Video Game: Planet Alcatraz
In 2006, the Russian game developer and publisher 1c Games released "Санитары Подземелий" (Sanitary Podzemeliy - very roughly translatable to "Dungeon Cleaners"). The game was popular and, sure enough, was given an English translation and voice acting, then released to the rest of the world as "Planet Alcatraz."
The game is set in a distant alternate future where the Russian Empire is on a decades long space war with the Fourth Reich, and humans have discovered zero-transportation. Achievements in robotics as well as organ cloning have made criminals with life sentences completely unnecessary for society. Thus, they are exiled to one of the Empire's 50 prison planets, at the far reaches of the universe.
Sailor's Silence (Planet Alcatraz in the English version) is the nickname given to planet 2-4A33713/2, which houses the most dangerous criminals that had received life sentences. In 2507, planetary agents received intel that the criminal inhabitants of Sailor's Silence are building a spaceship to escape. To verify the existence and find the location of the spaceship, 4 saboteur cadets along with an experience Sergeant were sent to the planet disguised as convicts. The four cadets are among the top students of Deathmatch Imperial academy, and this mission serves as their final exam. However, something went wrong during the dropping of the containment pods, and the five were separated. The player takes control of cadet Boar, and proceed to find his remaining team-mates and complete the mission.
Planet Alcatraz is a real-time with pause tactical RPG. The character progression system is notably similar to Fallout, with the similar stats, traits, skills and perks. The main quests are mostly linear, though there are an abundance of sidequests to undertake. The game's tone is decidedly dark, with drugs, slavery being referenced and featured prominently, and racist jokes and remarks abundant (although most of which are cut from the English translation, or just Lost in Translation
A LP of the game, created by bhlaab, can be viewed here
and another one here
The creative idea for the game belongs to Dmitry Puchkov
, a popular Russian translator, whose experiences as a former police detective give him an insight into the criminal world. He consulted heavily during the development, although Executive Meddling
, of course, happened as well, and some of his more extreme ideas were not implemented (e.g. more gay sex, no women). The game borrows its original name from Puchkov's novel set in the world of Quake
, written decades ago. It also features references to some of Puchkov's Gag Dubs
The original version is also known for its soundtrack, featuring "The Song of the Space Marines
", which showcases some of the team members, as they prepare for the mission. See a rough translation of the chorus below:
[We] passed a hundred roads on a hundred planets
We got into trouble hundreds of times
Smile, soldier, now the fun begins
A space marine doesn't take prisoners
This game provides examples of:
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts / Karl Marx Hates Your Guts : Averted. With Trade skill at 150 you can buy and sell things at their base price.
- All There in the Manual: All of the game's backstory, as well as introduction to the various settlements on the planet are given in the game manual.
- Anti-Frustration Feature: The game has an autosave mode by default, which automatically saves when you initiate conversations with anyone. If you screw up a dialog or have a Non-Standard Game Over, you can simply reload that save.
- Arbitrary Maximum Range: The manual handwaves it by stating that the planet's lithosphere contains very little sulfur, making it difficult to make good gunpowder.
- Arbitrary Minimumrange: All rifles have a hard time hitting targets at point-blank range.
- Armor-Piercing Attack: Armor-Piercing ammo is your best bet against Heavily Armored Mook that become more prevalent from mid-game. They do slightly lower damage on non-armored enemies.
- Artificial Stupidity: The enemies are only alerted if they spot you, get shot by you, or are called by someone who's spotted you. Watching their buddy's head blown off by a high-powered rifle won't alarm them at all. You can snipe and kill four guys standing next to each other with ease, as long as you kill each of them with one shot, and stay out of their sight.
- Arbitrary Gun Power: The only time when Instant Death Bullet occurs is when you make a Critical Hit with Headshots
- Awesome but Impractical: The Achtung Machine gun is among the most powerful weapon in the game, capable of shredding most enemies with a single burst. The downsides is that each burst consumes 10 rounds of 14mm AP, which cannot be bought from merchants, and you can only find around 500 of those in the entire game if you look at all nooks and crannies. In the final area, many enemies carry it and you can find ammo more easily. However, at that point you've had access to Imperial Weapon, which is more accurate and has better damage output than anything else on the planet.
- Avengers Assemble: You have to find the remaining three team mates before continuing with the main mission.
- Bad Ass Bystander: The machine gun wielding Cannibals in Cannibal Village. They are neutral, but will hurt you badly if provoked.
- Bad Ass Crew: The Vampire Squad Saboteurs. What else do you call 4 guys who are dropped into a planet inhabited by prisoners, and kill everything in their way to complete their mission?
