Psychonauts

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"You shall engage the enemy in his own mentality! You shall chase his dreams! You shall fight his demons! You shall live his nightmares. And those of you who fight well, you will find yourselves on the path to becoming international secret agents -- in other words... Psychonauts! The rest of you... will die!"

Psychonauts (2005) is a well-loved action adventure game from Double Fine Productions, headed by former Lucasarts employee Tim Schafer. It's the story of a young psychic prodigy named Razputin Aquato ("Raz" for short) who runs away from his home in the circus (an inversion of the usual run away to the circus trope) to sneak into Whispering Rocks, a government training camp for child psychics like himself.

Raz is quickly caught by the camp's leaders, but he's allowed to stay for a while until his psychic-hating dad will come to take him home again. During his one day of training, he discovers that something horrible is going on: someone is stealing the brains of his fellow campers, leaving them mindless zombies obsessed with teeeeeveeeee and hacky-sacking. As he tracks the brain-stealing scheme to the source, he hones his powers, and encounters a variety of eccentric and downright crazy characters. Raz finds himself forced to literally get into their heads and fight his way through their memories and mental disorders in order to save the world.

The platforming aspect of Psychonauts is often made of Bizarchitecture, and some levels—especially the notorious final one—are extremely Nintendo Hard. Luckily, Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: even if Raz loses all of his lives inside someone's mind, the items and events he has already unlocked won't have to be found again.

The game is especially notable for its level of detail. Every line of dialogue in Psychonauts is voiced, and every single character has elaborate voiced reactions to virtually every item, ability or situation that Raz can show them. (This is even true for characters who aren't actually around when certain items or abilities are available: hacking the game reveals that the game data has scripted reactions for these things regardless.) Additionally, the majority of characters have their own separate plot lines and interactions, many optional cut scenes, and long, hidden conversations that can be overheard by Raz.

Critically praised but initially somewhat poor in sales, Psychonauts is considered one of the great underappreciated games of its time by many gamers for its unique premise, colorful characters, and humorous dialogue. The game is also praised for its visual style, which owes quite a bit to The Nightmare Before Christmas (the credits theme is notably a loving homage to Danny Elfman) and Invader Zim (including Richard Horvitz playing Raz). Overall, the game presents a very inventive and solid world with virtually every character having a strong personality. In recent years, the game has picked up a lot of new fans, and is now available on Steam.

There's a Psychonauts Wiki, the Psycho-pedia at Double Fine.

On November 11, 2010, Schafer indicated he was "ready" for a sequel. On February 7, 2012, Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft, offered to sponsor Psychonauts 2. At first he claimed he was serious, but now he's saying he was joking, despite the claims of Schafer and Persson discussing the offer.

Psychonauts was once sold as part of the Humble Indie Bundle V.

Tropes used in Psychonauts include:
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: With a high school locker room in it!
    • Justified in that it's a mental representation of deeply buried (and rather painful) memories of the place where the owner of that particular headspace found and lost the love of his life.
  • Abusive Parents: Raz thinks there's a pretty solid chance his dad's endless training was an attempt to distract him from his budding psychic powers, if not actually kill him; and further, that his dad hated him for those exact same psychic powers, even though he had psychic powers himself. Ultimately subverted; Raz's father actually loves his son deeply, and the training was to teach him control so that his powers would be more effective, and to give him something to rely on aside from said powers. And he doesn't hate psychics in general; just the ones who cursed his family. A lot of the level progression is done through trapeze and tightropes so it seems that his dad's training actually helped him save the day several times over.
  • Academy of Adventure: Well, summer camp, anyway.
  • Action Bomb: Both the personal demons and those danged rats in the tower.
  • Adults Are Useless: Averted in exactly the sort of setting you'd expect it to be played straight. As noted below, most adults are actually Bunny Ears Lawyers. Even though the adults do the ass-kicking later in the game, Sasha ignored Raz when he tried to tell about Oleander's psychic death tanks because he and the other teachers were in a hurry due to an emergency Psychonaut meeting... which turned out to be a trap laid by Oleander to kidnap the teachers so that they wouldn't interfere with his plans.
  • Affably Evil: Doctor Loboto. Even offhandedly commenting to a hostage that he uses his little jokes to put his "patients" at ease. Combine his "jovial family mad doctor" routine with his hideously menacing appearance and the fact that his idea of humor includes stuff that goes way beyond "tickle torture," and you get some of the purest Nightmare Fuel in a game already loaded with it.
  • All Cheering, All the Time: Crystal and Clem, who deliver pretty much all their lines in cheer form.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Edgar's ex-girlfriend.
    • Oddly enough inverted with Edgar's girlfriend as well, who dumped the large and manly Edgar to go out with the MALE cheerleader captain.
  • All There in the Manual: The supporting characters have expanded backstories and personalities on Myspace and the official wiki.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population
  • Ambiguously Gay: Benny, particularly on the official character RP Myspace pages. He's obsessed with three things: bullying, musicals, and Bobby.
  • And I Must Scream: The disembodied brains are still fully conscious, as shown in the pre-Meat Circus scene. Though if Sasha and Milla's dialogue is any indication, the stuff they're in kind of sedates you so you don't realize that.
  • An Aesop: Lampshaded in Sasha's Shooting Gallery at the end.

