YMMV / Marathon

The original trilogy contains examples of:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Bernhard. Was he simply cruel to Durandal out of a power fantasy, or did he recognize the symptoms of Rampancy and attempt to stave it off as long as possible? Rubicon and Eternal follow each interpretation.
    • And Durandal is subject to this too, mainly in whatever he is an Anti-Hero or an Anti-Villain, or even an outright villain.
  • Awesome Music: The Marathon 2 title theme and most of the Marathon 1994 soundtrack. Marathon Eternal uses the good remixes of the latter, and got a cool original title theme.
    • Download the above and many other remixes here.
    • "Leela", the similar composition and tempo clearly inspired the soundtrack of Halo later on.
    • "Landing" provides a perfect ambient score that starts off the first level of the game before you find out exactly what has happened to the Marathon.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The earlier releases of the Aleph One version of Marathon started with the Pathways into Darkness Shout-Out, which many considered to be this. Fortunately for them, there is a plugin that removes that segment, and then removed entirely in later builds. Funny, because Bungie considered adding something similar to Durandal and later Infinity, but both times it got scrapped.
  • Breather Level: Trips back to the UESC Marathon in the first game, expeditions into Thoth's domain in the latter two.
  • Broken Base: Not for the game itself, but for the source port. Aleph One's makers really want to be as true as possible to the original releases - this includes absolutely refusing to implement 3D, crosshairs, and at one point, installing a enemy/NPC limit that, while true to the original games, broke nearly every Marathon mod - and being vocal about it.
  • Demonic Spiders: The Pfhor troopers; they are the only enemies with near hitscan weapons (their assault rifles) that can do real damage on higher difficulties.
    • Compilers can fly, have a homing projectile that can shoot around cover, are quite durable, and can turn invisible. It doesn't help that they don't make any noise until they start firing at you, either.
      • There is a very simple secret to dealing with Compilers though: Punch them. Their recovery time takes longer than the duration between punches. With other enemies while punching you have to strafe to avoid enemy fire, but Compilers do not present this problem. Of course, if there's more than one Compiler at once that could prove more problematic.
  • Ear Worm: Swirls, a tranquil track that simply stands out in the soundtrack. Doesn't help that the first time you hear this, the game starts giving lengthy backstory text in the terminals (The History of Mars and the construction of Marathon in Couch Fishing), not to mention that it's the track for Colony Ship for Sale, Cheap which includes Durandal's more famous rants (Escape Will Make Me God) and That One Puzzle.
    • Splash (Marathon), by far the longest and most repetitive track in the game, which only makes the riff even more infectious.
    • Ditto for Chomber. The fact that it's in 7/4 probably makes it even more infectious.
      • It's more (4+3)/4 than true 7/4, though.
  • Epileptic Trees: Marathon Infinity.
    • Try the entire series. Proof comes from the Marathon Story Page, where they've been doing Wild Mass Guessing since 1995.
      • It's more likely the Kudzu Plot. A ton of subplots were introduced or hinted at and dropped in the first game alone (JJARRO WERE AT TAU CETI, anyone?), and some plot points seem to contradict each other, and not because of Infinity's Timey-Wimey Ball.
      • In some cases this is somewhat justified, as a lot of the information we have about certain aspects of the plot (most notably the Jjaro and the W'rkncacnter) comes entirely from mythological references by the S'pht. It makes sense that over thousands of years information would become somewhat Shrouded in Myth.
  • Fridge Brilliance/Fridge Horror: Has its own page.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Not exactly super popular, but in Japan the relative popularity of Macintosh computers and the slow decline of home-based ones (FM-TOWNS, X68000, PC-98 and so on) during that time resulted in a fanbase of a respectable size, and that is despite the general unpopularity of the FPS genre there.
  • Goddamned Bats or Demonic Spiders (depending on the difficulty level) — Wasps, Compilers, Lookers, Pfhor Drones, Cyborgs with homing grenades, Ticks.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: This isn't the only Marathon Trilogy. D. Alexander Smith's series, beginning in 1982 and ending in 1990, even starts off with the shipboard AI going Rampant and raising hell for the crew.
  • Ho Yay: Durandal/Security Officer has a small but decent following these days. Of all the mission controls in the Trilogy, Durandal is the closest thing the SO has to a companion (the latter referring to himself as a "willing minion" in the M2 manual, despite his less-than-ideal situation at the start); every now and then, Durandal lets slip something more personal or emotional than usual, and in Infinity the two end up going to serious lengths for each other. Not to mention the secret personals ad in M2, with Durandal's asking for "a serious relationship in the galactic core", and Leela's describing the SO as "tall, dark, and handsome" (the assumption is that Durandal authored all of them).
  • Magnificent Bastard: Durandal. Also Tycho.
