Video Game: Goblet Grotto
Yes, that's a skull in the washing machine: the real weirdness
is yet to begin.
Goblet Grotto is a freeware action-adventure title that has you assume the role of the toad knight Swampy, on a quest for valuable goblets found in a strange grotto. It was created by the team known as thecatamites and can be downloaded here
. The gameplay itself is simple, with the player character limited to a single attack, only capable of asking questions but not talking back, and lacking shops, an inventory or even a map. However, this is compensated by the game world being absolutely huge and bizarre, full of Flavor Text
that rarely, if ever, matches up with each other but stays memorable regardless.
This game provides examples of the following:
- Airborne Mook: There are some very large flies and the albatrosses. They're slightly faster than other enemies but other than that, there is no difference.
- Anachronism Stew: The game has a lot of it. The barbarian Goblet Men fight with Roman-like skeletons and invade the vastly more advanced Bio Cube owned by the dwarves, who are advanced enough to have automatons, telepathy and drill tanks. Just a few metres to the side you’ll find a ladder leading to the race track with hundreds of racers competing on modern petrol-driven skooters. Then there are the red-armored super suits of powered armor, very modern US dollar bills used by criminals, the washing machine-like things in some rooms as seen in the title image, TVs and even a crashed UFO in the jungle level.
- Apathetic Citizens: The peasants are this. They’re the only human characters who will never try to attack you and their dialogue is very much submissive towards you and the power you have over them (see I Cannot Self-Terminate below for details).
- Apologetic Attacker: The first two albatrosses you fight. One says HELLOHELLOHELLO if you talk to him, the other will go HOWYADOING, HOWYADOING, HOWYADOING.
- Artifact Mook: Played with: usually levels have all enemies fit a certain theme (Techno-Mummies near the pyramid, criminals in the crime hive, etc.), but they'll sometimes feature guests from other levels (like the Techno-Mummy burial ground including a couple of scooter racers from the Race Track level.) This is intentional, as in all cases they have also found a portal to another level in some way and got lost.
- Artificial Stupidity: All enemies have the same AI and cannot do anything beyond simply moving towards you in a straight line and attacking you once they're close enough. The only exception is one Mook Maker enemy you'll face.
- Background Boss: Played with in the fridge sub-level. Once you get to the top of it, a giant Goblet Man will appear in the background and say “I could do with a chilled toad right about now!” but he doesn’t actually attack Swampy. A regular-sized hostile Goblet Man will spawn inside the fridge, but he goes down as easily as the most.
- Bait and Switch: Some friendly characters will often turn hostile after conversation, and sometimes they will change into an entirely different NPC as well, like an old man in the Crime Hive that turns out to be a criminal.
- The collapsed level below the Crime Hive is littered with goblets. Picking them up gives off a completely different sound than usual and doesn't increase the goblet counter. The local dog helpfully says that they're fake and turn to dust in your mouth.
- Bizarrchitecture: Besides the usual floating platforms, you’ll often see the floating path bent at completely unnatural angle and many such things.
- Body Horror: the general process of being converted into a skeleton is this – see Eye Sream below. There are also plenty of examples to do with the king – in this game, a giant, blue mollusc whose insides you get to visit. There are Goblet Men being turned into sugared meat due to staying inside too long, and there some other Goblet Men hacking at the wall in the room that is stated to be the inside of its genitals.
- Brain in a Jar: Inside a king you’ll find one Dr. Ryuchi, who was once the research group’s leader but now has transplanted his brain into a jar after his companions died. If you talk to him, he will instruct you to help him bring about the return of the kings (see But Thou Must below).
- Breakingthe Fourth Wall: Frequently; some characters will outright address the player in dialogue, speaking of the collectibles inside the game’s box (Blatant Lies, since it’s digital-distribution only) for instance. You can also find a market where a smuggler will offer to sell you cheatcodes for the game (which doesn’t work either).
- But Thou Must: Dr. Ryuchi offer of bringing back the kings cannot be refused: he will just chide you “Come on, you pussy” until you agree. once you finally say yes, you’ll drop his brain jar and it will shatter.
- Cardboard Prison: Subverted in the Police Station level. One of the rooms requires you to drop down a hole to avoid the invulnerable Policemen … which drops you straight into the steel-barred prison corridor suspended in the black void. It is entirely possible to walk on the void and walk out of it by going down another ladder. None of the prisoners take advantage of this however, and their behaviour is justified: using this ladder will lead to an exit, but it's guarded by more hostile Policemen and they don't have enough health to resist.
