How The Trials Riddle Fooled Us All

How The Trials Riddle Fooled Us All

A favourite series in recent times is the bike-bashing, angle-manipulating Trials games, in which you command a very simple set of controls to perform complex maneuvers and get a little-biker-who-could over impossibly angled obstacles. It’s adored worldwide — but even many of its die-hard fans might not know of the epic riddles hidden throughout.

Kotaku’s Stranger Things series is presented by the new Netflix original: Stranger Things. When a young boy vanishes, a town uncovers a mystery of secret experiments, supernatural forces, and one strange little girl. Watch it only on Netflix from July 15.

  Developers are getting increasingly clever at extending the life of their games (and then monetising that longevity), but this was so elaborate it went beyond any content strategy. There was so much effort poured into this for potentially so little reward, it had to be a labour of love. The possibility that it would never even be found was quite high, especially considering it was put into a game that doesn’t fall under the “puzzle” umbrella in the first place.

But find it they did, and it turns out the curiosity of virtual revheads is underestimated. With around 16 clues hidden in the game, ranging from simple numbers to diagrams, a community formed around trying to make sense of it all — and one of their first eurekas was based on every clue being related to scientific concepts in some way.

In some cases, it was easy to determine the significance of the clue. The Fibonacci numbers, for example, are relatively well known and received a fair amount of mainstream attention after The Da Vinci Code featured them prominently.

How The Trials Riddle Fooled Us All
Image by 克勞棣 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

And it probably wouldn’t have taken too long to figure out this drawing was associated with Darwin…

How The Trials Riddle Fooled Us All
Image by Openculture

Constellations, sheet music, and DNA sequences might have been a little tougher though. Once all 16 were accounted for, what were we left with? Not much. That was about it.

The number “42” was one of the clues, and as Youtube FatShady explains below, this can be seen as the “answer” to a riddle that was really just a vague collection of curiosities. A nod towards humankind’s appetite to know more, and perhaps a bid to inspire more of that activity. I certainly don’t doubt that while on the Google/Wikipedia trail, various people got sucked into serious self-education sessions.

Some would say the Trials HD riddle tricked us all by not actually having a conclusion — that it was good until it fizzled at the end. But that’s kind of missing the point — and I’m not just talking about in a philosophical way, though “to question is the answer” and “the meaning is what we assign to it” are valid takeaways. Through the riddle, you undoubtedly learned something new. I knew a few elements, like the Fibonacci sequence and other bits, but no one survived the process without Dr Google. If only education courses could capture the same sense of mystery to inspire us to learn.

On top of that, there’s something to be said for the camaraderie felt while puzzling something out that can only be done with the combined efforts of a community. Lasting friendships were made during this. Friendships that run deeper than recognising someone’s Gamertag while racing them on a new player-created course.

At the very least, a significant accomplishment of the Trials HD riddle is inspiring the developers and preparing RedLynx fans for the Trials Evolution riddle, which dialled the whole concept to 11. The community has puzzled that one out as much as it can for the time being, before the heirs of four keyholders meet under the Eiffel Tower in the year 21-something to open something up and continue the mystery. Crazy.

Fitting that it was called Trials Evolution, then, since it took the original riddle and evolved it into a far more powerful form.

We’ll likely all be dead by the time that’s concluded, unless superintelligent AI sorts out this whole “mortality” business between now and then. But in the meantime, Redlynx gave us a little more than just an Easter egg in a game. This was a true blue scavenger hunt, better designed than most, in a place no one expected it to be. It led to an even bigger one in the subsequent game — and I’ve got no idea how RedLynx will top that.


  • Just to save people who aren’t walking Pokémon encyclopaedias I few minutes effort, the pokemon in the puzzle are:

    1) Omanyte
    2) Pawniard
    3) Charmeleon
    4) Quilladin
    5) Munchlax
    6) Quilava

  • hi all

    I’ve solved puzzle 1 and I’m convinced I’ve solved puzzle 2 (I have a solution which is a word) but the page doesn’t seem to work???


    • I thought I had puzzle 2 as well but I had misidentified something as a Garchomp. It wasn’t.

      • That goddamn Garchomp.
        Luckily it’s easy to identify the incorrect character.

        • I’m still stumped. My answer for puzzle 2, which is a 9 letter word (and is clearly the only possible combination of those 9 letters which makes a word) does not open up the next puzzle. You mentioned that you were one letter off (I’m not sure how to be one letter off when there’s only one 9 letter word that works)??? I think the picture is a Gabite, which evolves into a Garchomp, the 6th letter of which is O. What am I missing???

