Solution to Game Ditty Quiz

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by Alan Huang

The first step is to identify all of the songs. The first number for each song will be used as an index. The second number is a year, but it doesn’t correspond to the release year of the video game. Finally, each song is sped up (or, in a few cases, slowed down) by a different factor.

The title and flavortext point us to GDQ (Games Done Quick), a semiannual speedrunning marathon. As it turns out, each video game was shown during GDQ in the given year, with a completion time (in hours and minutes) corresponding to the adjusted length of the song (in minutes and seconds). This lets us match each song with a unique GDQ run, and we can index into the name of the person who played each one (“the runners”). The gdqvods database may be helpful here.

Game Event Time Runner Index Letter
Super Metroid CGDQ* 1:10:00 Vorpaledge 1 V
Celeste AGDQ 2019 1:28:03 TGH 2 G
Octopath Traveler SGDQ 2019 1:15:51 altabiscuit 2 L
Donkey Kong Country AGDQ 2014 0:58:17 NewAgeRetroHippie 8 E
Super Mario Galaxy AGDQ 2012 2:35:20 Yoshifan 7 A
Kirby’s Adventure SGDQ 2018 0:49:06 swordsmankirby 5 D
Portal SGDQ 2020 0:16:07 Shizzal 1 S
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening SGDQ 2020 0:52:22 mghtymth 8 H
Pokémon Gold & Silver AGDQ 2013 2:04:52 Werster 6 E
Final Fantasy IV AGDQ 2018 2:03:27 riversmccown 4 E
Chrono Trigger AGDQ 2011* 6:36:18 Essentia 6 T
DuckTales SGDQ 2015 0:08:48 mashystrr 3 S

(*) Note: CGDQ was the first GDQ event, in 2010. Prior to 2012, GDQ apparently did not run timers, so the times are approximate.

Now we have an intermediate message pointing us at vgleadsheets: a repository of fan-transcribed sheet music (“the staff”) that so happens to include all the songs in this puzzle. (If we’re missing some song identifications but know which games they’re from, browsing through this site might help.) After tracking down each song, we can use the same index as before on the name of the person who transcribed it (“everyone who helps arrange”).

Game Song Arranger Index Letter
Super Metroid Theme of Super Metroid Mike Matarazzo 1 M
Celeste First Steps AarekMG 2 A
Octopath Traveler Primrose, The Dancer mkafie 2 K
Donkey Kong Country Gang-Plank Galleon Jer Roque 8 E
Super Mario Galaxy Gusty Garden Galaxy Jer Roque 7 U
Kirby’s Adventure Butter Building JohnStacy 5 S
Portal Still Alive Amy Hsieh 1 A
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Mabe Village JohnStacy 8 C
Pokémon Gold & Silver New Bark Town Zack Wong 6 O
Final Fantasy IV Theme of Love Bao Vuong 4 V
Chrono Trigger Millennial Fair DoubleMark 6 E
DuckTales The Moon Jer Roque 3 R

Finally, submitting this yields an instruction to “Send us a recording of your team performing any song from a video game to the best of your ability.” Doing this is rewarded with the answer ORTHOGONAL.

Author’s Notes

One discarded idea for this puzzle was to use numbers in the names of video games or speedrunners as indices. Another was to hide the instructions for the second half in a GDQ donation comment. This was too hard to clue to work it into the solve path, but the comment is still there in the archives if anyone feels like looking for it.

Thank you to everyone who sent in their covers! Here is a selection of entries that we received permission to share.

Amateur Hour

Death and Mayhem

ET Phone in Answer

Frumious Bandersnatch

😈💣🍫 Immoral, Illegal, and Fattening 😈💣🍫

Misremembered Apple

Non-Abelian Rage Theory

Small Llama Malls


Test Solution Bees Ignore

The Providence Plant Translations

We Can't Hear You You're On Mute

Donner Party of N

Metaphysical Plant


Super Team Awesome

Team Left Out