of forcing you to hunt through the Fog of War for hidden doors and barely visible corridors it is extremely easy to turn your attentions elsewhere. Even if you did know that you were supposed to cross the bridge the solution to this 'puzzle' is far from straightforward. The intended solution is to find a book on bridge engineering from a different part of the map, possession of which apparently gives your party the architectural confidence to proceed. Unfortunately the game is full of useless and worthless books, and by this late stage is it highly likely that the player will dismiss any books they find out of hand without even bothering to read the title.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: The Pillar Puzzle that can be found in the Tomb of Naga Sadow on the planet of Korriban that takes the form of Towers of Hanoi can be absolutely mind-numbing to those that don't know how said puzzle is usually handled in the aforementioned fashion. And to top it off, not only does the puzzle seal you in the room until it's solved, it warns the player that, if too many mistakes are made, it'll kill them with the misplaced electrical energy that encircle the pillars in the room, fail in transferring the power to each pillar twice will earn you a Non Standard Game Over. Hope you like this type of puzzle, because if you don't have any saves before entering the room the puzzle is in, you're literally left with no choice but to solve it in order to exit the room in which the puzzle lies in.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 5: Team Colonel and Team ProtoMan has a couple of puzzles that will throw you for a loop. When Lan's on a cruise ship, a major object on said ship is stolen. No one in the room has it, and no one's entered or left between the presentation (where the object is shown, secured) and when the object was taken. This one's fairly simple - everything is wireless and the various mirrors lying around could potentially reflect an infrared signal to the jack-in port. Just after, though, is a very confusing puzzle - the place where the culprit fled is behind a door sealed with a code. All you have to go on is some odd word puzzle. Mercifully, the code is in all numbers, and the poem for the code is full of numbers.
    • There's also the puzzle in Mega Man Battle Network 4: Red Sun and Blue Moon. In this section you end up entering codes consisting on three numbers to pass through each gate, each one has the hint in there. You get your usual basic math problems or knowing the attack power of some chips so far... but then you get one whose only hint is "HI = HE???". So, how is this supposed to yield a three-number answer? Well, the question marks are supposed to be blank spaces and you're supposed to fill in those spaces by thinking in Leet Lingo of all things. The hint is supposed to lead you to think "HI = HELLO". The answer you're looking of is 770. Makes perfect sense, right?
  • Pokémon:
    • Lt. Surge's Gym in Pokémon Red and Blue and the remakes has the infamous switch puzzle that can take forever to solve. Essentially, you're given a room full of trash cans that had a locked gate at the end. To open the gate, you had to find two secret switches in the cans. The first one was placed randomly, and the second one was guaranteed to be 'one trash can away' from the first one. Unfortunately, that left you with between three and eight trash cans to pick from, and if your first guess wasn't correct, then the puzzle would reset. What's worse is that the puzzle is completely bugged in the Generation 1 games (no surprises there) and doesn't even work as intended: the second can is often not "one away" from the first. In fact, in Yellow it's possible for the second trash can to not be generated at all. meaning no amount of Save Scumming will save you from having to reset the puzzle.
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, during Team Rocket's invasion of the Radio Tower, one part requires you to take a side trip to the Goldenrod Underground. The area has a puzzle where three switches open and close the walls in a maze. The switches have to be pressed in a certain order to open the right path to the next room. The player needs to move away from a switch to even see the whole maze and see if you got it wrong, making it a wee bit tedious.
    • The Ice Cave in HeartGold and SoulSilver. The ice maze is hard enough, and then you have to push four rocks into holes without getting them stuck-and then repeat on the next level down.
    • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: Candice's gym. It's basically a pit made out of ice, and you've got to slide down the pit in ways that give you enough momentum to smash through the snowballs placed as obstacles to Candice. Unfortunately you've got stairs, rough patches, and Mooks placed in just the right areas to prevent you from taking the most logical routes.