- Also averted earlier on - you get to see two rooms full of cages for all hostile creatures in the game, like Goblet Men, flies, mushrooms, Red Grogan, or even a huge cage for the albatross - all of these are very effective at their job. In the Dog City, you get to see a similarly effective cage for the lone wolf in there.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Usually, the prayer does nothing, as you would expect it to. Sometimes, it can refill your Sprint Meter instead of eating meat or generate a single goblet or clod of meat in front of you. This is initially explained as prayer lifting Swampy's spirits enough to stand back up in spite of exhaustion, and the goblets/meat being there all along, with prayer simply allowing him to look around and spot it. However, as Swampy collect more goblets, he begins to actually believe in the supernatural powers and goblets are explained as "God smiles on you" and prayer can somehow generate a bull statue (which drops a goblet upon being killed) and a small pyramid crackling with electricity and suspended in mid-air. The last two are accompanied by an Evil Laugh too.
- Collision Damage: Most enemies still need to hit you with their attacks in order to inflict damage on you. Creatures like the policemen, however, will damage you on collision. Touch damage is also the staple of the unusual enemies like the office door, or the sentient words.
- Convection Shmonvection: Some levels have 2D fire that doesn’t harm you at all, even if you walk right into it.
- Corrupt Cop: The hostile Policemen during the game are all said to be this when you find the Secret Police at the end of the police station.
- Creepy Child: The boy zombies/statues with daggers that attack you during one of the levels.
- Deadpan Snarker: Happens sometimes during the game, like with the trapmasters in the pyramid, who will congratulate you on making it past their extremely obvious traps while at the same time wanting you to fall in their next one.
- Also, in the game’s opening forest, if you walk off onto the third concentric ring before its top, you’ll see a dog standing there. It will reply “You’re so sharp, you’ll cut yourself.”
- Dogs are this trope in general.
- Dem Bones: There are many, many skeletons around in this game. Most are hostile mooks, but there are plenty of ones you can talk to without repercussions.
- Developer's Room: The only way to get the closest alternative to a proper ending is to find one. Here, it's the same labyrinth as the one shown on the title page, but crumbling, full of steam, and with every creature in the game present to greet you. It cannot be escaped; the emergency exit is what gives you the "Thank You For Playing" message.
- Dialogue Tree: Averted. In the rare cases when you're actually allowed to reply, you get two buttons labelled Yea and Nay to do so, and usually the result is the same regardless of your answer. Sometimes, the answer does matter, though, like when Secret Policeman asks you to partake in the flesh, then blood of the policeman. Saying yes both times makes them non-hostile and allows you to walk by them in peace. Refusing will have them attack, and likely overpower you.
- Door Slams You: In one office level, you will see a door attack you because it doesn’t have the required software. It cannot be damaged in return, so your only choice is to flee.
- Dual Wielding: The king molluscs’ antibodies (who look just like the stereotypical kings) will attack with two swords. The rarely encountered albatrosses will fight with two daggers in their paws.
- Dummied Out: The game pretends to have a lot of such content to replicated the feel of old, sloppily made RPGs. Unfortunately, it seems like it's as complete as it will ever be.
- Easy Logistics: Discussed: you can find dwarves on their level discussing the way their expedition is being supplied.
- Elemental Tiers: Parodied. When the Necromancer sends you on your way to retrieve an artifact for him, he will mention that the there are seven guard crystals which all shoot stereotypical elements like lighting and poison ... and bees. According to him, final crystal shoots more bees. In reality, of course, nothing is shot at all.
- Elite Mooks: Parodied in the skeleton level with Ultra Skeletons. They look far more badass and will knit extra bones into their chest to appear tougher, but they’re no different from the regular skeletons combat-wise.
- Also, there is this monologue, commenting on the value of upgrading your troops in strategies vs. Zerg Rush:
Double Skeleton is equal in power to two skeletons. Triple Skeleton is equal in power to three skeletons. Quadruple skeleton is also equal in power to three skeletons. Why? This is the riddle of the Quadruple skeleton.
- Enemy Civil War: Played with. If you make it far enough in the skeleton territory, you’ll find a tunnel that they use to send their troops up into the clouds, to fight against the snakes. Both skeletons and snakes are common enemy in the game; yet, none of the skeletons you’ll see there are hostile to you, subverting the trope.
- Double Subverted in that the neither side actually fights each other on-screen. The text boxes do refer to the fighting as you walk through the level, but all you’ll see are skeletons lying on the ground and some snakes attacking you.
- Everything Fades: Exaggerated both due to the engine’s limitations and designers laziness. The slain enemies will not so much fade, as straight-up disappear from existence, sometimes leave behind meat or (if they’re undead) bones.
- Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Just about every creature in the game you find has a peaceful form and a hostile form. The only exceptions to this are the dogs, who will never be hostile to you (unless you count the wolves as a variation of the dog.)
- There are also some things that should never have been hostile, like an office door or the sentient words: in the crime hive, you will get attacked by the words CRIME, FUCK and GOBLETS.
- Evil Inc.: The Goblet Corp in the Race Track level is this, organising the perpetual race where most racers don’t make it to the finish line and ones that do are killed by its army of super suits and dumped into the sewer. It even bothered to paint the ceiling in that cave to resemble the sky to fool the racers into complacency.
- Eye Scream: In one level, you meet several Goblet Men that are being converted into skeletons. The descriptions of this are never nice, but this one takes the cake:
Goblet Man is wiping crust from his eyes …
Goblet Man is still wiping crust from his eyes …
Goblet Man has [[Squick nothing but crust in his eyes.
- Excuse Plot: You’re a toad knight Swampy on a quest to collect goblets. That is all you’re and all you’ll ever be in this game.
- Floating Platforms: The first proper level consists entirely of these, and most levels aren't much different.
- For Science!!: Parodied with the trio of criminal scientists. One is making research on mice and is teaching them how to steal. Another envisions future cyber criminals as some sort of cyborgs capable of breaking into houses through computers. The last scientist wants to push the boundaries of crime and asks if the abstract concepts can still be a crime, before intending to prove that they can.
- Genius Loci: Inside the crime hive, you can get into another level, which is actually a stomach of the giant mollusc, known as king.
- Giant Mook: The dinosaurs and dwarven automatons are this. Their AI is still just as dumb as that of all other enemies, but they have much greater health, and so have a reasonable chance of killing you.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Gleefully averted. Since the game is freeware, there are no publishers to blunt its language and there is plenty of swearing later on in the game, especially as your sanity erodes.
- Goblet Fever: All the Goblet Men you find are gripped by it and are in varying stages of insanity because of it. You yourself become progressively more insane as you collect more goblets.
- Grave Robbing: You can desecrate graves and tombs by attacking them. Usually it does nothing, sometimes it yields goblets and sometimes a zombie comes out of the grave and attacks you.
- Green Rocks: Goblets are a parody of this. The majority of the levels have Goblet Men tell you about the great importance and power of the goblets. You’re told that the most perfect ship is made from goblet, will hear references to the so-called Goblet Corp, learn of the importance of goblets in the trade, etc., etc. None of this actually matters, however, and you will find some levels whose denizens couldn’t care less about goblets.
- Guide Dang It: Parodied: Some text boxes ask you to refer to the extensive text encyclopedia that is packaged within the game folder, but doing so only makes things less clear.
- Haunted House: There is a small one, stalked by the invulnerable Bloody Head ghost.
- Healing Factor: Swampy can quickly heal of his injuries by sleeping on the ground. This works so quickly that you can dispatch a group of mooks and heal all wounds just in time to deal with any stragglers.
- Health Food: Averted: the meat doesn't heal you and is only used to restore your Sprint Meter if you're forced to crawl.
- Heroic Mime: A subversion: Swampy only ever says three voiced phrases ("Kill" when attacking, "Meat" when picking up meat, and "Goblets" when picking up said goblets. However, you get to see his thoughts, displayed as the selection of Tarot-like cards at the top of the screen, and accompanied by the constant droning noise when they appear.
- Hollywood Hacking: Parodied with the crime researchers, one of whom thinks of the cyber criminals as some sort of cyborgs capable of breaking into people’s houses through computers.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: You’ll find one peasant who appears outright suicidal, in a parody on how for many RPG players other characters are little more than a source of loot:
- I'm a Humanitarian: Subverted. You will pick up the meat of defeated human foes and can eat it with no problems. However, your player character is a toad, not a human, so he never actually commits cannibalism.
- Implacable Man: Policemen and Red Grogans are this. Both of them are absolutely invulnerable, but the latter is at least not dangerous if you’re reduced to a crawl, as then he’ll be reduced to punching the air above you. This doesn’t work with Policemen because they deal collision damage.
- Improbable Weapon User: The criminals at the Crime Hive will attack you with huge bags of money with dollar signs on the side. Similarly, the one hostile fisher seems to attack with his own fishing rod.
- Incest Is Relative: One of the dogs at the Dog City says that they're all incestous to sustain their population.
- Interface Screw: If you go inside the dwarven drill tank, you are suddenly forced into a first-person mode.
