Video Game / Theta vs Pi 7

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Why I've never seen a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
The seventh game in the Theta vs Pi series. It is the first of the series to be made available for the PC (previous instalments having been built for graphics calculators) and brought Theta and Pi to the world of colour.

You play as Theta who is literally the Greek letter theta. He is a member of a species of all of whom are thetas, but can be differentiated due to the others wearing clothing, having hair or in one case being female (he seems to be the only "classic theta").

The mooks in the game are pi symbols. Theta has to fight through a mixture of stock standard pi, pi who shoot, pi with spikes, pi with wings and pi fish.

Every seven levels there’s a castle which ends with a boss. Bosses typically fall slightly higher on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism (as much as that concept applies in this context) having things like faces and, in many cases, a somewhat more humanoid build while still being based around the same concept.

The game is available for free here.

Theta vs Pi 7 contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: King Pi comes across this way, acknowledging that he thinks of Theta more as a friend than an enemy. Even during combat he constantly smiles. In the end, it’s unclear if he was really just affable all along.
  • Amazing Technicolour Population: The patrons of Theta Tavern. Also, the Delta Guards.
  • Art Shifted Sequel: The earlier games were built on graphics calculators and as a consequence were black and white (well, really more grey and grey) and low resolution. Character designs as a result tended to be much simpler. King Pi lampshades the change by claiming to have commissioned a painting of their last battle (actually a screenshot from the earlier game) and adding they’ve both “aged well”.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Golden Shield definitely counts. It’s lets you kill all the enemies within a two-screen radius at once (with the exception of bosses, though you can score a hit against them without touching them or even aiming). However, it’s depleted after one use and you need to have a regular shield (which only normally come up once a level) before you can even find one.
  • Big Fancy Castle: King Pi’s castle definitely counts. It’s MUCH larger than the other castles in the game, to the point where if you include the castle walls it takes up an entire island. Several levels, with different climates, take place on its walls.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Adventurer Theta may count. He has a rather cavalier attitude to his friend being flattened.
  • Chekov's Gun: Ally Mode.
  • Collision Damage: This is both played straight and discussed to the point of lampshading. It seems to be automatically in effect with enemies as some sort of automatic rule (and disappears if they become allies). Apparently it makes interspecies relationships difficult.
  • Dance Party Ending: The epilogue features an upbeat jazzy tune to which the characters involved ( Girl Theta and King Pi) dance. Then Theta proceeds to dance, at least as best as possible in the absence of legs, during the credits.
  • Excuse Plot: There’s very little actual plot given until the end of the game. Adventurer Theta lampshades this by saying, “So you’re the one they’re sending out on this vaguely defined mission to defeat King Pi, eh?”
  • Exposition Break: Kept to a minimum but it’s there. For the first six bosses, before the actual fight starts you’re shown the “Theta Guide for Enemies” which gives a brief overview of the boss you’re about to fight which you can read or not. For the seventh, King Pi talks to you briefly. This actually sets up the final exposition break that happens after King Pi is defeated.
  • Evil Counterpart: Evil Lord Theta is the only theta that you have to fight. Unlike King Pi or even those encountered at Theta Tavern, he also never speaks, much like Theta. Though he does wear clothing and a wig in contrast to Theta's own natural (and naked) appearance, fighting him is still closer to fighting a mirror than any other character.
  • Fixed Camera: Naturally, given letters normally are two dimensional we never get to see them from any other angles.
  • Gusty Glade: The desert levels had strong winds which would blow through in gusts and if you weren’t firmly planted on the ground would either throw you into an enemy or into the quicksand (there were flags you could watch for a clue when they'd change). Adding to the cruelty, enemies were apparently immune to the wind.
  • Heel–Face Turn: King Pi becomes an ally for the final fight, though it’s unclear in the end how much of a genuine bad guy he ever was.
  • Hidden Depths: Theta is actually a surprisingly skilled musician. King Pi also reveals himself to be tired of war and that was once a hero like Theta, a saviour to theta and pi alike, who's been worn down by years of defending his people.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Etas serve this role. In the final land, you finally get to ride one and discover they can walk on quicksand.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: When discussing the origins of the disagreement between Theta and Pi, the game’s official history suggests Theta’s came from “some angles” and Pi’s were “mostly circular”.
  • Informed Equipment: When you’re carrying a shield, it’s shown in a box at the top of the screen but you don’t actually have it on you at all. This is averted however with the wizard hat which you do in fact wear on your head.
