Video Game: JumpStart Adventures 5th Grade: Jo Hammet, Kid Detective
A game in the JumpStart Edutainment Game series for fifth-graders, naturally enough. The Mad Scientist Dr. X wants to bomb Hooverville's factories for Revenge. Who will stand in the way of his evil plans? A ten-year-old girl armed with a skateboard, obviously. You can see a Walkthrough of the first mission here. More videos of the game (including one of the ending, so don't look if you don't want spoilers) can be found at this channel, appropriately named "JS5G".
This game provides examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: Especially the factory technicians who are all too cowardly to do anything about the bomb, but are totes okay with a ten-year-old girl risking her life to disarm it. This is Played for Laughs, of course. ("You're not coming?", "I think I'll wait in my car.")
- Alphabet Soup Cans: Isn't it convenient how all the puzzles Jo has to solve just happen to be at her grade level?
- Ambiguous Syntax: "Get in there and be a good little girl. Then maybe we'll feed you... to the fishes, that is! Heh, heh, heh!"
- Big Dam Plot: Dr. X's final plan is to blow up Hooverville's dam, which would cause the entire city to be crushed by water pressure.
- Blank White Eyes: Jo Hammet has these, along the same lines as Little Orphan Annie
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:Jo: Without nerds, we'd have no computers. No computers means no computer games and without computer games, where would we be?
Janitor: Probably the funny papers.
- Catapult Nightmare: Jo, in the opening Cutscene
- Continuity Nod: In the last level of the game, Jo tells Bernie she needs a vacation and asks him for ideas. He tells her there's a nice vacation spot on Mystery Mountain. Jo says that's not what she had in mind.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jo in varying degrees depending which lines you pick for her in the Dialogue Trees. Most of this is directed at Maggie Mead, the lady who runs the town mine shaft and whom Jo is convinced is the most boring person who ever lived. A sample of their relationship:Maggie: Do you work for the Park Service?
Jo: Why yes! Actually, I'm the director of the Park Service down from Yosemite! How did you know?
Maggie: Lying will get you nowhere.
- Dialogue Tree: Generally, the game wants you to select lines which are polite, honest, and get to the point. There are also funny smartass lines which are fun to select, but which nearly always dead-end the conversation.
- Forgetful Jones: B.F. Skinny often forgets important things that happened minutes ago, but he can remember Jo long enough to deliver her notes to the same place each time.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Jo Hammet and all the other characters.
- Free-Range Children: Seriously, what were Jo Hammet's parents thinking? Would you let your ten-year-old daughter skateboard around the city at night, dodging a madman's goons and breaking into sabotaged industrial plants? And there's no way they couldn't have known about it because it's implied that she became the town hero. Of course, the game solves this issue by just never showing or mentioning her parents.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: The first level in 5th grade is essentially a breather level. During the skateboard stages, the thugs never come after you at all so you're in virtually no danger. Throughout the rest of the game, the thugs keep chasing her, and during the Mad Libs minigame, start talking about what Jo might do to disarm the bomb. This actually makes sense - the thugs in the first "night" haven't been told to go after Jo at all.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
Jo: Have you seen anything that might prevent electrocution?
- They managed to get away with making an educational game for kids as young as nine in which the main plot involved disarming bombs.
- The game also includes this exchange:
Jimmy the Shadow: Yeah, a governor's pardon. Heh, heh, anything else?
Jo: I guess I couldn't expect anything better from a guy who spends all day surrounded by trash.
Jimmy the Shadow: With all these piles of junk laying around there's bound to be another... "accident". You better beat it, kid.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: For most of the game, Dr. X is seen only in silhouette. He's finally revealed at the end.
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Several of Bernie's stories end this way, like one time he rode a burro to the bottom of a canyon and tried to climb back out without climbing equipment so they had to call search and rescue, and another where he broke his fishing rod trying to retrieve his mail without leaving his house.
