Puzzle video game
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Puzzle video games are a genre of video games that emphasize puzzle solving. The types of puzzles can test many problem solving skills including logic, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion.
Definition and gameplay
Puzzle games focus on logical and conceptual challenges, although occasionally the games add time-pressure or other action-elements. Although many action games and adventure games involve puzzles such as obtaining inaccessible objects, a true puzzle game focuses on puzzle solving as the primary gameplay activity. Games usually involve shapes, colors, or symbols, and the player must directly or indirectly manipulate them into a specific pattern.
Rather than presenting a random collection of puzzles to solve, puzzle games typically offer a series of related puzzles that are a variation on a single theme. This theme could involve pattern recognition, logic, or understanding a process. These games usually have a simple set of rules, where players manipulate game pieces on a grid, network or other interaction space. Players must unravel clues in order to achieve some of victory condition, which will then allow them to advance to the next level. Completing each puzzle will usually lead to a more difficult challenge, although some games avoid exhausting the player by offering easier levels between more difficult ones.
Types of puzzle games
There is a large variety of puzzle games. Some feed to the player a random assortment of blocks or pieces that they must organize in the correct manner, such as Tetris, Klax and Lumines. Others present a preset game board or pieces and challenge the player to solve the puzzle by achieving a goal (Bomberman, The Incredible Machine).
An action puzzle or arcade puzzle requires that the player manipulates game pieces in a real-time environment, often on a single screen and with a time limit, to solve the puzzle or clear the level. This is a broad term that has been used to describe several subsets of puzzle game. Firstly, it includes falling-block puzzles such as Tetris and KLAX. It includes games with characters moving through an environment, controlled either directly (Lode Runner) or indirectly (Lemmings). This can cross-over with other action genres: a platform game which requires a novel mechanic to complete levels might be a "puzzle platformer", such as manipulating time in Braid. Finally, it includes other action games that require timing and accuracy with pattern-matching or logic skills, such as the first-person Portal.
Hidden object game
A hidden object game (sometimes called hidden picture) is a genre of puzzle video game in which the player must find items from a list that are hidden within a picture. Hidden object games are a popular trend in casual gaming, and are comparatively inexpensive to buy. Time-limited trial versions of these games are usually available for download.
An early hidden object game was Alice: An Interactive Museum. Computer Gaming World reported in 1993 that "one disadvantage of searching through screen after screen for 'switches' is that after a while one develops a case of 'clickitus' of the fingers as one repeatedly punches that mouse button like a chicken pecking at a farmyard".
Publishers of hidden object games include Sandlot Games, Big Fish Games, Awem Studio, SpinTop Games, and Codeminion. Examples of hidden object game series include Awakening, Antique Road Trip (both by Boomzap Entertainment), Dream Chronicles (PlayFirst), Mortimer Beckett (RealArcade/GameHouse), Mystery Trackers (by Elephant games), Hidden Expedition and Mystery Case Files (both by Big Fish Games).
Reveal the picture game
A reveal the picture game is a type of puzzle game that features piece-by-piece revealing of a photo or picture.
A physics game is a type of puzzle video game wherein the player must use the game's physics to complete each puzzle. Physics games use realistic physics to make games more challenging. The genre is especially popular in online flash games and mobile games. Educators have used these games to demonstrate principles of physics.
In tile-matching video games, the player manipulates tiles in order to make them disappear according to a matching criterion. They include games of the "falling block" variety such as Tetris, games that require pieces to be swapped such as Bejeweled or Candy Crush Saga, and games in which are pieces are shot on the board such as Zuma. In many recent tile-matching games, the matching criterion is to place a given number of tiles of the same type so that they adjoin each other. That number is often three, and the corresponding subset of tile-matching games is referred to as "match-three games".
There have also been many digital adaptations of traditional puzzle games, including solitaire and mahjong solitaire. Even familiar word puzzles, number puzzles, and association puzzles have been adapted as games such as Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training.
Origins and popularity
Puzzle video games owe their origins to brain teasers and puzzles throughout human history. Many educational games were created in the early years of game consoles, and created a template for games that involved thinking and strategy without any action or adventure. Likewise, maze games in the arcades were another precursor to puzzle games (see 1979's Heiankyo Alien, for example). Several action games also focused on mental challenges, including the action-puzzle hybrid Q*bert from 1982.
Another early example of a puzzle-oriented game was Konami's Loco-Motion that same year. Skyler Miller of GameSpot argues that Atari Video Cube, also from the same year, "gets my vote as the first true puzzle video game," involving gameplay similar to a Rubik's Cube in a 2-dimensional space. 1984's Puzzle Panic for the Atari 8-bit family specifically uses the word puzzle in the game's title. Uncle Henry's Nuclear Waste Dump (1986) has similarities to Tetris, though it was published prior to Tetris reaching the US, and the author claims he hadn't seen it.
Tetris is credited for revolutionizing gaming and popularizing the puzzle genre. The game was created by Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov in 1985. It was inspired by a traditional puzzle game named Pentomino, in which players arrange falling blocks into lines without any gaps. The game was a moderate success when released by Spectrum Holobyte for MS-DOS in 1987 and Atari Games in arcades in 1988, but it sold 30 million copies on the Game Boy alone.
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Several dozen puzzle video games were created in the 1990s, with many games allowing players to arrange falling blocks as seen in Tetris. The original Tetris itself inspired a series of sequels, clones, and knock-offs. However, there were also some innovative games, including Pipe Mania, a 1989 release that challenged players to create an unbroken chain of pipes to divert a toxic liquid.
The 1990s also saw the release of Lemmings, which is considered one of the greatest puzzle games of all time. The game involved a series of creatures who mindlessly walked into deadly situations, and the player was given the ability to assign jobs to specific lemmings in order to guide the swarm to a safe destination.
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Mystery titles, particularly hidden-object games, have become a hugely popular segment of the casual-game market.
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