Visual Novel: Plumbers Don't Wear Ties

Anastasia Steele, eat your heart out.
Plumbers Don't Wear Ties is a rare Western example of the Visual Novel. Released for the 3DO in 1993 by Kirin Entertainment, the game is a self-proclaimed full motion video but little more than a slide show of random events, featuring "a plumber, a daddy's girl, chickens, crazed yuppies, evil bosses, pandas, shower scenes, race cars, a nun".note 

The game is supposedly erotic, as you take control of "an Interactive Romantic Comedy". In reality, it's more like a DVD scene-selection, with few options and little impact on the story whatever you choose. Moreover, deciding an option that doesn't help the plot move along the game's desired ending is considered a Non-Standard Game Over, even when the option you choose is under no condition bad, leaving the player with no real control of what's going on.

The plot involves John (played by Edward J. Foster), a plumber who, to avoid his mother trying to hook him up with someone, falls madly in love with Jane (played by Jeanne "Hollywood" Basone), the first woman he meets in an office parking lot. She's there for a job interview with Thresher (played by Paul Bokor), whose idea of acceptable workplace behavior is clearly very, very far behind the times. He chases her, John steps in to save her, she resists the boss's indecent proposal, and they all live happily ever after.

Amid this plot, there are Imagine Spots, some very improbable Suddenly Sexuality, more Photoshop filters than you can shake a stick at, and a crowd of dogs applauding the male narrator in a chicken suit gunning his Straw Feminist counterpart.

