‘Play Hard’

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There’s something peculiarly beguiling, perhaps because also frustrating, about mysteries hidden in plain sight. The fourth Kryptos code might be the most brazen, flaunting its undeciphered self on a sculpture outside the C.I.A. headquarters. Then there are the texts that might be meaningful: someone might verify tomorrow that the Voynich Manuscript can be deciphered to produce a coherent plaintext. (Then again, it might truly be gibberish. The creator of the Codex Seraphinianus has been keeping tight-lipped for years besides reportedly indicating that asemic writing is involved.) Then there’s what happens when you involve that other kind of ‘code’.

The prototypical Voynich Manuscript of gaming is probably the Weird Tome of ADOM, unreadable not because it presents the player with an actual and perplexing text but because it can afflict the player’s character with a status of confusion. Here are a couple of other mysteries of this stripe. The first lurks (or does it...?) in the depths of Doom 64:

The secret we can't remember how to do in Doom64 was in the level “Breakdown”. All I remember is that there were 3 (I think) ‘switches’ you had to hit in order, then go to the room with the Red Key. That's where it played I believe. The last switch may even be in that room... I think another invisible switch was in the small (hidden?) room with the BFG. Again, the switch is invisible, it was on a wall that looked normal, but functioned like a switch. Perhaps when you've found a ‘switch' wall, the character does not go “mmph!” ?? Would be a good indicator that you found it if it's true. The other was indeed most likely in the red key room. Probably on one of the pillars facing the ‘secret’ message. I can't remember where the other was - but I think I'm at least 80% sure the other 2 I mentioned are correct.

I looked through the Doom 64 GameFAQs board archive a while ago, and from what I recall the dominant view was that the game and its data had been probed thoroughly and the third switch probably doesn’t exist.

The other mystery is in Ken Griffey, Jr.’s Winning Run, a SNES baseball game which will let you challenge ‘The Nintendo 64 Team’ with its formidable stats., and tell you that if you ‘play hard’ you can play as that team. GameFAQs is still trying to work this one out. I had a look at the ROM once hoping for textual clues, but some of the ASCII text seemed to use (fairly weak) compression and I’ve been too busy to brush up in that direction. Besides, any interest in baseball I possess is exhausted by Peanuts.

The proud achievements of human civilisation can thus be humbled by a video game cartridge...

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