  • Welp, there have been several times that this had me feel super smart, pulling what seems to obviously be the answer from the mire, but nope! Time to get back to work, I guess…

    EDIT: Oh wait. Nice.

  • Interestingly enough… if you take the evolved form of those first pokemon…

    Omastar: T
    Bisharp: R
    Charizard: I
    Chesnaught: A
    Snorlax: L
    Typhlosion: S

    • I got to the end, and I knew after doing the first puzzle wrong that I needed to keep track of what I was doing so the “twist” was expected. But the answer I have does not help me. :/

      Edit: turns out I had the right answer, I just wasn’t entering it correctly.

      That was a beast.

          • I’ve tried that but am getting noooooowhere. I’ve tried the options at the end and nothing’s working.

          • Could you tell me if the answer is long (like 30 characters) or short (like 10)?

            EDIT: Haha! Holy shhh. Got there finally. I was too obsessed with the literal instead of the symbolic.

          • I had your same issue which is especially embarrassing when you’re me. I’m yelling at myself to just read the damn clue and not try to out smart it (you’re never smarter than it)

          • ok what does TE bike option not rep…….d by 4 pokemons mean? how does TE and Pokeman even get here… the sentence or question does NOT make sense?

            And I checked and double checked my pokemons and their evolutions. So what am I missing now???

          • what you are missing is exactly the answer the question is asking. look at what you have, and what is missing.

            EDIT: here’s a little clue: don’t let the first one rattle you! 😉 #strangerthings

          • ummm… Sanke <–> rattle huh?
            I must be thick as I ain’t getting it. This is seriously frustrating.
            the only non evolving one is the last one in the sentence and that does not work . Is the answer a word or a series of numbers or names?

          • @hakt0r yup.. snake = rattle

            getting warmer! forget pokemons, answer the statement/question. #strangerthings

          • Do I have to go through the Video again to understand the question or is it in the text?

          • I know you are doing your best in nudging me but I aint getting it. By forgetting the pokemons in that sentence/question leaves us to complete the sentence then…? and I am truly lost as it does not make sense ? any other smarter clues please.

          • ok, so you have a sentence/statement, which you have already posted before. step through it logically, and try to SEE what IS represented, and what is NOT represented. Dr google should also help you in your quest to end your madness!

            EDIT: there are no smarter clues, perhaps a “tiny” one might help your suffering 😉

          • HERE is a MAJOR HINT for those still stuck (because we are on the cusp of a new puzzle any minute now)
            I have already given the final sentence here and if you read @mr_stevey’s & @compacc123’s comment you can bypass all the hunting shit and get to the answer in less than 5 minutes.

            Thank you all those that helped me get there.

        • WOT, what sentence??? I have the evolutions of all those pokemon figured, where is the sentence. I must be blind… How the hell is this crafted…

          • please tell me you got somewhere more than the evolution cause i too cannot find a sentence, im jumbling up the words of each evolutionary trait to get some words out of them using the numbers provided but i think im heading down a path i should not have gone through… and believe me i know my pokemon 😛

          • You’ve made it to the end of the puzzle – now do the puzzle again in the evolved format.

          • All I have is Pokemons and now I know their evolved forms. Just like @icemanff23 and @adrian8020, where is the puzzle? what puzzle?

            I clearly am not going to win at any rate but for f’sake I need my SANITY BACK. this is driving me insane.

            I am all drugged out here.

          • Still stuck @icemanff23
            Pokemons -> letters_by_numbers -> (when you reach the end) evolve them -> letters_by_numbers -> sentence -> STUCK

          • dude im still stuck, ive been grinding through lists, and 140 pokemon ?? ive been going through all 721 so far…..
            you still stuck or got through ?

          • might have to wing it and use 2nd and 4th puzzle answers to help me solve the giant one…

          • @icemanff23
            1. figure their names

            for evolution_counter 1..2 do
            for stuck_in_loop_counter 1..12 do
            2. figure out the pokemon names
            3. pick the letters at their respective numbered positions, that will make a word
            5. Takes you to another bunch of pokemons
            end for ;; ends after 12 sets of clues
            end for ;; ends after 2 iterations

            its a nested tangled loop…

            at the end of the two loops you’ll put the words from the last iteration of the loop in a sentence (word_space = each_pokemon_group_clue) and then…

            I AM STUCK!!!!

