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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Thursday Night At The Arcade: Professor Layton

The September 7 entry of the Pop Culture blog (a.k.a. Yesterday) was an emotional one for me, because I had such strong feelings about it. But sometimes it's good to talk about those memories, even the ones that were painful.


Because now that I have gotten it out there in the open, I feel a million times better about myself. It was like this weight was lifted from my shoulders, and almost all of the anger that I had felt towards my first grade teacher melted away. I still have difficulty trying to understand why she acted the way she did, and I may not actually find it within myself to totally forgive her for what happened, but now that I do have it out there in absolute clarity in my blog, I know that none of it was of my own doing, and that there was absolutely no reason to blame myself for the actions of someone else.

Now that I have all that out in the open, I can now go back to my zen-like state, and make this blog more fun again.

And I happen to have a fun topic for this week's edition of Thursday Night at the Arcade.

Though, part of me had a bit of a dilemma this week.

Given this week is a week that I have dubbed 'Teacher's Week', it initially proved problematic to come up with an appropriate subject for today.

There aren't really a whole lot of teachers that appear in the video game world. And any of the ones that I could have thought of right off the bat were one-note characters or made a cameo. Let's see...there was Quistis from Final Fantasy VIII, but I haven't had a chance to play that game yet, so I don't know how great a character she would be. I suppose in Donkey Kong Country 2, I could have chosen Wrinkly Kong, as she had a schoolhouse that doubled as a save point, but really, all she was good for was teaching lessons on game mechanics and hints for finding bonus coins and defeating boss levels. Hardly worthy of a blog entry.

For this one, I needed to do some serious thinking. So, I tried to focus my attentions on other toys and games, hoping that it would inspire me to come up with a subject of some value for today's blog.

It suddenly hit me as I was trying to solve a popular puzzle.

If any of you remember being alive during the early part of the 1980s (and, keep in mind that although I was born in the early 80s, I do remember when these things were popular), you probably remember either playing with, or at least seeing a Rubix Cube. You know, those six sided cubes with six different colours of tiles? The object was to try and arrange the cube by twisting rows and columns around to make each face the same colour. You know you succeeded when you had a cube with one side completely the same colour (red, orange, blue, white, yellow, and green).

For the record, I've never been able to complete a Rubix Cube in its entirety. The most I think I've ever gotten was completion of one whole side. I certainly don't stand a chance against those people who can solve the Rubix Cube puzzle in under two minutes (and I know that they exist because I have a friend who can do exactly that).

But it got me thinking about how much I enjoy doing puzzles and activities that are designed to help a person train their brains, so to speak. Some puzzles I can get right off the bat, while others have me tearing pages out of activity books in frustration. But those activities have always been ones that I have gravitated to, and I always usually got some form of toy, game, or book that allowed me to work my brain muscles.

My sister in particular has always been one to support this. Initially, she would buy me word search activity books, connect-the-dot puzzles, and Archie's Story & Game comic books. Gradually, as I started to develop a love for video and arcade games, I would often get gifts like Wheel Of Fortune electronic games, and Jeopardy video games, and those games were also instrumental in developing my brain power (while at the same time, made me want to appear on a game show...a dream that I still have this very day).

In fact, if you take a look at my game collection for my Nintendo DS, you'll see lots of puzzle games, like Plants Vs. Zombies, Bejeweled Twist and Sudoku.

There's also another game for that system that I own that fits the whole idea of puzzle and strategy games, and as it so happened, the main character was a professor, which happily is a requirement for Teacher's Week!

The man up above is named Professor Hershel Layton, and he has a series of video games for the Nintendo DS system. Dating back to the year 2007 with his first adventure, and having no less than five games starring the fictional archaeologist, each game has our well-mannered and impeccably dressed hero arriving at various places to solve a mystery that is occurring in the area.

With his trusty sidekick, a young boy by the name of Luke Triton, Professor Layton is left to solve a barrage of mind teasers, sliding puzzles, logic problems and numeric codes in order to get closer to the truth.

The idea for the Professor Layton video game series was inspired by a Japanese puzzle book series entitled 'Mental Gymnastics' by puzzle creator Akira Tago. The developer of the game series, Akihiro Hino, was so inspired by these books that he ended up basing a lot of the puzzles in the series on these puzzle books.