Raz: So is this where you teach me another important lesson?
Sasha: ...No. Here's your badge, now Let Us Never Speak of This Again.

  • Anticlimax Boss: The final boss of the game is very sad. You get big, beat it up until you run out of juice, you turn invisible, and then you wait to regain enough energy to turn big again. Even if your invisibility doesn't last long enough, as long as you turn it off and on before it runs out, you're still safe.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Oleander's shortness led to him not being allowed in the Army. Or the Navy. Or the Air Force. Or cooking school.
    • Also in the Gloria's Theater level—you're warned about messing with the mood lighting, and the possible results thereof—utter chaos, etc. ending with "...or worse: improv."
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: (It's Goggalor!)
    • Also appears at some sizes in Waterloo World, although you can't destroy things.
    • Building up enough psychic charge to create a giant astral projection of yourself is how you beat the Final Boss.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Most of the game is actually pretty clean, just subversive and/or creepy. A lot of its weirdness can't really be "rated against," but actually making it look like it was for younger kids (when it skews more towards teenagers) would have been... bad. As such, it features a few shoehorned usages of "ass" and a few instances of blood, seemingly to bump the rating.
  • Bacon Addiction: You summon Ford Cruller with bacon. He loves bacon so much he'll pop out of your ear at the smell of it. He warns you that you can't bring out the bacon in his presence or he'll eat it right there.
  • Badass Grandpa: Ford. Especially in the showdown against Oleander.
  • Bad Bad Acting: The 'Actors' in Gloria Van Gouten's mind. SO much.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Rather the point of the game.
  • Bedlam House: The Asylum level.
  • Berserk Button: An actual button you receive early in the game. Show it to Elka Doom repeatedly.

Raz: Hey look at this button I found on Nils’ bunk, it looks like it came off a girl’s dress!
Elka: *loud gasp* ... I don't care.
Raz: Looks like it was pulled off by force!
Elka: I don't care.
Raz: It's got little teeth marks on it...
Elka: RAZ, PUT THAT THING AWAY OR ELSE I'LL SHOVE IT IN YOUR EYE SOCKET AND SEW IT TO YOUR BRAIN!

  • Big "Shut Up!": Raz says "Shut up!" "Shut up!" "Shut up!" to the cheerleaders urging him on to victory in the Punching Game in Basic Braining in the same rhythm as their cheers.
  • Bindle Stick: Raz in a memory reel flashback. Though he already has a backpack, so doesn't really need to carry one.
    • It's to let you know he's a runaway
  • Bizarchitecture: The asylum starts going all M.C. Escher on you near the top.
  • Black Bug Room
  • Black Comedy: All over, but Waterloo World most obviously.

Peasant: Hurl my innocent bones into the cruel machine of war. I'm ready!

  • Blatant Lies: Anything the G-Men say in the Milkman Conspiracy.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: A ballet boarding school in Gloria's backstory.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In the Milkman Conspiracy level, the agents you meet throughout attempt to disguise themselves as, among other things, road workers, widows, and assassins.

Rainbow Squirts: "To promote niceness. To make the world prettier. To share candy with everyone. To obfuscate the true nature of the Milkman. To protect the Milkman at all costs. To eliminate all who threaten to reveal his secret objective."