- BFG: The Kain Machinegun, Achtung Machinegun and Shaitan Rocket Launcher.
- Big Brother Is Watching: The surveillance system apparently can see and hear everything our heroes do and say. Letting slip about the mission instantly results in they using the Kill Sat to vaporize everyone in the vicinity.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: The game underwent some hasty English translation that is barely above the level of Google-translated texts. Character and quest names are sometimes switched around, idioms and expressions are translated literally, etc.
- Bowdlerise: The English version is a prime example.
- Most of the "black", "negro", "Chinese" in front of the noun (slave, man, woman) are cut. Most people are just called "Local".
- References to prostitution are cut. Brothels are called bar, club, etc. Prostitutes are changed to local. Also, sexual contents are cut.
- The planet settlements are basically scaled up version of prison gang. You have the white, black and yellow settlements (which are actually referred to as black and yellow in the Russian version), and also the Aryan fortress, which houses enemies of the Russian Empire. All these are dubbed over with "Taipen", "Ungan" and "Legion", and all the decidedly German or Russian names are changed into generic (and sometimes bizzare) names.
- Breakable Weapons: Firearms and armor have a "condition" (durability) count. When it reaches 0% the item cannot be fixed and becomes useless.
- Critical Existence Failure:
- Crapsack World: What else do you call a Penal Colony inhabited solely by prisoners?
- Crippling Overspecialization: Most of the perks lead to this. The most common variety is "add +10 to attack when using pistols / revolvers / sawed-off shotguns" (note that all these weapons belong to the same skill: Pistols and Shotguns)
- Critical Hit: Suffering one instantly knocks down the human target and makes them drop weapons. The part where the attack lands (torso, arms or legs) is "critically injured", lowering one or a few stats until healed. A critical hit to the head is instantly fatal.
- Critical Hit Class: Sniper Rifles, Black Mark, and heavy investment in Heavy Weapon Skill
- Cutscene Incompetence: After escaping the first area, Boar gets captured and taken to the Industrial Area by two low-level guards he could have easily beat.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: After you've located the construction site, the Kill Sat suddenly malfunctions, so your crew have to get their hands dirty and destroy the shuttle up close and personal.
- Disc One Nuke: The Kain Machinegun. The only way to get this weapon early on is to exploit the AI and kill the guard NP Cs holding them (without them turning hostile and decimate your squad with one burst). After you get at least 2, and have at least 2 character strong enough to use them, later fights become significantly easier. The Achtung Machineguns are even more powerful and can be acquired at the same location, but ammo for them are so rare that they are only good for selling.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: The mission's leader's no where to be found and is implied to be dead. He turns out to be alive and is the protagonist of the sequel.
- Dump Stat: Like most Role Playing Games, Charisma can be safely lowered to 1 for little to no penalty. A higher charisma gives you better "Attitude" and thus makes it easier to persuade or intimidate people; however, a variety of clothing items and weapons can boost your Attitude, making this stat useless. A lesser example is Perception, which determines deviation when shooting firearms, is useless when the character in question uses a melee weapon or always engage at near point-blank range.
- Eleventh Hour Superpower: When the final objective becomes clear, the team receives a weapon drop containing state-of-the-art armor and weaponry.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The space ship's assembly area is inside a large cave. Justified, considering the criminals have to deal with a Kill Sat watching their every move on the surface. Going underground is the only way they can safely build something this big.
- Escort Mission: Crops up a few times (namely, when you get Hans to Cannibal Village to find his daughter, or have to escort the engineer to disable the automated defense system in the Abandoned Mine). Thankfully, you have complete control over the escorted characters. Leaving them out of the fight is perfectly doable.
- Fan Disservice: Not in-story, though you can dress up your burly Vampire Squad Saboteurs with all sorts of skimpy clothing. It's rather disturbing to look at.
- Fun with Acronyms: The backstory in the manual mentions SICK (Second Imperial Colony Keep) and SODOM (Space Objects Defense and Orbital Monitor).
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: A slight case. In some of the game-over screens, you can spot people with cybernetic arms. However, no characters in the game are seen with it.
- Good Morning, Crono: Boar is introduced waking up after the landing pod crashes.
- Great Escape: The convicts try to MacGyver a spaceship to escape the planet, and you're on the side that's trying to prevent that escape.
- Grenade Launcher: Only two varieties are available: assault rifle attachment, and revolver-type.
- Gun Accessories: Two types of accessories are available: a scope, which improves accuracy in aim mode, and an underbarrel grenade launcher, which allows you to use grenades without switching weapons.
- Gender Restricted Gear: Averted. You can wear female clothes if you like (though they offer no bonuses and look rather disturbing).