  • Shining the Holy Ark has the puzzle to enter the Tower of Illusion. The Tower starts off as an unenterable illusion, in front of which is a series of tiles. Each tile has a clue in the form of "Face the illusion, hold (your left hand/your right hand/both hands) aloft, enter from the (North/South/East/West, and offer it to me". The first immediate problem is that there are no maps, no compasses, and no one tells you which direction anything is, so you have to guess what the directions are. Then, you need to figure out that to "hold your right hand aloft" means to strafe onto that particular tile from the left, "hold your left hand aloft" means to strafe onto it from the right, and "hold both hands aloft" means to step onto the tile head-on. Then you need to figure out that "Face the illusion" refers only to your starting position, a point of orientation for the rest of the puzzle. Once you've somehow gotten all that figured out, you just need to find a way to use the game's limited movement system to actually step onto each of the tiles from the right direction, while facing the right direction, in the right order, hoping that your guess as to which way was North is correct, before you can finally enter the dungeon.
  • Tales of Symphonia features a puzzle in the Ymir Forest that is infamous for causing even the most casual player of RPGs to notice the Fridge Logic and Gameplay and Story Segregation required to make the puzzle work, on top of being both long and frustrating. Put simply, you have to get a piece of fruit out of a high tree, which is solved by knocking it into the water. From there, it's a very long, very drawn out puzzle of using musical cues to have animals act in such a way that the fruit moves closer to you. All the while, you have to get into Random Encounters, trek through the dungeon, and avoid using the wrong command that could potentially force you to start completely over. The only saving grace is that there are butterflies marking which flower you need to activate next, though even that won't help with the one timing-based part. The Fridge Logic comes in from at least half your party having magic and skills that should allow them to get the fruit with ease, including one character that can call upon the Summon Spirit of Water, and another character that can fly. The option to have them help never comes up.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, there are four puzzles in the Meggiora Highlands, the first of these being a Block Puzzle that makes the infamous Tower of Zosma feel like a pushover in comparison. You have to push four blocks onto four particular 1×1 spaces on a 12×12 grid. They all start unlit, and to push them, you must light them, rather like torches. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Forgot to mention that when you push one, the other blocks that are lit go in the same direction as the one you're pushing. And that the blocks that are unlit also go in the opposite direction. And that there are barricades around two of the spaces you're supposed to be pushing them onto, facing in different directions. AND the spaces you're pushing these blocks onto are very much spread out. To add insult to injury, the three other puzzles are insultingly easy. To add more insult to injury, your reward for doing this is to remove one spell from the boss' repertoire, causing it to just cast the ones it'll still have; this is the case with the other puzzles as well, but at least their difficulty justifies that. To add MORE insult to injury, when you do three of the puzzles, the other one's reward becomes... nothing. The good news is that that last bit makes this one skippable, but good luck finding that out on your own.
  • Undertale:
    • Papyrus gives you a series of unrelated puzzles after you leave the first area. The only one of these that is likely to give players trouble is one where Papyrus decided to redesign it to look more like his face but in doing so messed up the solution. There's also the puzzle that requires you to slide across ice to reach switches, and if you're not fast enough you can fall down and then you'll have to go back up and start again.
    • Played for Laughs by Mettaton's tile puzzle. Each tile has a different function, Mettaton skips the explanation because Papyrus presented you with the rules earlier (about a hundred screens earlier, as part of a scene where the whole setup of the puzzle was treated as a joke, and if you asked him to repeat himself, he totally screwed up the second explanation), and the time limit is so strict you can fail even if you have the solution written down in front of you. You're clearly not expected to solve it, and all possible outcomesnote  result in slightly different dialogue, but lead to the same conclusion — Mettaton fights you.
    • The optional piano puzzle requires you to replay a short melody by ear. To some players, the version you hear from the music box and the version you actually play sound substantially different. Even if you don't have that issue, the controls are pointlessly unwieldy, so it might take you several tries because you keep playing a note you know isn't the one you wanted. Newer versions of the game have the melody appear on the wall where/when you activate the melody, in control form, so the hearing impaired, tone-deaf, and tone-sensitive can solve the puzzle more easily.
  • Wild ARMs 2 has one of these as the first puzzle in the final dungeon that had fans scrambling for answers on the message boards for a long while. Turns out you need to know how the days of the week got their names and have the information enough in mind to realize what the clues are referencing.