          • @hakt0r dude i for one when i read a few of the comments here found if we get to garchomp we are in a lost cause. so for me right now, im still stuck. but i have no idea why they said forget pokemon. Maybe its another word an all. 🙁 did you manage to get through it all ?

          • In case you still need a hand .. try to google the first three words of the sentence and look at the first link, then read the sentence again.

          • @icemanff23 the way I solved all the 140 pokemons was using google image search. I took each pokemon individually, saved it as an image and perform a google image search, its 100% accurate and dead on easy. And that WAS THE ONLY EASY PART, time consuming, tedious but easy.

            The final sentence stumped me, and as you can read my frustration a comment by @compacc123 to lookup the first three words on google lead me to finally solve this God damned puzzle.

            dang! the creators of this puzzle must have well paid jobs to conjure up this one. 🙂 Credit where credit is due, it was satisfying to complete it.

          • @compacc123 You did it! thanks… FINALLY
            @mr_stevey thanks but I’d be still lost if I hadnt see @compacc123’s comments.

          • phew, that’s a relief! yeah, the first iteration of the puzzle had a theme (of the game too), brands that all make a certain something, and that’s how peeps (including myself) would have stumbled/found the answer quickly. getting the statement out just required to add everything together, or stepping back, to look at what the overall theme was and to answer the statement/question. Pokemons were there to help! No doubt this all makes sense now!

          • great stuff man 😀 so glad you got it too. yeah the image search one took me forever!! but when i got through it and when you said google the words, i was like omg i feel so smart after so many days of grinding through this….

    • Yep, just finished it myself. Good grief that was long, especially since I wasn’t familiar with pokemon. Luckily I had a feeling there would be something else to it so I didn’t need to go back over it all again.

    • Got to agree. The “trick” was simple but getting to the solution was a lot of busy work, particularly for someone that doesn’t know many pokemon.

    • I was impressed. That took a whole bunch of alignment to create. Sure it was tedious and there was an element of “are they trolling me and this is the wrong way that will go on indefinitely” but I enjoyed it once I was confident in the method.

    • Agreed…as someone that doesn’t know pokemon, this is just tedious. I’m 9 layers deep now and still going.

  • So where exactly is the starting point for this. I’ve got pokemon and a few 5ths, 6ths and 7ths but no idea what the placings point to.

    Like, it could be the fact that shits stressful for me at the moment and I’m missing something stupidly obvious but the second puzzle and this one are rediculously harder than the first one from the bigfoot puzzle.

    Actually scratch that, I’m throwing in the towel. This shit’s too hard for me at the moment and this just isn’t fun

    • Agreed.! It was fun for the first few puzzles and then it quickly became a chore.

      I came unstuck on puzzle 2 because the “word” just didn’t make sense – the correct solution looked wrong to me so I didn’t bother trying it – my bad…

  • worst part about this riddle was that i found the answer very early on, but was looking at something very similar by trying to take a shortcut. didn’t write anything down, which made me want to throw the towel in …

  • I’m feeling freakin stupid with this one. I’ve gone to the image, looked up what the pokemon are and their evolved form but I have noooo idea where to go from there???? People keep talking about being layers deep etc but I can’t even see how there is more than one layer?????

      • OH MY GOD, that took for freakin ever. Once I had the first pokemon solved I was on a roll. I was looking at the evolved versions of each one and ignoring the standard version

  • I’ve been banging my head against this for ages… but me incorrectly spelling a pun Pokemon name halted my progress. SO ANNOYING!!!

  • Got it … hardest part was finding a webpage (through works proxy servers that block everything fun) to answer the question … lucking found something on google images!

    • I fluked the answer through a google search after finishing 4 layers. I’m definitely not going back to complete the other puzzles – I literally know 1 pokemon.

  • Just finished it… the final question within, and how you figure it out, is genius.

  • Comparatively simple puzzle this one… only the steps to get to the final answer was the pain

  • Can’t figure out how to ask my question without spoiling it for others, but I’ll try.

    I have the final question: “T…. E…….. B… O….. N.. R………. B. E…. C……. S…… O. M……”
    I also think I have figured out the 4 options: “E…. == R……, C……. == P……, S…… == S……., M…… == P……”
    I’m just not sure how I am supposed to enter the answer?

    Hopefully that’s not too spoilery for people.

    • Gods damn, was entering it with spaces…. Spent like 3 hours trying that same answer in different combos… with spaces.

    • see my spoiler, it will show you the way… enter the answer as the URL

      • We’ve also tried to account for that, so should also work in most instances.

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