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Pitfall Harry's Private Eye Video Game Contest

Pitfall Harry

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Welcome to Pitfall Harry's Private Eye Video Game Contest!


Details about this contest are puposefully scant, because it is up to You to determine what it is you are supposed to do (which isn't really all that hard, anyway). All you have to work with is the image given at the following URL:



Once you figure out what it is you are supposed to do, feel free to collaborate in small groups via private email, instant messaging, etc. Privately exchange ideas, theories, and discoveries. Publicly, use this thread to post general comments, irritations, compelling questions (which may or may not get answered) or progress in a way that doesn't give away any of the puzzle's secrets to other contestants. Anyone who publicly posts spoiler info that gives away the puzzle's secrets are subject to disqualification, depending on the severity of the information leaked and upon my own personal judgment. Don't get too hung up about the disqualification clause. I'm easy. Only a blatant breech of critical information would result in disqualification. Lesser breeches are subject to the scorn of your peers.


I will be using this thread to periodically post additional clues, at whim's desire. So, be sure to come back and check this thread from time to time, especially if you get stuck.


This puzzle contest is completely self-contained. That is, there are no additional clues related to this contest to be found on my personal Web site or anywhere else. Furthermore, it is possible to solve this puzzle without the aid of any additional clues. You may want to look for them, anyway, if being FIRST matters to you! The puzzle is WYSIWYG -- What You See is What You Get. But be warned! Any private eye worth his salt always has a good magnifying glass close at hand.


This puzzle is HARD! You will not complete it in a single day, unless you are craftier than I am. If you are craftier than I am and you solve this puzzle in less than 24 hours of this posting, your prize will be doubled. The prize for being first to solve the puzzle contest is a $25 AtariAge Store credit (or $50, if you solve it in 24 hours). There are no prizes for finishing second or later, other than honorable mention on Pitfall Harry's Lost Video Game Cavern and the warm glow of satisfaction that comes from a job well done. If you work in a group, it is up to your group to decide how (or if) the meager prize shall be distributed among you.


The 24-hour clock for the doubled First Prize bonus starts right NOW. Don't say I didn't give you plenty of advanced warning to read this post on this date!


The solution to this puzzle contest will be posted 5 days after a First Prize contestant has been identified, or immediately after three contestants have solved the puzzle and notified me of its correct solution. If the puzzle contest remains unsolved as of October 31, then the solution will be posted November 1, and the First Place prize will be awarded via random drawing, limited to those who register as official contestants of Pitfall Harry's Private Eye Video Game Contest.


Registration for Pitfall Harry's Private Eye Video Game Contest is easy, and optional. All you have to do to register as an official contestant is e-mail me (myname_is_ben @ yahoo) or send me, Pitfall Harry, a message via the AtariAge messaging software with either a subject line or message content that identifies you well enough to be contacted in the event you become a winner via random drawing. You need not register to win First Prize, provided you are first to solve the puzzle contest. Please DO NOT use this thread for contest registration (those posts will be ignored anyway). We want to reserve this thread as an easy resouce to those working the contest puzzle. Registration begins NOW and closes October 15. Those who register as contestants after October 15 will not be eligible for the random drawing, should it be necessary.


Have fun, and good luck!


- Ben

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Wow intense puzzle.

I'll note a few things I notice.


Most obviously:


There's writing on some carts

Missing letters on some carts

Red lettering on some carts

A few of the carts are backwards.

A few of the carts are fictional. (Benvision) and one of them contains some text blocks that needs to be shuffled to be read)

A distinct shape made with the white carts.

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This is true Thomas.


More observation. :idea:


Cart types:


Some aren't changed but are reversed. (Reversed)

Some are reversed and have 2 characters missing. (Reversed)


Some aren't changed at all. (Not reversed)

Some have 2 characters written on them. (Not reversed)

Some are missing 2 characters (Not reversed)

Some have 1 missing character and 1 character colored red. (Not reversed)

Made up carts with puzzles on label (Not reversed)

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I tried translating the code, but all I kept getting is:


"I'm the Zodiac Killer. My name is..."



