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3 in Three is a classic puzzle game for the Apple Macintosh, designed by Cliff Johnson and published by Cinemaware (and by Inline Design after Cinemaware went bankrupt). It stars 3, an instance of the number 3 in a computer. The game starts with the 3 being rounded off from a spreadsheet, just as the computer crashes. As a result, she is sent deep into the innards of the computer, where she has to solve a number of puzzles in order to get it working again, all the while dealing with a plethora of letters, most of whom have never heard of numbers and think that she's a damaged B. Along the way, she must also deal with the misfit vowels, a bunch of vowels that have become corrupted and are threatening the word processor; an anti-virus robot that seeks to delete the 3; and an unknown mastermind who seeks to eliminate all letters.

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Note: This game is available for public download at the official website. Everything players need to get it running is there, not only on the Macintosh, but on Windows as well.


Tropes featured include:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Both the numbers and letters are hostile to the three, and she eventually finds peace on a quarterly report, where they coexist.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Pi, the Big Bad, is a number that wants to destroy all letters because he finds them illogical and talks about the superiority of numbers to letters.
  • Anti-Climax: In the finale, the Big Bad, Pi, takes on a towering form and prepares to destroy the vowels and 3, only for the drone to promptly kill Pi before he can do anything.
  • Automatic Level: The last elevator level will solve itself after only a single mouse click. Unfortunately, it's not the single mouse click you think it is...
  • Big Bad Ensemble: As the site notes, there are three antagonists that 3 faces in her quest to return to the spreadsheet by repairing the computer:
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    • The Misfit Vowels are an army of corrupted vowels that are running amok and causing much of the damage to the computer, and 3 must capture them to stop them.
    • The Anti-Virus Robot wants to delete 3 as it sees her as a glitch or virus. Though, in practice, it does little to get in her way.
    • The pi symbol is the one using the misfit vowels to destroy the word processor so he can wipe out all letters and prove that numbers are superior. Of the three, he is the main threat.
  • Bystander Syndrome: The 3 doesn't care about the damage caused to the system by the power surge - she just wants to get back to her spreadsheet, and she only fixes the system damage if it's in her way. She even turns down going to stop the misfit vowel characters attacking the word processor, at least until she decides to save the letters anyway.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The drone shown at various points has the objective to delete the rogue 3. At the end of the game, the pi symbol, in the form of a 3 at the time, is deleted instead, causing the remaining numbers to do a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The ending has the 3 happily working on a quarterly report, just like she wanted.
  • Enter Solution Here: After completing other puzzles, you sometimes get random garbled text or a strange letter. After discovering what they really mean, these are all entered in the metapuzzle, Inside Track.
  • Faceless Eye: The creature seen in "Mind's Eye" and several times more, a security system of sorts that eliminates rogue programs.
  • Fantastic Racism: The numbers and letters often show scorn towards each other. In particular, Pi hates letters and wants to kill them all.
  • Final Solution: Pi's Evil Plan is to destroy the word processor and take down all the letters with it, allowing for numbers to rule as the Master Race.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Of the "gravitational cognizance" variety. Several times, 3 does not fall down until she realizes that she is in the air, and in the finale, she is able to jump from midair onto a platform.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In a sense. Pi transforms into a giant representation of the value of pi, with the digits as the body. But because Pi starts with 3, the drone who is out to eliminate the heroine 3 winds up killing Pi instead, meaning that his own transformation caused his downfall.
  • Inside a Computer System: The game consists of 3, having fallen from a spreadsheet, going through the computer and meeting various letters and numbers.
  • Master Race: Pi believes numbers to be this and wants to exterminate letters so numbers may reign supreme.
  • Mistaken Identity: Almost all the letters the 3 meets think she is a broken letter B. When the Letter Legislature is assembled, it's explained that while all characters can roam the system freely, the numbers just never do (no one told them), so it never occurred to them that she could be anything but a letter.
  • One-Letter Name: Most of the characters the 3 encounters are letters, and the Big Bad is a pi symbol.
  • One-Winged Angel: Pi, in "Finale", turns into a giant string of numbers representing the digits of pi.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Since the gameplay consists entirely of puzzle-solving, this trope is naturally invoked.
  • Set Piece Puzzle: The gameplay consists of a long sequence of these.
  • Straw Vulcan: Pi believes numbers to be superior to letters because numbers have a set value, whereas letters often change, and thus he considers letters illogical.
  • Talking Typography: Most of the characters, due to being inside a computer, from the titular protagonist 3 herself to the antagonist, the pi symbol, and several side characters. The only characters who are not this are the humans outside the computer, who are only shown sparingly.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Averted. The title character (a taking digit) is addressed as "Ms. 3" despite having no visible indicators of being female.
  • This Cannot Be!: As shown in the picture above, the letters, when told that 3 is a three, express disbelief in her claim, since "there is no 3 in three".
  • Title by Number: The work is named after the protagonist, a sentient number 3.
  • Title Drop: In the picture above.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The website casually reveals the existence of the pi symbol, the Big Bad of the game. Thankfully you don't have to see it to get to the download link.
  • Who's on First?: "Dove Owls" combines this trope with Inadvertent Entrance Cue:
    I: Hey, what about I?
    A: What about you?
    [enter U]
    U: Someone call me?
    A: Oh be quiet!
    [enter O]
    O: I didn't say anything.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Needed for puzzles available at the start.
  • You Are Number 6: Or number 3, rather.

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