Wade is standing in totally dark, empty space, when suddenly he sees a coin-operated arcade game appear before him: the 1980 game Tempest. Wade admits that it’s not his “best game,” and Art3mis chastises him for not realizing that Tempest would feature in the Third Gate, considering that a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest appears on the last page of Anorak’s Almanac. There is only one name on Tempest’s high score: JDH, the initials of James Donovan Halliday. Wade realizes with dread that he will only have one chance to beat Halliday’s high score.
It should come as no surprise that one of the very last challenges in the hunt is also one of the most difficult. Whereas Wade has been confident about all the games he has previously had to play, Tempest is an exception. Furthermore, the fact that he has to beat Halliday’s high score is significant. As a symbolic protégé to Halliday, Wade must prove that he is worthy of filling the shoes of his idol.
As Wade is freaking out, Art3mis tells him not to panic. The game was made in 1980 and features a bug which means if a player dies with a certain score, they get free credits. Art3mis takes out her notes and tells Wade exactly how to exploit this bug. Wade follows her instructions and he is awarded 40 free credits. He triumphantly declares that Art3mis is “a genius.” The game continues to go well, but then Art3mis informs Wade that a bunch of other Sixers have managed to get through the Third Gate and are now playing Tempest too. She reveals that every OASIS user is able to see them as well as Wade himself, something she previously didn’t mention in order to prevent him from becoming too nervous.
The stakes of this part of the hunt are made dramatically clear when Art3mis reveals that every OASIS user is watching Wade’s movements. This serves as a reminder that Wade’s actions in this moment do not only affect himself, his friends, and the Sixers. Rather, they will dramatically alter the lives of every OASIS user and, by extension, the whole of humanity.
Although he is nervous, Wade’s inner competitiveness gives him a powerful edge. On Level 81, he hears Shoto shout: “You did it, man!” Wade exits the game and sees a message appear that tells him to “prepare for stage 2.” Wade materializes on a hillside with a castle in the distance, and quickly realizes he is inside the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is another Flicksync, and Wade feels confident, as he has watched the film 157 times and knows it by heart. Although he has to switch to a different character in each scene, he barely makes any mistakes. The only tricky part is not laughing at the jokes.
Wade quickly goes from being dropped into one of the most difficult challenges of the hunt to breezing through the next one. Like any individual, Wade is not good at everything; his skills work better in some contexts than others. Unfortunately, he has to compete with the Sixers, who strategically distribute all the different skills and expertise they need across their team while ensuring that the entire team is working as one.
Aech warns Wade that three Sixers are now inside the Holy Grail Flicksync too. Wade completes the film, and is greeted with the message that he has “reached the end,” followed by the words: “Ready Player 1.” He materializes inside a giant oak-paneled room filled with computers and videogame systems arranged museum-style. He realizes it is a replica of Halliday’s office. He looks around, concluding that the computers are in an egg shape and that the egg is surely hidden somewhere in this room.
Wade’s appearance inside Halliday’s office shows that he is on the brink of taking over Halliday’s role as ruler of the OASIS. The arrangement of the monitors and consoles into an egg shape demonstrates that Halliday is making no secret of the fact that the egg is hidden in this room—however, this does not necessarily mean it will be easy to access.