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Solutions for Meta - Glitched

The story accompanying the 2016 ΣUMS Puzzle Hunt made many loose references to the theme of Pokémon, describing many of the first games' features and quirks as well as different monsters themselves encountered along the way. The story also outlined the steps required to enact one of the game series' more infamous glitches, culminating in a climax set in Glitch City.

Along with the release of the Meta puzzle document came a small image of MissingNo., another well-known glitch from the first generation of games. Clicking on this took puzzlers to an alternative, glitchy-looking version of the ΣUMS Puzzle Hunt puzzles page featuring its own twenty Pokémon-themed mini-puzzles. Each of these has their solution provided on that same page now.

Solving each puzzle on the "glitched" page would lead to the usual confirmation page, but with an added line recommending the solver check their team's progress. Logging into one's team page would present them with an updated summary where "Secret Codes" once simply reading as "N/A" were now replaced with images of Pokémon. Specifically, an image would only appear alongside a solved puzzle if its corresponding "glitch puzzle" had also been solved. These images were, in order:





















Identifying these Pokémon was the next course of action, and this could be made slightly easier if one noticed the name of each image was a string composed of the first letter of each creature. These lists of Pokémon tended to reflect the lengths of the answers to their corresponding main puzzles, though not exactly. The key thing to notice here was that the number of Pokémon types indicated by each image in fact matched exactly the number of letters in a puzzle's answer. For example the first image showed Pikachu, Luxray, Rowlet, Celesteela, and Sylveon, whose types are respectively Electric, Electric, Grass/Flying, Flying/Steel, and Fairy - seven types to match the seven-letter answer to Puzzle A1S1 "The Connection". This rule was made more explicit by a message hidden in the story: taking the first letter of each encountered Pokémon's name spelled out the message MATCH TYPES WITH ANSWER, which ostensibly could not apply to these same mons as their typings were all Normal or part Normal.

It follows that each letter in the alphabet has probably been assigned a type, and this can be quickly confirmed with enough examples. There is ambiguity in how each dual-type mon maps to its respective bigram, but again with enough examples, these ambiguities can be cleared. Eventually the following letter/type assignment can be found, where letters which did not appear in any puzzle answers have been assigned the "default" Normal type (which also featured as a recurring type throughout the story). Every other type is assigned at least once, with those types assigned twice being the four starter types (Grass, Fire, Water, and Electric).

LetterType
Afighting
Bgrass
Celectric
Dghost
Esteel
Fbug
Gfire
Helectric
Iwater
Jnormal
Kdark
Lfairy
Mice
Nflying
Ofire
Pwater
Qnormal
Rrock
Sdragon
Tground
Ugrass
Vnormal
Wpoison
Xnormal
Ypsychic
Znormal

From here, the remaining step is less clearly indicated. We have not yet really used the seemingly-constrained glitch puzzles' answers, and the core mechanic of the Pokémon games, namely battling and its complicated scissors-paper-rock-esque system, have been curiously underused so far. The intuitive leap to make here is that answers to puzzles and their corresponding glitch puzzles can now be battled against each other, using the alphabet type assignment along with the current Pokémon type effectiveness rules to determine the results of such battles.

(Warning: Solutions to other puzzles are mentioned after this point.)

Testing this hypothesis against the answers to the third puzzle A1S3 "Big Break" is particularly enlightening, as lining up the letters in SELBY and MAGIAN gives the following results:

  • M (ice) beats S (dragon) [ice is super-effective against dragon]
  • A (fighting) beats E (steel) [fighting is SE against steel]
  • G (fire) beats L (fairy) [fairy is not very effective against fire]
  • B (grass) beats I (water) [grass is SE against water]
  • Y (psychic) beats A (fighting) [psychic is SE against fighting]
The remaining N in MAGAIN going unbattled, the victorious letters turn out to spell MAGBY, a Pokémon.

Trying this again on the answers to the first puzzle A1S1 "The Connection" (CHUNNEL vs. HUNTDOWN) gives the results:

  • tie (C vs. H)
  • U beats H
  • N beats U
  • N beats T
  • tie (N vs. D)
  • O beats E
  • W beats L
Again taking only those letters that won their match-ups, the resulting string UNNOW is conspicuously an anagram of the Pokémon UNOWN, which should be somewhat familiar as it featured in several of the glitch puzzles.

So with the conclusion drawn that each battled pair of words results in an anagrammed Pokémon's name, we reach the following summary:

Puzzle numberMain puzzle answerGlitch puzzle answerWinning letters' anagram
1chunnelhuntdownUnown
2increasinglywebwormEmboar
3selbymagianMagby
4huffmanminnowUnown
5sliderulelovegameEmolga
6gillespienyholmpunctuatorTropius
7lachesisunformulatedNumel
8weirdishdomdanielOddish
9stonehengekickaboutNoibat
10partitionidlewheelDitto
11reactionpathinterpretedCaterpie
12entanglespassesoffEspeon
13nucleargyremuseologistMoltres
14schwaeaselSeel
15feldsparfatamorganaDrampa
16woolmarkdressmakerArmaldo
17fairchildsemiconductorgimmickriesRegice
18thebodycorniceEntei
19lagomorphmeroblasticOmastar
20certificateclownishnessSentret

What remains to be used is the list of Pokémon given in the Meta document itself. These twenty monsters map exactly to the twenty met throughout the story, and ostensibly give an ordering. So matching resultant Pokémon names with the ordering that the story Pokémon provide gives us:

Story PokémonStory sectionCorresponding battle result
YungoosII.3Numel
Hoot-hootII.1Emolga
AipomI.2Emboar
SnorlaxIII.2Ditto
IgglybuffIII.4Espeon
AmbipomIV.3Drampa
Type: NullII.2Tropius
PorygonII.4Oddish
HappinyIV.2Seel
MeowthI.1Unown
TrumbeakIV.1Moltres
TeddiursaI.3Magby
ExploudV.3Omastar
EeveeIII.1Noibat
NoctowlIV.4Armaldo
SmeargleV.1Regice
WatchogIII.3Caterpie
WhismurV.2Entei
CastformI.4Unown
RattataV.4Sentret

The answer phrase NEEDED TO SUMMON ARCEUS can now clearly be read by taking the first letter of each resultant mon's name. This points to the solution azure flute, an item infamously never made available to players of the fourth-generation games Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. Since this item was required in order to access the ultimate Pokémon Arceus, for any player to "legitimately" capture this monster and complete their collection they must deliberately insert the Azure Flute item into their game via glitching. The controversy surrounding this item was recently stirred up again when a digital item officially released by The Pokémon Company made reference to the otherwise never again acknowledged flute.

The answer is: azureflute