The Top 7... Stupidest Puzzles

Take a look at the following formulas and tell us which is correct:

If your answer made even the slightest molecule of sense, you clearly haven’t played enough videogames. Puzzles aren’t meant to be simple - they’re meant to sell hint books and strategy guides. Obstacles aren’t meant to be obvious - they’re meant to artificially lengthen the adventure!

Here are the seven most bizarre, irrational and frustratingly convoluted examples we’ve ever encountered. They don’t just spit in the face of logic... they kick logic right in the balls.

The Game: King’s Quest V

The Problem: While searching desperately for his kidnapped family, King Graham must cross a treacherous range of blizzard-swept mountains. He conquers extreme weather, gnawing hunger, slippery pitfalls, a ravenous pack of wolves and the cold-hearted Snow Queen herself, but one final barrier still remains – the Abominable 256-Color VGA Snowman!

The Logical Solutions:

• Cast a spell with the magic wand you’ve been carrying
around the whole game.
• Hide under the magic cloak you’ve been carrying
around the whole game.
• Defend yourself with the magic amulet you’ve been carrying
around the whole game.

The Stupid Solution: Pie. Yes, pie. You throw a thoroughly non-magic dessert at the monster, who is so taken aback by the complete idiocy of the situation that he promptly falls off a cliff and dies. We don’t blame him.

Ah, danger averted, Three Stooges style. Perfectly appropriate for a fantasy-based, point-and-click adventure game from 1990, wouldn’t you say? Oh, and if you didn’t think to purchase that seemingly random, surely unimportant custard pastry at the very beginning of the game, we hope you like restarting!

To summarize...


The Game: Touch Detective

The Problem: Mackenzie, a budding young investigator, is anxiously awaiting a chance to prove her skills. Suddenly, her friend Penelope bursts through the agency’s door with the case of a lifetime - something’s been stolen! Something huge! Something valuable! Yes, a nefarious, dastardly thief has run away with Penelope’s... dreams.

Wait, what?

The Logical Solutions:

• Slap the nincompoop and tell her to come back when she has
a REAL problem.
• Gently inquire whether the dreams possibly disappeared when she...
we don’t know... woke up? Explain the concept of sleep and then
slap the moron again.
• Consult a mental health professional. Seriously, this girl is nuts.

The Stupid Solution: Forget our advice - this is a cutesy, whimsical anime game and requires an equally cutesy, whimsical solution. Maybe, say, people can visit other people’s dreams and stuff. Yeah. Using a crazy dream powder or something. Right, and the ingredients you need to access this kooky “fifth dimension” of consciousness are, like, charmingly eccentric things which, you know, just happen to be lying around the game already.

“Hot minced mushrooms”? Good thing we found these mushroom cookies earlier! “Herbal paper”? Why, the neighboring store sells herbal shopping bags! “Light a fire”? Hmmm...

Of course - a microwave! That makes the most sense of anything ever.
Case closed. Now if we could only figure out why our assistant is
a walking, talking penis...


Top 7

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000
  • D0CCON - October 23, 2011 11:38 a.m.

    Wow with the last one, he makes a fake mustache to impersonate somebody who doesn't have a mustache.
  • Draijan - August 9, 2011 11:40 p.m.

    It took me forever to figure out the guybrush one, had that game for soo long, im surprised you didn't add just about every puzzle in that game to this list.
  • Gkicker2 - October 21, 2010 6:28 p.m.

    My only issue with this list is I couldn't relate to any of the games... because I played none of them.
  • FanofSaiyan - January 30, 2010 1:56 a.m.

    When it comes to tricky puzzles, Wild Arms can't be beat. The game had at least 5 different moments where I was completely dumbfounded, and I'm pretty good at solving puzzles. I literally just beat the 1st game last year. I GOT THE GAME IN 2003!!!
  • noofer7 - October 19, 2008 2:03 a.m.

  • dweller - October 5, 2008 4:25 a.m.

