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Video Game: Papo & Yo

Papo & Yo (Spanish for Father and Me) is a platforming-based adventure game for the Play Station Network, released in August of 2012. This game is very heavy on allegory, as it is meant to be a direct parallel to creator Vander Caballero's experiences living with an abusive alcoholic father.

You play as Quico, a young boy who escapes into a fantasy dream world where he can bend architecture to his will. With the help of a mysterious girl named Alejandra and a doll-Robot Buddy named Lula, Quico traverses the landscapes of his mind. He must also take care of Monster, a seemingly lovable and docile creature who turns exceptionally nasty once he gets his hands on some frogs.

Upon its release, the game was praised for its beautiful worlds, gripping story and interesting gameplay ideas, but was criticized for its glaring technical issues and spotty controls. Regardless, the game has seen a following as a Cult Classic, with fans able to put aside the rougher edges and enjoy the game for what it is.

A more detailed plot analysis can be found here, as well as an essay on its design (in case it isn't obvious, both articles are full to the brim with massive spoilers. Unless you're into that sort of thing).

As of April 18, 2013, Papo & Yo is now available on Steam.

Papo & Yo provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parent: Monster is symbolic of Quico's (and lead designer Caballero's) abusive father.
  • Allegory
  • Artificial Stupidity: Enforced. Monster, when docile, is perfectly happy to sit around eating coconuts and sleep...
    • Artificial Brilliance: But once he becomes angry, he is extremely fast and is almost impossible to avoid if you don't run, and FAST.
  • Audience Sucker Punch: What's the first thing you see in gameplay after Lula is temporarily killed off? Why, of course it's a switch that Lula could have easily pressed. And just to rub salt in the wound, Quico won't even call out for Lula like he usually does when you press Triangle. Excuse me, there's something in my eye...
  • Big Damn Heroes: In one of the only fatherly things he ever does, Monster will save Quico from being crushed if you fail the ball-and-cup minigame in Act III.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In case you didn't understand the allegory, listen closely to Alejandra when she talks about Monster. Although the text reads "Monster", when she speaks, she says "Papo".
  • Bullying a Dragon: After Lula dies, Quico is forced into a few puzzles where he must actively use Monster's rampages in puzzle-solving, playing very dangerously with fire. One of these puzzles even requires you to trap Monster in a pocket dimension while he's angry, and all the more likely when there's frogs right in front of him! This Monster-baiting backfires spectacularly much later when Monster kills Alejandra.
  • Disney Death: Oh boy, is this ever zig-zagged. Lula dies more or less for real, but Alejandra tells Quico that the Shaman's power can bring her back. They do so, but Alejandra is killed by Monster soon after.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The entire point of the game is to serve as one big parallel to Domestic Abuse, and specifically to Vander Caballero's experiences with his father.
  • Domestic Abuse: Uh, yeah...
  • Monster In Leather Pants:invoked This is actually a major plot point. Can Monster really be forgiven for the things he's done? Is it really his fault, or are the frogs to blame? Alejandra seems to think that Monster can't help but kill, because it's in its nature. In the end, the answer the game gives is no, Monster cannot be redeemed. Quico must use Monster's own vices to trap it in the dream world.
  • Exposition Fairy: Lula, in addition to its role as a Robot Buddy.
  • G-Rated Booze: Frogs serve as an allegory to alcohol, with sour fruit serving as a temporary cure.
  • Hint System: Of the "hints on request" type. Quico can hide in cardboard boxes to get hints and learn basic moves. He then wears the boxes while walking around until you press Circle to climb out of it.
  • Holler Button: Pressing Triangle will make Quico call out to Lula, even if there's no context-sensitive switch for him to press.
  • Infant Immortality: It is impossible for Quico to die. On the other hand, seeing him constantly thrown around by an enraged Monster again and again makes it even more painful than an instant death.
  • Jet Pack: Lula gives Quico the ability to hover for a short time after a jump.
  • Killed Off for Real: Alejandra is eaten by Monster.
  • Mysterious Stranger: It is never revealed just who Alejandra is (not even her name is revealed until the end credits) or is supposed to represent. Some have speculated that she is meant to be Quico's sister.
  • Obvious Beta: Papo & Yo is a work of passion, not technical prowess, and at times this can become painfully obvious.
    • The PC version largely averts this, with most of the issues having been smoothed out.
  • The Reveal: There is no Shaman, and therefore no way to cure Monster.
  • World of Symbolism
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