- Insurmountable Waist High Fence: In the Egyptian pyramid level, the trapmasters will very transparently try to lure you into the pits beside them. If you do take the bait, you simply won’t be able to get out, even though the walls aren’t much taller than you’re and it shouldn’t be that hard to push yourself up.
- Even more extreme in the Crystal Palace, where there are several immersions in the floor that are more like knee-high, yet will still trap you in. Finally, enemies are so stupid as to be stopped by virtually any obstacle in their way, even including goblets or (at the end of the race track) an ankle-high finishing line!
- And if you try to reload a save made too far into the game, you’ll be thrown into the same labyrinth you see on the loading screen, again in the first-person mode, but without a single menu. Sometimes it’s possible to reload by simply walking backwards. At other times, your only choice is to reload or stalk the corridors forever.
- Just for Pun: Dog names are frequently a pun of some kind. The funniest is probably the Microwaveable Hot Dog in the fridge level.
- Kaizo Trap: Happens in-universe on the Race Track level. If you manage to get near the finish line, a dozen of hostile super suits will drop right out of the sky just before it. You don’t actually have to fight them as they’re stopped by the finish line being slightly higher than the ground they’re on. However, any racers who would have gotten to this point (there are none when you arrive) obviously wouldn’t have such luxury.
- Karmic Death: A Messiah of Crime worshipped by local criminals was betrayed to police by all of his disciples.
- Kill It with Fire: The one necromancer you can fight will attack by setting himself on fire once he’s in melee range. Makes no real difference to the gameplay, but still…
- Mercy Kill: You can kill off the Goblet Men in the process of being turned into skeletons or the skeletons’ captives in cages, about to be experimented on.
- Mind Rape: One level outright invokes this with a hut owned by the so-called Brainfucker with the gruesome descriptions of the effect his works have on people. Your character is immune to this for some reason, though.
- In the jungle level, you’ll also eventually find the Brain Gorrila – really a giant, purple earthworm. It will approach you and say “Brain Gorilla loves being in your brain.”, and will take an effort to stay to your side – something no other enemy can do.
- Mook Maker: One of the enemies is a giant disembodied head that will spawn snakes from its mouth. It is essentially the only enemy in the game whose AI goes beyond “walk towards Swampy and attack”.
- Mooks but No Bosses: The closest thing to a boss in the game are the Policemen and Red Grogan Implacable Men enemies. There is never a single boss you have to kill in order to progress through the game.
- Motion Blur: When the enemies attack, there is always a very crudely drawn motion blur following their attacks.
- Multiple Endings: One level is a parody on the usual text adventures and tells a story of the two royal brothers, mystery egg, rebellion, and mysterious evil power. You’ll reach the ending once you finally find the end of the branch. There are three endings in total:
Face Stabbed: non-canon ending, the door is locked, the trapmaster near the door turns hostile.
Grogan: non-canon ending, the door is locked, the invulnerable Red Grogan is spawned.
Up, Starship: The canon ending and the only one that lets you leave this place.
- Mushroom Man: Sometimes, you’ll be attacked by the walking pink mushrooms carrying spears. Since they get killed in one hit and are quite slow, they're little more than passing annoyance.
- No Ending: The closest thing to a true ending is a text message revealed if you die at a certain point, with the creators tnaking you for playing the game and encouraging you to collect all the goblets next time.
- Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits: If you fall off in any level besides the first one, the dog city and the sky level, you’ll continue to fall down forever.
- No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Averted in the extreme. The game is absolutely chock-full of hidden nooks and crannies (like the crashed UFO in the jungle level) as well as transitions to completely different areas. In fact, exploring all of the different game worlds is probably the only reason to play it at length.
- One particularly stunning example happens at the beginning if you fall off one of the sidewalks. Rather than your character dying, you'll end up in a small Dog City underneath. If you fall off again, you end up in the lower levels with the Crime Hive, Pyramid and other things.
- Obvious Beta: Parodied: the game plays like one, making many references to the functions it could have had, but it’s actually as finished as it will ever be. You will get to see references to a dancing mini-game, inventory screen, shops, map, helicopter in the Collector’s edition (when the game is only available digitally), cheat codes and many more.
- Overly-Long Gag: There are a few candidates, but the best one has to be the Dragon-Emperor’s palace. You have to walk through at least 20 rooms that are absolutely identical to each other in everything save the text description, just in order to convey how unimaginably powerful he is.
- Power Armor: You’ll see several bright red super suits which are implied to be this. The first one you meet will attack you because it’s broken and has no brakes.
- Precision F-Strike: As you sanity slips, your prayers will actually yield replies, often punctuated with abuse:
A voice ca.. HEY FUCKER!
DO YOU LOVE ME, CUNT ?
