“¿Donde parke mi Civic?”
No, this isn’t a scene from the Spanish remake of Dude, Where’s My Car: it’s the call to action for an online puzzle hunt featuring champion Luchador Cesar, whose 2012 Rallye Red Civic Coupe went missing prior to his title match with el Burrito Caliente. As the online quest’s video explains, “the shiny red Civic Coupe was last spotted on YouTube but of course, by now, could be anywhere out there on the world wide interweb.” Complete the 25 puzzles, and you could win Facebook Credits, Amazon music downloads, and even brand new Honda Civic LX Sedans for you and your “bestie.”
Upon starting the Super Civic Quest, players are asked to join the team of one of five eccentric and distinct characters: Jack the Urban Woodsman, Mitch the Zombie Salesman, Teeny the college coed Monster, Aiko the Ninja, or Cesar the Luchador. Players are then asked to hunt through an impressive array of partner sites: expanding beyond the Facebook-YouTube-Twitter social media triumvirate, puzzle content has infiltrated sites like Pandora, Yelp, FailBlog, Foodily, I Can Has Cheezburger, and The Daily Monster. Custom microsites ask players to wear an augmented reality Luchador mask, download ringtones, monitor an online security camera, and read an eBook.
After every five puzzles, players unlock one of the five characters that serve as the centerpiece for the campaign. Players also receive $1.29 in Amazon Music and Facebook Credit, while supplies last. Super Civic Quest maintains a leaderboard displaying point tallies for each team as well the player’s top performing friends. While players are encouraged to recruit additional players for their team, there doesn’t appear to be any purpose behind the teams other than to associate with one of the five distinct personalities.
Many of the stops in the Super Civic Quest are individually quite impressive. Players are asked to scan Honda advertisements featuring the five Civic Quest characters using Shazam for one puzzle; this delivery mechanism was also utilized for SRCH, Starbucks’ scavenger hunt collaboration with Lady Gaga. Unlike the Starbucks campaign, however, players without a smartphone are still allowed to follow along through an alternative puzzle option. Another puzzle requires players to assemble and play four videos in sync to assemble a video spot that would have made a compelling commercial of its own accord. The video crafted by Stefan Bucher’s Daily Monster was the most pleasant surprise of the lot, leading me to the next puzzle in a creative and unexpected manner that I wouldn’t dare spoil here.
On the whole the puzzles are relatively simple, relying on the viral cachet of the partner sites to add excitement to the experience. For the most part, the puzzle hunt is limited to hunting through websites for shortened urls that lead back to the game’s Facebook app which directs players in turn to the next unsolved clue. Because of this mechanic, replaying the experience and locating individual puzzles is virtually impossible once all 25 clues have been found. The game is also light on narrative, presumably relying on the premise that Cesar lost his car during an all-night session browsing viral websites. The search doesn’t return to the subject of the missing Coupe until the car’s parking spot is located during the final puzzle, calling on players to hunt through a gigapixel photo for the missing car as part of an automotive game of Where’s Waldo.
The contest runs in two phases: the Collect and Win Game runs until July 1st, while the Grand Prize Entry Period extends for an additional two months, to August 31st. Give the scavenger hunt a look. If nothing else, this may be your only chance to see the term “Bestie” defined in the Official Rules for a promotion.