  • Brainwashed
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of the Waterloo World level, the carpenter you need to recruit will not come out of his house because he is afraid of a burglar on his roof. Near the end of the level, a peasant you recruit wants to use the musket you give him to "rob that stupid carpenter", whose house he has been trying to break into for days.
    • Early on in the game, Raz asks Ford if he has a jet hidden around the sanctuary somewhere. In the final cutscene, with Ford being rendered incapable of teleporting everyone to the HQ, Oleander says they'd have to take the jet. Cue jet.
  • Bullfight Boss: Literally. Though when it turns out that the bull is actually the owner of the headspace the level takes place in, it becomes a matador-fight boss where you have to protect the bull. But you win by convincing the matador that he's actually a bull, so Double Inverted?
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Milla, Sasha, and Ford. In fact, almost every adult in the game.
  • But Thou Must!: Trying to tell Ford you're not ready only results in him slapping Raz upside the head and saying: "How about now?"
  • Butt Monkey: Dogen just can't catch a break, can he? Though, when you think about it, Sasha has it rough too.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Parodied with Kochamara.
    • "Overly Intricate ... Combination!"
    • "Hard-to-Avoid ... Area Attack!"
  • Canada, Eh?: Chops even pulls out a few Canada-isms.
  • Captain Obvious: The secret agents from The Milkman Conspiracy.
  • Caustic Critic: The Critic from Gloria's Theatre.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Pretty much everything seen inside the Brain Tumbler. The whole area from the bathtub until you climb the "thorny tower" foreshadows Thorney Towers Asylum. The bathtub itself has "Oblongata" written on the side, the name of the lake next to the camp, past it is a tower covered in thorns, and on the floor around the tower are figments shaped like bottles of milk, flowers, a Napoleon hat, and a purple bull. And then there's The World Shall Taste My Eggs!, a bizarre memory vault that explains itself very shortly after finding it.
    • Also the rabbits which can be seen in Coach Oleander's obstacle course. No matter how much you prod them, they won't run or hide from the pillbox and keep getting mowed down. Further, you are led to the Guns listed above by another rabbit.
      • Use Clairvoyance on those same rabbits. To them you look like a butcher.
      • Not to mention the meat plant in the obstacle course which Raz and Lili both mention they saw in their dreams (and the brain tumbler does indeed have meat scattered all over), in addition to figments shaped like butcher knives.
    • Arguably, most of the figments in general.
    • Lili's cold becomes plot-relevant later on as it renders her immune to the sneezing powder and delays her de-braining operation.
  • Circus Brat: Raz.
  • Circus of Fear: The Meat Circus. Oh God, the Meat Circus.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: Parts of people's minds which haven't been accessed in a long time are blocked by "mental cobwebs" which you need to buy a specific piece of equipment to clear.
  • Collection Sidequest: Let's see, you have the...
    • PSI cards
    • Challenge markers
    • Scavenger hunt
    • Figments of imagination
    • Emotional baggage
    • Cob webs
    • Ammo increases
    • And all the campers' brains
  • Comes Great Responsibility: When Raz gets Pyrokinesis:

Ford: You have to promise only to use this when it's really important or really really entertaining.

Agent: I am a grieving widow. Why, God. Why.

  • Cute and Psycho: Secretly dysfunctional male/female cheerleading duo, Clem and Crystal. Though their brains get stolen before they pull off whatever it was they were planning.
  • Development Gag: When Raz first sneaks into the camp, Oleander guesses that his name starts with "D". The previous protagonist, scrapped in development, was named D'Artagan.
    • You can also see D'Artagan in the final cutscene, hiding out in the latrine.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: After your mentors are suddenly kidnapped, you can still return into their minds - and they are there, too, but for some reason are nearly helpless.
    • Way more than that; not only do all the psychic powers in the game get different (and often hilarious) reactions from every NPC, almost every item gets similar reactions. For instance, at one point you need to rescue Sheegor's turtle, Mr. Pokeylope, and if you were playing the game normally you'd probably have him in your inventory for less than a minute. Yet most of the cast has something to say about him.
      • If you play the game on Steam, you even get an achievement for showing everyone Mr. Pokeylope.
    • Try using cheats early in the game to unlock the powers you're not yet meant to have. Use said powers on characters who won't be around once you're actually supposed to have the powers and you'll often hear dialog that you would never hear if you played through the game without cheats. The best use for cheats is confusing the G-Men. "Oh my God! Why am I holding a gun?!"
    • Try to enter the mind of someone you're not supposed to enter, and there'll be an explanation. Except for Sheegor, but she is one of the most sane characters of the game.
  • Dialogue Tree
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Among the things you can destroy: pillows, stereo speakers, fruit carts, buildings, stacks of papers, lava lamps, napkin dispensers, watermelons, televisions...
    • Special mention: Sasha Nein hates Tiffany lamps. "Say something hideous and horrible jumps out at you... Something so disgusting that it simply must die..."

Sasha: (covering his eyes and momentarily looking away) So... tacky! ...Can't look directly...at it! ...Now, you simply take that hate, focus, and release! (lamp shatters) And the world is a better place.

