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Video Game: Skullmonkeys

A baaad man, fell from the sky...
Jerry'O

Remember Klogg being thrown into space after the events of Neverhood? You think he'd be lost forever, floating around the orbits of unknown planets and not harming anyone?

You've almost got it right. Almost.

The aforementioned villain returns as Kloggmonkey, and proclaims himself ruler of all Skullmonkeys on planet IDZNAK simply by wearing a skull and a monkey skin. He then forms a pretty simple plan to take revenge to The Neverhood: force his newly-acquired minions to build the so-called Evil Engine Number Nine. One of the Skullmonkeys, Jerry'O, however, being much more intelligent than the rest of his kind, is unswayed by Klogg's lies. In a desperate bid to save his world, Jerry'O uses a flying bird machine to summon Klaymen...

...Who has no idea what's going on here.

Skullmonkeys is The Neverhood's claymation sequel to their eponymous game, released by Electronic Arts exclusively for the PlayStation in 1998. It's not an Adventure Game anymore, though: now it's being a Platform Game done in aesthetics and wackiness closer to the original The Neverhood and slightly to Earthworm Jim, only with buffed-up difficulty, more areas to explore and less gameplay differences between each level (which also counts for Unexpected Gameplay Changes too): the whole thing relies on platforming, running and stomping the foe apes more than it does on shooting and carrying/escorting stuff from one point to another. It doesn't include a huge variety of powerups or stage hazards other than enemies and spikes, though, so what really makes Skullmonkeys challenging is its' pretty hellish level design, which requires medium to little reaction time from the player to get on with.

The game itself turned out to be the last Neverhood installment to be officially released by Ten Napel and his crew, bringing the entire series into stagnation. Until, that is, the announcement of its' Spiritual Successor: Armikrog.

This game provides examples of:

  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The title characters react to Klogg's death by singing.
  • Art Evolution: The animation in Skullmonkeys seems to reflect Doug Ten Napel's art style more than The Neverhood did. Also, Willie is a LOT skinnier and lankier. It also would be fair to say that the animations became even more smooth than ever, especially if you consider that PS has no more than two megabytes of RAM.
  • Bottomless Pit: You say The Neverhood has only one such pit - Skullmonkeys is chock full of 'em. Of course, none appear during the first three worlds, which are The Skullmonkeys Gate, Science Lab and The Monkey Shrine, but then... Oh, and as for the later part of the game, they're absent in Skullmonkeys Brand Hotdogs and Soar Head.
  • Beautiful Void: If you forget about a bunch of floating platforms, Klaymen and Monkey Mage, the post-Castle-de-Los-Muertos boss battle is wholehandedly this.
    • 1970 may also be one, blended with Hall of Mirrors. Which perfectly fits, considering the psychedelia representing the same time period. Oh, and the entire world ends with a boa platform with extra lives floating above, all that on the background of a freakin' disco dancer's chest.
  • Body Horror: Joe Head Joe, a boss who has a realistic human head for a body.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Lil' Bonus Room. So creative and inventive way to talk to the players. May be a Ear Worm or Paranoia Fuel to those who hear it.
  • Call Back: At the end of the game, a chunk of Evil Engine No. 9 lands next to Willie Trombone and he eagerly pulls out a knife and fork . . . the same reaction he had to the weasel's arm landing next to him in The Neverhood.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Holy Root, which is given by Jerry'O somewhere by the beginning of the game, finally gets its use at the very end, to get rid of Evil Engine Number 9.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Klaymen. Why Klaymen? Well, in one scene, he reaches into a hole that he saw a sandwich go into, gets his arm reduced to bones for it (yet he's still able to move it around), and...he smiles and says, "Cool!"
  • Demoted to Extra: Willie Trombone is only briefly present in the intro and ending cutscenes of the game. And as a power-up.
  • Development Gag: A standing, walking, fire-breating and eyeball-plucking example of this is Joe-Head-Joe, the second boss.
  • Difficulty By Region: The Japanese version of the game features a few more cheats to run around with. In particular, the stage selection screen.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: You're on a planet full of them!
  • Evil Minions: The Skullmonkeys.
  • Eye Scream: The boss Joe Head Joe has a very... disgusting attack: He pops out his lower eyeballs (I say "lower" because this boss has two heads), which roll at you, possibly in an attempt to flatten you, all the while making slimy sounds until they fall off the platform.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The planet Idznak is shown to have really, really rich topography and geography, consisting of swamps, hot dog factories, dark castles, platforms floating in the air, ruins... During the gameplay, that is. In the cutscenes, Idznak is nothing more than an all-brown planet with lots of spiky mountains stretching everywhere. No reason is given for that, considering it's too odd and suspicious even for the Neverhood standards.
  • Giant Robot: Evil Engine Number Nine could be considered this. Maybe.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Only as a requirement of getting to an alternate ending.
  • Guide Dang It: A really heavy offender of this trope, thanks to the fact that not only it doesn't give several Camera Screw-based secret, but it also violates all common sense imaginable by starting the game from the second world. And making the first one available only through passwords.
  • Heroic Mime: Klaymen still doesn't speak much, except to say "Word" when he gets an extra life and after a Skullmonkey's vehicle blows up in one cutscene. In another cutscene (see Cloud Cuckoolander or Shout-Out), he gets his arm shredded to bone, and reacts by smiling and saying, "Cool!"
  • Killed Off for Real: Klogg. Just to drive the point home, they sing a song about it!
  • Last Note Nightmare: More like Middle Note Nightmare, in "Little Bonus Room Song".
    There are no monsters here — hey, wait, look over there... [LOUD DISTORTED GUITAR NOISES]
    I was just kidding, don't be scared.
  • Law of 100: 100 Clay Balls gets you an extra life.
  • List Song: The Plate ees Hot!, grabbing the idea from Coffee And Other Just Desserts and running with it.
  • Multiple Endings: In order to get the ending with the Klogg Is Dead song, the player is obliged to collect every Swirly Qs on all levels possible, along with three 1970 icons. And even it isn't immune from exploiting the game the unusual way, because the game clearly starts at the second world, while the first one, The Skullmonkeys Gate is accessible only and only through the passwords.
  • Nintendo Hard: It's near impossible to win without excessive cheat code use.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Unless he has a Halo equipped, Klaymen will go down in one hit.
  • Recurring Riff: The opening credits is technically nothing else than a wilder rework of the original Neverhood Chronicles theme.
  • Same Content, Different Rating: Skullmonkeys was a notably darker game than The Neverhood, yet it was originally rated K-A for Kids to Adults. Angry parents calling in must've set the ESRB straight, and they re-rated the game T for Teens.
  • Skull for a Head: They're not called Skullmonkeys for nothing.
  • Something Completely Different: The third episode of Skullmonkeys (which is, the portion of the game after you beat Joe-Head-Joe) completely discards all the Skullmonkey enemies as such, replacing them with Ynts Plus .
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Castle de Los Muertos, which is so dark you can barely see anything, to begin with. Along with the creepy red-white-black color scheme which this world doesn't discard until Monkey Mage shows up, the local architecture isn't child friendly either. At the same time, its' ingame soundtrack is about - surprise, surprise! - chilly food! Perhaps, the only thing which keeps the music consistent to the stage is that Castle de Los Muertos heavily relies on its' roller coaster-like platform rides.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Klaymen gets all the flesh on his arm eaten by a Ynt. Thankfully, he still has functional use of his bony arm and thinks it looks cool.
  • Trouser Space: Near the end, Klaymen pulls The Root out of his pants to plug the exhaust pipe of Evil Engine No. 9.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: There are four such levels over the entire game: Amazing Drivy Finn, Incredible Drivy Runn, Glenn Yntis and Klogg boss fight. None of these allow you to use your special weapons, but wait till the True Final Boss arrives... Wait a second. So, it means, even Evil Engine Number Nine plays this trope straight, with being a Platform Hell sequence instead of a regular boss fight?
  • The Villain Sucks Song: "Klogg is dead!"
  • Word Salad Lyrics: The bulk of the music is made of this. Especially "Death Garden Jive", where the official soundtrack lists the "lyrics" as "Your guess is good as ours."
  • Wolf Whistle: Klaymen lets one out in Skullmonkeys when one of the titular baddies uses a machine gun to shoot at him while ending up making the silhouette of a shapely woman with the bullet holes.

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