    Yeah! I remember playing all those games except Gabriel Knight 3. I played the first two but just never got around to the third one. It's too bad though, I missed out on cat mustache. As for Space Quest IV, CD-ROM version, I thought the code was the symbols right on the outside of the time machine. Man, I still hate that puzzle in The Longest Journey!
  • lovinmyps3 - October 4, 2008 3:27 a.m.

    re4 was the only one of those i played, and that puzzle was easy y dont they put the puzzle u gotta solve as ashley? that was fukn hard!
  • katwood92 - October 3, 2008 12:14 a.m.

    I should be used to convoluted thought processes (mine can be very so, making things I say seem very random, even though it's not), but those are way out there.
  • soren7550 - October 1, 2008 6:38 p.m.

    That last pic made me laugh. How about the puzzle in Half Life 2:Episode 2 where you have to go through an entire network of a giant bug infested mine (by yourself) so that you can get some bug juice to save Alyx. Oh, you can't kill the giant ass bug that's guarding the stuff, otherwise it won't work. But it can kill you all it wants. Good luck getting that bug juice!
  • gulfcoastfella - September 30, 2008 9:46 p.m.

    Oh SH!T... puzzles in a puzzle game.
  • Scott1121 - September 30, 2008 8:25 p.m.

    OMG! those are terrible puzzles
  • Iffo - September 30, 2008 7:51 a.m.

    You want hard, illogical and often time sensitive puzzles, involving multiple seemingly unrelated actions by several characters? Go get the Gobliins series!! These are just a few extreme examples but the whole genre was based around wacky illogical puzzles. The frustrating thing about many of these games was you had to ask yourself "What did the game designer want me to do here?" instead of "What do I do here?" ... and Sierra is the worst offender. Maybe it had something to do with their help line? Anyway I really loved Lucas Arts and Legend quests back then!
  • gilligan2021 - September 30, 2008 6:39 a.m.

    the largest WTF in the entire article is that little penis that follows you around in Touch Detective. As if that game title didn't arouse enough naughty thoughts...
  • Ravenbom - September 30, 2008 5:37 a.m.

    OMFG! It's been so long that I forgot how bad some point and click games were! @drprofessor, good call! That was one of the most BS puzzles ever! But like many games back then, Nintendo Power ftw. 747 Like StarTropics, I hated the Carmen Sandiego because after me and my parents moved, I had lost the Almanac that came with the game, and even if you knew all the clues and everything, then to advance, the stupid game would ask you to turn to a page in the almanac and type in the first entry or something arbitrary... No problem if you have the Almanac, but it really crushed my young spirit back in the day. I was being punished for actually knowing (having a 30 volume encyclopedia that the family wasn't otherwise using) the answers. Stuff like that was basically a midgame DRM.
  • blankpixelsCG - September 30, 2008 4:09 a.m.

    Man, the weekend drought was killing me! Good too see another Top Seven. Also, thanks for helping me realize that I need to play the last Monkey Island again - I wonder how much that runs for on eBay? Anyway, the skin part was nowhere near as awesome as the insult wrestling (but I suppose that wasn't a stupid puzzle, thus warranting no mention).
  • 1NVAD3R - September 30, 2008 12:19 a.m.

    Another great one Charlie, fantastic article.
  • sourpunch - September 30, 2008 12:05 a.m.

    That was amazing article I was laughing almost the whole time.
  • CandiedJester - September 29, 2008 11:53 p.m.

    LOL you have to put on a fake mustache when the guy your dressing up as doesnt even HAVE a mustache..and then draw one on the passport. That's priceless.
  • Blinder - September 29, 2008 11:20 p.m.

    Hmm... I seem to remember some of the puzzles from Discworld bringing about quite a few WTF, moments. Did you get the number of that donkey cart?
  • gilligan2021 - September 29, 2008 11:15 p.m.

    i don't exactly understand the point of making a fake mustache if the person you are posing as doesn't even have one, and you're just gonna draw one on his passport after the fact... that's not to say that I object..