The year is 1983, and the world is first introduced to Matt Hazard, eight-bit video game hero with more firepower than pixels, through debut title The Adventures of Matt in Hazard Land, published by then-fledgling company Marathon Software. In the following years, Matt starred in dozens of games; some were immensely popular (such as western A Fistful of Hazard, 3D shooter Matt Hazard 3D, and 1995 spy shooter You Only Live 1,317 Times), while taking the series in new directions (such as the ill-conceived kart racerHaz-Matt Karts and the non-violent water gun game Soak'Em) was... bad, causing people to stop buying the games and hence putting Hazard out of a job.However, the new CEO of Marathon (now called Marathon Megasoft), Wallace "Wally" Wellesley wants to bring Matt Hazard back, and he's set to star in their first Next-Gen title. The only catch is that they intend to kill him off at the end of Level 1 to introduce a new hero.Matt... is not too happy when he learns that.Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is a 2009 cover-based third-person shooter with more Genre SavvyMedium Awareness and Fourth Wall breaking than you can shake a sprite at. In further defictionalization, it's been followed in 2010 by Matt Hazard: Blood Bath & Beyond, an homage to Contra.
This game contains examples of:
Achievements in Ignorance: Enemies are sometimes immune to some attacks and incredibly vulnerable to others simply because that's how their games worked.
An Adventurer Is You: Bill the Wizard is a high-level mage from a North American RPG...who is unfortunately mostly powerless outside his own game.
Well, at the time his staff was stolen, but he regains it the end of the level. Shortly before going home. He fried a group of enemies before leaving, though.
Abandoned Warehouse: Well, not so much abandoned, but there's even a level whose subtitle is "Another Warehouse". Well, it is the warehouse where all the props used in the games are stored that gets ransacked by the AI to prepare for the final level.
Every time the bad guys hack the game, you could be going through a dance club house owned by one of Matt's friends and suddenly the screen warping and audio to signify that the game is being hacked and you're fighting an entirely different set of enemies. Complete with that type of enemy having their own music, which sounds strange when you're in a mansion when you suddenly hear Western music.
Animated Actors: Matt has a contract in-perpetuity with the game company, so the only way for Wally to be rid of him is to kill him off in the plot of a game.
Matt Hazard: (After defeating the final boss) I'm about to get the "Beat Snot Out of Wellesley With My Bare Hands" trophy/achievement. The trophy/achievement unlocked sound pings upon Matt finishing the ass kicking.
Bond Girl: Kitty Abundanza. Her name even means "a lot of... cats", like a certain other famous Bond girl.
Boring, but Practical: The Hazard Pistol is your most basic weapon. That said, the enormous ammo count & plentiful chances at refills means that you can level armies with this thing (especially if you're good at headshots).
You can tell the skill level of the Marathon Megasoft employee "player characters" in the final level by their color.
Their role in the company too. Blue for all the people that didn't have a direct role in the production of the game like Marketing and Sales, Yellow for the Artists, Red for the Programmers and Pink for the Testers.
Combat Commentator: Matt comments on his current health, switching weapons, and even that you just earned an achievement.
Matt: (after unpausing the game) That'squitean achievement.
"Don't hit me. Don't hit me!" can be heard while doing the cover switch feature sometimes during a gunfight.
Cosmetic Award: The game viciously parodies the 360 Achievement system by giving you access to three achievements before you even encounter an enemy (10G for starting a game, 5G for pausing the game, and a whopping 60G for watching the credits from the title screen). Each achievement also comes with pithycommentary from Matt Hazard.
The game doesn't have a interrogation minigame, but they put the achievement for it before said minigame was never implemented. Guess what you get after beating one level.
Same thing happens for the "multiplayer" achievement.
Crate Expectations: A wide variety, as cover items are often hacked in with their villains. Everything from futuristic rounded metal crates, to Russian military crates, to a western outhouse. You even visit a warehouse which turns out to be where they make the crates.
Credits Gag: At the end of the penultimate level, which is the "final" level of the new game, QA says "There's one thing I would like you to do for me... roll the end credits!" Cue laughter, freeze frame, credits... which are then halted by Wellesley who then sucks you into a game representation of the Marathon-Megasoft offices.
Not to mention said credits being obvious fake ones on top of that. Neil Patrick Harris' character is credited to "Doogie", and a chunk of the staff listing is simply "Code Monkeys"... followed by a listing of real monkeys.
Dual Wielding: You can get two six-shooters from cowboys and twin sub-machine guns from several enemies later.
Easter Egg: Relatively easy to locate, but in the mission where Matt must protect a Wizard, one company logo reads "Failboat: Shipping and Storage".
Enemy Chatter: Three types. You'll sometimes get enemies trying to taunt you. Sometimes, they'll give each other directions (such as providing suppression fire or flanking). And if you sneak up on a new area without making yourself obvious, some enemies will discuss other things (like how one hired gun does not want to be called a mercenary, and another mook is hoping to become a space marine one day).
Everybody Laughs Ending: Subverted. Matt and QA only thought it was the last level. Matt leaves the game and has one last level against Megasoft to deal with.