- Kid Detective: It's right there in the title.
- Lethal Chef: Bernie is really bad at mixing drinks and he makes self-deprecating jokes about it. One time when Jo asks him for oil to lubricate her skateboard, he jokes he used the last of it in his last milkshake. Another time Jo asks why people keep coming if he's so bad at mixing drinks, and Bernie says they probably come to see him fail.
- Never Learned to Read: B.F. Skinny says that the notes he delivers can't be his because he can't write. Or read.
- Red-Headed Hero: Jo. She's more snarky than fiery, however.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Poor, befuddled Maggie Mead doesn't understand sarcasm. Using snarky lines on her will just makes her even more befuddled.
- She can use sarcasm, however. If you have Jo say that she's trying to stop a mad bomber from destroying the city, Maggie will reply that she's trying to save the world from brain-eating space aliens. (This is Hilarious in Hindsight in light of certain elements in the fifth-grade game of the rival The ClueFinders series.)
- Save the Villain: During the climax, Jo considers doing this, thinking in voice-over "I can't just leave him there to be blown to bits". But when she looks back, she sees that Dr. X has already mysteriously disappeared.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Supposedly, this was what Dr. X's research was supposed to do. He claimed putting an octopus on his head would enable him to do it; his minions wear octopi but their power is telepathy instead. Inverted with B.F. Skinny, who is a Talking Animal.
- Straw Loser: Maggie Mead:Jo: How do you bring yourself here each day?
Maggie: I drive. I have a moped.
Jo: Of course you do! You know, wearing a helmet can protect you from injuries!
- Called back later when Bernie says he was going to write about an old lady at the mine shaft who collects rocks, but his paper didn't think it was interesting.
- Talking Animal: This game's Exposition Fairy is a rat named B.F. Skinny who talks like a vaudeville performer. Jo finds him very annoying. His owner Martin semi-lampshades that his annoying personality removes some of the amazing novelty that he's a rat that can talk.
- Territorial Smurfette: Kinda. Although the main protagonist is female, there are very few female characters in the game. Aside from Jo herself and non-speaking background characters, there's only Maggie Mead. Naturally, Maggie is the punching bag for most of Jo's snark.
- Think of the Censors: Combined with Non-Standard Game Over. If you fail to disarm the bomb in the steel mill, Jo breaks the fourth wall to inform you that you have to try again because bombs can't go off in an educational game.
- Tomboy: Jo Hammet, naturally.
- Towers of Hanoi: If you get caught by the goons, you'll be sent to a dungeon. To escape, you have to play a version of this where you stack crates up to a broken window.
- Underground Level: The mine shaft activity. You have to bring Maggie Mead one artifact from each of the three layers of the mine shaft, which get older the further you go down. The top layer is The American Revolution (mostly), the middle layer is Pre-Columbian Civilizations, and the bottom layer is Prehistoric Life. There are also falling rocks to avoid. On the easy level, Maggie tells you what items she needs, but on the highers levels she'll only give you clues.
- What the Hell, Player?: If you select the rude, sarcastic lines in the Dialogue Trees, you may get this kind of response from the character you're speaking to.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The game ends with one of these, which recounts what happened to all of the characters. This includes the janitor's broom, who "went on a national tour ending with sold-out performances at Carnegie Hall. He's sweeping the nation."
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The mine shaft activity gives contradictory information about Hooverville's location. On the top level, the artifacts are from British colonial America and the early years of U.S. independence, implying that Hooverville is located on the east coast of the United States. The next level down has Native American artifacts, mostly from tribes that lived in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, including artifacts from the Aztec Empire. Obviously, these artifacts can't be from the same location.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Lampshaded. In the thugs' thought balloon conversations, they make reference to "lamp sabers from the movies", "an arachnid like human who wears a red suit and is the copyrighted character of a large, well established comic book company" and "that famous fictional character who lives in the jungle with the chimpanzee companion named after a member of the feline family."