      • Justified in Sasha's case by the fact that, quite apart from the fact that he's a straight-laced German Comically Serious type, he was forced to get a job making the tacky-ass things to get by when he was younger.
      • Also, if you watch the reel "Sasha's First Loss", you'll notice that there's a Tiffany lamp in view when his mother died, so he may have come to associate them with that as well.
    • There's also the soldier whose father was killed by a bridge.
  • Difficulty Spike: The Meat Circus is insanely difficult compared to the other dozen levels of the game, as Yahtzee Croshaw stated was one of the few flaws in the game.
    • The 2011 Steam version had an update that made it less frustrating in one regard: you no longer lose a mental layer every time you fail to protect Olly or fall into a Bottomless Pit, just when you lose all your mental health. This dramatically decreases your chances of getting kicked out (especially if you increased your mental health to the maximum by saving everyone's brains and gotten the Regenerating Health by going up to Rank 90), so you won't have to repeat parts you've already beaten near as much.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: Trampolines act like this in a few places.
  • Dirty Mind Reading: In one of Sasha's memory reels, it's shows that he learned to never read his father's mind the hard way. He was just searching for positive memories of his dead mother and got much more than he bargained for.
  • Disco Dan: Milla.
  • Don't Explain the Joke

Raz: Hey, Bobby. Someone's stealing kids' brains!
Bobby: Well in that case, you've got nothing to worry about! Ah-ha-ha-ha!
Raz: ... Good one.
Bobby: BECAUSE YOU GOT NO BRAINS!

  • Dissimile: "We've fought monsters like you before, Goggalor! Only much smaller!"
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Coach Oleander.
  • Dummied Out: Originally there was going to be a subplot involving the nightmares in Milla's mindscape getting loose and abducting campers, due to either time constraints or because it was simply too scary, the subplot was dropped but the bosses weren't, leading a Giant Space Flea From Nowhere during The Milkman Conspiracy.
    • Alternately, it was pointed out mid-development that Milla wouldn't allow children to be harmed in her mind by not having control of her emotions. Thus her comment on having her nightmares under control when you find the room.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Paying enough attention to throw away conversations and memory vaults will make it clear that most of these people are really messed up.
  • Eagle Land: The Milkman Conspiracy. On the outside, it looks like a typical Flavor 1 1950's suburb...Though it's incredibly twisted around. It's immediately apparent it's under an obvious yet incredibly creepy Big Brother Is Watching scenario, with government agents dressed in trench coats and fedoras poorly attempting to imitate normal people, trashcans and fire hydrants staring at you, mailboxes walking around, and unusual girl scouts.
  • Easter Egg: The original protagonist, D'Artagan (sic), who was replaced with Raz for being really hard to render because his hat was too awesome for the engine to render, shows up briefly in the ending. Briefly, as in a one-second appearance. For those who can't find him- final cutscene in the outhouse as Raz is running after Lili. So yeah.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk
  • The Electric Slide: Raz does it at one point.
  • Eleventh-Hour Superpower: For the final, two-headed boss, Raz's dad lends Raz his psychic powers in order to protect his mind.
  • Escort Mission: A brief optional one early in the game, plus the final platforming section.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: (Telekinetic bears.)
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Vodello gets you to make the hoops spin by passing through them in order to "lighten up the party".
  • Falling Into His Arms: In one of Milla's memory reels, Sasha catches Milla in this fashion after they escape from an exploding building. They both look quite happily flustered.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: The whole brain-sneezing thing just can't be pleasant.
    • Crosses the Line Twice: Removing someone's brain? Horrible. Inducing them to sneeze out their brain? Hilarious.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: A horrific, mutated lake monster—with a deep, thoughtful voice—named Linda.
  • Follow the White Rabbit: A (mindscape-generated) rabbit acts as something of a guide for Razputin in the first tutorial, leads him to an important clue, and also eventually becomes a central element in an Escort Mission.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Everyone except Raz and his father.
  • Freudian Excuse: And since the game takes place in peoples' minds, you get to fight it.
    • And they hit like a Mofo. Especially in the Scrappy Level.
      • Makes sense, since the Scrappy Level is partially based on Raz's Freudian Excuse. Stands to reason that the Freudian Excuse Raz would have the hardest time dealing with would be his own; he can't even beat it all by himself in the end.
  • Gambit Roulette:
    • Spoofed. Upon returning to Sasha's mind, Raz is told by Sasha that the "censor overload" incident was all an elaborate training course, knowing that Raz would push the censor deployment rate to its maximum. Raz, of course, asks if the giant mutant censor that handed Sasha his ass on a platter was all part of the course, too. Sasha is not amused.
  • Gainaxing: Lampita Pasionado.
  • Germanic Depressives: Chronically Comically Serious Sasha.
  • Gimmick Level: Almost all of them.
  • Girl in the Tower
  • Girl Scouts Are Evil: The Rainbow Squirts from "The Milkman Conspiracy", who are guarding the Milkman so he can bomb the asylum when the time comes.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Raz wears a pair of goggles on his head, and only puts them over his eyes when he enters a person's mind. There's no readily apparent reason for having them at all, though there is a brief mention of them being used as a method of protecting his eyes from rabid conspiracy theorists in the manual.
    • Lampshaded in the Milkman Conspiracy level, when Raz is captured and interrogated by the Men in Black, one of the things they ask him is "What is the purpose of the goggles?". Later, the boss of the level screams "I'll pluck out your eyes!" and Raz's response is "Ha! You can't! THAT is the purpose of the goggles!". So the boss shuts off the lights.
  • Gravity Screw
    • Sasha's stage features planetary gravity.
    • Boyd's stage features a vaguely-enforced "fall towards the ground" gravity system, which will probably kill you more than anything else in the level.
  • Purple Rocks: Psitanium.
  • Grind Boots: Raz can grind on anything. Even wooden railings and telephone wires.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: MEAT GRINDER BUNNIES.
  • Harsh Word Impact: The Phantom/Critic uses this as a weapon.
  • Hartman Hips: Milla Vodello, and how.
  • Heart Container: The brains found in the later part of the game.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X":

