– Run a “battle” app on LEON (the Palm device each team uses to submit answers during the event and an excellent Midnight Madness
reference) where a "Shintekimon" character whose name you enter battles other teams and eventually battles Superstar (played by Rich Bragg with fabulous sparkly glasses and a wand). After completing battles, the app gave hints that gradually revealed the pattern of the name required to defeat Superstar (based on rock, paper, scissors battles between the R’s, P’s and S’s in the character names). Hike to Find the Children’s Songs
– This involved hiking up the Lookout Trail at Montalvo County Park and finding signs that displayed obfuscated children’s songs. At the top of the hill we got a sheet where the titles of the songs could be filled in acrostic-style to get the final answer.
– Thanks to this puzzle, I had a certain Common Market song
stuck in my head all weekend. This was one of my favorite puzzles from the event. It started as a dropquote written on Connect 4 pieces that could be dropped into a Connect 4 game to spell quotes from Shakespeare's sonnet 18 on each side and to form a large "15" out of the red pieces. Once we'd solved the dropquote, we had a free hint come available that indicated the pieces represented a calendar for May and June, 2008. At that point, we knew June 15th should give us the answer but we wound up having to pay for a hint because none of us made the connection that that was Father's Day (not even the actual father on our team, Jeff W.).
Stop, Stop, Go Solve Some Anagrams - While Cyndy and Jeff W. parked the van, Jeff P. and I played a game of Stop Stop Go to get the next clue. I never really thought about it as a kid, but I think the real fun of that game is the thrill of being sneaky and getting away with something (or maybe that just reveals something about my character). The clue consisted of eight sets of eight anagrammed words where each anagram had an extra letter. This was a fun puzzle and a nice setting.
B is for Basil, Assaulted by Bears
- Earlier in the day, we'd driven by the Winchester Mystery House and I commented that I'd always wanted to see it. As it turned out, I only got to see their gift shop, where we retrieved the next clue, a set of quotation balloons that had to be matched to pages in The Gashlycrumb Tinies
, by modifying the balloon text using each child’s means of death.
Jenga – As you might imagine, this was a Jenga game, which in this case came with an algorithm for playing Jenga that produced a tower that read YAHOO down one side’s profile. Cyndy and Jeff W. manipulated the tower skillfully. I was just happy to have team members with good physical dexterity, because that is definitely not a skill that I bring to the team.
– Start the See and Say, enjoy the entertainment
and interpret semaphore characters (just make sure you know which end is up). ‘Nuff said.
Colorful Books – This was a booklet of children’s book covers with missing titles, retrieved from under a big mosaic book at a San Jose library branch. Each title contained a color which could be colored in on the back pages of the book to produce well-known images.
Monopoly – This puzzle provoked our only (minor) gripe about the event. The puzzle itself was cool – letter bigrams mapped onto a Monopoly board at a park that had an actual Monopoly board in the ground with properties sponsored by San Jose Chamber of Commerce members. We were off on one of our bigrams for extracting the final answer, but had enough of the message to think we were looking for the sponsor of the Go tile, which was the Children’s Discovery Museum. However, LEON did not acknowledge that answer. We eventually decided to scratch on the puzzle after getting partial credit for the earlier steps so we’d get a chance to see the final puzzle. At the wrapup, we learned the correct answer was “Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose”. If we hadn’t been pressed for time, we might have thought to try that too, but a “keep going” message from LEON definitely would have helped here.
Candy Store - The final puzzle was a set of eight mini-puzzles, each themed around a particular candy. We managed to solve half of them and a remaining bonus puzzle before time ran out. Our favorite was Dots, which was a box of Dots candies where each color represented a Morse character that could be made using - you guessed it - dots.