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Themaze

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

>West

You are in a maze of little twisty passages, all alike.

>West

You are in a twisty maze of little passages, all alike.

The Maze is that which makes it difficult to get from point A to point B.

Technically, mazes in video games are usually labyrinths. A simple maze consists of nothing more than a series of rooms through which navigation is not straightforward: a simulation of a paper maze or actual labyrinth.

Mazes usually show several of the following traits:

  • Asymmetric: Rooms that are geographically adjacent do not necessarily connect; moving east from Room 1 goes to Room 2, but turning around and going west from Room 2 goes to Room 3 instead. Traditionally, this characteristic is indicated by describing the maze as "twisty".
  • Homogeneous: Every room in the maze looks identical to every other room, making it difficult to tell which room you are currently in.
  • Nondeterministic: The passages are essentially portals that teleport you between rooms at random. It may be possible to simply blunder into the exit by doing this ... unless the maze is also:
  • Tricky: The only way to reach the desired exit is to follow a specific sequence of directions; taking the wrong path will send you to a random room or straight back to the entrance.

The standard way of solving a maze -- a symmetric maze, at least -- is to draw a map. But when the rooms are also homogenous, the player will need ways to identify specific rooms; one standard way, at least in text adventures, is to drop a different item in each room (hoping you won't need those items later, of course). A tricky maze usually incorporates some kind of puzzle which either renders the maze deterministic, allowing the player to deduce the path through it (for example, if a wrong path sends you straight back to the entrance, you can quickly chart out the "correct" path to take by trial and error).

If you're lucky enough, however, you weren't ever intended to navigate the maze blindly in the first place; you're supposed to meet up with an NPC guide and/or acquire directions at some plot point before going in.

If the maze is not homogeneous, then it's very likely that the correct path to take is the one that is the hardest/takes the most effort to get to.

A maze is a cheap way to make the player spend a lot of time getting to the next bit of game. Aside from a few for whom solving a maze is its own reward, most players absolutely hate mazes, and see them as a pointless way to pad a game. (Actually, most players probably always felt that way; it's just that now, some designers actually listen.)

In ages past, though, a maze was not only considered mandatory, but the number and size of the mazes was a point of pride among developers. Any book on Adventure Game design written prior to 1990 will simply assume that you must include a maze. Years later, the creator of the freeware adventure game language Inform noted in his own Adventure Game design essay that mazes should probably be omitted entirely, as (unless the maze is very well-designed) it will only serve to frustrate the player (and thus make him or her unwilling to play the game). And then he cheerfully puts several mazes into his own games, admitting that like any dictator, he prefers writing rules to following them.

Many mazes are livened up with monsters, traps, and/or treasure. Some of the monsters may be mobile, others stay put and wait for you to find them. A Dungeon Crawler is a game that consists of pretty much only mazes filled with monsters (with occasionally a town area at the beginning). For these games, the maze is not (generally) considered cheap since this is the only part of the game, and you know that right from the start.

The Mobile Maze is a subtrope. See also Magical Mystery Doors, The Lost Woods and The Hedge of Thorns.

Not to be confused with the former prison in Stroke Country.

Examples of The Maze include:


Action Adventure

  • Zelda loves this trope:
    • The Legend of Zelda includes The Lost Woods and The Lost Hills, in which the same map of trees and rocks with four exits will loop until you follow the correct sequence of paths.
    • The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time redoes the same sequence in 3-D, using dark tunnels instead of paths. But this time, it provides a clue: following the sound of a song will tell you which path to take.
      • Unfortunately, tunnels that led back to the entrance happened to have a slight black gradient to them, while tunnels that actually led further into the maze had a single flat black tone hiding the room behind it. This meant that careful players with bright TV screens could avoid resetting their position.
      • It's also possible to fire the slingshot at the tunnel. If it makes a sound when hitting the tunnel, that means it goes back to the entrance.
    • Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess included roomless variants, wherein you had to follow a specific path through a sand/snow/other-swept map to avoid being transported back to the entrance.
    • And then there's the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time. Give credit that it's brilliantly designed, but it has frustrated many gamers and has been the bane of many the childhood of a Zelda fan.
    • In Twilight Princess there's also the room full of falling floor blocks in Hyrule Castle. Listen carefully and you'll hear ghost rats, which clues you in to what you need to do: use your wolf senses to kill the rats, and follow the pointing ghost soldiers.
    • Link's Awakening: To get to the final boss, one had to conquer the homogeneous maze in the Wind Fish's egg; completing the trading sequence revealed the solution.
      • Also, the Mysterious Forest had a tricky and asymmetric maze part protecting the key to the first dungeon. However, only one room exit was rigged. If you try to exit north to the chest containing the key, the Raccoon will tell you that you're going to get lost. If you continue anyway, you'll end up in a completely different area of the forest. Using some Magic Powder on the Raccoon will help you solve this puzzle.
    • Oracle Of Ages had an outdoor version that was asymmetric and tricky: a trio of mischievous fairies were scrambling space in the area, and you had to find them to get them to return it to normal so that you could reach the exit.
      • Seasons had an homogeneous maze in a wood past the Tarm ruins.
    • Twinrova's "dungeon" in the linked game in the Oracle games. Sort of like the Link's Awakening example above, but worse; the game only slightly hints at the solution. The solution is: do not follow the direction of the eyes in the statues (ex.:if there's an eye each for facing east, west and south, the player must head north).
    • The final dungeon of The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker includes a maze on the second floor. There's actually an easy way to solve this maze: When a Phantom Ganon is killed, pay attention to how his sword falls; its hilt will point in the right direction.
    • In The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass, this is what awaits you inside the pyramid on the Isle of the Dead -- complete with the talking, mournful skeleton of an explorer who died trying to find his way through. In order to succeed without spending a few hours in trial and error, you must first find a way into the island's graveyard and get the solution from the tombstones.
  • The early Play Station 2 classic Primal had a hedge maze, which is solvable using the left hand rule. Lampshaded when the main character remarks "Eugh, mazes suck," on encountering it. After you've found your way through it to a lever which opens a straight path to the exit, she also asks, "Why didn't they just leave it like that?"
  • Anyone who remembers the first Golgo 13 game for the NES (based on the anime/manga of the same name) will also remember the horribly frustrating maze sequences scattered throughout the game, including one maze purposefully built to be unsolvable (supposedly a decoy within the context of the game.) This detracted so much from the game that the publisher actually included maps to the mazes in the manual in an effort to disarm the ire of most gamers unfortunate enough to play it.
  • Many levels in the Ecco the Dolphin series consist entirely of mazes. Notable examples are Welcome to the Machine from the first game and Four Ways of Mystery from Defender of the Future.
  • La-Mulana has the invisible teleporter mazes in the Confusion Gate and Chamber of Birth.
  • Technically, every level in Air Fortress after the first is non-linear, but they don't get truly mazelike until Level 4 (Where the teleporters first become asymmetric - taking a teleporter at Location A will take you to Location A', but even if there's a teleporter at A', which is far from a certainty, said teleporter at A' is almost guaranteed not to take you back to Location A.), and especially so at Level 6.
  • Stage 4 of Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth has a series of rooms connected non-simply by doors. Worse yet, many doors are one-way; attempting to go back the way you came will dump you off elsewhere. If you manage to find a couple keys and use them on the right doors, you can skip the stage's midboss.
  • The Meandering Forest in Brave Fencer Musashi. Also a part of Spring Wood in its sequel, Musashi: Samurai Legend
  • Several levels in Warriors of Might and Magic, including the Trials in the third level, the City of Magic and part of the Temple of Depraved.
  • In the commentaries for Tomb Raider: Anniversary Toby Gard, the designer of Lara for Tomb Raider 1, said "Don't make mazes. They just confuse people and they get lost and frustrated."
    • He also spoke of trying to get this across to the level designers in TR1 (1996).
    • Tomb Raider 2 has an optional hedge maze in Lara's home with a switch for a secret room if you find a certain area inside it. Anniversary also has another optional manor house maze.
    • Tomb Raider 3 has a maze in the form of the Caves of Kaliya, frequently regarded as a Scrappy Level, although it can at least be gotten out of in about thirty seconds maximum if you know where to go. A later level, Lud's Gate (the definitive Scrappy Level of the game) has an underwater maze. Finally, while the other elemental chambers in Lost City of Tinnos contain interesting and appropriate challenges, the air-themed chamber offers a rather underwhelming conventional labyrinth.

