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Gear Puzzle

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Rating: 4.2/5 (26 votes)
Comments (37) | Views (10,277)

JohnBGear PuzzleFrom Warwickshire, UK, David Durham's Gear Puzzle is a simple puzzle game featured in our recent game design competition. As the game begins, a small blue character with big puppy-dog eyes catches sight of a pink character locked in a cage. The cage is chained to a gear suspended from the top of the screen. Pegs line the wall and various sized gears are scattered around. Helpless but heroic, the blue guy does the only thing he can to help: jumps on the gear across the room and starts spinning it. Your job is to arrange gears on the pegs to transfer the motion across the room to lower the cage.

Solving Gear Puzzle is a simple matter of experimenting with gear combinations, but you do have to put some thought into your actions. The gears must come in contact with each other in order to keep the movement going. Because of the pegs and the gear sizes this can be a challenge. A little trial and error can go a long way, and there are a number of ways to complete the game, so persistence and planning are your greatest weapons.

The design of Gear Puzzle is very clean and crisp. Sound effects are elegantly confined to the clicking of gears as you lift and place them on pegs. The dungeon-esque setting is great, and the characters couldn't be any cuter. Just look at those eyes! The game isn't difficult to solve and once you complete it there isn't much impetus to come back and play again. Nevertheless, Gear Puzzle is very well designed and a complete joy from beginning to end. Thanks for the great entry, David!

JayJay: What I like most about David's adorably cute Gear Puzzle is the simple yet effective goal of rescue mission as motivation to explore and solve the puzzle within. It is a universally identifiable objective that David brilliantly conveys without words through the game's intro animation, and makes this entry in the competition stand shoulders tall with the best of them. A possible improvement might be to allow the player to select which of the two characters she wishes to play as, since I know some girls that would like to play the part of the rescuer. ;)

In terms of the design of the puzzle game, there are a few too many possible solutions, which makes it seem just a little too easy overall. An excellent production none the less, and an enjoyable game while it lasts. Cheers, David! =)

Play Gear Puzzle


Sorry if I missed this when it was in the competition, but what do you do when you actually get the cage down? Is that the end? No special "congratulations" or anything? I got the cage down and nothing happened...it didn't open and the little blue dude didn't get out of the wheel.

Hassle Free September 11, 2006 11:38 PM

no that isn't the end, you have to figure out a way to:

reverse the gears to raise the cage. You couldn't get out of a heavy cage like that without help could you?


Well, there is something that goes against logic at that point in the puzzle, and it is the reason why many people have trouble with it.

If pinky couldn't get out of the cage when it was raised in the air, then how does simply lowering the cage release him/her? And how does raising it again make all the difference?

It is this break in logic that throws people.

If only there were some switch to turn or latch to release on the cage itself once it is lowered, then it would make more sense that the cage releases pinky when it is raised up again.



I loved this game, but I can't play it properly, along with many other games on this site, as when I click the javascript link to open it, Firefox resizes the window automatically, but makes it too small, so I can't see the whole playing field. I also can't resize the window myself or scroll along the width as the page has been locked to what it is. Does anyone know how to stop this from happening?



Jay: Exactly. I got the cage down to the ground, thinking I had won, and nothing happened. So I sat around for a few moments and when nothing continued to happen I closed the game and went on to the next one. It could have been a really nifty game, but with no visual clues about what to do next, I concluded that it was broken. I don't care how nifty the game was before then, at that point it became completely unnifty.

And the kicker is that, as Jay pointed out, it would have been fairly easy to add a visual clue that would have made everything click. Quite a shame, really.


Jebus - The javascript window that is created for this game on this page is of the correct dimensions (640x480). What size is Firefox "resizing" it to? If it's a size other than 640x480, then that is not behavior caused by any of my javascripts. Can you email me a screen shot of what you get on your computer? What OS are you using? Are you visiting my site through some other site that displays my site within a frame on theirs?

You can always use the HTML link provided on every page. Just look for the first mention of the title of the game within each review. That will be (should be) an HTML link with no javascript attached.


