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-   -   Challenge of the Ancient Empires (http://forums.upnetwork.net/showthread.php?t=6548)

Doppleganger 02-14-2015 11:42 AM

Challenge of the Ancient Empires
This is an old game, from the Super Solvers series and featuring history. Like a lot of The Learning Company games, it featured some logic puzzles splashed with some platform gaming, but I remember this game specifically because unlike the other Treasure or Super Solvers style games, this one had some very frustrating difficulty, both in the platforming and in the puzzles.

Due to the game engine's sluggish nature, and the game's slow pace, if you tried to speed up the gameplay you'd get punished and die. And, once you got through the easy part (assembling the ancient artifact) you'd be confronted with a rather difficult puzzle.


It took me a while to figure this out, and I am a hard science major with a Master's Degree. TLC intended this as a "challenge" for 6th graders. The difficulty in some areas is way out of proportion with other parts of the game, making for an odd experience where thinking you could blow through it with superior intelligence and micro skills will leave you humbled.

Raves 02-14-2015 12:25 PM

Took me about 15 seconds to find the pattern to that puzzle.

Spoiler: show
The artifact in that panel goes to the top right hand corner.

Unless the difficulty is in placing said thing, I reckon it shouldn't be too tough...unless this is an early puzzle.

I was more shocked at how big his bloody feet are. HIS SHOES ARE THE SIZE OF HIS HEAD.

Doppleganger 02-14-2015 01:51 PM

That's the right answer, and there's an easy short cut for that by simply looking at the diagonals. The problem with that is that each row is independent, and there's no relationship between vertical and diagonal columns. It just so happens in this particular puzzle, the random generator placed the jar diagonals to give a nice, suggestive relationship. But if you look at the opposite direction, there's no pattern at all, so using the diagonals is equivalent to a guess, and isn't logically derived.

If you look only at the horizontal rows, you see that two jars are close to each other, and two occupy either the top or the bottom. You can deduce that the missing one must go on top, but the idea that two of the jars should be adjacent is irrevocably contradicting and suggests that maybe one should go in the upper left.

Luckily, the answer choices just gave two on the bottom and one on the top, so I didn't have to face that decision. But this follows a similar trend from the other Super Solvers game, Treasure Mountain, which gives three clues to find a key, and says "treasures can be found under objects that fit two of the clues" but the actual objects bear little resemblance to the key's object. So, I think it's more a case of either over-thinking, or the puzzles weren't thought through.

Raves 02-14-2015 02:53 PM

I actually noticed a pattern that wasn't related to the diagonals, though it takes some thinking.

Spoiler: show
Let's take the image above and number all 9 of the panels in classic phone order, that being:

[1] [2] [?]
[4] [5] [6]
[7] [8] [9]

Given we need to find ? (3), let's pop each position in turn.

[BL] [BR] [??]
[BR] [TR] [TL]
[TR] [TL] [BR]

At this you can see the diagonal rule applies with 2 and 4, as well as 6 and 8, plus the 3, 5 and 7 code. But how does this explain 1 and 9?

Clockworks. Literally.

Looking at 1, 4 and 7, we have BL, BR and TR. That happens to be rotational in the counter-clockwise direction, if we consider BL as being half past 7, BR being half 4, TR being half 1 and TL being half 10, thus we have 7, 4 and 1 chronologically. The same applies with the middle column (BR - TR - TL, or 4 - 1 - 10) and the same with the right one (?? - TL - BL, or ? - 10 - 7). In rows, the logic's the same, with the exact same answer thanks to symmetry. By deducing that all paths go counter-clockwise, we can then figure out the unknown with the row and column it lies in.

BL - BR - ?? for the row, ?? - TL - BL for the column, or 7 - 4 - ? and ? - 10 - 7. Taking 3 hours from 4 gives us 1, which is TR, and adding 3 hours to 10 gives us 13, which is also 1, that being TR.

Thinking outside the box did the trick.

It's not a case of over thinking, but not reading your two clues thoroughly enough and putting some sense into pattern hunting.

Doppleganger 02-14-2015 03:22 PM

Again, I have to point out that the vertical columns and diagonal columns have no impact on the answer, as they're generated randomly. 147 can't be read, you have to only look at 123, 456, 789.

However, I encountered another puzzle in Egypt Tomb II that was similar to this one, in how it appeared that there was a pattern looking up and down. I won't trust that until I see another because it's bizarre to see non-linear puzzles appear in the middle levels, while there's just easy stuff in the first and last rooms.

