Solution to Dolphin

Back to Puzzle


by Herman Chau

This is a puzzle about Nintendo GameCube trivia as clued by the title Dolphin which is the codename for the Nintendo GameCube. The first image is a clue for extraction and is a metapuzzle that uses the answers to the 6 subpuzzles, one for each face of the indicated die.

The first subpuzzle is a Numberlink logic puzzle. Each link connects two squares of the same color or pattern. Each color or pattern clues a specific GameCube console color variation and the length of the color variation's name matches the length of its corresponding link. We can therefore fill in the color variation names along each link, using the starting and ending letters to orient each link. Below are the console color variation names and the filled out Numberlink.


Reading the letters on the numbered squares in the order from 1 to 15 spells out the answer to the first subpuzzle: CONSOLE BRAGGING.

If we try searching some of the strange names such as test11 or I_TestM in the second subpuzzle, we might discover that each line refers to a specific unused test or debugging map from a GameCube game. Below is a table listing the test map names and the game they come from.

Test Map Name Gamecube Game
newtest Pikmin 2
I_TestM The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
test11 Super Mario Sunshine
SIMPLE Kirby Air Ride
TEST Super Smash Bros. Melee

Each line in the second subpuzzle asks a question about items or trivia regarding the specified test level. The answer is always a number between 1 and 26 or a single letter. To extract we convert the numbers from 1 to 26 to letters and read in order of the questions given. Most of these questions can be answered through careful viewing of YouTube videos that walk through the test levels. There is also a site called noclip that renders the debug levels for some of the above games in our browser and lets us explore the level freely. The answer to each question and the extracted letter is shown in the table below.

Question Answer Extracted Letter
newtest: How many green tree stumps are there? Multiply that number by 3. 21 U
I_TestM: In the walled off section, how many fully visible 15's are there in between the 20's? 14 N
I_TestM: How many rungs are on the 4th tallest ladder? 16 P
newtest: What is the last letter of the word between "grass" and "sand"? SOIL → L L
test11: How many shiny collectibles are there? 1 Shine Sprite A
test11: There are a number of red objects in a row. What is the square of that number? 5 Red Coins → 25 Y
SIMPLE: How many question marks are there? 5 E
I_TestM: What number is on the orange blocks by the pool? 4 D
TEST: How many connected components are there in this stage? 12 L
test11: This sports item is found here. What is its second letter? SOCCER BALL → O O
newtest: How many tree stumps are on the slide? 3 C
TEST: What is the last letter of the cafe this takes place in? CAFE VERONA → A A
SIMPLE: How many blue ring check H boards are there? 12 L
SIMPLE: How many boost panels are there on thin air? 5 E
TEST: Music from this series plays. What is the first letter of the series's name? STAR FOX → S S

Thus, we get UNPLAYED LOCALES as the answer to the second subpuzzle.

In the third subpuzzle, the strange punctuation and 2's that appear in some lines suggest that these might be titles of video game that have been transformed in some way. The image of the memory card also points us in this direction and we will want to extract by looking up the number of memory blocks each game takes up. A possible break-in for this subpuzzle is "Inhabitant sin 2" which sounds very similar to the relatively well-known "Resident Evil 2". This suggests that each line transforms a video game title by replacing each word with a synonym or short crossword-esque clue. Indeed this is the case and the games are as per the table below.

Transformed Title Original Title
Plumber club sport: frog chair journey Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour
Sound related people on horseback Sonic Riders
Royalty of Iran: the duo chairs Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones
Lead sly animal: strike Star Fox: Assault
Motocross abbreviation for adults BMX XXX
Hat top-level domain against Playmore corporation 2 exec. order Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO
Inhabitant sin 2 Resident Evil 2
Correct offense: The Big Apple True Crime: New York City
Let go symbol: trail of luster Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Yonder moral & corrupt Beyond Good & Evil
Forever in shadow: mental soundness's elegy Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
Magician Franco actor Philip's expert cycle sport 2 Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2
Beast abode Monster House
Excellent former NY governor daylight Super Mario Sunshine
Styles ceramist and the hall of mysteries Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Once we've identified all these games we need to figure out how many memory blocks each game uses up for a save file. There are various sites and forums that list inaccurate information unfortunately. The icon hints at how we can verify we have the right number. The back of each game's cover has a memory card icon identical to the one shown in the puzzle. Instead of question marks the required number of memory blocks is displayed. As an example, here is the back of the cover of Super Mario Sunshine.

So to figure out the number of memory blocks each game uses, we can search up the back of each game's cover and read off the number of memory blocks. There are also a couple sites that accurately list the number of memory blocks required based off of the game's back cover. Two such sites that we could reference are the specs section of MobyGames or GameSpy. To extract we convert the number of memory blocks used for each game alphanumerically into letters. The table below shows the number of memory blocks each game uses and the corresponding extracted letter.

Game Memory Blocks Extracted Letter
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour 13 M
Sonic Riders 1 A
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones 20 T
Star Fox: Assault 5 E
Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO 9 I
Resident Evil 2 1 A
True Crime: New York City 12 L
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance 19 S
Beyond Good & Evil 20 T
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem 15 O
Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 18 R
Monster House 1 A
Super Mario Sunshine 7 G
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 5 E

Thus the third subpuzzle has answer MATERIAL STORAGE.