Action Game

  • The garden in Brain Dead 13 is an example of this. There's a specific sequence you have to go through or else you will die. To make matters worse, most of the areas look exactly the same, and sometimes you are allowed to go in the wrong direction, only to be given a choice of new directions which will all kill you.
  • The Woods in Friday the 13 th for the NES (Guide Dang It).
  • Sensory Overload had the Biochemical Storage Area, a homogeneous and nondeterministic maze where "your ability to remember where you are is impaired" due to a chemical leak. Required to get the optional Silencer item, and any secret items you missed earlier.
  • Koei's Warriors series (Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, and Worriors Orochi) have ocassionally featured maze-like areas on certain battlefields. Although static and logically connected, the scenery tends to be homogeneous and the game cripples your ability to steer via the simple and effective step of completely disabling the minimap, and usually putting in enemies for you to get turned around while attacking. Fortunately these tend to be fairly small, fairly brief, and usually allow the map to function as usual once you've made it through the first time.

Adventure Game

  • The original Colossal Cave had at least three mazes and possibly more depending on the version you played (including the woods in the initial outdoor area, the homogeneous maze which provides the quote at the top of this entry, and another in which a similar description was slightly mutated for each room); it also had Bedquilt, a nondeterministic room at the heart of a mazelike area. The mazes included a vending machine, a wandering pirate who could steal your loot, a wandering mean little dwarf, and a treasure chest (belonging to the pirate).
  • The quote was recycled, more or less, for the maze from Zork: "You are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike." Zork's maze included a troll guarding the entrance, a stationary ghost with a bag of gold, several exits leading to different areas, and a wandering thief who would take your valuables if he met you.
    • Zork also had a second maze in a coal mine. Watch out if you bring any burning torches in there.
    • Zork II had a carousel which would dump you into a random room each time. Not exactly a maze, but it made mapping the game layout a bit annoying.
    • Zork II also had an infamous maze with a heavy wooden stick and glowing plates set into the floor. You could swing the stick and it would make a "whoosh!" noise. Non-American players had a hard time figuring out the maze was a baseball diamond, and the stick was a bat. You had to swing the bat and run the bases.
    • Zork III's maze was complicated, in that it was an 8x8 grid where you could push some, but not all, of the walls around. You could take a shortcut out, but it was at the expense of an item you need to win the game.
    • Beyond Zork had a small maze which automatically extinguished your light when you went in. The maze was also inhabited by monsters called lucksuckers, which drained your luck stat, unless you carried good luck charms, which would cause the lucksucker to drain the items instead of you. (It also contained grues, which, presuming you had the right items and sufficient stats, allowed you the unique and satisfying experience of being able to kill the damn things for once.)
  • The Monkey Island games regularly recycle this trope. They are always tricky -- every time they appear, directions through the maze are acquirable, this being the expected solution. They are also often non-deterministic without the directions.
    • The forest on Melee in Secret (both a stalking and a map following puzzle) as well as the underground cavern on Monkey Island.
    • The skeleton door puzzle and Dinky Island forest in LeChuck's Revenge
    • The Mists O' Tyme Marsh in Escape as well as a stalking trip in the jungle.
    • Tales got the forest on Flotsam that is a puzzle three separate times, the two first times requires following instructions from maps and the third requires folding a map to fold the forest itself.
  • King's Quest VI featured the Greek mythology-based catacombs. Each room is virtually identical except for the number of doorways, and it's too dark to see into the next room until you enter it (which can prove deadly if the next room has a deep pit).
    • Speaking of King's Quest, King's Quest V had two mazes, but in one, you can simply follow someone to the exit, and in both, you have compass to show which direction you're facing, making it a little easier to map out the maze on paper.
  • Space Quest II has a nasty maze. You can only see a few steps in front or behind because the only illumination is a gem you carry with you. Take a wrong turn in one particular place and the Cave Squid will eat you. Mapping it out on paper is a must.
