Jump to content

Horribly implemented puzzles - name your all-time front-runners!


Recommended Posts

There‘s been some lively discussion over in the GK20 thread over which of the puzzles should have received a makeover. This got me thinking: Which puzzles would I change/dumb-down/streamline/straight up rip out of the game in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to make it not suck if I were to remake any of the old classics? Leave all your personal cat hair moustaches, spliced tapes and put gem in mouths here!

My own personal least favourite:

Police Quest SWAT
„Pup, the LASH is not a toy!“
If only I had a dollar for every time I heard that! Fuck you, Daryl F. Gates!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a classic one, and propably one of the most difficult puzzles in adventure game history, straight from King's Quest 1, the original AGI version. The official SCI remake had simplified one.

"The name of the gnome"-puzzle.

Now, you need to guess a name of the gold spinning gnome, who is, if you know your fairytales, Rumpelstiltskin. If you try with that, no cigar, as that's not quite the answer the game wants, despite you'd be on a right fairytale.

 

In  a place that has nothing to do with Rumpelstiltskin you can find a not that says "Sometimes it's helpfull to think backwards.". If by some leap of logic you arrive into a conclusion that that particular note is related to the gnome

you can try to write the name Rumpelstiltskin backwards. But that's no dice either, as that's not quite the answer the game is seeking. And there's no other hints it will give you either about the solution.

 

And the solution is, that you need to throw the alphabet backwards and choose letters that are in the same location as would the original letters of Rumpelstiltskin be.  Yeah. I doubt there was many people who solved that one, espceially

with the small amounts of hints the game gave you. And if you didn't know the fairytale itself, good luck trying to even get in the same page with the puzzle, as the game has no mention of the gnomes name anywhere, it just expects

that everyone knows the fairytale.

In the SCI remake it was simplified so, that it actually accepted the Rumpelstiltskin spelled backwards. And even then it was relatively difficult puzzle.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Tex Murphy gamed have this thing about medieval castles. I don't really get why they're seemingly standing around all over the U.S. in the aftermath of WW3. Looks like solid masonry, but it's still deeply illogical.

 

Someone has to mention the Datacorder puzzle in Space Quest 6. Say what you will about logic puzzles, but it really is a crime that the material that was to provide clues for the puzzle was just cut out. By then, Sierra was losing it, and unfortunately, this blunder just plain ruined a section of the game. I can understand why Josh was upset about it.

 

I agree wholeheartedly with tomint too. The gnome puzzle could not be more evil - not even if it ran on a timer. It will always baffle me why Roberta is put on a pedestal when she mostly designed illogical rubbish like that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well luckily enough Roberta was smart enough to create an alternative puzzle to get you where answering right to the gnomes name puzzle would have taken you. For all it flaws, which can be forgiven being that during the 80's game devs were just making it up on the run, King's Quest 1 is a great example of a game where several puzzles can be solved differently, In many ways King's Quest 2 was a step backwards from it and it has even more mind blowing puzzles than KQ1 has.

Like the suagar cube, or the harness and the snake, or that damned bridge. But it also is pretty non-linear.

 

And, IMO, Roberta just like the guys did got better and better as they went on. Was she favourited by her husband? Most likely as she always hade the first hand access to newest tech and most likely the best resources of the company, but at the same time she did strive to go forwards, which is more than can be said even on many current devs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree with the notion that she got better and better. By KQ5 - often hailed as a series highlight - we would have tambourine-playing rock monsters, Yeti-repellant custard pies and wand-recharging cheese machines. I can't speak for the Phantasmagoria games as I haven't played those, but I can't say I've heard good things about them either.

 

Bear in mind that her games were always technologically impressive. But I believe Fronzel explained why ;) And I do agree with KQ1 being an interesting exercise in primitive non-linearity. If we stretch it a bit, it's also one of the very first open world games in video game history.

 

KQ7 is actually fairly well-designed, I'd say, but it doesn't get a lot of credit for it, so I doubt you were referring to that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

On puzzles that could have been taken out or at least given a tune-up...

 

KQ5: Squeezing honey on the ground and putting emeralds in it to catch elves that you didn't know existed.