And how do you know which character is a girl or a boy? Game developers, reviewers, please read this very enlightening short article by Sara Jacobsson. The link opens a HTML version from Google's index so you don't need to worry about macros.


Thanks for posting a link to that article, Amor Lassie, it is an excellent paper that everyone should read, not just game designers and reviewers.

In my comment to the review my intention was to bring light to that stereotype trap seen in this game, and then I fell into the very same trap myself. Perhaps by choosing other colors for the characters than blue and pink we might avoid these traps entirely.

So thanks for pointing that out. I think we all need to be constantly reminded of the inequality we are programmed with, for it may take a lifetime to undo.


Hey Jay,

Firefox is resizing it to the right height, but making it less wide, so I don't see the whole width of the playing field. I am usin Windows XP with SP2 and going to your site directly. I'm not sure what is causing this error in resizing so It looks like I'm gonna have to stick to the html link until I find out. Incedentally, did you get a chance to check out those games I sent you?


None of these fizzlebot-hosted games work for me. I just get endless "loading" messages. Firefox on Linux.

Eytan Zweig September 12, 2006 7:35 AM

The Jacobsson article was very interesting, but I think the reference to it above takes it too literally. Girls in pink is not a stereotype. Light blue is also a pastel color and from a visual point of view, there's little to tell the two apart. The only reason that the color pink is associated with passive, "cute" behavior is because of its associated with girls and the fact that there are behavioral stereotypes about girls, not vice versa.

The problem, as I find it, with this game isn't that it uses one blue character and one pink character and that we think that the blue is male and that the pink on is female. The problem is that the blue one is active and heroic while the pink one is passive and defenceless. It's the juxtoposition of the color and behavior that creates the stereotype. And it doesn't matter if it was intentional or not (though I'd be highly surprised if it wasn't), nor if there is another way of interpreting things. Saying "how do you know which character is a girl" is missing the point - the point is that this game works within a cultural framework, and within that framework it reinforces the stereotypes. It does so to a degree that the first thing that crossed into my mind when I played was "wow, this game reinforces stereotypes". Now, of course, if I wasn't conditioned with the stereotypes in the first place there would be nothing there to reinforce, but that's unrealistic, wishful thinking. If the stereotypes are to change, the behavioral stereotypes must be disassociated from the visual cues, and that means that we need pink characters being active, and blue characters being passive and cute, and better yet, in games where the graphics are more realistic, active female characters which are not at the same time sexualized to an extreme. Once game designers start working in a paradigm where being a girl do not relegate you to a secondary role, the color coding will no longer matter.



I think I have missed something, cuz i cant seem to access any of the games in the Casual Gameplay competition. All I get is that red spikes rotating. I am dying to play some of these games so thanks for any help!

Ruisperkele September 12, 2006 1:37 PM

I found a bug from game, ot maybe it's not bug but atleast it's impossible.

I got the cage down with all gear minus one. After that I added last gear in a manner that the gear before cage gear couldn't turn in any direction, for it had two gears in contact to it of which both should roll on different directions... and the cage came back up without gears even rolling. :)

Peeved Person September 12, 2006 2:51 PM

WHAT THE HECK I can make a full connection and it just stops this is poor and stupid. Plus theres an extra line (invisiable) that you can put cogs on and they still work.

David Durham September 12, 2006 3:44 PM

I'd better apologize for some of the glitches/problems in the game I made.

That extra line that you can place cogs on was a suprise to me (oops!), and the bug that Ruisperkele found I wasn't able to replicate, but I guess they both come down to the fact I didn't have much time for testing - sorry.

The issue with the break in logic:

I really did intend to have some kind of indication that the base of the cage locks to the ground (I was thinking little clips would flick up and hold the edges down), but in the panic of sending off my entry on time I just plain forgot - my bad, sorry (again).

As for making the full connection and nothing happening:

You have to make sure the last gear turns in the correct direction to lower the cage.

Anyway, thanks for playing, and I promise to try harder for the next JIG competition.


Loved the BG almost-music...

Strangely, I didn't need the visual clues to know how to finish the game, and I'm the type that usually gives up quickly on games that don't make themselves completely obvious.