  • The Infocom text game Leather Goddesses of Phobos had a maze requiring you to hop, clap, or say "Kweepa" every so many moves; players found this so annoying that a later version of the game included a cheat code allowing you to skip the maze entirely.
  • In Quest for Glory II, the main city, Shapeir, consists largely of mazes of hallways and doors. It gets easier once you buy a map, but just reaching the moneychanger to get the local currency and buy a map is something of a pain, even with a few pointers as to where she is and some elements within the "maze" to break up the monotony (silly things like some of the doors turning out to be painted on the wall).
    • This, of course, was the game's implementation of copy protection. The game came with a map of the city.
    • The fan remake gives the player the option of taking away the streets that don't have anything important on them, making travel much less confusing.
  • Spellcasting 101 had the tricky type; "the maize" was really just a 5X5 grid of rooms that had a letter marked on each one. you had to spell out "THISWAYOUT" to progress
  • The sewer pipe maze in Koala Lumpur: Journey to the Edge. Fairly basic as mazes go; you pretty much have to explore the whole thing to complete the level.
  • The first game in The Legend of Kyrandia series has a particularly obnoxious maze midway through the game that forces you to repeatedly backtrack in order to have enough fire berries with you to light up otherwise dark rooms. The berries decay with each move you make, and if you don't have one when you enter a room, you instantly die. The only way to get more is through sparsely scattered bushes in the maze, but there is no way to know where they are beforehand, resulting in a lot of backtracking as you go back and forth fetching more light sources hoping to make it to the next bush before they all go out.
    • Kyrandia 3's jungle maze also attained Scrappy Level status. The navigation is completely unintuitive, and once in a while you get infested with fleas and scratch yourself to death.
  • The maze behind the church in Uninvited. Arguably more friendly than your usual, as in spite of being difficult, there are plenty of landmarks to remember your way by. And you get a free ticket out, once you're done.
  • Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders has several mazes, most of which are easily mappable, and certain others that are random but that you automatically get out of after three rooms.
  • Sorcerer has a three-dimensional glass maze, that you solve by transforming into a bat (so you can use sonar to locate the walls). Add a bit of gratuitous mapping. The twist is that you also have to go back through it, but it changes shape when you do, and you get a monster chasing you (at least until the first pit, where it falls to its doom). This second part is skippable, though.
    • The first solution wasn't twisty enough?
  • The Sewers of Ankh-Morpork in Discworld Noir are Tricky, and you will go round in circles (thankfully through only three rooms) until you go into werewolf mode and follow a scent trail.
  • Broken Sword II, in the jungle.
  • Douglas Adams's game Bureaucracy has two mazes. One is the airport, which is nondeterministic. The signs are lies; never go where they say your destination is.). The other is asymmetric, contains over a thousand rooms, and finding the directions requires one to solve a particularly nasty puzzle.
  • Photopia has a great example of a tricky maze: You're wearing a space suit. After a set length of time, you're told that the cooling unit on the suit has broken down, so you remove the suit to avoid overheating. As you do so, you feel the cool breeze on the feathers of your wings. Yep, you could have flown over the maze at any point. And as you take off into the sky now, you remark on how complicated the maze is, and how you never would have been able to navigate it on foot.

Driving Game

  • A rare driving game example from Mario Kart 64, in the form of Yoshi's Valley. There are a lot of twisting roads leading to other twisting roads, some longer than others. It gets to the point that the position counter essentially has a seizure trying to keep track of where you are.
    • To the point where the position counter doesn't even show anyone. It's replaced with ?'s until racers cross the finish line for the last time.

Fighting Game

  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl has The Great Maze as its final Subspace Emissary level. Be thankful you have an auto-mapping feature, as unlike most other mazes you have to explore every nook and cranny and kill every copy character and boss to open the way to the final battle.