    Simulation Game 
  • Trauma Center: Under the Knife:
    • That one part with the Triti virus that kept reproducing itself again and again. Actually occurs more than once in the game, and is almost unbeatable each time, even after Second Opinion nerfed it so you don't need to cut it before removing it. The key (which makes Triti the easiest GUILT, except for the Luck-Based Mission Deftera on a good run) is to extract thorns so that none of them are next to each other on their edges before treating the affected area, and always extract Triti in pairs. Naturally, all Angie will bother telling you is that there's a pattern.
    • The second time is the killer. Sometimes, one of the thorns you're trying to removenote  will turn into poisonous gas that you must vacuum away or suffer tremendous damage. While you're vacuuming away the gas, the thorns you pulled previously will regrow, meaning you've lost all your progress.
    • There's a trick that allows you to bypass the puzzle aspect of Triti, namely 'as soon as it appears, use your Healing Touch and scribble like hell all over the screen, aiming to take out all scalpel points before the HT runs out.' It doesn't work if you're trying to get an S in the original's operationsnote  or an XS rank on Second Opinion's operation X-3, the final Triti mission, as one of the end-of-operation bonuses is "No Healing Touch" and you need that alongside three other bonuses or it's no XS for you.

    Survival Horror 
  • Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare: The flashlight puzzle in the Morton family crypt. It's as simple as moving your flashlight to draw a M. However, the controls in the PlayStation versions, while good elsewhere, are horrible for moving the flashlight, which means you'll likely mess up the drawing and spend a long time there having to restart over and over.
  • Ao Oni: Version 5.2 includes the 'Cipher Puzzle', which involves decoding a series of dots on a page. The solution itself is actually extremely simple once you know what you're doing, but getting to that point requires knowledge of how a Japanese abacus - a Soroban - works, meaning most western players are understandably stumped. Even the game's English/German translator advises looking up a solution in the ReadMe file.
  • Fatal Frame has two kinds of regular puzzles: slide puzzles and numerical puzzles. Normally numerical puzzles of remembering a date mentioned in a scroll somewhere in the mansion would not be a problem... if they weren't in Japanese on the PS2 original. And if the developers had made a bigger clue of telling you that the translation for the Kanji numbers were in your files. The later Xbox port replaces the kanji with Arabic numerals, simplifying these puzzles considerably.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location:
    • The "Wiggle" puzzle on Night 4 very quickly became infamous for its high level of difficulty. The player is stuck in a springlock suit for three minutes, with eight springlocks quickly coming loose that they constantly need to tighten back up. There are also loads of Minireenas climbing the sides of the suit, and if they reach the top of the mask, you will die instantly. The only way to get them off? Wiggle - which causes the springlocks to come loose even faster. There are also Minireenas that climb the front of the suit and get inside with no way to stop them... except that they're harmless, so trying to wiggle them off will only result in the springlocks coming more loose. And the game doesn't inform you of any of this. A patch released shortly after the game's launch made the puzzle easier after complaints about how unfairly hard it was.
    • The dismantling puzzle on Night 3 also gets flack for being obtuse about its mechanics and requiring split-second precision.
  • Haunting Ground: The creation of the Godstone during Riccardo's chapter: you have to go around the mansion several times to find the correct sequence of machines to use, there's a lengthy section where you have to make Hewie sit in one spot and wait (which he will refuse to do unless your relationship is golden) while you run a lengthy gauntlet to the other side of the door he's meant to unlock for you, and if you accidentally put the Godstone in the wrong machine at any point during synthesis, you get to start it all again. Oh, and Riccardo can run in at any point and interrupt your puzzle-solving, potentially sending you on a 10-30 minute detour of trying to lose him.
  • Resident Evil
    • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has the Water Treatment puzzle. Even with a guide you're going to have trouble with this, and it's randomized to make it harder for a guide to give solutions. You have to rotate 3 meters with lighted blocks and line them into place to form a specific pattern. Problem is that the lights are actually upside down, and you had to get it right when it's inverted.PROTIP 
    • Resident Evil 4 features a very annoying 3x3 sliding puzzle when playing as Ashley. Thankfully, the solution's easy to remember for future playthroughs once you've figured it outPROTIP , and unlike most puzzles of its nature, you can slide two blocks at a time.