The fourth subpuzzle shows us a series of images and quotes missing a word. Most of the images are fairly nondescript. We might try reverse image searching some of these images and realize that the second image is a frame from a Zelda commercial. It turns out that all of these images are frames from GameCube game commercials. If we listen to the commercials we'll hear the quotes in them and can fill in the missing word. The quotes are fairly short and the missing word is always last, suggesting that the length of each quote is significant. Indeed, to extract we index into the missing word by the number of words in the corresponding quote. The data for this subpuzzle is summarized in the table below.

Game Missing Word Length of Quote Extracted Letter
Sonic Adventure 2 Battle POWERS 3 W
The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition TIGHTS 2 I
Pikmin 2 MUSTARD 4 T
Kirby Air Ride EAT 3 T
Super Mario Sunshine FLY 3 Y
Super Monkey Ball 2 RACES 3 C
Poké Colosseum POKÉMON 6 O
Wario World ENEMIES 4 M
Metroid Prime 2 PRIME 4 M
Mario Party 5 STANCE 6 E
Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix TRY 2 R
Soulcalibur II STICK 4 C
Need for Speed: Underground NIGHT 2 I
Animal Crossing GARBAGE 5 A
Madden NFL 2004 DEMOLITION 5 L

Thus the fourth subpuzzle has answer WITTY COMMERCIAL.

The fifth subpuzzle consists of pixel art of what look to be various GameCube components. We probably can recognize the GameCube controller and the WaveBird wireless controller. Depending on our knowledge of GameCube games we may also recognize the Donkey Kong bongos and DDR dance pad. Most likely we will need to do some searching in order to figure out what is depicted in the other images. Also of note is that each image has a black pixel in the top left corner. Since these images are presented in pixel art format the individual pixels may be important. Opening up each image in an image editor and inspecting the top left black pixel reveals that they are actually not pure black. Instead their hex color codes are numbers between 1 and 26 when converted to decimal numbers. Converting these hex values to letters gives us the phrase DOL MODEL NUMBERS.

If we look up DOL model numbers related to the Nintendo GameCube, we will find that official Nintendo released GameCube hardware have model numbers that are prefixed by DOL (short for "Dolphin"). There are exactly 26 hardware components ranging from DOL-001 to DOL-025 followed by DOL-101. One such site that catalogs this information accurately is MiragePalace. Now that we know exactly what components we are looking for, it is easier to match up the pixel art images with the hardware components. To extract we convert the DOL model numbers alphanumerically to letters. Below is a table summarizing the hardware components, their DOL model number, and the extracted letter.

Image Hardware Component DOL Number Extracted Letter
WaveBird Wireless Receiver DOL-005 E
Action Pad DOL-024 X
Telephone Cord DOL-016 P
Broadband Adapter DOL-015 O
AC Adapter DOL-002 B
Broadband Adapter DOL-015 O
Memory Card 251 DOL-014 N
DK Bongos Controller DOL-021 U
SD Card Adapter DOL-019 S
WaveBird Wireless Controller DOL-004 D
WaveBird Wireless Receiver DOL-005 E
GameCube Microphone DOL-022 V
D-Terminal Video Cable DOL-009 I
Controller DOL-003 C
WaveBird Wireless Receiver DOL-005 E

Thus the fifth subpuzzle has answer EXPO BONUS DEVICE.

The sixth and final subpuzzle appears to be traced images of video game covers. However none of the well-known GameCube games seem to have covers that match the given images. If we look a bit more closely we may notice that all the traced images have a box in the top right whereas the typical game covers we look up do not. This is a regional difference in GameCube cover images. Japanese GameCube games have covers that display the GameCube name and logo in a box in the top right whereas American and European game covers have a centered circular region that displays the GameCube name and logo. Once we notice this we might start looking at Japanese only GameCube games. Indeed if we pull up game covers for Japanese only GameCube games we can soon start to match the covers. The red circle in each of the images in the puzzle line up exactly with an English letter on the corresponding game cover. The table below lists the names of each game and the traced image overlaid on top of the video game cover.

Game Cover Game Title Extracted Letter
Kururin Squash! C
Giftpia A
Homeland N
DreamMix TV World Fighters T
Dokapon DX: Wataru Sekai wa Oni Darake P
Donkey Konga 3 A
Nintendo Puzzle Collection S
Mutsu to Nohohon S
Ohenro-San C
Bomberman Land 2 U
Doshin the Giant S
Mr. Driller Drill Land T
Tensai Bit-Kun: Gramon Battle O
Radirgy M
Legend of Golfer S

Thus the answer to the sixth subpuzzle is CAN'T PASS CUSTOMS.

As we solve the various subpuzzles we may notice that each answer is exactly 15 letters long. The only information we are given in the meta is a screenshot of something related to the GameCube. This screenshot is the beginning of the startup animation for the GameCube. The startup animation consists of a purple cube rolling 15 times to draw out the GameCube logo. In the meta, there are dice pips on each face of the cube and given the 3 faces visible, we can infer the orientation of the dice at each point in the GameCube startup animation. More specifically, we can figure out which face of the die is "upwards" at each point in the startup animation. To extract, if the Nth face is facing upwards at the Mth point in the startup animation, the Mth letter in our answer is the Mth letter from the Nth subpuzzle's answer. This information is summarized below with the extracted letters in bold and the "upwards" die face in the first row.


Thus we extract the clue CAPTAIN BLUE GAME which gives us the answer to this puzzle: VIEWTIFUL JOE.