Eytan - excellent analysis and input to the discussion. Thanks for the wise words about ways to avoid reinforcing stereotypes.

Linda (and anonymous) - the competition entries are being hosted on a Dreamhost server, which has been having some issues lately. Check out this thread for explanation of why you may have had trouble accessing the games. The situation was only temporary (though it could happen again.)

David - considering the short time frame for the competition, you have done an excellent job with this game. And I am definitely looking forward to your next one. =)


want to say, i really enjoy the site in general. i liked this one alot, perhaps because i got lucky... the first time through the puzzle i only had to move two gears to get it to lift the cage after lowering it. second time through i had to move more gears.


I think that my comment "how do you know which character is a girl" did not miss any point. It just did what I hoped: raised the discussion about boys' and girls' games ;)

Eytan and Jay, you just both answered to my honest question. Pink character is assumed to be a girl, not only by the color, but also because the character is passive and in cage. And this supposition is often so intrinsic that we hardly even notice it. But colors also count!

Actually I first tried to find a reference to one research where group of infants (boys and girls) were randomly dressed in pink and blue jumpsuits. Then group of adults (men and women) were told to take care of them for a while. Infants dressed in blue were given more space and freedom to move around and yell. Infants in pink were hushed and their actions were somewhat more bound by the adults.

So the lesson learned is that we are raised to behave like men and women AND to follow all kinds of dress or color codes. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is totally different issue. Personally I would like to rebel aggainst those "biases" but it is hard since they are so inherited and reinforced through countless repetition. But we can allways try :)

And, it would be interesting thing to test. To have this game with pink active character who yells (notice exclamation mark) and blue passive character who supposedly have some feelings (notice heart). Then we could ask from group of players to tell what happens in the game.

Ruisperkele September 13, 2006 2:15 PM

The game was good no doubt, atleast I enjoyed it. And I liked the idea. Just wanted to inform the glitch. :)


One other issue, not yet mentioned, is that because the gears enlargen slightly once you select them, it's difficult to tell whether placing a gear on a particular peg will result in it connecting to the other gears or not. Thus, there's a lot of 'click, drop, check if it's right, click, drop, check' when playing this game. By keeping the gear the same size and highlighting it in a different manner (changing the colour, perhaps) this would have been avoided.

BonnieDog October 26, 2006 4:24 PM

! don't know why people are arguing about stereotypes; it's just a game. I'm always wearing blue and I know plenty of boys that wear pink. Children have grown out of traditional streotypes. We are individuals now.


I can't get the order of gears right! help!

Anonymous May 8, 2007 10:57 AM

cool stuff. any math-junkie who knows a formulae for turning the cogs at "correct" speed. Now they have a static rotationspeed


Wow, I thought I would have to use up all the gears in order to save the 'little princess', but I have saved her although I missed using one gear!


Oh wow, I am quite puzzled although I have solved the puzzle. The 'little princess' finally got out from the cage when I added the last piece of gear to the gears' combination! It was a lovely ending!


Haha I can't remember after all this time, STILL no one has posted a screenshot on how to solve this. I went mad over this puzzle when it first came out, I went mad on rediscovering it, and I've gone mad yet again tonight. ALL THREE TIMES I have taken no time at all to put all of the gears in turn for the REVERSAL and lift of the cage in part two, but never have I been able to place them in proper fashion as to LOWER the cage in the first place.

Someone even a hint? Which gear don't we use?

It's sad that all of the comments are about this gender stereotype discussion--don't get me wrong, it's a great debate, but I read through them and didn't find a scrap of assistance. haha oh well.


The game was great. I like how the gears were originally placed together in groups, in a way that you could see which gears fit together. When my first attempt at the game failed, i restarted the game and discovered these arrangements.

If you keep everything almost the same - that is, in the original groups - and just move them around and connect them with the other groups, it makes things a whole lot easier since you know which ones fit together. You'll have to figure out on your own which gear you want to exclude when lowering it. When you do though, to get it up, depending on how you arranged your gears, you simply have to re-arrange about three gears (not including the one that was excluded). Take the gears you've taken out (including the before excluded one), and make a chain, then connect that chain of gears to the rest of the gears. Make sure to test that the 2 gears at the end of the chain fit with the part your going to connect to first. That might mean flipping your chain around, or even adding a new gear.

