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Solutions for Act III Scene 2 - Puzzle Page Part 2

Foreword

The Act III series of puzzles was designed to look just like the puzzle page of the Sydney Morning Herald. Each Part was distinguished by the numbers labelling each sub-puzzle (which are used to represent the running total of each puzzle type in the SMH's puzzle page).

In order to make this set of puzzles look similar enough to the puzzle page Sydneysiders are familiar with, some liberties were taken with our usually tight rules regarding extraneous red herrings, but hopefully none of these (namely the puzzle instructions and comments on past and future solutions) tripped anyone up.

Finally, to give a reason for tying these four puzzles together, the solutions to each consecutive Part were deliberately made to relate to each other somehow. These relationships are explained at the end of each appropriate solution page, so don't read past the answer extraction step if you don't wish to be spoiled on the other Parts!

The Puzzle

Part 2 here referred to the puzzles labelled with a 2, the KenKen and the three comics.

The first step is clear enough: solve the KenKen! There are no tricks here: there is only one solution, and everything should fall out fairly easily. The reason all the cages were defined by multiplication was to dissuade solvers from looking for elements of the puzzle in the cage markers.

What is worth noticing however, is that all the cages in this KenKen are (unusually) each made up of exactly three cells. Even more telling however is the fact that the first cell of each cage (where we read left to right, top to bottom) is only ever a 1, 2, or 3.

The intuitive leap to make here is that these 1's, 2's, and 3's are referencing the three comics in some capacity. An interesting property of the comics is also that there are exactly six speech bubbles in each one, which seems to loosely tie in with the KenKen having only the numbers 1 through 6 in it. In fact, going one step further, we can suspect that the second cell in each KenKen cage refers to one of the speech bubbles in each comic.

This leaves the third number in each KenKen cage to index into the selected speech bubble somehow, and the most likely culprit here is to index by words. So altogether we suspect that for each cage in the KenKen, if the numbers entered in order are 1, 5, 6 for example, then we want to go to the 1st comic, look at its 5th speech bubble, and take its 6th word. Doing this for the first two cages gives the words JOIN and WORDS, which seems very promising.

The ultimate message reads "JOIN WORDS MY AT MARVELOUS HUNGRY HINDER THEN MATCH CAPS BETWEEN STRIPS". The five words after "WORDS" don't seem to make much sense unless we read them as a list, i.e. we want to parse this message as "Join words: my, at, marvelous, hungry, hinder. Then match caps between strips".

So how can we join these words? We haven't yet used the floating letters unsubtly hidden in the comics yet, so it's likely this is where we want to look. Indeed in the third comic, all the letters in MARVELOUS appear, and can be joined in order to make some sort of shape. Also interesting is that the original word "marvelous" was extracted from that comic. Similarly we can join up the word HUNGRY in the first comic and the words AT, MY, and HINDER in the second.

Now we just need to work out what the second half of the message means, namely to match caps between strips. Since joining the words thus far hasn't made anything recognisable, we likely still want to do something with the floating letters. We can assume "caps" here refers to "capitals" then, and from here the trick is clear: while the words we were joining were confined to their own comics, we now want to draw lines between pairs of the same capital letters that appear in different strips. For instance, there is a capital Y hidden on the left in both the first and third comics, between which we can draw a line. If we do so for all possible capitals, the following image appears:

This drawing should be recognisable as the Peanuts character Snoopy in one of his well-known poses, lying atop his kennel.


The answer extraction method here involves two ways of finding hidden words in some comics, while Puzzle Page - Part 1's answer, "Nina", is also used to refer to hidden words in comics. It can also be argued Snoopy as an answer is also a word hidden in comics.

The connection to Puzzle Page - Part 3's answer, "Retriever", is twofold. First, clearly both Snoopy and a retriever are dogs. Also, the context of Part 3's answer reveals that Retriever is also a spy's alias, while spies themselves are snoopy!

The answer is: snoopy