Puzzler video games have always been popular among gamers, challenging their minds with problem-solving activities. From guessing numbers or words, and simplistic block arranging to mind-bending physics puzzles, puzzler games have evolved over the years to provide increasingly complex challenges and innovative gameplay mechanics.
Simple mechanics and addictive gameplay characterized early games; versions of Mastermind or Hangman were probably the first examples. In 1984, Lode Runner and Impossible Mission launched the genre of the puzzle-platformers, mixing platform games exploration with puzzle solving. In Impossible Mission, you have 6 hours to collect the required pieces. Every death takes away 10 minutes. And there are many ways to die, from robots to electric obstructions.
In 1985, one of the most popular computer games ever was released: Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?. It was a mix of educational, detective investigation, and puzzler. The series continued for many years, have a look at Where in Europe is Carmen Sandiego? or Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (Deluxe Edition) released in 1992.
The Sentinel (aka The Sentry) by Geoff Crammond, released in 1986, was one of the first puzzle games in 3D, like the brilliant Tower of Babel by Pete Coke, where you need to solve puzzles using three different robots.
Moving to something more colorful, Jumpin' Jackson for the Amiga and Atari ST mixed puzzle solving with cute pixel art and a top-down perspective.
The genre of puzzle games was changed forever when DMA released Lemmings in 1991, one of the most popular games ever. The success of the funny little characters trying to survive across the different levels demonstrated that puzzlers could be real hits. This influenced many other game studios, so we had Pushover and Troddlers in 1992, not clones, but games inspired by Lemmings.
We cannot avoid mentioning the arcade hit Tetris, ported and converted many times, like Tetris Pro in 1992, but also the many versions of MineSweeper in 1991, a game that every Windows 3.1 owner played at least once.
The mechanics of puzzle games, where you need to combine the skills of different characters to reach a goal, were perfected by Blizzard with their first success, The Lost Vikings, in 1993. The same year we had a great example of Rube Goldberg machine games, with The Incredible Machine.
You can find all sorts of puzzler games out there. Still, sometimes it's challenging to define puzzle games since problem-solving elements can be present in all sorts of video games, including graphic adventures, platformers, and action games. Let us know if you think some of your favorite puzzlers must be included!