  • Silent Hill
    • Silent Hill has the infamous piano puzzle at Midwich Elementary. The poem offering clues lists five different birds whose black/white plumage matches the colors of the dead piano keys you need to hit, but the specific arrangement of keys you'll need to press is a matter of trial and error for those that don't understand much about music to make the "high or low = pitch = key position" correlation.
    • Silent Hill 3:
      • 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 "IV-b-3") 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.
    • Silent Hill: Homecoming has a slide puzzle in the attic that has caused much rage and controller-breakage for many. The reason this slide puzzle is so difficult is because you can't reset it by exiting and reentering the room. You have to die or reset the game. The other problem? The tiles are random every time. There is no one solution to the puzzle.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Sometimes you don't have to prove what the game says you do, or you can only present the correct evidence once you've pressed a seemingly innocuous comment or three first. At other times logically, you could present any one of three pieces of evidence to prove the point, or there're three statements that it's perfectly reasonable to try presenting evidence on, but you have to have the RIGHT evidence on the RIGHT statement.
    • During the bonus case in the original game, you're up against Final Boss and Big Bad Damon Gant. You have the evidence you need to prove their guilt, and can present it at the right moment, which leads to the game progressing...only for said Big Bad to pull a Rules Lawyer on Phoenix and point out that, since the crucial evidence hasn't been officially approved by the Chief of Police (Gant himself), it's illegal to present it in this particular trial, which leads to a Non Standard Game Over. Instead, players have to trick Gant into bringing up the evidence himself, activating an Exact Words clause that classifies the clue as relevant to the case and thus able to be presented. This is the only time the game makes you follow this procedure—keep in mind that the world of Phoenix Wright practically runs on Artistic License – Law—and while it's hinted at by characters giving Phoenix a book on evidence law before the trial, it still comes out of nowhere and is incredibly counterintuitive, especially because there's nothing to indicate that the Chief of Police simply talking about a piece of evidence counts as legally sanctioning its use.
    • In the final case of Justice for All, you need to point to a specific spot on a photo to establish the possibility that someone besides the defendant could have been wearing the Nickel Samurai costume. The problem is the correct answer is an extremely small area around the costume's ankles, and anything else will get you a 100% penalty. Searching online for "strange Nickel Samurai photo" will bring up a lot of traumatic stories.
    • The final case in Justice for All has a doozy. In the last testimony, where you can't outright prove the culprit's guilt but instead have to prolong the case (which is very long, so your penalty bar is probably low) you'll reach a testament from a Professional Killer in which you can press statements and the Judge asks you if it's relevant or not. Nothing in these statements gives you any evidence, so you're inclined to say it's important because you don't want to waste the Judge's time. One of these statements will give you a slipup by the killer in his pronouns, and THIS you have to flag.
    • One end-of-case puzzle in Trials and Tribulations requires you to notice that a character accidentally said a detail he shouldn't have known. Said detail is hidden in a very long and almost seamless testimony, where pressing any statement other than the correct one results in an instant Game Over. Sure, an obvious contradiction, but you'd be surprised how many people miss it.
    • A few moments in Investigations 2 qualify. One of the final testimonies in Case 3 has one statement that, when pressed, offers you two options, and the testimony 'branches' depending on which one you select. Except neither contains a contradiction. It turns out, the contradiction is in The last statement, but even if you know the evidence you need to present, it won't work until You activate the first branch, press it, then go back and trigger the second branch and press IT. Then you have the Logic Chess battle against Bansai Ichiyanagi/Blaise Debeste in Case 4. It requires you to go back on previous lines of questioning to discover options that weren't there before. (Something you've NEVER had to do in LC before.) And contains one dialogue option that only gets you penalized if you select it... Unless you choose it right at the very end.
    • In the end of the first half of the third case in Justice For All, you must figure out who it was that a witness saw. The problem is that this particular segment requires a huge leap of logic to point out that it was actually a cape that got snagged on a bust of the defendant, Maxmillion Galactica. Not only are there zero hints to this, the cape seemingly defies logic by somehow getting stuck on said bust instead of flying off elsewhere.
