Hyena (MIT Mystery Hunt 2020)

MIT Mystery Hunt 2020
Safari Adventure
Author(s)Yar Woo, Todd Etter
AnswerClick to revealACM, RTS
No. solves1414 full solves, 28 correct submissions
No. total guesses56

This pack of scavenging hyenas has found a bunch of old license plates.

Hyena is a puzzle from the Safari Adventure round of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt. As the flavortext indicates, it is composed of a bunch of (fictitious) license plates, as well as a few somewhat nonsensical strings.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]


Anagram - Each string at the top of the puzzle is actually a partial rearrangement of at least one actor's name (possibly more). This is perhaps most evident with GARYMARSHALAN (a direct concatenation of three names), though all of the strings have name-like elements to them. Each actor's name is divided into three chunks.Each actor's name is divided into three chunks, indicating a letter in the corresponding THX 1138 character's name.

Knowledge Required (Film, Actors) - All of these actors have one thing in common: they played a character in the 1971 George Lucas film THX 1138. The characters in the movie all have a three-letter name (with optional numbers).

Synonyms - Each of the license plates bears a fictitious state nickname (placed where the tagline on a plate would otherwise be). One of the strings generated from the THX characters is a synonym for this nickname...

Missing Letters - ...so long as one letter is added first. This letter is extracted for one cluephrase.

Identification (Film) - The actual content of each license plate hints at a film (e.g. MADASHL is "MAD AS HELL", part of a catchphrase from Network (1976)). This generally isn't enough to identify the films in question, especially with the character count restriction on license plates making some clues ambiguous, but the films have one common point: all star the actor Robert Duvall (including aforementioned THX 1138, which is redacted).

Indexing - Every plate (besides the redacted one) has an expiration month, which clues an index into the corresponding film.

Reordering (Chronological) - There is one plate from each of the first fourteen states to join the Union (the original colonies + Vermont). These indicate the ordering for both streams of data.

Recursion (Clue Phrase) - Both streams of information result in a string similar to the ones found on top of the puzzle. Repeating the mechanism on each produces the answers to the puzzle.

Multiple Answers (Full Split) - Like most Safari Adventure puzzles, this puzzle has multiple answers. The puzzle's halves are essentially two separate puzzles, with the only connection being related theming (and the recursive use of one mechanic in the other).