The Neverhood

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The Neverhood is part of the creative issue of Doug Ten Napel, creator of such games as Earthworm Jim. It is a claymated point-and-click puzzle adventure starring Klaymen, who wakes up in a locked room with no knowledge of what he's doing there or where he came from. There are very few other characters, and for most of the game Klaymen is alone, but fairly early on you begin discovering videotapes, apparently some kind of weird fairytale narrated by one Willie Trombone, the same person whose letters keep showing up in your mailbox...

The game didn't exactly blow the bank at its time of release, thanks to the adventure game genre's slow descent to obscurity that had begun a few years prior, but the game still manages to uphold a considerable cult following thanks to its charming art style, quirky sense of humour and Terry Scott Taylor's fantastic soundtrack. Especially in Japan and Poland.

A sequel named Skullmonkeys was developed and released for the PlayStation. The game switched genres to a platformer more in the style of Earthworm Jim, while retaining the first game's claymation graphics and music. Unfortunately, much like its predecessor, Skullmonkeys went largely unnoticed thanks to lackluster reviews and the glut of other, more popular platformers on the Playstation at the time.

Tropes used in The Neverhood include:
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Creation story in The Bible. Given that Doug TenNapel is himself a Christian, the "affectionate" part is easily understandable.
    • There's a tale in the Bible about a man named Joseph who saved his reputation by being able to interpret dreams; one character mentioned in the Hall of Records does the same by reading portents in people's bedhead.
  • All There In The Hall Of Records: Sift through the bizarre jokes and surreal stories, and you actually get a few important clues as to what the game's universe is like, where Hoborg came from, where Willie came from, and why Willie's even in the Neverhood in the first place (since Hoborg didn't actually create him).
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: In Skullmonkeys, the title characters react to Klogg's death by singing.
  • Art Evolution: The animation in Skullmonkeys seems to reflect Doug Ten Napel's art style more than The Neverhood did. Also, Willie is a LOT skinnier and lankier.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning
  • Beautiful Void: It's a long time before you meet any people, and even when you do they're few and far between. It's also a fair amount of time before you're given much idea of what's going on. Also, the game's music consists mainly of eerie ambient stuff in the first-person areas (it's more tuneful in third-person areas and cutscenes) and the sky is a featureless black nothingness, for that extra touch.
  • Berserk Button: Do not mess with Bil's teddy bear.
  • Beta Baddie: Klogg.
  • Body Horror: Joe Head Joe, a boss from Skullmonkeys who has a realistic human head for a body.
  • Bottomless Pit: There is one. It is clearly marked. Don't leap into it. You'll die.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Lil' Bonus Room, from Skullmonkeys. So creative and inventive way to talk to the players. May be a Ear Worm or Paranoia Fuel to those who hear it.
  • Cain and Abel: Klogg being Klaymen's quintessential evil older brother. Although the evil did come before he even HAD a brother.
  • Call a Smeerp a Rabbit: Well, call a smeerp a "Weasel", more or less.
    • There's also Willie's pet flytrap, which resembles a giant mouth with four tiny legs. They don't even eat flies, they only eat ring food.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Klogg, again.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When you first enter the building with the mouse/memory puzzle, the first thing you're likely to do is to step on the floor-pad, which causes the actual mouse on the floor to be sucked away. Nothing interesting happens after that. Seeing the same mouse under a similar device inside Klogg's castle much later on might clue you into what the thing actually does and how it can be used to your benefit.
  • Cloudcuckooland: The entire game, from start to finish, has one of the strangest game worlds this side of Super Mario Bros..
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Willie Trombone, and to a lesser extent, Klaymen. Why Klaymen? Well, in one scene in Skullmonkeys, he reaches into a hole that he saw a sandwich go into, gets his arm reduced to bones for it (yet he's still able to move it around), and... he smiles and says, "Cool!".
  • Cover Version: Regarding a large part of the soundtrack from the first game: there is a whole album of metal covers. And it's awesome. Listen to it here
  • Curse Cut Short: "SON OF A --"
  • Dance Party Ending: The good ending. "And now it is time... to GOOF OFF!"
  • Darker and Edgier: Skullmonkeys, to the point of Nightmare Fuel!
  • Deal with the Devil: You are offered to take your own ruler's crown at the very end of the game, a choice given to you by the sickly-sweet-talking villain who also took that crown for himself... and became horribly disfigured in the process.
  • Dumb Is Good: Klaymen, Willie and even Hoborg don't seem all that bright.
    • Although subverted in the Hall of Records. At least one story describes a smart and honest guy fooling his dumb, lazy and greedy brothers multiple times in a row with the same trick.
      • That's a biblical story with a paintjob.
  • Enter Solution Here