Kochamara: I have the brain of a little girl back in my lab that'll power a whole army of psychic death tanks!
Raz: *starts laughing uncontrollably*
Kochamara: What?
Raz: You have the brain of a little girl?
Kochamara: I said, "in my lab!"
Raz: I think you've got the muscles of a little girl too!
Kochamara: *groan* ... Good one.

  • Heroes Want Redheads: Lili.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Oleander's the one who led Raz to the camp in the first place. If he hadn't done so, his plan would have gone off without a hitch. That said, it ended up better for him in the end...
    • Then again it's never stated or shown who the man in Raz's memory reel is that gave him the pamphlet.
      • However, he did allow Raz to stay in the camp after he snuck in. If Raz had been escorted out, well, see above.
      • Double hoist: He only let Raz stay to begin with because he was so impressed by Raz' natural psychic prowess that he just had to use it in the plan that it eventually ended up foiling.
  • Hook Hand: Dr. Loboto.
  • Hot-Blooded: A lot of the characters in Waterloo World. You know your army is going strong when a bucket of snails are proud to fight and die for your cause.
  • 100% Completion. And DAMN do you have to work for it.
    • The recently-added "Math is Hard" achievement is so named because you can get to Psi Cadet ranking of 101.
  • Idle Animation: They vary from level to level, and can involve everything from bowing to rolling out invisible pie crusts to dancing enthusiastically. And they occasionally cause Raz to walk on air.
  • The Igor: Sheegor, a female and obviously The Woobie during her brief appearance.
  • I'll Kill You!
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Subverted: The fact that Lili had a head cold was the only thing between her and Doctor Loboto's magical brain-sneezing powder.
  • Interface Screw: Confusion grenades.
  • In-Universe Game Clock
  • Invulnerable Civilians: You can set fire to your fellow camp mates and the worst that will happen is that they complain about it.
    • Not exactly; the air only distorts around them a little and their visible heat gauges don't increase. It's likely that their own psychic powers suppress your pyrokinesis.
  • Ironic Nickname: Actually an ironic name. Raz's last name is Aquato, but his family doesn't take to water too well.
  • It's Up to You: Used to the point of deliberate absurdity: of the nineteen campers whose brains you recover, none of them are willing to directly help you save the world. Most or all are perfectly capable of helping, they just have better things to do. Like get pedicures or make out. However, at least two do something to help, namely sabotage the coach's car. However, it's really only useful in case you fail.)
    • Hey, Chloe tried to help! Admittedly, she was convinced that the best way to help was use the coach's radio to try and contact the aliens she believes she's one of. But it's the thought that counts. However, if you talk to her again, you find out that she thinks that Earth is doomed and she's just looking for a ride out.
      • Plus, Chops and J.T. are guarding the rest of the campers, which, considering the fact that there are telekinetic bears and fire-starting mountain lions,(and that the camp counselors who WOULD be keeping them away are all gone) is definitely necessary.
    • A bit of Fridge Brilliance: Doctor Loboto already rejected their brains for being too nice to fight. The others don't really have it in them to help.
  • Jerk Jock: Bobby Zilch.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: Raz's "Badge Get" musical sting sounds very much like "Gotta Fly Now".
  • Joke Item: The crow feather, which can be used to tickle almost everybody (except Sasha, who hates germs and refuses to play along). Using clairvoyance on it helps solve a puzzle, but it can be solved with luck. Clairvoyance can also be used on it to find out where items for a couple of the Gotta Catch Em All quests are, provided that those items are outside and that Raz is standing within mind-range of a crow.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: The basic premise of the game.
  • Justified Tutorial: Basic Braining.
  • Kidanova: Nils Lutefisk, though it might be all talk.
  • Kill It with Fire: One of your standard psychic powers. Target the squirrels and seagulls. Also, Boyd's reaction to being fired.
  • La Résistance: "For Freedom!"
  • Large Ham:
    • Coach Oleander.
    • The Den Mother really takes the cake though. "And the seas shall run white... with his... RAGE!"
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Sasha, at the end of his stage.
  • Lost Forever: All worlds can be revisited to gather stuff you've missed, so almost no item is Lost Forever. (In fact, gathering items after a level is cleared is usually the better option, because it often means that the monsters are gone too.) However, since all of the (very) extensive dialogue branches depend the situation, it's almost impossible to hear every line of dialogue in the game. A few of the achievements and achievement-related items can be missed, however, such as the "Made Man" achievement and one of the golden helmets.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Loboto, although he's a dentist.
    • Also Sasha, to a lesser extent. "If I could only get him (Raz) in my lab, I'm sure he could withstand more than the others."
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The cougars have pyrokinesis, bears have TK Claws, and the psychic death tanks have confuse grenades.