- Recursive Reality: The "Russian doll" type, with many other worlds existing alongside the basic D & D-like adventuring world.
- Religion of Evil: If you go exploring inside the king, you can find the door labelled Anno Crimini. Going in further will reveal the story of the Messiah of Crime, whose preaching is a very thin rip-off of The Bible.
"Blessed are the meek, for if anybody moves, then the girl gets it. Blessed are the rich in spirit, for they may be robbed in spirit also."
- He finally met his end by being betrayed to the police. Once you find this out, the two Apostle-like creatures standing guard at their heaven's gate (which doesn't actually lead anywhere. for you, anyway.) become hostile and begin to attack you.
- Sanity Slippage: As Swampy collects more goblets, he becomes progressively more insane. Prayers will begin to receive abuse-filled replies and instructions to go for more goblets, the dreams have nothing but goblets in them, and food tastes like metal to show just how obsessed your character is.
- Save Game Limits: You have three save slots. Technically, you can save at any time, but there is one sadistic limitation: certain levels simply won’t allow you to reload properly, trapping you inside the infinite labyrinth in the game’s menu. Sometimes, this can be bypassed by reloading the same save again, but often you have no choice but to use another save or to start again.
- Shield-Bearing Mook: All skeletons carry shields with them. Doesn't do anything useful to them, though and they still die in one hit.
- Shmuck Bait: Do you really want to jump down into the pit that the obviously evil Trapmaster says is full of jewels, when your player character is unable to jump or climb? OK, don't say we didn't warn you.
- Show, Don't Tell: Gleefully averted due to the engine’s limitations. The text descriptions frequently include things far more interesting than what you’re actually shown.
- Sprint Meter: A unique variation. Swampy cannot run, but every once in an undetermined while, he’ll get overly exhausted and slowed to a crawl. This will usually be refilled by eating, but sometimes praying is needed instead. There are also some levels where you cannot pray, making the game this much harder.
- Sprite/Polygon Mix: Many background objects such as desks, chairs, TVs, etc. are outright 2D. This even applies to the essential interactive objects like doors or hatches - these will also be 2D and Swampy will simply pass through them.
- Steam Punk: the dwarves are the embodiment of the trope, wearing some highly advanced suits, and possessing automatons and drill tanks.
- Stock Animal Diet: Averted. Swampy is an anthropomorphic toad, yet he’s fine with eating meat, even though he has no teeth (text boxes say he gums at it.) However, he likes insects too, and if his meat is spoilt with maggots, he’ll pull them out for later meals.* Stock Animal Diet: Averted. Swampy is an anthropomorphic toad, yet he’s fine with eating meat, even though he has no teeth (text boxes say he gums at it.) However, he likes insects too, and if his meat is spoilt with maggots, he’ll pull them out for later meals.
- Stylistic Suck: The drawing style and animations are intentionally rough and primitive to convey the sense of an unfinished, unpolished game, whose world is much larger than the one it lets you on.
- Taken for Granite: The denizens of the Stone Fort are slowly being petrified. It’s especially telling with the two dogs you find:
Craglike Dog: I feel like I’m making real progress here! (This dog can be killed if you want to.)
Couple of steps later…
Doglike Crag: I’m so happy! I’m so happy!) (And it’s invulnerable, too.)
- Teleport Spam: You’ll find a Blink Dog that randomly teleports around every few seconds. It also offers you to teach you the ancient art of the teleportation, but never makes good on the offer.
- Tenchi Solution: Averted: you can only choose to marry one of the crystal princesses. If you try to approach any of the others after that, you’ll only receive “That’s illegal” in reply.
- The Show Must Go On: The race track announcer’s reaction to your death in the racing level if you fall off the track. His comments on the deaths of other racers aren't much different.
- This Is a Drill: Dwarves have drill tanks. You can go inside one, too! Getting out is an entirely different matter.
- Trap Is the Only Option: When you approach the door to the fridge, the textbox will mention the luring effect it has on you. You can choose to ignore it and walk away, but then you miss out on some amusing scenes, and there's no real penalty for going in.
- Also averted in the pyramid levels. There are several extremely obvious trap pits which are just that - square pits in the floor you can't jump out of (not that the game ever included jumping), and can only leave by reloading to an earlier save or quitting the game.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Do you choose to kill all other characters in your way to get their meat or leave the ones who aren't hostile be? Do you put the skeletons' captives out of their misery or walk away as they're being zombified? Do you eat the Dog City food supply and doom the dogs to starvation or leave them be? Nothing much changes either way, so it's entirely up to you.
Some goblet men look entirely male, yet are referred to as women in the text description.