    • Spirit of Justice has a rare out-of-court example in Case 5. You have to open a box by rotating its four segments so their pictures match the respective verses of a song. The problem is that three out of the fours verses have obvious picture matches, while the third has no clear one. You have to rotate the third segment halfway between two different pictures, so the end of one and the beginning of another are viewed as one picture that fits the meaning of the song's third verse. The only thing that might tip the player off to this is that using the D-Pad to rotate the box's segments goes between full pictures and the corners in-between, rather than from one complete picture to another, but it's still a big leap.
    • The bonus case of the first game features a puzzle where you have to manipulate a jar so that its silhouette matches a specific shape. The problem is, it's very sensitive so sometimes, even if you think you got it right, it won't accept it because it was just slightly off center. Thankfully you don't get penalized for screwing up this puzzle but it can take a damn long time to solve.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has the infamous "Othello" puzzle, where you have to decode a sequence of flashing lights into a four digit code using a key provided by the game. Since the sequence of lights flash four different patterns, almost everyone assumes that each pattern of lights corresponds to a number, but according to the key, several of the patterns don't have a corresponding number. What the game actually expects you to do is memorize each pattern of lights, stack them vertically, and then decode each column from left to right.
  • Zero Escape:
    • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors:
      • The torture room lives up to its name — its final puzzle has you fiddling around with switches on two separate screens, so there's no way to know if you actually have all of the switches you can currently work with in the right spot or not and just need to switch the other two, and unlike most puzzles in the game, there are no in-game hints. Fridge Brilliance when you realize that the torture room is down the "wrong path", the one that doesn't lead to the door with the #9 on it at all — the fact that the Building Q group isn't able to get hints like they can for most puzzles should signal them that it's a Red Herring!
      • The final puzzle in the Study is a miniature fascimile of the Nonary Game itself. You must fill in two numbered areas with 3-5 numbered balls whose digital root matches the area's number. The puzzle has four stages, and the fourth stage can really trip you up if you assume that you have to fill in both areas. The rules only state that all of the balls must be used, but say nothing about a required number of areas. You just took that part for granted. After all, you had to fill in both areas the first three times, so why would it be any different the fourth time? Many players have pulled their hair out spending ages looking for an impossible solution to this puzzle.
    • Virtue's Last Reward:
      • There's this very irritating dice-moving puzzle. In the Archives, it's fairly simple to match up the clues and solve the puzzle because all you need to do is have the right colors in the right place OR the right numbers in the right place; but in the Q Room, it becomes much harder because now not only do the colors AND numbers have to be right, they also have to face specific ways, which requires a certain combination of movements for each die... hopefully the other dice don't get in the way of those movements!
      • When you go into the Director's Office, there's a puzzle that involves making a parallelogram. Now, this wouldn't be a problem if the detection on the parallelogram wasn't absolutely faulty. Many times, you can have a perfect parallelogram, only for the detection to not realize that it's a parallelogram, and you don't complete the puzzle.

Non-video game examples:

    Live-Action TV 
  • Each episode of Legends of the Hidden Temple ends with a timed run through a Temple of Doom, where each room has some puzzle you need to solve to proceed to the next room. Of import is The Shrine of the Silver Monkey, where you must find the three pieces of the monkey statue, reassemble them in the correct orientation on the pedestal in the middle of the room, and push down on the head to lock it in place and open the next room. Apparently this is really, really hard to do. Contestants couldn't find the pieces, or they would get the orientation wrong, or put the base on top of the torso, or couldn't press down hard enough to trigger the door, or simply weren't tall enough to reach the shelf one of the pieces was on. Many a game would go smoothly until they reached the shrine, then they would waste the game in that room. Worse still, even if they completed the puzzle, there was a chance a Temple Guard would be in the room to try to end their run anyway. The Shrine of the Silver Monkey was the only room from the original brought back for the 2021 reboot, and Olmec is open about his dislike for it. While it still catches the now-adult players every now and then, the room that gets the most complaints is the Queen's Armory, where you must locate several pieces of the Queen's clothing and place them on a statue. The problem is that the clothing seems to never stay on long enough for the game to count it as cleared.