Cine2Nerdle: Introductory Play (1 of 4)
Assembling movies, frame by frame.
I’ve mentioned the explosion of games, most of them wordplay-related, inspired by the Wordle craze a couple years back. (Wordle’s still successful, just like they still sell hula hoops, but the “craze” period has passed.) Of those, the most creatively rewarding is Cine2Nerdle.
Cine2Nerdle gets its odd name from its sequel status. The original CineNerdle was an online jigsaw using frames from movies. I found it fun but unremarkable and soon moved on. (The creator of both games, Nilanth Yogadasan, put the “2” in the middle in a nod to movies like 2 Fast 2 Furious.)
Cine2Nerdle is a tile-swapping game. You’re given a 4x4 grid of tiles, like this:
Its object is to assemble the tiles into rows or columns of four each, with each tile representing a movie. When you start to get close, assembling a row of three tiles that just needs a fourth, those first three tiles will glow yellow:
In this case, I’ve got two almost-rows: one containing “M,” “license to kill,” and “casino,” which I recognized as James Bond tropes, and one, “robbery,” “Bernie Mac,” and “casino,” which I stumbled over by accident. But hey, wasn’t Bernie in Ocean’s Eleven, and wasn’t that about robbing a casino?
I’m about to consult IMDb to check whether Mads Mikkelsen was in that movie—I have no shame in googling to shore up my weaknesses—when I realize that the word “Ocean” is already a tile, and there you go. Eventually, I do google Mr. Mikkelsen, and as soon as I see his face, I remember his character in Casino Royale.
Jumping ahead, the finished puzzle includes rows for three other films: the first is the giant-shark picture The Meg, the second is Reservoir Dogs, and the third is Bad Santa.
Tiles can represent many different aspects of a film, including actors (five tiles here), title words (Bad, Santa, Dogs, Meg, Ocean) character names (M, Ocean), soundtrack music (“Stuck in the Middle with You”) plot details (license to kill, robbery), genre (horror action), and setting (casino, ocean). Other puzzles have included directors, composers, quotations—any short item you might associate with a movie.
There is something wordplay-adjacent about remembering that Bernie Mac was two different characters in two different movies. Like words, actors’ faces can assume different meanings with context. But let’s go back a second.
Notice the “ocean/Ocean” tile at the top right. Unlike all the other tiles in this grid, it’s playing with multiple word meanings. In the row across, it means where the movie takes place, but in the column down, it’s the name of the title character.
Not every Cine2Nerdle puzzle uses such wordplay, but others use it a lot more. And the wordplay isn’t limited to the final answers: it also exists in the potential answers.
For instance, when solving this one, I briefly considered that M might be a crossing tile. There is a classic 1931 film called M (and naturally, I love those one-letter titles). I also considered other movies where Santa was an actual character, not just a title word, and movies where more literal “dogs” might be characters, instead of Tarantino’s gang of criminals and counteragents. There was also a chance that “Meg” could’ve referred to a character of that name, as in Little Women or Twister.
Yogadasan doesn’t just crank out these puzzles himself; he’s created a platform where fellow cine-nerds can submit their own. I’ve contributed a few already. Now that we’ve got the basics down, I’ll explore design possibilities in a little more detail—tomorrow.