  • Evil Minions: The Skullmonkeys in the sequel.
  • Evil Overlord: Klogg, of course.
  • Eye Scream: One of Skullmonkeys' bosses, Joe Head Joe, has a very... disgusting attack: he pops out his lower eyeballs (I say "lower" because this boss has two heads), which roll at you, possibly in an attempt to flatten you, all the while making slimy sounds until they fall off the platform.
  • Fake King: Subverted by Klogg.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Hoborg's crown.
  • Gag Dub: One of the two existing Russian translations, which is basically a huge Take That to Microsoft Windows 95 mixed with random references to Russian/Soviet culture. The general mood of the more emotional parts stays due to the game having very little dialogue, and the game itself is weird enough that most of the changes do not seem that much out of place...
  • Gaiden Game: The Japanese publishers of the game made one, called "Klaymen Gun-Hockey". Klogg comes back (again) and challenges everyone to air hockey played with guns. As if the original games weren't weird enough...
  • Giant Robot: Bil, and the Clockwork Beast.
    • Evil Engine Number Nine in Skullmonkeys could be considered this. Maybe.
  • Guest Fighter: Klaymen is this in Boombots. If Boombots may be considered a fighting game in the same way Super Smash Bros. is though...
  • Guide Dang It: You're pretty much guaranteed to run into one sooner or later.
    • Hands up if you figured out the mouse maze by yourself. ...Yeah, didn't think so. You're much more likely to bruteforce the puzzle instead of solving it as (apparently) was intended (by letting the mouse follow its nose).
  • Heroic Mime: Klaymen. He does say his name to Hoborg in the good ending though.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Willie, who dies in the battle of Robot Bil. However, if you choose the good ending, Hoborg with his awesome godly powers brings him back to life.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Klogg in the good ending.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted despite Klaymen's lack of any sort of luggage. He keeps items in a compartment in his chest.
  • I Can Rule Alone: One of possible endings for the game.
  • Identity Amnesia: Subverted. You have no memories prior to waking up in the room where you start because you were created there.
  • In-Game Novel: Hall of Records.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Played with. Each key has one and only one lock in which it can be used, but they vanish after use.
  • Killed Off for Real: Klogg in Skullmonkeys. Just to drive the point home, they sing a song about it!
  • The Kingdom: The Neverhood is one.
  • Large Ham: Klogg, quite obviously. "I DECLARE MYSELF KLOGG, RULER OF THE NEVERHOOD!"
  • Laughably Evil: Who didn't laugh at Klogg hamming it up?
  • Man-Eating Plant: There are two of them. But they just spit you back out, they only eat ring-food.
    • I do not.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The Neverhood's full of these here and there. For example, do you remember the room with BOBBY machine? Ocassionally, the title is all you need to know to get shrinked.
  • Morality Dial: Big Robot Bill.
  • Multiple Endings: There are three ways the game can end, although one of them is more of a Nonstandard Game Over, or rather, it would be one if there were a standard Game Over.
  • Narrative Filigree: The majority of the Hall of Records. The only parts with any real relevance to the story are Hoborg's bits, and even then, Willie's videos tell you all you need to know. However, it does explain some of the things from the sequel... mainly, the Skullmonkeys and the Ynts. Everything else though is mostly just extraneous world-building.
  • Nintendo Hard: The sequel Skullmonkeys. It's near impossible to win without excessive cheat code use.
    • The first game also counts, but it's more about the difficult puzzles than anything.
  • Oh Crap: Klaymen's reaction when he accidentally summons a Weasel crashing through the wall behind him by playing with a musical toybox he found just seconds ago.
  • Overly Long Gag: The Hall of Records. Emphasis on "hall". Although the records themselves can constitute an Overly Long Gag at points, especially in the bits that parody The Bible. Also, try eating the fruit on that one tree in the music box area. Try it a few times for good measure.
  • Plot Coupons: The game can't be completed without recovering all of the videotapes.
  • Press X to Die: There is precisely one way to die in the game, and there is a sign clearly warning you not to do it.
  • Quest for Identity: You won't be completely sure of who you are or what you're doing until very near the end of the game.
  • Robo Cam: Is object a bear?
  • Rule of Symbolism: Just in case you missed the blatant Garden of Eden/Forbidden Fruit thing going on, the included Making Of states right near the beginning that the story is drawing from the Biblical fall of mankind.
  • Same Content Different Rating: Averted in the case of The Neverhood, as the puzzles would've been too much for little ones but fine for teens; Skullmonkeys, on the other hand, was a notably darker game than The Neverhood, yet it was originally rated K-A for Kids to Adults. Angry parents calling in must've set the ESRB straight, and they re-rated the game T for Teens.
  • Schmuck Bait: See Bottomless Pit above.
  • Shout-Out: The Neverhood to the Bible, it seems.
  • Smug Snake: Klogg.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: In theory, the theme to Neverhood has lyrics. In reality, it sounds like this:

