6.14 A Letter to the Prince of Kong

by Adam R. Wood, based on a concept by Bowen Kerins
Special thanks to David Nelson of Twin Galaxies



The phrase "The Official Electronic Scoreboard" is the tagline for Twin Galaxies (TG), the videogame world-record tracking organization. Throughout the first three paragraphs are a series of TG scores for classic arcade games; enough hints are provided to determine the games' names, allowing the scores to be looked up in their appropriate TG database track. Here are the positions of the scores as they were at the time of the Hunt:

ScoreGame titlePosition
1,462,100Quartet1st place
195,150Turkey Shoot2nd place
10,774,191Centipede (marathon)5th place
1,050,200Donkey Kong (hammer allowed)1st place
75,710Spectar3rd place
66,140Spectar6th place
24,260Red Alert1st place
4,140Depthcharge6th place
1,494,500Heavy Barrel1st place
361,400Legendary Wings2nd place
999,990Circus Charlie1st place
1,646,100Contra (non-grandfathered)2nd place
754,400Kangaroo (marathon)3rd place
473,400Donkey Kong 3 (tournament)1st place

The final paragraph details the answer extraction: indexing into the title of each game by the position of its score and grouping the results by paragraph spells 'QUID EARCH ECOND'; the "three initials" missing from these words are all the addressee's initial ('S' for Steve), yielding 'SQUID SEARCH SECOND'. Searching the TG database revealed this fictional track the author added just for the Hunt:

The name of the second-place scorer, pronounced phonetically, is the final instruction: "call in ISCI". (ISCI is a type of code used in commercial broadcasting, hence the "advertising" remark in the flavortext.)

TG was founded in 1981, the year of the first Hunt.

Several references - including the title - are made to the 2007 film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. All are red herrings, although Steve (Wiebe, the film's protagonist) and the author do appear together in the film. None of the people or events mentioned in the letter are fictional.

The non-existent game Squid Search is an inside joke at TG. In its original form, it was used to weed out untrustworthy affiliates; later on, TG founder Walter Day (hence the first-place "Knight") would assign scores to those who assisted the classic-videogaming hobby but were not competitive gamers themselves. The author intended to use that original track for the puzzle, but it was absent from the TG database at the time of the Hunt, so he improvised. Search the TG database for "marriage" to find the only other non-game it lists.