IF Comp ’09 – Kevin Jackson-Mead’s Gleaming the Verb!

October 4, 2009

Gleaming the Cube is one of those cult hipster movies, isn’t it?  About skateboarding or computer hacking or something?  I’ve never seen it.  I wonder if I’m supposed to have.  Anyway, I think I’m going to start choosing games based on how many reviews I no longer have to not read, and Riff, Jeremy, and Emily have already played this one.  Maybe if I play it too, we will be BFFs and they will finally let me sit at their lunch table and we can steal Jeremy’s dad’s car and skip school and resolve our deep-seated inferiority complexes and spend the ensuing detention smoking grass and giving each other makeovers.  Man that’d be great.

What does “gleaming” even mean when used as a transitive verb, anyway?  I’m’a look that up.

Huh.  To cause to gleam, says Merriam-Webster Online.  That’s… absolutely bizarre-sounding.  “Oh, hey, Jerry.  It got pretty late while I was waiting for you so I gleamed your lamp.  Hope you don’t mind.”

Anyway.  Let’s do this.

Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: This game is pretty much straight-up word puzzles presented as IF.  It wasn’t un-fun, but it might as well have been in Flash or the comics section of the newspaper or on flash cards at a diner.  Also it’s very short.

As with most puzzle games, my review of it is basically “huh, I dunno, maybe if I thing the thing over on the other… no?  Okay, how ’bout I thing the thing, then thing the… no?  GAAAH I HATE EVERYTHING,” then, after about twenty-five paragraphs of that, contains a complete puzzle solution, so be extra careful not to click for spoilers unless you really want them.

[spoilers start here]

I am naked in a room being tested by a cube.  The usual Comedy Gold Follow-Up to a statement such as this one is something like “Is it Saturday already?” or “It could’ve at least bought me dinner first,” but I’m having a bit of an off-day so you’ll have to make up your own.

A humming noise comes from the cube, and the synthesized voice says:
That sounds like a mnemonic, like OUR JANE LIKES GIVING HEAD TO CHEERLEADERS and all that.  Sure enough, the first letters of each word spell “operate.”  Hmm, word puzzles…

> operate cube
The cube vibrates slightly, and the synthesized voice says:
I have no idea what to do with this one.  The last letters of each word spell “titrate.”  Jerry, what’s our titrate this quarter?  I wonder if there are hints.

> titrate cube
The cube shakes and rattles, and the synthesized voice says:
Wait, seriously?  Titrate is a word?  Yes, says Merriam-Webster Online, and it means “to perform titration.”  Thank you, Merriam-Webster Online.  You are helping.  You’re a helper.  Pretty sure this one will be first letter, second letter, third letter, fourth letter, fifth letter.  C-H-E-C-K.

ETERNAL ASKING CURBS NINJA’S ODD IDEA.  Dunno about this one.  How does this cube test work, narratively, anyway?  Like, how does the cube know I’m checking it as opposed to perusing it or ogling it?

Man, I could do anything with these letters.  Are we supposed to assume that it’s always going to be one letter per word, and the words themselves aren’t going to change?  Because I could anagram these and take out everything that’s the name of a fruit, or whatever… well, anagrams are probably out, because there are just so many damn verbs.  This particular sentence is tortured enough to make me think it’s under pretty severe restrictions… hmm, I’m probably overthinking this.  First letter, last letter, 12345.  654321 would make sense here if it didn’t spell ANBNDI.  Man, I wish there were hints.

Taking the first letter of every word with an odd number of letters and the last letter of every word with an even number of letters yields EGCSOA, and doing the inverse yields LASNDI, which anagrams to ISLAND, which is a noun.  Fuck.  I wonder if I’m missing something really easy; probably the cool kids got it ages ago and they’re going to stare at me witheringly when they find out I’m still stuck on it and say “It’s clearly a picture of a puppy, look, there’s the tail,” and of course there will be a tail right there and bam there’s the puppy.

> take cube for walk
I only understood you as far as wanting to take the cube.
I wonder if “wagging a dog’s tail” means “causing a dog’s tail to wag.”

Huh, you can’t re-check the cube to see the puzzle again, if you’ve let it scroll off your screen.  That’s kind of annoying.  Also, I’m never sure how to feel about these games that are basically puzzles presented in IF format.  I mean, they’re a thing, and not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that they ignore so much of the format’s potential, y’know?  Like, instead of presenting your puzzles just straight-out, you could wrap them in a fleshy mango-pomegranate skin of setting and narrative.  I guess the author’s sort of doing that with this mysterious nudity and verb-recognizing cube conceit, but I would like to see more of that.  Shit, I forgot I don’t like mangos.

> i don’t like mangos
I only understood you as far as wanting to take inventory.

ETERNAL ASKING CURBS NINJA’S ODD IDEA.  Riff says it’s something along the lines of 654321.  Hmm, maybe if I flip ’em and do 123456… that’d be ADJUST.  Ha!

> fold cube
The synthesized voice says in a sing-song way:
“Review your actions, back to front, and you will end this puzzle hunt.”
I feel bad for anyone who wasn’t blogging this and can’t remember what they did.  Let’s see, operate, titrate, check, adjust, fold.  Facto?  No.  Oh, right, I read it!

Yay!  I won!  Does plot happen now?  Oh.  No.

Well, that was not un-fun, but when you get right down to it, it was just a puzzle.  I didn’t even find out why I was naked in a room being tested by a cube.

Oh, right, ’cause it’s Saturday.


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