- Hammer Space: Everyone can lug around several machine guns and grenade launcher without so much as a backpack. Also, your carrying capacity is only limited by space, not by weight.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: Bread, carrots, potatoes and meat instantly restore your HP.
- Heavily Armored Mook: Those wearing Cuirass and Full-P Flak jacket become increasingly frequent towards the end of the game.
- I Am A Humanitarian: The inhabitants of Cannibal Village are this, though it is only stated in dialog and there is no quest addressing this. You can find a still-bloody sacrificial altar in the middle of the village, and that's it.
- Infinity–1 Sword: The Kain Machine gun. It is almost as powerful as the Achtung after being upgraded, ammo for it are plentiful, and its lower strength requirement means that all team members can potentially use it.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Averted. Each of the unpickable locks can only be opened by a specific key.
- Katanas Are Just Better: It is indeed the best of all melee weapons, with highest damage and critical chance bonus. However, by the time you get it, most of your enemies are already very good at dodging melee attacks, and guns have a much better damage output.
- Kill It with Fire: Incendiary Grenades, aside from the damage from impact, can also set the target on fire for a few seconds. It is one of the easiest ways to kill NPC guards with powerful weapons without turning them hostile.
- Kill Sat: Each of the prison planets has an "Orbital security and surveillance complex" consisting of a manned station and an array of satellites. They are equipped for precision strikes again targets on the ground, on the air or in space. Your mission is to locate the space shuttle in construction, so that it can be destroyed with an orbital strike. Also, if you spill details about your mission to an old man in Northern City, you get to see an orbital strike killing your team and everyone in the area, resulting in a Non-Standard Game Over.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Most of the firearms are made with materials and technologies available on the planet, so this is pretty much expected. However, even the "Imperial Weapon", state-of-the-art weaponry used by main peace-keeping forces, also uses ammunition.
- Leaked Experience: Every single point of experience gained is given to all team members. Also, when you find team members, they will be automatically scaled to 1-3 levels lower than yours.
- Level Up Fill Up: Your HP is filled to the max, but critical wounds are not healed.
- Loads and Loads of Sidequests:
- Lost Forever: Every non-quest item dropped on the ground disappear when you leave the area and go back (understandable, it's a prison planet you live on, after all). Quest items are, thankfully, left intact.
- Level-Locked Loot: The only limit is strength. Heavier guns and armors require higher strength to use, which is understandable.
- Molotov Cocktail: The Incendiary Grenades, though obviously meant to be a medium-grade grenade, looks exactly the same as a bottle with some rags stuck outside.
- Money Spider: Realistically averted. You can find Rat skin and Gerbil skin after killing rats and gerbils, respectively. Boars and similar animals gives meat. The most lucrative prey, the Hyenas, drop Hyena Scales which can be inserted into vest pockets for better protection or sold for a nice sum of money.
- Nonstandard Game Over: All over the place. In areas with guards, attacking someone unprovoked instantly treats you to a game over screen. In a few quests, messing up the dialog can also leads to game-over. You also get an amusing one by the Kill Sat.
- One Size Fits All: From clothes (regardless of gender) to suits of armor, your characters can wear everything.
- Organ Drops: Gerbils drop gerbil skins, and Pig-bulls drop meat
- Devil in Plain Sight: One of the mission requires you to infiltrate a raider camp posing as manwhores. "Posing" in this case means wearing the distinctive slutty fishnet t-shirts. However, the game doesn't care what else you're wearing or carrying. Which leads to a surreal scenario where three musclemen brandishing shotguns and wearing full body armor over their slutty fishnet t-shirts walk around a raider camp, and no one bats an eye on them.
- Poison Mushroom: You can use Alcohol and Joint to lower your stats and subsequently, skills. Although these items are useless in combat, they are useful for temporarily lowering your skills to below 100 to level them up with less skill points, just like in Fallout.
- Penal Colony: The game's setting. It's not called Planet Alcatraz for no reason. Convicts with life sentences are dropped here on landing pods (which might not even land safely) and left to fend for themselves. The lucky ones might find their way to more "civilized" communities such as Northern City or the Stoneguard fortress, with rather well-established rules and relative safety. Less fortunate ones get captured and have to work until they die in the Industrial Area, get killed by wild animals or bandits, or become dinner for the Cannibal Village residents.
- Post-Apunkalyptic Armor: While most of the armor look relatively practical, the Full-P Flak Jacket looks like various bits of metal crudely welded together. It offers heavy armor and protect against critical attacks, but lowers agility and perception. Also, the characters wearing it will move in slow motion without the appropriate "specialist" perk to improve movement speed.