  • Magicant: Nearly every level is some combination of this and Gimmick Level.
  • Man Behind the Man: Coach Oleander is the one behind Loboto's plot.
    • Whose identity is revealed unusually early for this trope. A far better kept reveal is the true source of Oleander's insanity: the Butcher.
  • The Men in Black: The hilariously inept, robotic undercover agents in The Milkman Conspiracy.
  • Meaningful Name: See "Punny Name" below.
  • Metaphorgotten: "It's like looking at the site of a horrible car accident! A car accident where the victims can't act, and the paramedics forget their lines!"
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read:
    • Sasha Nein's second mental vault, and possibly other things in the game.
    • Milla's personal nightmare room, where visions of monstrous ashen ghosts whisper her name and ask why she did not save them.
  • Mind Over Matter
  • Mind Screw: The World Shall Taste My Eggs!
  • Mismatched Eyes: Most of the characters have these. This is most obvious with the aquatic Linda, who even has a red left eye and a green right eye, true to the trope's previous name, Boat Lights.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Milla sees her students as little children and treats them accordingly. If you use Clairvoyance on her, you can see Raz through her eyes as a very small child. It turns out that she once worked at an Orphanage of Love which was accidentally burned down, and her psychic abilities caused her to hear the thoughts of all the children as they burned to death. She was traumatized as a result. The part of her mind that contains these memories is well-hidden, and she gently tells Raz not to go there.
  • Missing Mom: Sasha's mother died shortly after he was born.
  • Mission Control: Ford Cruller, who's also the Old Master and The Obi-Wan.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: In the level that named the trope, the conspiracy is actually about a milkman, but of eight-year-old girls.
  • Most Definitely Not a Villain: "I am a phone repairer. I can listen to any phone conversations I wish, but do not do so out of my sense of professional responsibility."
  • Mundane Utility: Sasha uses his psychic abilities to light his cigarette.
  • Murder Water
  • My Nayme Is: Rasputin->Razputin
  • The Napoleon: Coach Oleander, and Napoleon himself. Inverted in Fred Bonaparte, a descendant of Napoleon's, who is extremely tall and has no ambition whatsoever. He also has bizarrely short arms—he appears to be part T-Rex.
  • Napoleon Delusion: Fred Bonaparte's Split Personality.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sure, you've gotten Boyd to open the gates... but now he's on a hair trigger: his original, mildly deranged personality has been replaced by another, somewhat more deranged personality, and he's about to blow up the asylum! On the other hand, you really don't care much about the Asylum...
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed - The bulldog in Black Velvetopia / Christopher Walken
  • No Fair Cheating: "Uooooouuuuu cheated!". Napoleon also does not permit cheating in Waterloo world. He tells Raz not to touch his pieces, his soldiers tell you that using PK on them is cheating if you talk to them, and he won't accept victory if Raz tries jumping in the stronghold directly. Yet, he jams the gate mechanism when you're about to win.
  • Nominal Importance: Everybody has a name. Usually first and last, too. Most of them have defining personality characteristics and flaws.
  • No Name Given: Almost every character has a first and last name... with the exception of the protagonist himself. Among fans, though, he's generally given the last name of "Aquato" because of the Circus posters seen in flashbacks.
  • Non Lethal Bottomless Pits: The good news about Raz's Super Drowning Skills is that he doesn't normally lose a life from them.
  • Non Sequitur Thud: "My name is Yon Yonson, I live in Wisconsin, I work in the lumberyard there..."
  • Noodle Incident: You're given a rough idea, but you never get told precisely what Clem and Crystal were trying to accomplish. The poison? Trying to kill themselves. The rooftop? Trying to kill themselves. Crystal's backstory on Myspace says that she's suicidal; Clem's says that they're no longer allowed to handle sharp implements. It's strongly hinted that they're trying to gain ultimate psychic power by destroying their bodies and setting their spirits free.
  • Notice This:
    • Interactable objects glow with an aqua blue aura or sparkle silvery.
    • You'll know when you can dig up an Arrowhead when Raz is looking at the purple smoke.
    • This trope is the only way to find Deep Arrowheads. You can only dig them up when the Dowsing Rod is out and the higher the sound it makes, the easier it is to pull one up.[1]
  • Not So Different: Raz and the main villain both have daddy issues. This turns out to be a very, very bad thing when they have a Battle in the Center of the Mind.
  • Obviously Evil: Oleander. It gets painfully obvious to the point of lampshade hanging, especially on a replay. The "armored like a tank" and "walking around at midnight" thing, etc. etc. It gets up to a peak when you're back in the ominous evil white hallway, and see that really distinct bunny fresco - then the anvil should hit you.
    • Some thought he was so over the top that he had to be a Red Herring. Maybe that was the point.
    • Also, Jasper. Lampshaded in the cutscene before:

Raz: ...I totally guessed that!
Actress: Nuh-uh! You said it was Becky!

Dog: Yeah, maybe you can write it off in your taxes as a loss. A catastrophic loss, even!

  • Sequel Hook: There were actually multiple hooks - the head of the Psychonauts being kidnapped and Raz's father warning him about the rival family of evil psychics he's been trying to protect Raz from. Unfortunately there seems little chance for those to be explored, what with the miserable sales figures, though Schafer has said he would love to do one.
  • Serious Business: As you can see from the page quote, Coach Oleander takes summer camp very seriously.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: subverted. When Raz is looking for Lily inside the fish's mind, and he is asked if "Lily is your girlfriend?", his answer is a sincere "I don't know"
  • Shout-Out: To Forbidden Planet: "You are my own creation! I command you to stop!"

Raz: Man, does that ever work?

    • Examining the tree stumps causes Raz to make a remark about "a series of catacombs", a reference to an Easter egg from an earlier game Tim Schaefer worked on, The Secret of Monkey Island.
    • Gloria's level, to Phantom of the Opera.
    • Also, does Dr. Loboto remind you of anyone?.
    • After you get your oarsmen badge, Crystal and Clem are contemplating suicide on top of the lodge. Crystal says something along the lines of "we're going to become so powerful, aren't we?" Clem responds, "More powerful than you could possibly imagine."
    • Pheobe and Quentin's Band The Firestarters is a reference to the Stephen King novel Firestarter. It's about a 7-year-old-girl that can start fires with her mind.
    • Raz:First question: What do you think the queen is drinking right now? Second Question: What was your favorite science-fiction mini-series in the eighties?

Dogen: TV ?

  • Somebody Else's Problem: When you save the kids, most of them have better things to do than help you save the world from a battalion of killer psychic death tanks powered by the stolen brains of their fellow campmates. Like make out. Though at least 3 do try to do something that could be construed as help (one radios for help, but since she's calling aliens that's likely gonna be a bust, while the other two sabotage the coach's car. Which, while useful as a backup plan, does nothing to help you right now).
  • Spexico: Black Velvetopia, oh so very much. Justified, since Edgar has actually probably never been to anywhere Spanish-speaking, and it's all one big symbolic fantasy of his creation.
  • Split Personality: Fred Bonaparte battling with his ancestor Napoleon Bonaparte. And Ford Cruller, whose psyche was shattered in a mental duel against another psychic and can only be himself when he's near a relatively large Psitanium deposit.
  • Straw Critic: Gloria has a really nasty one living in her head.
  • Stealth Pun: The final level in the game is a circus made of meat, I suppose one could refer to it as a Carne-val.
  • The Spock: Sasha Nein
  • Spoof Aesop: "Shooting things is fun and useful!"
    • "Now Razputin, remember only to use your power of Pyrokinesis only when it's very, very important... or really, really entertaining."
      • "And if you're doin' it to impress girls, make sure none of them have on a lot of hairspray. Whoo!"
  • Spring Jump: The levitation ball can be used in this fashion.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Rainbow Squirts, a transparent parody of the Girl Scouts.
    • Also, the transparently suicidal cheerleaders.
  • Stepford Suburbia: "The Milkman Conspiracy."
  • Steve Blum: Voices the G-Men, among others. And there was much rejoicing.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In one of the plays in Gloria's mind, with a conversation between actors playing Gloria and her mother.

