Each of the five "metapuzzles" in this puzzle is presented with one or more puzzle answers missing. This means that, even if you solve the "meta" and extract the answer, you'll have some letters missing from the answer that you'll have to guess and fill in from context. (As it happens, you'll be missing exactly two letters from each meta answer.) Concatenating these letters in the order in which the metas are given spells BACKSOLVER, which is appropriately the answer to this puzzle.
Most (but not all) of the "metas" used in this puzzle were actual metas proposed for the Hunt that didn't end up getting used as metas; this puzzle was conceived in part to find a home for a few more of our many orphaned meta ideas. Meta solutions are below.
??? ??? METALLURGICAL luRgi UPROARIOUS Oario PLUNGING luNgi SUMMARIZE mariZ BLUEGILL luEgi IMPRESARIO Sario SUPERFLUITIES luiTi ??? ??? SPECTRAL RIGIDITY lRigi
MinArChyKibiTzandRewagUecheek MosAiCliKeexTempoRaneoUs ???The matching letters spell MACKTRU.... The obvious way to complete this is to MACK TRUCK, so you extract the bigram CK.
NANCY ...lends IT A LYrical... WORMS ...halF RAN CElebrating... ??? it'S PAINful... NICE ...the HUN, GARY gilmore... MOST ...aGREE CErtain... ??? aS WE DENy... ORANGE ...linGER MANY more... SPLIT ...way in NOR WAY outEach of the cities from the puzzle answers has a unique "sister city" or "twin city" in the country from the corresponding flavortext:
NANCY Padua, Italy WORMS Auxerre, France ??? ???, Spain NICE Szeged, Hungary MOST Ptolemaida, Greece ??? ???, Sweden ORANGE Rastatt, Germany SPLIT Trondheim, NorwayThe initials of the twin cities spell out PA?SP?RT. This fills out to PASSPORT, so you extract the bigram SO.
The winner of the fight is the character whose initial appears first in the puzzle answer. Each character's sub-meta answer consists of the intervening letters from only the fights that character won, sorted in order by round. The puzzle answers and corresponding sub-meta answers and victory speeches are as follows:
Blanka: vs. Ken (round 1): aBCKids --> C vs. Chun-Li (round 3): deBACle --> A vs. Dhalsim (round 6): liBIDo --> I vs. Zangief (round 7): iBNZaydun --> N sub-meta solution: CAIN victory speech: "Lightning beats everything!" Chun-Li: vs. Dhalsim (round 1): arCHDuke --> H vs. Ken (round 2): panCAKe --> A vs. E.Honda (round 6): aCNE --> N sub-meta solution: HAN victory speech: "Everyone: respect girls or die!" Dhalsim: vs. Zangief (round 2): DRZaius --> R vs. Guile (round 3): DUGout --> U vs. Ryu (round 4): hanDBRake --> B vs. Ken (round 5): vanDYKe --> Y sub-meta solution: RUBY victory speech: "Anyone who opposes Dhalsim loses!" E.Honda: vs. Guile (round 2): wEBGuru --> B vs. Ken (round 4): EUKaryotic --> U vs. Blanka (round 5): vERBal --> R vs. Dhalsim (round 7): nERDy --> R sub-meta solution: BURR victory speech: "My opponents, hear this: I never lose!" Ryu: vs. Guile (round 1): boaRDGame --> D vs. Blanka (round 2): favoRABle --> A vs. E.Honda (round 3): caRVE --> V vs. Zangief (round 5): choRIZo --> I vs. Chun-Li (round 7): biRDCage --> D sub-meta solution: DAVID victory speech: "I take on heroes and laugh!" Zangief: vs. E.Honda (round 1): poiZNEr --> N vs. Ken (round 3): eZEKiel --> E vs. Chun-Li (round 4): benZOCaine --> O sub-meta solution: NEO victory speech: "That's it? Hit me!"The puzzle answers which would lead to Guile and Ken's sub-meta answers are missing.
Each of the sub-meta answers is the name of a person (real or fictional) who famously defeated or slew some opponent. Moreover, the initial letters of the corresponding victory speech are the same as the letters in the defeated opponent's name, with one letter missing. Each victory-speech graphic has a number on it as well; ordered by those numbers, the missing letters are as follows:
??? BURR > HAMILTON; "My opponents, hear this: I never lose!" --> A missing NEO > SMITH; "That's it? Hit me!" --> S missing ??? HAN > GREEDO; "Everyone: respect girls or die!" --> E missing DAVID > GOLIATH; "I take on heroes and laugh!" --> G missing CAIN > ABEL; "Lightning beats everything!" --> A missing RUBY > OSWALD; "Anyone who opposes Dhalsim loses!" --> S missingThe missing letters spell ?AS?EGAS. This fills out to LAS VEGAS, so you extract the bigram LV.
aRa AQUA sEat SQUAT Doted QUOTED sAints SQUINTS coLette COQUETTE ??? ??? ??? ??? reTirement REQUIREMENTThe changed letters spell REDAL??T. This fills out to RED ALERT, so you extract the bigram ER.