First-Person Shooter

  • The Doom Mission Pack Sequel The Plutonia Experiment featured a notable level set in a sprawling maze, where the player is hunted down by a pack of thirty or more Arch-Viles....
  • In the Descent series, every single level was a maze, and a three dimensional one at that, with all the Mind Screwiness that implies. Not only was it easy to become lost, these levels were plagued with secret passageways, hidden traps, and frequently entered Mobile Maze territory. The game did have an automap feature, which filled in rooms as you went, but the later mazes get so complex and twisty that the automap became almost impossible to read. The sequels included a Guide-Bot that could... well, guide you, although the more hardcore players could ignore that feature to explore on their own.
    • And despite the absurd complexity it all makes perfect spatial sense so you can't even complain that they're cheating.
    • Given how levels are constructed, it's possible to create 4D levels for Descent. Yes, there are user-made levels that exploit that capability.
  • The randomly-generated Labyrinth in Pathways into Darkness, as well as the Guide Dang It teleporter maze near the end of the game.
  • Wolfenstein 3D has these in spades. E 2 M 8 has a maze of push walls in which a sign was hidden: "Call Apogee, say Aardwolf." This was intended for a cancelled contest.
    • Another maze must be navigated to access the third secret level, which in turn is an Homage to Pac-Man.

Maze Game

  • The Pac-Man series of arcade games all take place in mazes filled with food.
    • Pac-Man World 2's penultimate stage, Ghost Bayou, is a giant environmental maze.

MMORPGs

  • Satirised, naturally, by Kingdom of Loathing. One of the optional quests involves a "strange leaflet" which plunges the player into a text-based adventure, in which is a classic forest maze. It doesn't matter which way you go--eventually the game itself gets fed up with the maze and fast-forwards to the bit where you get out.
    • But used straight in the Violet Fog and Louvre puzzles. Thankfully, they aren't too annoying.
    • The Hedge Maze in The Naughty Sorceress' Lair also counts.
    • And more recently, the really nasty volcano maze.
  • City of Heroes has numerous mazes: whole zones like the Sewer Network and Abandoned Sewer Network, parts of zones like the forests in Perez Park and Eden, and lots of mission maps.

Platform Game

  • How about Worlds 4-4, 7-4, and 8-4 of Super Mario Bros.? 4-4 has you going through a castle that will be endless until you pick the correct fork. 7-4 makes you get a sequence of three paths right or else you restart the whole sequence. Finally, 8-4 is a complex network of warp pipes that will have you experiencing deja vu if you enter the wrong pipe, or don't enter a pipe by a certain point. And don't get me started with the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2...
  • The Super Metroid ROM Hack Super Metroid Redesign has a Lost Cave area, similar to the original The Legend Of Zelda 's Lost Woods.
  • Mega Man Star Force 2 has a variant: Each area has four exits, but each room has some kind of clue as to which way to go, and most incorrect exits immediately lead to a dead end, where you get ambushed by viruses then turn back.
    • Harp Note will also appear if you are on the right path.
  • The Lion King had a maze in the second-to-last stage "Simba's Return". I don't think it was asymmetric, but some of the doors led to a drop, making them one-way.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy has the Labyrinth of the Guy.
  • Version 1.7.3 of Eversion replaced the final dungeon (which previously just had random Eversion occurring throughout the level) with such a maze--the map wrapped around itself if you kept going, black death fog prevented you from backtracking, and solving the maze meant that you needed to Evert to different levels in order to progress forward.
  • Bug!! features two prominent ones. One in Quaria Scene 2 where you had to activate a switch (3-D maze), and another in the final part of Arachnia Scene 3 (2-D maze, filled with loads of annoying respawning Mooks).

Puzzle Game

  • Cliff Johnson's games, The Fool's Errand and At the Carnival include a few mazes, some of which are tricky because of the twists provided for each maze (usually hidden passages or invisible walls, but also teleports). At least one was kind enough to show the shortcut after you finished it.
  • Who can forget that Myst maze that revolved around sound cues? Unfortunately, the solution to the sound cues in question are from a different age, so it is entirely possible that you've never heard those cues before. If you don't have a save game outside of this age, you have to brute-force the maze.
  • The entire game Portal is essentially a series of mazes, generally within the "labyrinth" format. Subverted in that you get through it by creating your own passages, the eponymous portals. Double subverted by the fact that the portals do not work on all surfaces, especially moving ones.
  • Much of Chip's Challenge.
  • The mansion basement in The 7th Guest contains a maze filled with long, narrow, featureless corridors that may or may not lead to a dead end (complete with Scare Chord and a taunt from the disembodied voice of the antagonist) and twisting corridors that serve to disorient you. Fortunately, you can find a map of the maze on a rug in another room. Hope you have a photographic memory.