Evil Twin: An evil red version of QA appears early on. When confronted by both the real and the evil version, Matt quickly tells that the red one is evil since she's done nothing but lead him into ambushes and come onto him, which the real QA would never do.
Fembot: Dexter has an army of Fembots. Some are based on Kitty Abundanza, some have the likeness of the female lead from the western game, and two seem to be based on Joanna Dark and Lara Croft.
Genre Savvy: Eat Lead is supposedly only the latest in a long series of games, and Matt knows the score by now.
Government Agency of Fiction: You don't actually see them, but there is an organization called "SVGA" that seems to act as a police force. A character is arrested by them at the end.
Grandfather Paradox: In a weird way, because actual Time Travel isn't used. The plot of Blood Bath & Beyond involves General Nutronov breaking into the archive computer and kidnapping Matt's 8-bit self in order to kill him and therefore preventing the current Matt Hazard from ever existing. The 8-bit Matt is technically from the present, but is still Matt's past self. Confused yet?
At least, in Eat Lead. Blood, Bath & Beyond lampshades the loss of the "big-name voice actors" when Matt realizes they're talking in text boxes and his voice actor is just a soundalike.
Hollywood Healing: If Matt goes long enough without being hit, he's back to full health. He obviously learns to love cover.
Hollywood Nerd: QA. The developers said this was entirely intentional.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Both averted and justified. You can only hold two guns, but when you switch the gun explicitly de-rezzes with the other one forming in Matt's hand.
How Do I Shot Web?: In the last level, because of the constant failure of the AI, Wellesly sics the entire company on you, having them load up game avatars which have the same abilities you do (such as regenerating health and ability to switch weapons). Some of them are gamers, but a lot of them shout things like "Which button is it to do the cover thing!?"
I Am Not Shazam:invoked Parodied. According to the official backstory, the character of Matt Hazard first appeared in The Adventures of Matt in Hazard Land (pictured at the top) and later the character's official name became "Matt Hazard".
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After the credits for Blood, Bath & Beyond, Matt stands at the moon mounted laser and remarks "Well, it's not like we're going to get to make a sequel..." and proceeds to fire the laser at the Earth, thus destroying the Marathon Megasoft archives and fulfilling Neutronov's objective anyway.
Loads and Loads of Loading: The game has two separate loading screens before getting to the title screen. At some points the game exclaims that if the loading is so long the level must be good.
Plus, Mass Effect 's eloadvators are parodied. At one point you're stuck waiting for an elevator to reach it's destination... If you fiddle with the controls during this time Matt tells you off by saying "If your time was so valuable, you wouldn't be playing a game."
Loading Screen: The "additional information" type is parodied. Although they occasionally give actual gameplay advice, most of the time they include lines like "If you are having trouble interrogating enemies, it's because there's no interrogation feature." and "Tip: A small amount of money given, usually in response to high quality service."
Old Shame: Matt's ill-advised water-gun and kart racing games.
One-Hit Kill: Matt's melee attacks can kill certain baddies in one shot, and send them flying through the air.
Punny Name: "Altos Tratus" sounds like a type of cloud. And "Altostratus" is a type of cloud. And "Alto" is a good approximation of the range of a castrati. ...So they're implying that "Altos Stratus" is a castrati?
Press X to Not Die: Some boss fights are presented as Quick Time Events, including one in the first level that ends after one button, and another is simply repeatedly bashing Dexter's head into the side of a car.
Reality Warper: As the program into which QA and the villains are hacking is the game you're currently playing, reality is warped quite often. At one point, sandbags and other military regalia are "hacked" into the middle of a casino as cover for a group of Russian soldiers; at another, an entire room is replaced with the main street out of a western.
Self-Deprecation: In Blood Bath and Beyond, Matt complains that he doesn't have a voice anymore, QA explains it's because the last game didn't sell very well. There's also a joke about said game being "now available in bargain bins everywhere!"
A Space Marine Is You: Several of his enemies are Space Marines. Matt Hazard himself is a pastiche of the character type, right down to being bald.
Standard FPS Guns: Played with; you encounter the usual SMGs and assault rifles, and Matt's signature weapon is his highly marketable "Hazard Pistol". You also get plasma weapons and, oh yes, water guns. Each enemy group carries different Standard FPS Guns, so you're forced to keep switching guns; as if you find yourself surrounded by Cowboys they aren't going to drop AK-47 ammo.
Sniping Mission: There's a level where you have to protect a de-powered CRPG hero, using the front half of arcade sniper game cabinets.
Spot the Imposter: as mentioned above in Evil Twin, subverted immediately: The evil QA tries to trick Matt in a standard "I'm the real one!" situation, but Matt already guessed she was an impostor anyway.
Those Wacky Nazis: The Secret Soldiers of the Wafferthin, sprite-based enemies from an old FPS who are immune to melee attacks (they didn't exist in 1993) and take cover by turning edge on and becoming a vertical line.
Title Drop: Wally is shown holding an in-universe copy of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard during The Stinger.
Videogame Objectives: Parodied early on when Matt complains in response to a Long List of mission objectives, so QA changes it to "Kill everything that moves". Later mission objectives include "Follow Sting Sniperscope into the obvious trap" and "Hey, weren't you the star of the Matt and Dexter games? Your place sucks compared to this!"