GK2: Putting a flower in the water to trigger a vision (how am I supposed to know this a thing?)

PQ1: The vehicle inspection. Every time.

Grim Fandango: Lumbago Lemonade. Because throwing up on dominos is the best way to not knock them over?

The Riddle of Master Lu: The Monastery; the longest, most patience-testing maze ever devised.

Discworld 1 and 2: Complete overhaul.

Link to post
Share on other sites

KQ5 is actually a pretty interesting step backwards for Roberta. KQ4 is much better game and has a pretty solid design overall. Also I've always liked Colonel's Bequest a quite a bit, which still is IMO a solid game with fairly logical puzzle design, which has none of the "pie in the Yeti's face" kind of puzzle design.

I think going from parser to icons threw her off the balance, just like what happened to Al Lowe with Larry 5, which beame too easy because of it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I find most of Space Quest 4's mall sequence to be pretty awful, although I also really enjoy it every time as well.

 

The way the game inexplicably forces you to fix your pants, rip off the ATM, buy the hintbook, work, NOT buy an adapter part, and finally walk to the top-right portion of the arcade before the sequel police show up -- that was always a head-scratcher as they failed to give an overall goal or motivation except maybe "leave eventually," and none of the activities but buying the hintbook actively supports that goal.

 

But really, I'm mostly only annoyed by interface issues, not puzzles. GK2's various pixel-hunting puzzles, for example, are pretty terrible. Everything around the one pixel you need to click gives a "nothing to see there" response, but mysteriously one clump of pixels in a nondescript corner gives a whole new screen.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually quite liked Inherit the Earth, but -- Jebus Kerrist, enough with the mazes, already! Two mazes in one (dog castle AND whatever the hell that underground maze was supposed to be), followed by ANOTHER maze in the human ruins! What the hell, game?

 

Also, the isometric perspective was a fun idea, but pixel hunting for a fucking bucket in the bunny sanctuary was a real kick in the teeth.

Link to post
Share on other sites

GK2: Putting a flower in the water to trigger a vision (how am I supposed to know this a thing?)

Haven't played the game in a billion and one years, but I don't they say at some point that people still leave flowers at the spot where Ludwig died? (Of course, if they didn't, then they screwed up indeed)

 

Got to agree with suejak's assessment about the pixel hunting. Oh God, fucking Chapter 4 of that game... just grind everything to a halt and enjoy the feeling of being bored out of your wits when touring old Bavarian castles. Missed a spot? Well, then enjoy being bored all over again!

 

 

Jebus Kerrist, enough with the mazes, already! Two mazes in one (dog castle AND whatever the hell that underground maze was supposed to be), followed by ANOTHER maze in the human ruins! What the hell, game?

Hoo boy, you're gonna luuuuuurve the ending of Moebius! :D

Link to post
Share on other sites

KQ5 was great from a storytelling perspective. There was also so much more content. It really felt like a journey too with the different locales you visited, and eventually you left one to proceed to another without the ability to go back. And then once again when you get to Mordack's Island. The only other KQ games that had that sense of progression were KQ7 and MOE. It was a great adventure. I did enjoy the puzzles too, though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Visually KQ5 is a very nice game and the storytelling ain't bad either. But I do think the puzzle design is at places a step backwards from KQ4 and KQ5 has more puzzles with very abstract logic. I think it might be, as just like Al Lowe said, he didn't at first understand that going from parser to icons made his puzzle design too easy, Roberta might have realized that and made some of the puzzles of KQ5 more obscure because of that. And that lead into some pretty clunky puzzle design.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Despite how  many people like this game, I found the puzzles in King's Quest III to be rather challenging. First, realizing that the wizard was on a timer, then actually figuring out how to get rid of the wizard....We played that game for years when I was a kid and we could never figure out how to get rid of Manannan. We cast all the spells, and we had the cookie, but the game never told you that you could actually get rid of the wizard, and the idea that you could hide things under the bed and they wouldn't be noticed was also never explicitly mentioned in the game.  We literally thought that you had to get everything done while he was away (i.e., explore Llewdor, gather all of the items, cast all of the spells, somehow escape the country, and beat the game before the wizard ever came back), which is impossible to do in 25 minutes (even if you know what you're doing!)