I think the game was great, though like the other people, I thought it needed a more logical reason why you should pull the cage up again after you've worked so hard just to make it go down, and a more clear way of telling the gameplayer that you have to pull it up again anyway.

Oh yeah, and the pink blue gender discussion - that is stereotypical. I myself do not like pink - in fact my favorite color is blue (and I am female). Part of this stereotyping is somewhat of the "brave knight rescuing the princess who is held captive in the tower (or cage)" theme that we subconsciously know in our heads from things like fairy tails. It really doesn't matter to me. I think the usage of this was a great way to distinguish the two characters in the game without using a whole bunch of words (which i think might've ruined, well, the flow of the game). I have no problem with that. Besides, we're supposed to be posting about the game, not having a rousing debate on deciding the feminine and masculine colors of the rainbow.


.....so once again, a comment I cannot use. I'll repeat I have gotten the proper arrangement to RAISE the cage, but even after HOURS of work, I cannot for the life of my LOWER the darn thing! PLEASE help, all of you people who've finished this!



You do not need to use all of the cogs - I had one left over.


I just found this great little game, which reminded me of another great game from several years ago. I think it was called Tumblers (as in, the insides of locks) but I can't find it any more. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?!


WALKTHROUGH! Break glass in case of emergency. Only in emergency. Or else (please).

I realised how HARD people find this game. I can not blame you. But because this game has no SUPER BIG ENDING i would NOT SUGGEST using this walkthrough. Use my hint in my first post. This is only if you're totally stuck, and it's possible that there is more than one answer! The ENTIRE REWARD of the game, is the SATISFACTION of winning it ON YOUR OWN. It is a puzzle - the reward is the feeling you get of self confidence and satisfaction, that you are smart and did it without help. You have been warned.

The Gear SIZES(and Unused Gear):

The unused gear is ONE SMALL GEAR. There are 5 types of gears here! 2 tinies(doesn't even cover one point on the grid), 3 smalls (same size as the one holding up Pinky's cage), 2 mediums(covers exactly 1 point on the grid), 2 bigs(covers a bit more than 1 point on the grid), and 2 HUGEIES! (not hug-ys, its, HUGE-ies. Biggest ones.) These are the names when i'm giving you the order...Here it is!

Lowering the Cage DOWN

1.HUGE gear to the right of Bluey(the teardrop dude) 2.Huge gear 3.Tiny gear. 4.Tiny gear(up) 5.Medium(up-right)6.Big(up-right) 7.Medium 8.Big 9.Small

Raising the Cage UP

1.Small gear to the right of Bluey(the teardrop dude) 2.Huge gear 3.Big gear. 4.Medium gear(upper-right) 5.Big gear (down)6.Medium 7.Tiny 8.Tiny 9.HUGE 10.Small


When you begin the game, the gears are placed arangements, connected so that you know which gears fit with which. All you have to do is move the gears STILL IN THESE ARRANGEMENTS and connect them with other ones. One helpful thing to do is use all the gears first. IT may do nothing, but you know what to do to win now. All you have to do is remove a gear (the unused gear is

1 small gear

)and test things out. You may only need to change 4 pieces, then back, to win the game. Testing if a gear connects before you shovel in a lot of stuff behind it helps save time as well.


the ending is cute,and i figured out the combination for both up and down and it only took me about an hour XD

Patreon Crew SonicLover May 28, 2008 8:06 AM

Speaking of logical mis-steps, why doesn't Bluey just turn around and run the other way in the gear once the cage is down?


Sorry that I haven't read all the comments so it may have been thoroughly discussed, but... am i expected to use all the cogwheels for a good solution? Because right on the first level I got the cage lowered (with 2 cogwheels unused) but then nothing happened and there was nothing i could do.


Short answer: he's too dumb. =/

Anonymous March 9, 2009 1:50 PM

that was a fun few minutes


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