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Visual Novel: Plumbers Don't Wear Ties
Well, at least she's not wearing a tie. And yes, this is actual "game" footage.
"If you even count this as a game, it's probably the worst game I've ever seen in my life. And that's one hell of an accomplishment."
The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of the game

"It's built as an adult adventure game, and I don't see how an adult would have the patience to sit through it. It's like, it's basically porn without all the nudity and sex in it. Just that level of acting and interaction. It's absolutely horrible."
GameFAQs founder CJayC

No, it's not a Super Mario Bros. game. Alas...

Plumbers Don't Wear Ties is a rare Western example of the Visual Novel. Released for the 3DO, 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  That's everything you want in a game, right?

The game is supposedly erotic, as you take control of "an Interactive Romantic Comedy". In reality, it feels pretty much 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 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.

Except that amid this plot, there's also a lot of padding, nonsensical Imagine Spots, padding, some very improbable Suddenly Sexuality, padding, more Photoshop filters than you can shake a stick at, padding, inconsistent narration, even more padding, and a crowd of dogs applauding the male narrator in a chicken suit gunning his Straw Feminist counterpart. Did we mention that there's padding in this game? Yeah...it's considered as one of the absolute worst games of all time, seeing as how it even makes the infamous E.T. game look like a masterpiece.

You can watch The Angry Video Game Nerd's take on it here, or, should you wish to torture yourself, there's a (sort of Not Work Safe) playable version on YouTube. There is also an episode of Taco Man Plays A Video Game where Taco Man plays said game here, and a Supergreatfriend Stream Friend playthrough here. And Retsupurae did an MST of the game you can watch here.

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 (poorly) laughs 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.
  • 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 is an exception, too. 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.
  • Covers Always Lie Get it?
  • 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.
  • Fan Disservice: John's uncensored ass in the shower scene.
  • 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.
  • 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 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/Multiple Endings: 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?
  • 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?!" Is... is that man in a chicken mask scolding the player? 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.
  • 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 Nineties: 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
    • Done much earlier on.
    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.
  • 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.


(P)lanetsVisual NovelPolicenauts
Phantasmagoria 2Full Motion VideoRealms of the Haunting

alternative title(s): Plumbers Dont Wear Ties
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