  • Interspecies Romance: There's one between Girl Theta and her boyfriend, a Pi. The even address the difficulties such a romance would pose in a one hit point platformer universe where physical contact between with an enemy species is normally fatal.
  • Invisible Anatomy: No one in this game has hands. Yet, somehow the bartender served all those drinks, the piano player plays that piano and Theta is able to play multiple instruments.
  • Its Pronounced Tropay: S-pi-der has a problem with people mispronouncing his name.
  • King Mook: King Pi, naturally.
  • Levels Take Flight: A couple of the levels require you to fly through the sky in what are described as “egg cups”. You have no control over them and can’t jump out until they start to fall away at which point you have to jump quickly to the next one.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Averted with Theta. He's a one hit point wonder normally, but if he has a shield it will kill his enemy but still leave him vulnerable to attack. The wizard hat teleports Theta to safety but still leaves him vulnerable. King Pi however does have a form of this in that his only weak spot is the top of his head and he'll cover it in flame immediately after being hit, giving him temporary invulnerability.
  • Mook Chivalry: The Delta Guards will always wait until the previous one has been defeated before the next one attacks.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: This is averted in most cases, since normally you squash/shrink your enemies and they then disappear. With bosses they just sort of fall through the bottom of the screen. However... King Pi doesn't do this and actually manages to wake back up again after being defeated.
  • Not So Different: King Pi says this word for word.
  • Palette Swap: This is pretty much the entire deal of the Delta Guards who just keep coming in a wave, each one in a new colour.
  • Patchwork Map: “The Land of Confusing Weather” lampshades this trope. It’s later implied to be the result of weather modification experiments.
  • Portmanteau: King Pi is presumably not fond of these, since "King Pi Island" is explicitly noted as not being called a "Piland".
  • Punny Name: Taken to the extreme with Evil Lord Theta. Apparently, it’s a common misconception that he’s an evil lord. He was in fact named after his grandfathers, Eviline John Theta and Lordaline James Theta (no relation). He is in fact an Evil Duke.
  • Real Time with Pause: While you can’t do much while paused, you can change directions in mid-air. Bosses will also blink while the game is paused, suggesting time isn’t supposed to actually be frozen.
  • Shout-Out: The piano player claims that even his plumber is a better adventurer than you.
  • Silent Protagonist: Theta never speaks. That said, see Wilhelm Scream below.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: There are several levels like this which will correspond to icy areas on the map (sometimes as part of otherwise temperate areas).
  • The Smurfette Principle: There's only one female theta seen and no female pi, though the latter may be ambiguous because in the case of the pi only the bosses have even Tertiary Sexual Characteristics and only one regular pi ever speaks.
  • Smurfing: Every word in the Theta Language appears to be “theta”. Every word in the Pi Language appears to be “pi”. The only thing stopping this being Pokémon Speak is that sometimes a theta will use the word “pi” to refer to pi and a pi will use the word “theta” to refer to theta. The teth language also counts and King Pi also knows the word teth.
  • Sound of No Damage: One of these will be heard when Theta’s wizard abilities have no effect against a boss.
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: Most levels end with a trampoline which you need to bounce on to get up to the exit. King Pi also becomes this after you defeat him.
  • Species Surname: Everyone named has this trait (even though most of them are only one of two species). Evil Lord Theta's grandfathers both had the surname Theta but were stated as unrelated to one another.
  • Spikes of Doom: In the ground of some levels. Some much larger ones show up when fighting Ghost Pi (fatal to you but he can pass right through them).
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: A probably justifiable example since not being a human, an animal or having a mouth it's entirely possible Theta doesn't need to breathe.
  • Too Dumb to Live: If you hide behind King Pi, the Delta Guards will just fling themselves against him again and again trying to get to you.
  • Underground Monkey: Pi, Flying Pi, Shooting Pi, Spike Pi and Pi Fish.
  • Under the Sea: There are several under water levels, most of which are in the sea but one of which is in King Pi’s castle. They mostly involve running from pi fish and dodging the non-aggressive alpha fish.
  • Variable Mix: "The Place of Melancholy Stillness" has a different, sadder, background music playing when you're standing still to the rest of the game. Then as soon as you start moving a second song begins to play on top of it and they blend together into something happier as long as you keep moving.
  • When All Else Fails, Go Right: This is referenced in the game’s official history saying “Theta doesn’t know exactly where or when the final confrontation will come, though the law of side-scrolling platformer games tells him it will be somewhere on the right.”
  • Wilhelm Scream: When Theta dies either by falling or by burning up, this will be heard.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/ThetaVsPi7