 

I didn't beat King's Quest III until many years later, and then only by following a walkthrough (the only King's Quest game that we weren't able to complete without using one, although we did have a friend who had beaten the game help us with the moldy cheese wand-powering machine in King's Quest V).

 

Not necessarily illogical, but the unstable ordinance in Space Quest IV was particularly annoying as well. We never got anywhere in that game (i.e., we never even got off the surface of Xenon) for several years because we thought there was something that you had to do with that in order to escape (going into the sewers never occurred to us). That was another game that I had to use a walkthrough to complete (along with the original Space Quest I, although that was because we never realized that you were supposed to turn ON the translator to understand the alien in the underground section of Kerona...)

 

The procedures that you MUST follow in Police Quest 1 and Codename: Iceman made them incredibly annoying games. I was thankful that PQ2 was much less focused on the procedures than its predecessor...Then again, I don't consider them necessarily poor puzzle design as I do poor gameplay design.

 

As mentioned before, the tape-splicing in GK2 was ridiculously absurd, and don't even get me started on some of the Babel fish puzzle in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!!!

 

Conversely, I started the game Space Quest: Incinerations this weekend, and have really enjoyed the puzzle design of that game. Fantastic job on that game, Chris!!!!! :D

 

Talk to you later!

 

JDHJANUS

Josh

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not necessarily illogical, but the unstable ordinance in Space Quest IV was particularly annoying as well. We never got anywhere in that game (i.e., we never even got off the surface of Xenon) for several years because we thought there was something that you had to do with that in order to escape (going into the sewers never occurred to us). That was another game that I had to use a walkthrough to complete (along with the original Space Quest I, although that was because we never realized that you were supposed to turn ON the translator to understand the alien in the underground section of Kerona...)

Next time, try reading the manual. ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Someone has to mention the Datacorder puzzle in Space Quest 6. Say what you will about logic puzzles

 

 

I hate them. The datacorder puzzle was stupid and I ****ing hate it.

There, done.

 

Like the suagar cube, or the harness and the snake, or that damned bridge.

 

 

The bridge was their own demonic creation, but the bridle, snake, and sugar cube all actually made sense, in a way. IIRC, they were all taken from fairy tales and mythology, although ones that were *much* more obscure than some of the ones used in KQ1. The bridle and snake combo, for example, was a reference to Pegasus, I believe.

 

PQ1: The vehicle inspection. Every time.

 

 

Someone didn't read the manual. ;) This was a factor of PQ1 being less 'adventure game' and more 'police simulator' than Sierra's other series. Police offers follow procedure EVERY TIME, even if that procedure is something as mindlessly simplistic as checking your car before going on patrol.

 

The procedures that you MUST follow in Police Quest 1 and Codename: Iceman made them incredibly annoying games. I was thankful that PQ2 was much less focused on the procedures than its predecessor...Then again, I don't consider them necessarily poor puzzle design as I do poor gameplay design.

 

 

Personally, I thought it was brilliant game design. :lol: Making the PQ games as 'real' as possible, instead of just abstracting police work like every other cop TV and video game ever. But, that's just me. Some people don't like that sort of thing, I guess.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not aware of any connection that Pegasus has to any snake or serpent in mythology. Do you know what specifically the idea came from?

 

While I do understand that PQ and C:I have a lot of "real-life" simulation aspects to them, the games were still advertised (and often viewed) as adventure games. And they definitely have a lot of adventure game aspects that bring them closer to Sierra's other parser and point and click adventures, so you could argue that despite the simulator aspects, they still have a lot of adventure elements to them. As someone who dislikes simulation and action/arcade sequences in adventure games, though, I found them a bit annoying. I still have played the first PQ games and C:I (I'm trying to play through ALL of Sierra's adventure games, including the hybrid games that take aspects from other genres), but I didn't like a lot of the simulation stuff.

 

Another puzzle that I thought of (if you consider it a puzzle at all) is the Coroner's Inquest at the end of The Dagger of Amon Ra. I felt a lot of those questions were unfair and a lot of the clues and evidence were misleading throughout the game as to who did what.

Talk to you later!

 

JDHJANUS

Josh

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...