Numauhauamunu - haunauamuanum, at the NEVEEEERHOOD! NEVEEEEERHOOD!

  • Songs in the Key of Lock: One of the doors is protected by a musical puzzle.
  • Stomach of Holding: Klaymen has a door in his torso. He stores items inside.
  • Taken for Granite: Hoborg without his crown.
  • Themed Cursor: The cursor is your standard arrow... but, like everything else in the game, it's made of clay.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: See Berserk Button above.
  • Too Many Belts: Hoborg doesn't just have one belt around his waist, he also has an extra one wrapped vertically over his chest that holds his chest together, keeping his guts from spilling out.
    • That first belt being not a belt, but the gouge where he used some of his own base matter to save Willie Trombone and Big Robot Bil.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Skullmonkeys have three of such levels. Amazing Drivy Finn, Incredible Drivy Runn and Klogg boss fight.
    • Notice that none of these allow you to use your special weapons, but wait till the True Final Boss arrives... Wait a second. So, it means, even Evil Engine Number Nine plays this trope straight, with being aThe Platform Hell instead of a regular boss fight?
  • Villainous Breakdown: Klogg killing Willie off, then taunting you about it when you get close, alongside making desperate attempts to lead you away from good by promising you a 'present' if you rule with him.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: In Skullmonkeys we have "Klogg is dead!".
  • Walls of Text: The Hall of Records. Backstory, humor, worldbuilding and (in particular) enormous amounts of randomness. Reading the Hall is optional; unfortunately, traversing it is not.
    • The cheat code *enter* fastforward *enter* allows players to move through the Hall more quickly.
  • Wasted Song: All of the songs on the radio, which only play on the radio... and the majority of them aren't even necessary. They range from the catchy (such as "I'm Thirsty I Need Wawa") to the surreal ("Sound Effects Record #32") to the downright Nightmare Fuel-ish. In fact, a great many songs in the game only play in one room which it'll only take you a few seconds to traverse.
  • Widget Series: ...obviously enough.
  • Wolf Whistle: Klaymen lets one out in Skullmonkeys when one of the titular baddies uses a machine gun to shoot at him while ending up making the silhouette of a shapely woman with the bullet holes.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: The bulk of the music is made of this. Especially Death Garden Jive, where the official soundtrack lists the "lyrics" as "Your guess is good as ours."
  • You No Take Candle: "Um... hellooooo! Me Willie! Me Willie Trombone!"