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Clockwork Codebreaker Made Not-So-Complicated

by you_are_my_happiness


If you enjoy playing Time Tunnel now or liked playing the endless Codebreakers from waaay back when, then you're sure to like Clockwork Codebreaker. Although the game design is not very intuitive, I think it's a very nice design for a codebreaking game since it makes you feel like you're opening a safe. And the lack of intuitiveness is easily remedied either with tips from helpful Neopians on the boards or a little game guide from yours truly.

I have a habit of reading instructions before I play any game, but I found myself quite lost regardless when I started this game. I had no idea where I was supposed to line the runes up since they were in every direction.

But if I can direct your attention to the red arrow pointing upward from the centre of the gears and the two blue, glowing arrows just below the lights along the top of the screen, it should become evident that you're trying to line the runes up at twelve o'clock. You don't have to worry about the position of the runes beyond this particular segment of the gears.

And now, for a brief breakdown of the levels and points. You get thirty points for every rune you get right (both colour and position). Once you get the points, you can't lose them even if you mess up the runes that you got right. There's a bonus score at the end of each level, as well. With three levels in total, you get a bonus of 100 points for completing level one, a bonus of 150 points for completing level two, and a bonus of 300 points for completing level three. In other words, you can expect your score to jump like this:

Level 1 (four gears): 30, 60, 90, 220 (30 + 100 bonus)

Level 2 (five gears): 250, 280, 310, 340, 520 (30 + 150 bonus)

Level 3 (six gears): 550, 580, 610, 640, 670, 1000 (30 + 300 bonus)

In case it's not clear, let me give an example. Say you're on level one. Level one requires you to match up four runes. If you've gotten three already (i.e. three green lights and one red light), you'll have 90 points since each correct one is worth 30 points. If you get the last rune right, you get 30 points for getting it right, which brings your score to 120 points. And then you get a bonus of 100 points just because you're special. Naw, just kidding, you aren't that special. You get it since you completed the level.

And although what the colours stand for should be fairly universal, I'll mention it just in case you aren't too sure-- red lights mean both the colour and position of the runes are both wrong, yellow lights mean the colour is right but the position is wrong, and the green light means you got both the colour and position right (yay!). And no, the lights do not light up with the corresponding runes. In other words, if the first light turns yellow or green, it does NOT necessarily mean it's referring to the first rune. It could be any of the runes, which means the process of elimination will be your best friend for this game.

Most of this game is just logic, so if you're not so good with that, time to brush up on your skills. Or you could cheat (no, not that kind of cheat, silly) and take notes as you go along eliminating colours. You have twelve chances per level to check whether your combination of runes is right (by clicking the red button in the centre).

Before we get to the logic, let me get one thing nice and clear. Do not play thoughtlessly. This is of paramount importance. No kidding. It's easy to get tired or frustrated with this game if you're not especially into breaking codes, but once you forget or give up the vital clues those lights are giving you and mess up, there's pretty much nothing you can do but restart the game. You aren't timed, so go slowly and take your time. You don't get more points by guessing the combination (permutation, actually) of runes quickly. You can miraculously solve it in one guess or you can take twelve. Doesn't matter. You get 220 points for finishing level one, regardless.

And so, now after all that preamble, you get to listen to my awesome advice. First thing you do when you start the game is click the red button in the middle. If you want an easier game, I suggest waiting for a game that gives you all negatives (i.e. red lights) at first. It may seem strange you're trying to get the lights wrong, but we're using the process of elimination here. If you get all red lights back, it means there are no blank spots whatsoever, which means you have to worry about fewer choices overall. (And in case you didn't know that, now you know — blank runes can be part of the code.)

What you do next is click each gear once so they're all the next colour. Grey if you're going clockwise and red if you're going counterclockwise. By the way, whatever you do, try to stick with one direction. Either systematically go through runes clockwise or the other way around. I've been doing it clockwise so I'm going to write my guide this way. (To turn a gear clockwise, click on the right half of it; to turn it counterclockwise, click on the left half of it.) So now you've got all the greys lined up. Click the red button and see how many greys there are.

Now, there are two ways to proceed. You can continue with all the same runes (e.g. all blanks, all greys, all purples, all magentas) until you know how many of each rune is in the code, and slowly figure out the order. But this uses up a lot more guesses, and it'll be nigh impossible to survive in the later levels. So I suggest you do it my way, even though it may be a bit harder.

So my way starts the same — you check whether there are any blank runes first. Now, since there are only blank runes, it's impossible to get the wrong position. So if you have any green lights, then you know there are that many blanks.

For the purposes of our example, let's say we get one green light and three red lights after clicking the red button. What you do next is click the smallest gear, and go to the next colour, grey. Click the red button to check which lights turn on. There are a few possibilities, so let's go through them. But before we do that, I'm going to list them out and I want you to try and figure out what they mean (without peeking at the answers below). It may help if you have the game opened up to try it as you go along.

a) one green light

b) one yellow light

c) one green light and one yellow light

d) two yellow lights

e) two green lights

Now, for the answers and explanations:

a) There are no grey runes, and the blank rune is in either the second, third, or fourth (outermost) position. This is because the lights haven't changed at all with the introduction of the grey rune. If there were any grey runes, you should get a new light (either green or yellow).

b) There are no grey runes, and the blank rune is in the first position (smallest gear). Yellow lights indicate "right colour, wrong position", and since the only position the blank rune is NOT occupying is the first one, that has to be where it's supposed to be.

c) There is at least one grey rune, but it's in the wrong spot. How do we know this? Recall we started off with one green light. The green light is for the blank rune. And now we have the yellow light. So this means the grey and blank ones should be in the second, third, or fourth positions, but we don't know which. It would be best to keep this information in mind while you go onto the next colour in the smallest gear until you get a match.

d) There is at least one grey rune, and the blank rune is in the first position. The grey rune should be in either the second, third, or fourth position.

e) Yay! You got the grey rune in the right spot — the first position. The blank rune is in either the second, third, or fourth spot.

Complicated, yes. But if you can work out the logic behind this, you can save many, many steps by inferring certain pieces of information.

Note that if none of the lights change when you introduce a new rune, this can only mean one thing — the colour you introduced is NOT in the code. So just skip over it whenever you're testing colours with the subsequent gears. It saves you a lot of trouble. If you have trouble remembering, write the colours down. And if you find writing the colours down really interferes with working out the code, write down little columns for the different colours and just draw a little mark if you know that colour isn't in the code.

So I hope that helps. Make sure you can work through the logic behind the explanations for the lights above, because it'll be tough otherwise. Oh, and did I mention? You can get a trophy for this game fairly easily once you've mastered this. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a "random" game. Yes, the codes are random and there's an element of luck involved, but if you go through it systematically and strategically, it's possible to complete all three levels at least half of the time. The scores cap at 1000 points, and you get a trophy for being in the top 100. And I'll bet you can do well in this game with a bit of practice.

Happy code-breaking!

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