"Gloria": And isn't it wonderfull that you aren't even slightly jealous of my fame, which has risen so much faster and higher than yours, while your star has faded?
"Mother": (Beat) ... Yes.

  • Super Drowning Skills: Made a Justified Trope thanks to a curse placed on Raz's family.
    • But taken to ridiculous extremes within the game. Raz can "drown" in a cheap wooden prop made to look like water.
  • Super-Hero School: Technically, it's a summer camp, but close enough.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Ford doesn't bother to correct Raz's guess as to why he goes around acting as everything from the camp coordinator to the janitor.
  • Surprise Creepy: The game gets progressively darker as time goes on, particularly once night falls and Raz heads for the asylum. Milla's level has a self-contained example: it's probably the brightest, happiest mental space in the game, until you find the hidden area with the memories of the destroyed orphanage.
  • Take That: The, ahem, censors which serve as your default mooks. They dress up in stereotypical suits, wear overly large glasses and all their attacks consists of different ways of saying "No." Given the fact that you mercilessly beat them up in hordes and the amount of crap that gets past in this game there is no way this is just a coincidence.
    • Brainless kids only want to watch television.
      • Or, occasionally, play hacky sack.
  • Teen Superspy: Preteen Superspy.
  • Televisually-Transmitted Disease: The four residents of the asylum have pretty Theme Park examples of paranoid schizophrenia (Boyd), bipolar disorder (Gloria), Dissociative Identity Disorder (Fred), and a combination of obsessive compulsive disorder/chronic depression (Edgar).
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Maloof claims that the staff haven't thrown any kids in the Geodesic Psychoisolation Chamber since the fifties, but according to the tree cutting in the parking lot, the camp was opened less than a decade ago. Given Milla's seventies-party-girl flair, it doesn't seem like it's possible for both statements to be true.
  • Tomato Surprise: Boyd is The Milkman.
    • Likewise, Edgar is El Odio.
  • Toros Y Flamenco: Edgar's mind. And it's smooooooth...
  • Tsundere: Lili is very much a Western version of this trope.
  • The Unfought: Doctor Loboto; you don't get to even enter his mind. He just gets pushed off the the top of Thorney Towers by a tank piloted by the talking turtle disguised as a human brain.
  • Vent Physics: In use in the platforming dream world.
  • Victory Pose: Done via a strange hold-your-hand-out-like-a-chicken (Egyptian walk?) and walking around in a circle while saying "Erh, eh-erh! Eh-eh, eh-erh!"
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: "See ya in hell, squirrels!"
  • Vocal Dissonance: Mr. Pokeylope. Also Bonita Soleil and - in a way - the giant lungfish. She's female; her name is Linda.
  • Walking on Water: The Levitation power should let you do this, but Raz's curse prevents him from doing so.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Coach Oleander, as you can see from the opening quote, takes summer camp WAY too seriously.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Quite aggressively so—every NPC has a unique reaction to just about every psychic power. Some reactions to psychic powers require cheating to see. Just about every object gets a unique reaction, too. Trying every power and item with every possible NPC and object is vastly rewarding.
    • If you punch a girl scout in The Milkman Conspiracy, "Why did you punch that little girl?" will be added to the list of questions you're asked when captured and interrogated.
  • White Dwarf Starlet: Gloria.
  • Widget Series: This is a game with a level based on black velvet paintings.
  • Words Can Break My Bones: Jasper. And Raz was so sure he had nothing to fear...

Raz: "How can I say this and still sound cool... Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never... hurt me?"

  • Yandere: Elka is... kinda nuts about relationships.
  • You Get What You Pay For: During the Brain Tumbler experiment Raz will tell Sasha about seeing "very weird things". Sasha exclaims "Ack! Why did I have to buy the CHEAP Brain Tumbler?". Turns out cheapness has nothing to do with it...
  • Your Head Asplode: Dogen did this to someone once. Four someones. Allegedly. He definitely did it to three squirrels who were saying the little guy would kill everyone. By little guy, they mean Oleander.
  1. If your computer is good enough to run it on the highest settings, there's also a distortion effect around the tip of the Dowsing Rod that increases along with the sound. When it's making things nigh-impossible to see, you're right on top of one.
  2. talking to Bobby Zilch about it will have Raz mention it as part of a question about something else