We’re going to take a minute here to talk about the various clues, keys, gates, and challenges in Ernie Cline‘s book, which was the source material for Steven Spielberg‘s film version of Ready Player One.
If you haven’t read the book yet, be advised there will be spoilers from here on out. There are different challenges in the movie, so, no real spoilers there. But seriously, if you don’t want to know, or you hated the book or whatever, go brush up on your classic cabinet games, watch all of Monty Python’s filmography, or maybe catch up on Bad Lip Reading.
Anorak’s Invitation reveals the existence of a ginormous Quest for a golden easter egg hidden somewhere in the largest game ever created, The OASIS. The winner of the Quest will take control of The OASIS and a sizable sum of money in the upwards of several trillions of dollars
The poem reads:
Three hidden keys open three secret gates
Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits
And those with the skill to survive these straits
Will reach The End where the prize awaits
Then there was the Limerick, which was discovered by a Gunter (egg hunter) who blabbed to the world about his find, causing no shortage of ridicule of fellow Gunters:
The Copper Key awaits explorers
In a tomb filled with horrors
But you have much to learn
If you hope to earn
A place among the high scorers
The Limerick leads players to the hidden Tomb of Horrors (located of all places on the school planet of Ludus) where the first challenge after making it through a perfect recreation of the D&D module of ‘Horrors’ is a cabinet game of Joust vs a Litch King. Once the Litch is defeated, the key is given, and a clue to the location of the First Gate is visible on the Copper Key. The clue reads:
What you seek lies hidden in the trash on the deepest level of Daggorath.
After the player is able to choose the correct game, and win the TRS-80’s “Dungeons of Daggorath”, the First Gate appears. Inside the Gate, the player must perfectly reenact all of the film Wargames as the main character David played by Matthew Broderick. Once the ‘film’ challenge is completed, the next clue appears to find the Jade Key.
The captain conceals the Jade Key
in a dwelling long neglected
But you can only blow the whistle
once the trophies are all collected
The player must find the correct ‘dwelling long neglected’, once the player has found and returned all 19 of Zork’s treasures to a trophy case, and the infamous Cap’n Crunch whistle is blown. Once that happens, the player is given the Jade Key, which is wrapped in a piece of silver foil, with a clue.
Continue your quest by taking the test.
If you are well-nerd-versed enough to figure out, saying the word ‘unicorn’ out loud will cause the foil to fold itself into an origami unicorn, pointing the way to the Second Gate.
Specifically, the Second Gate is located inside a digital recreation of the Tyrell building from Blade Runner, where the player must insert their Jade Key into a copy of the Voight-Kampff machine and win the game Black Tiger as the protagonist.
Once the Second Gate is cleared, the player is given a red five pointed star, specifically the star from the cover of the Rush (RUSH IS VARIETY) concept album 2112. The player must find and locate the temple on the doomed planet Syrinx mentioned in the album, and play a particular riff on a hidden guitar waiting there and returning it to the altar, which results in the Crystal Key appearing, along with the clue for the Third Gate.
The first was ringed in red metal
The second, in green stone
The third is clearest crystal
And cannot be unlocked alone
The Third Gate is the literal gate at Castle Anorak, home of James Halliday’s famous all powerful wizard avatar Anorak. Written above the lock are three words: “Faith, hope, charity”, and the High Five figure out it’s in reference to a classic Schoolhouse Rock song, “Three Is A Magic Number”.
We find out through trial and error (thanks Suxors!) three copies of the Crystal Key are needed to open the gate. Once inside, the player must beat a score of 728,329 on the classic video game Tempest, which opens the video sync challenge of Monty Python’s The Holy Grail with the player must complete as King Arthur, played by Graham Chapman.
Needless to say, the keys and quests and gates don’t go into such detail in the RP1 film, and they are almost too simple for the questers to solve by comparison. See for yourself, as Ready Player One is currently in theaters worldwide.