14 May 2018

Jumpman's Grand Puzzle - Grand Banquet

Monday, April 23, 2018

Jumpman's Grand Banquet

Tonight was our night for answers. Pints & Pixels was hosting a pizza night for all the Grand Puzzle's gunters. The bar was usually only available for private parties on Mondays anyway, so they simply scheduled their own. Pizza from Domino's (and mini-cupcakes from Sugar Belle) meant they didn't have to have kitchen staff, but the bar was open. Soft drinks were free; hard ones were not.

Our crew was me and my wife as my "+1" and Walter and his brother as his "+1". We were met at the door by Sherry Wallace, who is co-owner of the bar with Richard "Jumpman" Moss. It turned out she was the one who created most of the actual puzzles. So thanks to her for all her hard work. She had all the gunters sign a copy of a Ready Player One movie poster as a surprise for Richard. Walter also got a ticket for the door prize drawings. Because I'd finished in the High Five, I was getting something special instead.

The pizza arrived right after we did. I still had some tokens left from a previous trip, so the boys played a few games while they set up. Then everyone got their pizza and started eating. After a while, Richard began. First he introduced all his helpers. I didn't get all their names, but their was the lich who I think was also the Game Tech for the final Jumpman challenge, the Princess Bride reader and his helper who'd they recruited that night when so many people came through to do the lines, the guys that made the props, the Float Shop artist who'd also made plates for his puzzle, and, of course, Sherry. She wound up the thanks by presenting Richard with the poster.

A table full of prizes, door prizes, and thank you gifts.

Next we were presented with the prizes. Shadow, in fifth place, got a "squashed Jumpman box" (the laminated copy of the box cover from the Huntsville Escape Rooms challenge), the Clue game from which the pieces were used for the clear box puzzle at Toy Box Bistro, and a $5 Pints & Pixels gift card. I believe Shadow was the person I saw doing the Princess Bride lines the Tuesday night I finished the final challenge, so he made kind of a mad dash at the end to be fifth.

I, Liberator, as fourth place, got a "squashed Jumpman box", a copy of the Space Invaders Dice! game, and a $15 P&P gift card. I'd never heard of the Space Invaders Dice! game, so that was very cool. None of us can remember exactly what third place got, but it may have been a set of keys based on the movie and a $25 P&P gift card. Second place got two of the Tiny Arcade games and a $50 P&P gift card. I found out at the end of the evening that the guys in second and third were hosts of Rocket Punch, a locally produced podcast.

Then we got into the individual puzzles. In the first puzzle that lead to Lucky Dice Cafe, the "heroes spin" line did indeed refer to HeroClix, not comic book spinner racks. It seems the owner is a nationally ranked HeroClix player. They'd also originally planned to have the end of the first line, "you need to go" point gunters to the restrooms, which is where the posters would be. They thought Lucky Dice already had lots of posters in their restrooms, but it turned out they didn't have any in them, so they left them out in the main part of the store.

There wasn't much revealed about the next several puzzles that we hadn't already figured out. One detail many of us had missed was that the lich in the video (who was someone other than the lich we played against) was walking like an Egyptian as he went through the background. I also asked how many beat the lich without changing sides. Only one other gunter at the banquet raised her hand.

Then we got to that cursed box at Toy Box Bistro. It turns out the letters inside spelled out "Ulysses Grant", complete with a space for between the words. And the "U. G." in "U. G. White Mercantile" stands for Ulysses Grant, which I didn't know. When they beta tested the puzzle, there were only four tiles in the box: U, G, and two blanks. The beta testers declared that too easy, so we got more tiles.

Shortly thereafter, we discussed the damnable Ruby Key. It turns out the phrase on the key unscrambles to "IT's what we all do down here." This is in reference to a line in IT by Stephen King: "We all float down here." The Float Shop in Lowe Mill was where we had to go. What had been intended as a clue for those unfamiliar with the story, the capital I and T, had wound up messing us all up. We had been so close in correctly assuming each word was the length of the letters we got in the scramble. It also turned out the punctuation marks (apostrophe and period) were within the words they went with, even though the rest of the characters weren't already in those words. It turned out the grand prize winner, Mr. Tumnus, had figured it out eventually, but only after he'd stumbled upon the Steve at the Float Shop. He got a bonus prize of a Pints & Pixels cap for getting it.

The last puzzle of note was the word search at Haven. Walter pointed out I'd missed an uncircled letter: a J. I brought this up and Sherry handed me the word list to double-check my work. It seems I'd missed "Jem" (as in Jem and the Holograms) as one of the words.

I asked about the Jumpman level editor he used. It's called Jumpman Under Construction. The Jumpman link on the Facebook page linked to a page that then linked to the software. I'd not clicked on all the links in the Journal -- especially ones I'd already heard of -- so I'd missed that.

I asked if they'd considered changing the letters on the word search puzzle they had facing the outside of the window at Haven Comics. They said no. Later, during closing remarks on the contest, they pointed out that they didn't provide red herrings in the clues because we the players provided ourselves plenty of red herrings along the way. I hadn't thought of that, but it's absolutely correct.

After all questions had been answered, they drew tickets for door prizes. One person got a lot of the props, including three Rubik's Cubes, the map plates, The Princess Bride wedding poster, and I forget what else. Walter won a $20 gift certificate for Supper Heroes.

The final announcement of the night was to mark our calendars for September 10. Jumpman's Grand Puzzle II would start then. And it's going to be based on the '90s. I might be in trouble. I was an adult by the '90s, albeit a young one, and not as in touch with pop culture as I had been in the '80s. And my oldest child was born so late in the '90s he doesn't remember them, so we may be at a disadvantage all around.

My loot.
I'm happy to say that as we left, each player got a copy of the props from the game: a choice of Steve on a white or clear background, the three keys and the gold coin. I spoke to Richard about a couple of last things while the boys tried out Fix-It Felix. Then it was back home to our mundane life.

I'm so thankful to Richard, Sherry, and the rest of their crew for putting this together. It's obvious a lot of time and a fair amount of money went into it. I mentioned the movie Midnight Madness way back in the first contest entry proper. Since seeing that movie, I had dreamed of participating in a contest like that, but figured it would never actually happen. Now, not only has it, but I might get to do it again! The most appropriate word is obvious: Awesome!

For the previous entries, see the Jumpman's Grand Puzzle label.

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