This game provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Amy, the woman John's mother tries to force on him.
  • Abusive Parents: Of the verbal variety; both John's mother and Jane's father have no qualms with shouting and swearing to their offspring over the phone.
  • The Alcoholic: Jane's father has the table in front of him covered in bottles of alcohol, and is having drinks disturbingly early in the day.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: The female voice who sometimes narrates decisions. The male one has an American accent, but is also rather bad.
  • Bad Boss: Thresher.
  • Banana Peel: Thresher slips on one during the chase scene.
  • Battle of the Still Frames: More like "Chase Of The Still Frames", but occasionally stretches into an entire game. Even in non-chase sequences.
  • Black Comedy Rape: In the "good" ending, a bag lady rapes Thresher as "punishment". John just laughs (poorly) as he and Jane walk off.
  • Blatant Lies
    • The box cover claims that it "Plays like a Game... feels like a MOVIE!" Dead wrong on both counts (unless the games you play have as much interactivity as a DVD menu, and the movies you watch are badly Photoshopped slideshows).
    • The so-called "18-rated" scene isn't really that explicit—it only features Thresher pressuring Jane to strip, with language no stronger than "DAMN" (of course). Perhaps they were referring to the scene where the page image comes to play?
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: While pressuring her into having kids, Jane's father acknowledges the previous scene where John's mother did the same thing.
  • But Thou Must
    • There's only one time you can make a choice that doesn't end the game instantly, and that's when you choose who makes the first move. Both narrators chew you out over all of the choices, as if you were writing the script.
    • When John can choose to chase Jane or not isn't really an exception either. It might look like a different ending (the Gay Option), but you receive the sign to "Give me one more chance", meaning it's another game over.
  • Camp Gay: If you end up with the gay option, Thresher suddenly becomes this.
  • Censor Box: Censor Giant Nose, even. There's a code that removes them.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: During the scene where Jane is being chased by Thresher, she's wearing nothing but a bra and a skirt. When the chase goes outside, though, she's suddenly fully clothed. Then, later in the same scene, her shirt comes off again.
  • Content Warnings: The box says that only players 17 and up can play, even though a (required!) choice needs you to be 18.note 
  • Covers Always Lie ʇᴉ ʇǝפ
  • Dating Sim: Well...as far as "dating" goes. Unlike most dating simulation games which notoriously allow several routes to many different endings, this game is programmed to only have one acceptable route. If you try to choose a different route, you get scolded and have to retry.
  • Depraved Bisexual: If the gay ending is anything to go by, Thresher is definitely this, as he's kinda aggressive when he flirts with John.
  • Dominatrix: Jane becomes one in one of the choices.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The 2nd narrator. Justified, in that she's in a karate get-up.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: See Love at First Sight for John and Jane's almost instant and largely baseless mutual attraction.
  • Freudian Slip: Thresher, midway through the "canon" route. This turns into a Freudian Slippery Slope if you pick the Gay Option.
    "They are the ones who give head... I mean, get ahead."
  • Full Motion Video: ...Except there isn't any after the title screen.
  • Gainax Ending: Some of the optional endings are this, featuring things like John and Thresher suddenly turning gay or Jane spontaneously becoming a nun. Than again the rest of the game doesn't exactly make sense either.
  • Gay Option: As it turns out, after seeing this scene, both Thresher and John swing both ways. What's funny is that it's the only nonviolent option in the game, and is actually prefigured during John's conversation with his mother.
  • Good Morning, Crono: Twice, near the beginning. First, John is woken up by a call from his mother, followed with Jane from her father.
  • Heroic Build: John.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: Another narrator randomly shows up, and beats up the first. He then comes back later with an Uzi.
  • Interactive Fiction: Thoroughly subverted. If you don't follow the game's precise, chosen plotline you get shouted at by the narrator and forced to go back and choose the other option.
  • Interactive Narrator: Though it's mostly limited to shouting at you.
  • I Want Grandkids: John's mom pressures him into marrying because she wants grandchildren. Jane's dad does the same thing.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Most videos lead to this. As well as the "Hollywood ending", you can get the "Asexual", "Hired", "Not Hired", "S&M", "Gay", "Indecent Proposal" and "Nun" endings... there's far more bad endings than good.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Broken. Broken into millions of tiny, tiny pieces.
  • Ladykiller in Love: A gender-inverted example. In the "good" ending, John butts in when Jane and Thresher are haggling over how much he should pay for her to sleep with him (and the discussion has been going on for hours before John's interjection, mind you) and declares his love for her. Jane's personality apparently performs a 180 on the spot, she responds in kind to John and the two leave holding hands. While her dialogue with Thresher heavily implies that she has slept with guys for money before, the good ending claims that she is a virgin, creating a Plot Hole-fueled zig-zagging of this trope.
  • Lingerie Scene/Opera Gloves: Jane strips herself down to her black bra and panties while wearing black opera gloves. And not only that, but she also takes out her whip and handcuffs!
  • Logic Bomb: The game is 17-rated, but one part is 18-rated. But you need to play this part to finish the game. So... how can a 17 year old possibly play the game and complete it?
    • However upon closer inspection of the "17" label, you can see "Guidance for 17 & Under" written under it.
  • Love at First Sight: Deciding you want to marry a woman you've never talked to that you just bumped into in a car park is not generally a recipe for fun.
  • Mind Screw: Seriously, you can scream aloud "What the fuck?!" W...why is the narrator scolding the player whilst wearing a chicken mask? And why is he hanging upside down? Pandas driving race cars over a guy's bed in negative colors? (Granted the latter was in John's dream, but still...) This couldn't be weirder if David Lynch wrote it.
  • Mr. Fanservice: John. He's fairly fit, and the camera gives his mostly naked (and eventually just shirtless) body almost as much focus in the opening montage as Jane's.
  • Ms. Fanservice/Hello, Nurse!: Jane, as seen on this page's image.
  • Multiple Endings: This is a rare case when you aren't even allowed to try a different route than the one the game set up as canon. However, they do have endings (Jane stripping for Thresher to get the job, John and Thresher ending up together, etc.), but they're labeled "failure" for this reason. This is all in stark contrast to what visual novels usually promote, which is one of many reasons as to why the game is so hated.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut
    "I'm about to marry a virgin! In the 90's! Impossible!"
  • Naughty Nuns: Averted by the "other" ending, where Jane — who spent the entire intro telling us how many guys she's had sex with — sudden reveals that she's a virgin and wants to be a nun. The game doesn't even show her wearing a habit. This was also prefigured in the intro FMV, though Jane denies it.
    "Imagine that, me a NUN? HA! I don't think so!...I'm not that kind of girl!"
  • Never Trust a Title: John wears a tie. In his "review", the Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) lampshades this, much to his consternation.
    (John plays air guitar with his plunger)
    AVGN: "Well, the game's called "Plumbers Don't Wear Ties", so I guess it makes sense. He's a plumber, and I don't see him wearing a tie.
    (Cut to next image showing John wearing a tie)
    AVGN: "What the fuck?! You can't even trust the damn title!"
  • The '90s: The hideous fashions and dreadful attempts at early Photoshopping let this game be dated very, very accurately to the early '90s. Plus, the horribly pixelated pictures and compressed sound will easily remind people of the time when "CD quality" picture and sound was actually a pejorative term.
  • No Fourth Wall: That's for sure.
    "That bitch of a mother from the last scene just told her son to get married!"
    • The game even keeps in an audio outtake of the actor playing as John flubbing his lines, and the cast and crew commenting on it.
  • Photoshop Filter of Evil: Almost like MS Paint filter of evil.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: People may complain that Mario doesn't do enough plumbing. Compared to John, he's a plumbing machine.
  • Scoring Points: Their meaninglessness is exemplified in the Violation of Common Sense trope, below. In fact, the highest possible score in the game is -170,000 according to GameFAQs.
  • Shirtless Scene: John in the beginning of the story, up until he gets on his motorcycle.
    • There's also Thresher if you choose the "Jane will do anything to get the job" decision.
  • Shower Scene: Completely gratuitously with both John and Jane.
    • Censored during normal play, though a code can change that.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: John and his mother, Jane and her father.
  • Spoiler Opening: In the only FMV in the entire game, Jane spoils several plot points, including the nun ending.
  • Straw Feminist: A female narrator takes over the game to defeat the patriarchy?
  • Suddenly Sexuality: Both John and Thresher are apparently bi in one failure ending. With each other.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: "TAKE YOUR DAMN CLOTHES OFF!"
  • Title Drop: Right at the very end, where John finally admits that he's a plumber (even though just looking at the giant 'Plumber On A Bike' logo on his motorcycle could already have tipped Jane off), but Jane insists he's lying because, as she puts it, Plumbers Don't Wear Ties.
    • Also done much earlier on during the phone call with John and his mother:
    John: Ma, I'm a plumber, and plumbers don't wear ties!
  • Violation of Common Sense: You have to go through the choice of the boss forcing Jane to take her clothes off, which gives you a negative score.
  • Wham Line: This line from Thresher:
    "You know, perhaps something can be worked out after all. (beat) Take your clothes off, Jane."
  • What the Hell, Player?: The narrator will not always agree with what you're doing. Sometimes he will say that even if you pick a different route.
  • You Bastard: After Railroading you into "the hairball takes advantage of the situation" option and serving up a healthy dose of Moral Event Horizon and Mood Whiplash the game has the naked chutzpah to call you a "perverted monster". And it happens elsewhere, too.
    • If you choose any the other options the game calls you a loser for doing such a lousy script, including the boss acting very generously and giving Jane an extremely well paying job with many bonuses.