Talon87 02-14-2015 06:24 PM

Got it in 20 seconds. My approach, in my own words:

Spoiler: show
It works with both rows and columns:
  • the property that 1 and 2 share will be inverted in 3
  • the property that 1 and 2 do not share will see 3 copying 2's
So like, if it's bottom left, bottom right, then you know the third square must be top right since bottom was shared (so invert it) but right-left ness wasn't (so go with the second square's, which was right in this example).

Looking over your guys' discussion it looks like you had similar approaches.

Maybe we need another example!

Doppleganger 02-15-2015 01:05 PM


Originally Posted by seakittenyfool (Post 668571)
I was more shocked at how big his bloody feet are. HIS SHOES ARE THE SIZE OF HIS HEAD.

The character who stars in Super Solvers is meant to be androgynous, I believe. So either girls or boys could imagine themselves in those large shoes. However, I believe that aside from the backpack, the "Super Solver" is actually in medieval garb. Since, that character wears the same uniform in Treasure Mountain, which is ostensibly set during the Middle Ages.

As for puzzles, I haven't thought about this one yet, but I snapped it just in case (Egypt was hard, this is the Middle East):



Now this one is tough. I still haven't figured it out.


Talon87 02-15-2015 05:48 PM

Puzzle 2-1 is clearly:

Spoiler: show
Two diamonds on top, one circle within a circle on the bottom

The pattern is very simple and I assume that that's why you dot dot dotted.

As for Puzzle 2-2 ...:

Spoiler: show
Based on the columns, I theorized that it was a Tetris-style answer: when you get a dot in all four corners via summation, the board clears. So you're only ever left with remainders. This theory explains the columns nicely (when read from top to bottom) and allows a guess of all four corners being filled EXCEPT the lower-left one. But it falls apart when you look at rows. Or specifically Row 2, since it does work beautifully for Row 1. But yes, no, Row 2.
Row 2 doesn't work.

Have you tried my proposed answer yet? What did the game say?

Doppleganger 02-15-2015 06:25 PM

You're correct for the first one. As you can tell from the second snap I got through it fine.

As for the second, you got further than me as the first part of your analysis is correct. However, you're only half-way there. I was not aware of any of the puzzle properties since this was the first time they've appeared in-game.

I don't see an answer in that spoiler box.

Talon87 02-15-2015 10:25 PM

You don't see an answer or you don't see a correct answer? An answer is provided. ("... and allows a guess of ...") I just don't feel confident in its correctness since the method for deriving it doesn't work for Row 2.

Doppleganger 02-15-2015 11:26 PM


Spoiler: show
The proper answer is a totally blank square. My method was errant: I looked at the columns, and noticed that each column had two total dogs on the bottom of each square, and one of the answers had one dog in the lower left quadrant, with two on top. That was the one I picked.

It is a remainder problem, but with a twist: the third square in each row or in each column has what the previous two squares had in common, but minus what they didn't have in common. So going across on the first row, the only thing the first two squares have in common are a dog in the lower right. So, that's what you see in square three. Going down the first column, one and two have no overlap, so they cancel each other out and give a blank square. You can then apply the same rules to row three, column three, which gives the blank square.

Gemini Spark 02-16-2015 02:09 AM


I also remember being scared of the huge bugs that spit fireballs or rolled stuff along the ground, those were honestly the tougher parts of the platforming... well, aside from the snakes that would crawl on the ground really fast and be hard to avoid or stun.

Doppleganger 02-16-2015 03:23 AM

The worst part is the funnel web spider. There's the ones that stay put and drop down from the ceiling, but there's another one that jumps from holes and chases you really, really quickly.

Doppleganger 07-19-2017 06:01 AM

So I just got to the final dungeon in this. I beat it, and I expected there would be a boss.

Turns out the boss is the Buddha, and he throws plasma at you with six (eight?) arms. I died in spite of the anticipation, because the Master of Mischief got turned into a stone statue and vaporized, and I didn't jump over his husked carcass.

Got to do that final level again and I don't feel fully motivated.

Doppleganger 07-20-2017 03:26 AM

So I finally beat the game. I was puzzled why my ending and levels looked different from what was on YouTube, but that was because I beat it on Expert. So I got a special ending, if an anti-climactic one where the game never explained anything to me. There was, however, a special ending CG right before my save was deleted:


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