As a general observation, I find viewing the entire image as a thumbnail produces what sort of looks like a sprite, but of what I don't know. It could be a mangled chicken or something. Also I noted that it was 9 bits wide, so who knows if it's anything.

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So far, found the word "numbers" and carts with numbers in the title, but that was on the first day, so I assume everybody else found that too..


Still working on it, Pitfall Harry, but you were right, it is HARD! :)


I agree with Thomas: Don't have much free time right now to give it the focus it deserves, but keep the clues coming!




P.S. Has anybody else printed out the cartridge puzzle and cut it into squares, or am I off my rocker? :idea:

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P.S. Has anybody else printed out the cartridge puzzle and cut it into squares, or am I off my rocker? :idea:

I opened it in Photoshop to mess around with it. Then my old Mac went to sleep and wouldn't wake up so I had to restart it, losing my work... :(


Not that I got very far or anything... :ponder: :lol:

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___. . .___Just_______Find_______Diagonal___Words

___. . .___In_________Epyx_______Cartridge__Values

___. . .___Hidden_____Data_______Becomes____Understandable

___. . .___Going______Clockwise__And________Translating

___. . .___.__________.__________.__________.__________

___. . .___.__________.__________.__________.__________

___. . .___.__________.__________.__________.__________


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:D You didn't think some people would recognize those symbols didja.

Am I allowed to share the translation?


Actually, I have a very high regard for the abilities of AtariAge members. So, it doesn't really surprise me you figured out what the symbols mean. Good job, tho. :thumbsup:


Since the auxiliary clues I post here aren't technically necessary for solving the contest puzzle (but they do help!), I can't see any reason why you shouldn't feel free to discuss the meaning of the auxiliary clues I post to this thread in whatever detail you wish. To make things sporting to others who are working the contest, you may want to stop short of simply giving away the translation. You may want to say HOW you translated it, rather than translate it outright.

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Fair enough. I wouldn't want to FRY anyone's brains by being overly vague, so I will just wait for the FUTURE and see what happens in say...the year 3000 or so.

Wouldn't want to send anyone on some insane BENDER or anything.


BTW: This puzzle really is a rather hard one :D as such I am enjoying it quite a bit.

So thank you.

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cat: I think what I'm supposed to do is construct a 9x9 image from 40 black pixels and 41 white pixels. The trouble is, I don't really know what the image I'm expected to construct looks like. I figured I could construct every possible image, look at each one, and then see if I recognized anything meaningful. How many possible pictures does that involve?


dog: Way too many. You're up against a very large combinatorics problem. There are 81 choose 40 different images you can make. That's roughly 212,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different images. You'd never live long enough to analyze that many, not even with nine lives.


cat: Then the problem is hopeless?


dog: It is if that's all that you know. What else do you know about the problem?


cat: It's part of a puzzle contest. Does that help?


dog: It sure does!


cat: How does that help?


dog: Well, if it's part of a puzzle contest, then either A) the problem may be solvable using logical, simplifying assumptions, or B) There are additional constraints you have not yet discovered that reduce the combinatorial complexity of the problem.


cat: If you don't start speaking English pretty soon, I'm going to scratch your eyes out.


dog: A problem involving images, like yours, can often be greatly simplified by assuming symmetry. Of course, you would need a logical reason for assuming the image you're supposed to make has symmetry. Do you have a logical reason to make that assumption?


cat: I don't know. Take a look at this starting image, and you tell me.


dog: Oh yeah. Look. This image has symmetry already.


cat: It does?


dog: Sure. If you fold the image along its diagonal, pulling up the lower right corner to meet the upper left, you can see right away that every black pixel in one half of the image pairs up with a black pixel in the other half. Same thing with the white pixels. This image has symmetry along its diagonal. Therefore, it is very logical to assume the image you are expected to make also possesses symmetry of some kind.


cat: Cool! Does assuming symmetry help much?


dog: Quite a bit, actually. Maybe not enough, but at least it's a start.


cat: Thanks!


dog: It's what I do.

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