On Monday, August 1st, 2016, I tweeted eight riddles, in the form of images with each solution being the title of an old video game.
The results were a lot of fun: Most of the puzzles were solved within the first couple hours, with one being solved the next evening, and the final one the night after that. No single person solved multiple riddles (!), which is a result I was very happy with, in terms of a level of participation and the broadness of the playing field as well. I have been greatly encouraged to work on future rounds and enhance the state of play.
But who cares about all that, let’s get to the puzzles!
These were originally all just on Twitter, which is handy for instantly broadcasting them and receiving/confirming guesses quickly — but tough for people to keep up with what had already been guessed, which ones had been solved, etc. Some requested that I recap the puzzles, their solvers, and their explanations in one centralized place. Thus, this post.
Answers to follow below.
Riddle #1 — Resident Evil, solved by @TravisLuscombe. This was the fifth riddle to be solved this round. The two words in the image are “immoral” and “home,” which are synonyms for “evil” and “residence,” respectively. Evil Residence? Resident Evil.
Riddle #2 — Street Fighter, solved by @SunGamingYT. This was the fourth puzzle solved this round. This is another synonym solution, which is an overall theme of this round. “Road” is a synonym for “Street,” and “Warrior” is a synonym for “Fighter.” Road Warrior = Street Fighter.
Riddle #3 — Gain Ground, cracked by @fixyournes, who figured out what the numbers meant; and @oceanity, who figured out that the indicated words “add dirt” were synonymous with “Gain Ground,” a Sega Genesis game (a fun one, too!). This was the last solution to be reached for this set.
After all the others had been figured out by Night 2, I did drop a couple hints: That each line of numbers had the same meaning as any of the others, and they referred to specific words within the text. From then, it was a matter of determining that each line refers to either a line in the text, or a paragraph (and then a line in that paragraph), and then referred to a word within that segment, either counting contractions as two words or one. For example, “4 — 21, 22” means “Fourth line, 21st word, 22nd word.” To better explain, @oceanity created this helpful visual guide.
Adding to the difficulty was the fact that Gain Ground was easily the most obscure retro game title of the eight. Otherwise, though, yes, it is simply another word-unit substitution by synonym: “Add Dirt” = “Gain Ground.”
Riddle #4 — Superhot, solved by @battlecoder. This was the sixth solution found, and the last one to be solved on Night 1. Similar to the first three puzzles, the clue words somehow reflect the words in the game title. In this case, however, “Average Cold” is not quite synonymous with “Super Hot.” Nevertheless, following a description of quality with a rating of temperature proved to be sufficient linkage for deduction.
Notably, @battlecoder was also the one who figured out my first riddle, which simply consisted of an infamous little pink rectangle. Also notably, um, this is not a very old game. I would not consider it “retro.” When the puzzles were still going on, I was careful to call the games “non-new,” at least (this one’s been out for a while now, yeah?), but in the future I think I will try to stick to older games.
Riddle #5 — Blades of Steel, solved by @somethingpc. This was the second puzzle solved. The image is of two knives with stainless steel blades. I, uh, hope this is not one that I would have to explain any further.
Riddle #6 — Twisted Metal 2, slayed by @VGDadPlays. This was the seventh puzzle solved, second-to-last, and the sole solution discovered on Night 2 (when two riddles remained). This one is also my favorite of the group!
First, it was figured out that the word “also” means “too” which indicates “two,” which ultimately meant that the game was a sequel with “2” in the title.
Then, the notorious Seasons image. The missing season is Spring. But if you think of this word for its use as a physical object, rather than a season, then a spring is literally a piece of twisted metal. Ergo, Twisted Metal 2.
Riddle #7 — Halo: Combat Evolved, solved by @AxelBordelon, the third solution found in this grouping. Yes, the game is just straightforwardly referenced by the image, word-for-word. This was purely for the fun of seeing people say “I want to guess Halo: Combat Evolved, but it seems too obvious…”
Riddle #8 — Half-Life, solved by @DariaPlays, and the first solve for the event. The mathematical formula pictured is relevant to figuring exponential decay, which is relevant to arriving at the half-life of a given material.
And that was round 1! There will certainly be more rounds of riddles in the future, since I enjoyed this way too much.
I also appreciate all the feedback I received. For example, one piece of constructive criticism I received was the observation that solvers have different personalities: Some are interested in being the one to solve the difficult puzzles, but others are in it for the thrill of being the fastest one to answer the quick ones. The problem, for both crowds, is that the images are not always obvious as to how much time and effort (or specialized knowledge, etc.) will be required.
To address this, I think I will come up with a Level system of difficulty, labeling each riddle a “Level 1” or a “Level 3,” etc. It will not be anything too complicated, and I look forward to people disagreeing with my labeling — but if I can just say “hey, this one’s a level 3, so it will probably take a lot longer than this level 1 to figure out,” and thus guide people more toward the experience they are looking for, I will consider it a success.
In the meantime, I need to come up with 8 new retro game title riddles! See ya then.