Roguelike

  • The second half of levels in Nethack consist largely of mazes. Players are not driven further insane because these are plain labyrinths, easy to navigate because characters at this point tend to be either in rude health or dead, with breakable walls. Each level has at least one minotaur.
    • Mazes in NetHack aren't as much of a problem because of the top-down view. Much being the operative word. They're still incredibly boring, and go for about 20 long floors. Taking a pickaxe to them is very cathartic.[1]

Role Playing Game

  • The '80s Wizardry series popularized the Dungeon Crawler, in that it was only mazes filled with monsters, with a single town at the top. Ultima and The Bards Tale Trilogy borrowed from and inspired Wizardry. For a recent addition to the genre, see the .hack games.
    • Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant features the Isle of Crypts. It's quasi-homogeneous due to the graphics of the time. Part of the place is a 3-D teleporter maze. There are plenty of Guide Dang It puzzles. You had best have been thorough exploring some areas previously, or you won't be able to progress past certain points without objects that didn't have any use at the time. Hordes of horrible monsters live here, too, including the Bonus Bosses. Sure, it's The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, but good God it's a pain.
  • Freshly Picked Tingles Rosy Rupeeland has the Deku Forest. You can pay someone to put signs revealing the right path throughout the forest. There's also a hidden chest in there, but that one you'll have to find on your own.
  • Super Mario RPG features one of the more famous mazes in gaming history, the Forest Maze. Like the Zelda examples, one must follow a certain pattern to reach the exit. The music is quite good though, and clearing it does unlock Geno (who has the most powerful attack in the game) so it's not totally pointless.
    • The hint to solving the maze is also obvious, though it is one of those "blink and you'll miss it" moments.
    • Super Mario 64 DS has a hidden level where the player can face a certain boss to free and unlock Luigi for use in gameplay. The player must follow a certain pattern to reach him, but the thing is, the player can hear where the boss's laughter is coming from, removing the challenge.
  • The Temple of the Ancients in Final Fantasy VII.
    • The Great Glacier is another example from the game. It's very easy to lose your way, especially since you get dumped right in the middle, and the paths which take you to each area are rather misleading. The last area even rotates constantly, and were it not for the fact that you could drop flags behind you, would be nearly impossible to navigate. At least you get automatically booted to the next area if you take too long.
  • The third level of Watcher's Keep in Baldur's Gate 2 Throne of Bhaal is a complete Mind Screw of a maze, even including antimagic or wild magic rooms and warring demons amongst the twenty or so rooms, and portals which don't lead back the way they came. It is possible to figure out the way out from the journal of an insane man (contained within the maze) though the information in it can be a little vague.
  • The Rubikon Project in Planescape: Torment was a homogenous variety. To its credit, however, it was perfectly rational to navigate.
  • Phantasy Star II is composed of elevator mazes of ever increasing complexity, to the point where a dungeon contains over 100 elevators. Combined with the relatively small view of the surrounding area, the game gets frustrating very quickly.
  • The Lost Cave in Pokémon.
    • Also Turnback Cave in the fourth generation. It's maze-like, each exit taking you to a random room. The only way out is to either return through the door you entered to the room from (which warps you back to the start) or pass through 30 rooms. The trick is to find three pillars before the 30 room limit so the player can access Giratina's lair.
      • Finding the three pillars is not hard. The probability for them to turn up within 30 rooms is relatively high. The problem is trying to get to the three pillars WITHOUT entering a miscellaneous room because you have to do that in order to get the Dusk Shroud to evolve Dusclop into Dusknoir.
    • Almost every cave in the Pokemon games is one of these, though there are some that are mercifully short or straightforward.
  • Earthbound, like all of its takes on RPG tropes, has a very strange version of this. The major maze in the game takes place inside of a man who was converted into a gigantic, living, humanoid dungeon.
    • Before that is Moonside, a creepy city filled with invisible walls and NPCs who teleport you around.
  • And in Mother3, the Mole Crickets live in a ridiculously complex maze of twisty, criss-crossing corridors and ladders leading to multiple levels. Even with a map, solving the maze is virtually impossible (this is even Lampshaded by the character who gives you the "totally useless" map) until an NPC tells you the secret - whenever you reach a fork in the path with the option of turning or going straight, always turn. That's all there is to it.