- Prison Episode: Although the whole planet is technically is a prison, the Industrial Area is the only place that most resembles a prison, or more precisely, a labor camp. You're stripped of all belongings and have to run errands for the bosses to get promoted, before having the opportunity to escape. One of the gameover screens implies you spend the rest of your life there working.
- Prison Rape: Absent in the English version, but present in the original, as per Dmitry Puchkov's demands. In fact, his attempts to include more prison sex were vetoed by Executive Meddling, as this would make the game difficult to sell. He also insisted on not having any women on the prison planet, but this was also ignored; the developers gave a Hand Wave that all women on the planet were smuggled in and sterilized.
- Warm-Up Boss: The Young Gorriloid at the end of the first area, the Landing Zone (though it is completely optional, you can bolt right to exit and skip it entirely).
- Rat Stomp: While it's technically not the first quest, "Kill all the rats in the Warehouse" is usually the first one you received at the Industrial Area right out of the Noob Cave.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: There are at least 5 different types of sawed off shotguns in the game, both single- and double-barrelled. There's even a perk that improves accuracy when you're using one of these.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: The developers seem to be quite fond of shotguns. They are the most varied type of firearms in the game, coming with pump-action, break-action, drum magazine, box magazine varieties. And there are triple and quadruple-barreled unique shotguns, besides the usual single and double-barreled.
- In one possible main quest in the Industrial Area, you have to give a codeword "I know what the Matrix is", and the informant would reply "There is no spoon."
- In a missable side quest in the Industrial Area, you are to say "Charlie Don't Surf" to a contact at Stoneguard.
- A store in Northern City is named "Guns and Tulips".
- The Russian version also has a number of references to Dmitry Puchkov's Gag Dubs. Naturally, they didn't make it into the English version.
- Short-Range Shotgun: Most shotguns have pitiful range, at most 5 or 6 meters; and for all the pellets to hit, you have to stand at near point-blank range.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Deathmatch Academy sends its 4 of its best students onto a planet of prisoners on a mission, as a final exam. After completing this mission, they will be considered graduates and get promoted to Private.
- Sniper Rifle: Every rifle in this game can be fitted with a scope. Their damage is okay, but rate of fire is too low to kill anyone in a straight up shoot out. Their main advantage, however, is bonus to Critical Hit rate. A crit to the head is instant death, and that's what sniper rifles are for.
- Take Your Time: none of the missions are timed. You're always in time for whatever big events that are gonna take place.
- The Enemy Weapons Are Better: The Kain and Achtung machineguns can be acquired early in the game by killing Cannibals (they are actually neutral, not enemies).
- Train Escape: Boar escapes from the Industrial Area by killing the guards and hopping on the train used to transfer weapons to other areas.
- Trauma Inn: You can rest anywhere to heal, as long as there are no enemies on the map. Having a Surgeon Kit will heal critical wounds while you rest.
- Trespassing Hero / Kleptomaniac Hero: Oddly enough, for a planet filled with criminals, the inhabitants are surprisingly tolerant to a bunch of burly guys barging in their houses and open their chests. There are some occasions where they turn hostile, though.
- Twenty Bear Asses: Immediately after making contact with his local commanding officer Blacky (yes, he's black), Boar is assigned to hunt down, kill and collect 21 Gerbil skins, before being given instructions regarding his mission. It's really jarring, considering this type of quest is almost non-existence in this game.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment: Mostly absent, with the exception of Baboon with Knife and Gorriloid with Club. The knives and clubs are apparently grafted to their bodies and cannot be looted.
- Vendor Trash: The game features a staggering number of clothing items that gives no stat bonus whatsoever (beggar clothing, tank tops, skirts, miniskirts, etc), as well as gerbil skins, mushrooms, etc that are only good for selling to merchants.
- Videogame Geography: Every single map is square. Every. Single. One.
- We Buy Anything: Want to sell weapons and armor at food vendors? No problem. How about selling old clothes, drugs, and other nameless junk at the gun shop? Go ahead.
- We Cannot Go On Without You: When other team mates become unconscious (their HP reaches 0), they can be revived after you've killed all enemies. However, when Boar (the main character) becomes unconscious, you get a game over.
- Weapon for Intimidation: Most weapons increase your "Attitude" stat, making it easier to threaten people to give you want you want. The bigger Machine guns give the most Attitude bonus.
- With This Herring: Played very straight. You are sent to the planet with nothing but the clothes on you.
- Working on the Chain Gang: Whenever you see railroads, you can see some prisoners working on them with pickaxes and sledgehammers. Implied to be your fate in one of the game over screen.
- Your Head Asplode: Critical hits to the head always do this and instantly kill the victim, regardless of health.