Audio Games (solution)

by Michael Constant

The puzzle consists of seven audio files, each exactly 26 seconds long. (To help you notice this, each one ends abruptly after 26 seconds instead of fading out. Also, the in-browser audio player should show “0:26” for each file when it finishes playing.)

Each file contains audio from a classic NES game, complete with sound effects. By listening to the audio and looking at the title (“Audio Games”), hopefully anyone can at least identify this as a video-game puzzle; any video gamer should have no trouble identifying the games themselves. They are: Mega Man 2, Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, Marble Madness, Metroid, Final Fantasy, and Super Mario Bros.

Listening more carefully to the audio clips, you should notice that they sound like plausible recordings of actual gameplay, rather than just video game music or music with random sound effects. This will hopefully inspire you to see if you can reproduce them. To make this as easy as possible, each clip is taken from the very beginning of its game, or close to it. (This also provides another clue that you’re supposed to actually play these games, or at least watch YouTube videos of them being played.)

It turns out that each clip can be reproduced exactly, except for a single extraneous sound effect:

Mega Man 2:
The music identifies this as Bubble Man’s stage. At the beginning of the clip, you hear the splash of Mega Man entering the water, followed immediately by the sounds of Mega Man shooting at a bunch of enemies. Mixed in with those are several “dink” sounds of shots bouncing off an enemy, which can only come from the giant shrimp-launcher robots. However, there’s no way to get to those robots so quickly after jumping in the water. The splash at 0:01 is fake.
At the beginning of the clip, you hear the last few notes of the intro music, which means this must be the very beginning of the game. Soon afterwards, you hear Simon getting hit -- but there aren’t any enemies on the first screen, and there’s no way to get to the second screen that quickly. The hit sound at 0:08 is fake.
The Legend of Zelda:
Near the end of the clip, Link gets hit several times while attacking the enemies. Right afterwards you hear him using his magic sword attack, though, which only works when he has full health. (It is possible for Link to get hit three times and still have full health, if he’s wearing the red ring from the final dungeon, but that can’t be what’s happening here. You hear him killing enemies without the magic sword attack, so he must really have taken damage.) The magic sword sound at 0:25 is fake.
Marble Madness:
The music identifies this as the second level. At the very beginning of the clip, you hear the marble falling through a chute, and immediately afterwards it gets hit twice. There are two chutes in the level, but neither one has anything you can get hit by afterwards. The chute sound at 0:00 is fake.
The clip begins with the title-screen music, and then goes straight to gameplay without the sounds of selecting “Continue” and entering a password, so this must be a new game. Near the end of the clip, you hear Samus collecting an upgrade, which therefore must be ball mode. However, you hear her use ball mode at 0:17, before she’s gotten the upgrade.
Final Fantasy:
After the battle music finishes, you hear the sounds of entering a town; immediately afterwards, there’s the sound of walking through a door. No town in the game has a door so close to the town entrance, though (as you can verify with the maps at The door sound at 0:17 is fake.
Super Mario Bros.:
The brief silence at the beginning identifies this as the beginning of a level, which means Mario must be standing on the ground. The first sound effect you hear is Mario squashing a Goomba, though, which isn’t possible unless you jump first or fall from a platform. The squashing sound at 0:04 is fake.

Once you’ve identified the fake sound effects and noticed that each clip is exactly 26 seconds, there’s only one natural encoding for the answer: the 26 seconds of the clip represent the 26 letters of the alphabet. For each clip, the position of the incorrect sound effect gives one letter, spelling out the answer BIZARRE.

Charles L. Dodgson
Charles L. Dodgson