So as a special treat (and to get your brains working into overdrive), I'm going to post some of these brain teasers that are found in the various games. Most of these are from the first game in the series, 'Professor Layton and the Curious Village', but some of them are from later games. If you get stuck, the answers will be hidden somewhere in this blog, but I would hope that you at least try to attempt answering these on your own before cheating you look up the answers yourself.

Are you ready?

(Okay...I'll post the question in a larger font in case you can't read it.)

The village is on a road that leads to no other towns.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Which village is it that the person is talking about?

It is the village that is furthest to the left of the screen...the one with the red rooftops.

Have you figured it out yet?  If yes, go ahead to question number two!

There's an uninvited guest at this event, but the guard has received a few clues as to his whereabouts.

His table is next to one with a red flower.  His tablecloth is a different colour than any next to it.  Oh, and his table isn't decorated with a yellow flower.

"Next to" means tables connected by dotted lines.  Which table should the guard go to?

You need to take the guard to the table with the red tablecloth and red flower.  The third table in row number 2.

You may think that these puzzles are simple, but some of them are a lot harder.  Here's question 3.

Before you is a digital clock.  At certain times of the day, you can sometimes see three of the same digits lined up right next to each other.  An example being 4:44.  In a TWENTY-FOUR hour period, how many times will you see a time that has three digits in a row on a digital clock?

Okay, this one may seem tricky, but remember, you're doing it in a 24 hour period.  The times you should get are 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55, 10:00, 11:10, 11:11, 11:12, 11:13, 11:14, 11:15, 11:16, 11:17, 11:18, 11:19, and 12:22.  If you counted, you should get 17, but if you take into account that a 24-hour day has times in AM and PM, just multiply the answer by 2.  The answer is 34.

Ready for question #4?  This one is also text based.

A father and son are chatting when the son poses this question.  'Dad, I'm 22 now, but just how old are you?'

The father replies 'You wanna know how old your old man is?  Well, I tell you what.  I'm as old as your age, plus half of my age.'

How old is the father?

This problem works best if you work backwards.  Remember, he said that he's as old as his son's age, plus half of his current age.  So, all you need to do is take away half of the father's age, and you have the son's age, which is 22.  So, if that's the case, that would mean that the father is twice his son's age, so therefore, the father must be 44 years old.

Here's another question for you.  Number 5.

This puzzle is super easy!  All you have to do is place each of the seven cards (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, +, =) into the square that each card is pointing to.  Oh, and one more thing.  The equation created by the cards has to be valid.

So, what's the solution?

This is a tricky one, unless you know that you can rotate the cards as you see fit.  In this case, the 1 card can be rotated to form a subtraction sign.  By doing this, you can get to the right answer by arranging the cards like this.  3 + 4 - 2 = 5.

That was a tricky one, wasn't it?  Here's problem number 6.

When asked about her birthday, a young woman gives the following information:  The day after tomorrow, I turn 22, but I was still nineteen on New Years Day last year.

When is her birthday?

This one is a very tricky one, but you can figure it out.  Begin by figuring out the date the conversation takes place.  She says that in two days, she will be twenty-two, so you know that she's already 21 when the conversation takes place.  Now for her to have been 19 on New Year's Day the year before, she would have had to have turned 20 later on that same year.  The only way that could be possible is if the conversation took place on December 31.  Two days after that will be January 2, which is the date our birthday girl was born.  If you work it out, it fits all criteria. last brain teaser for you before I end this blog entry for today.

Get the three wolves and the three chicks to the other side of the river while meeting the following conditions.

- No more than two animals can ride at the same time.
- There must be at least one animal on the raft in order for the raft to move
- If more wolves than chicks stay on either side of the river, the wolves will eat the chicks, and you'll have to start over.

This can be solved in as little as ELEVEN MOVES.  Can you do it?

Yes, we can.  All you have to do is follow these eleven steps.

01. Bring 2 wolves over.
02. Bring 1 wolf back
03. Bring 2 wolves over.
04. Bring 1 wolf back.
05. Bring 2 chicks over.
06. Bring 1 wolf and 1 chick back.
07. Bring 2 chicks over.
08. Bring 1 wolf back.
09. Bring 2 wolves over.
10. Bring 1 wolf back
11. Bring 2 wolves over. 

I think that's all that I have to say about this game for now.

Best of luck to all of you who plan on solving these brain teasers.

Some are easy, while others aren't so much.  But, the answers to all of these questions are hidden in this blog entry somewhere (and, I tried to make it not stand out as much, but didn't do that great a job at it admittedly).  All you have to do is think hard, and the answer should come to you.

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