  • Salerno Academy in Valkyrie Profile is a particularly devious version, as you must run around the level, changing perfumes to get past certain plants in a specific order. You must be very fast, as the perfumes wear off quickly.
    • Of course, the Salerno Academy is *nothing* compared to the horror that is the Clockwork Mansion: a five by five grid of rooms, with different configurations of entrances and exits. . . in which *every single room but the one you are in and the one you just left rotate 90 degrees* each time you walk between two. And the shortest known solution involves a complex looping path. . . *shudders*
  • Golden Sun 2 uses this in all the Rocks, but a notable instance is in Gaia Rock, which one must use the Psynergy "Grow" on plants in the middle of each room to make them grow into plants which point the way to the boss chamber. It is nigh-impossible to get there otherwise; all the rooms are almost identical.
  • Mobius Desert in Digimon World 3.
  • Breath of Fire III had an interesting variation on this. Instead of all the rooms looking the same, they had a completely featureless desert that spread out in all directions. The key to getting through it was to wait until night and navigate by the stars. If you went the wrong way, you'd just run out of water and teleport back to town before you got anywhere.
  • Wild Arms 3's final dungeon had many sections that were basically guessing which door was the right door. Getting it wrong would send you to a random room, usually the beginning of the maze itself, but after staring at the background while randomly guess which room was what for about 10 minutes, it becomes surprisingly easy to get disoriented. Also, the bonus dungeon, The Abyss, is basically around 120 floors of mazes in where you have to collect all the blue crystals (restores VIT and ECN both) on each floor in order to unlock the teleporter to the next floor.
  • The bonus dungeons in Wild Arms 5 are pretty much giant mazes with the exception of Cocytus.
  • Ys 1 has not one, but two asymmetric teleporting mirror mazes in its Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Sometimes you have to go back into the mirror you emerged from to proceed. The SFC version of Ys IV also had a tower with a mirror maze.
    • Ys V has a Zelda-style sandstorm maze which requires the Sage's Eye to navigate. On top of that, the sandstorm also causes you damage, and you can't use both the Sand Mantle and Sage's Eye at the same time.
  • Tales of Symphonia has a maze area in the Palmacoasta Ranch. Interestingly enough, the way through the maze was to go on the path with the least foes.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3 has a Hidden Elf Village hidden behind such a maze. To solve it, you wait until it's night and then follow the trail of glowing flowers (though it's not too hard to brute-force the correct route, since all but the final set of paths have monsters on it if you went the right way). Carlie/Kevin's path also has the Jungle of Illusion, in which you find the correct way via the tones that played after you picked which way to go.
  • Many old school computer RPGs, including Dungeon Master and Lands of Lore, consist of nothing but mazes. In the latter, even in areas where it doesn't make sense, such as woods or a swamp.
  • Sword of Mana's Clock tower and Mount Illusia (one had bells that had to ring in a certain pattern and the other had stone faces that had to have a pattern of expressions) Not entirely mazes, but the sequence to getting the answer was very difficult, and often required you to go backwards to experiment.
  • Lost Odyssey has the Snowfields of the Northern Land, a maze of identical intersections, the only difference being the random direction in which the wind is blowing magic particles. Getting to the end requires going where the magic particles are coming from 5 times in a row. Any other move leads to yet another random intersection (and resets the counter).
  • Dragon Quest V's bonus dungeon has one of these.
  • The Monster House in Cla Dun has rooms like this. The first floor is a teleporter maze, and the second floor is an extremely large room where killing certain enemies on one side opens up a door on the opposite side.
  • Vagrant Story has the Snowfly Forest and the Bonus Dungeon Iron Maiden B2.
  • Might and Magic VII has one in the form of the Barrows, where you each room has only one door, but up to four possible exits depending on what levers inside it are pulled.
  • Riviera: The Promised Land has one in chapter 3 with homogynous rooms and a tricky two part puzzle involving changing seasons and following directions on signs which have increasingly more of their lettering worn away. The whole thing is optional and easily missable, and aside from getting a few items the only aim is to get out again, making it an especially frustrating experience even by maze standards.

Shoot'Em Up

  • Gunstar Heroes: Black's infamous "dice maze" stage, which plays out like a game board and the players take turns rolling dice to advance in rooms.

Sports Game

  • Cubyrinth in Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games.

Survival Horror

Non-video game examples:

Anime and Manga

  • The House of Gemini in Saint Seiya is an infinite corridor that warps time and space. If you're lucky, you'll find an "exit" that drops you at the entrance to the House once again. The only way to escape is to either ignore everything your senses tell you and charge headlong into a wall, or somehow defeat the master of the House --the Gemini Gold Saint himself-- so the illusion ends.

Film

  • Though not a video game, the premise of the Cube movies is based on this trope (specifically, of the "tricky" variety). In Hypercube, one of the characters is a game designer, and complains that the makers of the Hypercube stole his "variable time room" idea.

Folklore and Mythology

  • Older Than Feudalism: The Labyrinth of Crete in Classical Mythology. It was a maze so tricky that even its architect Daedalus himself almost got lost in it. It became the home of the Minotaur, a Half-Human Hybrid monster, which would eat anyone who entered it. However, it appears that the labyrinth originally was not imagined as consisting as a maze of many passages, but a single long and winding corridor. In fact, single-passage labyrinths have been discovered as carved or painted images or even as physical stone settings in many parts and cultures of the world.

Gamebooks

  • The gamebook Invaders of Hark features a particularly vexing maze as one of the obstacles between you and the princess
    • It gets that from its predecessor, Badlands of Hark. That gamebook included a lethal swamp maze so treacherous that even the instructions warn you about it, and beating it was one of the highest point awards in the game. In fact, both these gamebooks could count as The Maze altogether - in the first one alone, you could die by making a bad choice in section 1, and beating either book requires you to make some seemingly terrible decisions.

Live Action TV

  • The Amazing Race 5 finale had the racers go through a maze as one of their tasks.

Software

  • Of course, there are entire games dedicated to solving mazes. This Java program generates mazes in 4D. Expect to spend half an hour solving a 3x3x3x3 maze.

Tabletop Games

Web Comics

Real Life

  • London is notorious for its maze of streets. Walking around the city and trying to navigate is not even in the same country as intuitive, and your best bet for navigating is memorising the Tube layout.
    • Even that may not help - the tube map is a very abstracted map, which means that some stations that look close together in the map are a long way apart, and some that look widely seperated are virtually on top of each other.
  • Boston likewise is a maze of streets, but not quite to the extent that London is. The old joke is that all the planners did was to pave over the old cow paths.
  • While Seattle has a fairly straightforward grid layout for most sections of the city; actual nagivation is far less logical. For starters, the city is broken up into 4 seperate sections by terrain features that do not allow traffic to pass, but must be navigated around (often by going through an entirely different part of the city), as well as a major interstate highway bisecting it down the middle. On top of that, the city core is broken into three sections, the streets from each not intersecting normally. This is due to those regions being historically owned by three different people, who all hated each other and refused to cooperate in street layout, leaving later generations to kludge together some way to get drivers from one section to another. And to make matters worse, many areas of the city, particuarly the core, are rife with one-way streets; some of which are one-way permanently, others of which are one-way (or even inaccessible) only during peak commute hours. This makes navigating anywhere in the city severely counter-intuitive for those not familiar with its extremely idiosyncratic layout.
  • Ditto for New York. You will get lost if you're not familiar with the road and subway layouts.
  • Cities in Israel are like this. Getting around in the country is easy. Getting around in the city is hard. Even if you have a map of the city, street names aren't visible until you're already in the intersection, if they're even there.

Notes

  1. It's also quite useful for when you go back up. Nobody wants to putz around in a maze with the Wizard of Yendor on their ass.
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