    • Case in point: In the ending screen of Marathon 2 (which takes place many many years after the events of the game), he returns to the Sol system in a Jjaro dreadnought, playing cat-and-mouse with the human defenses near Pluto, and then suddenly warps into low Earth orbit. The reason for all of this? He wanted to say hi, and make sure people still remembered him.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Frog blast the vent core!"
  • Most Annoying Sound: The BOBs constantly saying "THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!!!!!"
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has its own page.
  • Older Than They Think: These games helped pioneer the idea of story-driven first-person shooters before Half-Life (the game most often credited with this innovation) was even a gleam in anyone's eye. Marathon is also credited with being the first computer-based shooter to use the mouselook control scheme, and was at least one of the first shooters to feature secondary ammo and allied NPCs (the automated defense drones in the first game, then the BOBs in the sequels). It's also very likely the first game that allowed players to dual-wield weapons.
  • Paranoia Fuel: The Lookers in Colony Ship for Sale, Cheap. Lookers explode on you, similar to simulacrums, but they are very hard to punch without getting yourself hurt, they can fly, and some are camouflaged (they look like shadows). Still, not too much of a problem, since one bullet kills them. However, on Colony Ship for Sale, Cheap, they are in nearly every dark corner and every other corner in a hallway.
    • It's hard to emphasize how pants-crappingly scary this part of the level was.
    • The camo Compilers in G4 Sunbathing. They wouldn't be very bad if they didn't get together in groups of ten or more on Total Carnage.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: This game introduced an incredible amount of things to the industry, being the FPS game that has a plot that is actually emphasized more than the action throughout the game, multiplayer modes other than deathmatch, vertical aiming, the ability for players to swim, AI-controlled allies… A few other games may have had these things, but not all at once. The list of things that this series introduced just goes on. Most of this was either overshadowed in favor of Doo M's clout, or, much later, Halo, which continued a lot of Marathon's legacy.
  • That One Level:
    • Marathon: G4 Sunbathing, Bob-BQ, Habe Quiddam.
      • "Colony Ship for Sale, Cheap". This level's platform puzzle was so universally loathed by fans (you had to time a series of switch hits exactly right or you wouldn't be able to climb a series of stairs) that when the game was ported over to Aleph One they just left out the timing puzzle entirely and had the platforms automatically extend to the right locations (unfortunately, the original puzzle has since been reinstated in some versions of the game released since, much to various players' chagrin). It's also worth noting that the level's designer, Jason Jones, actually apologised for the level (most likely because of the puzzle) in the credits terminal for Marathon 2.
    • Marathon 2: If I Had a Rocket Launcher (also Awesome), Sorry Don't Make It So, Begging for Mercy.
    • Marathon Infinity: Acme Station, Hang Brain, You Think You're Big Time.
    • The levels "Try Again", "If I Had a Rocket Launcher", and "You Think You're Big Time" were used for a secret Vidmaster Challenge that can be found in Infinity's final level, created by Promoted Fanboy Randall "FrigidMan" Shaw. Fans are of divided opinions as to whether these are actually the hardest levels in their respective games, or even if they're harder than the original versions; for instance, "Acme Station" is almost universally agreed to be the hardest level in Marathon Infinity, given how few people completed it on Total Carnage using Command+Option+New Game (Ctrl+Shift+New Game on Windows; only eleven people actually published successful runs to the Marathon Vidmaster Archive. Note that these films are not viewable in older versions of Aleph One; it may be easier to go to this YouTube channel, which has a lot of the old films.) Similarly, "Sorry Don't Make It So" is sometimes considered the hardest level in Durandal due to how difficult it is to manoeuvre in the level's narrow corridors; it's actually sometimes possible to skip a large part of "Rocket Launcher".
  • That One Puzzle: The movable platform puzzle on "Colony Ship". Nothing else in the series comes close. (Note that it's possible, though difficult, to Cut the Knot and skip the entire puzzle via grenade jumping. The films here may still be only viewable in the original Mac release.)

Various mods contain examples of:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: That Lysander (of Rubicon) is malicious is not in question. However, despite appearing calm in the face of imminent death, he repeatedly emphasizes to the Security Officer that it won't matter if they kill him or not, and attempts to undermine their trust in Durandal—which, incidentally, would disincline them from finishing the job and smashing Lysander's core. Was he taking things as well as he appeared to?
  • Boss in Mook Clothing/Demonic Spiders:
    • In Rubicon, the enforcers. Dear god, I never knew a health bar could be drained so fast.
      • The Pfhor Chamberlains in the same scenario also qualify. They can't actually kill you, but they can strip your health bar down to the point where one hit from anything else will kill you, and they can do it in less than a second. Luckily there are only a few in the entire game.
      • The Salinger Plank gives us the insidious MaserBoBs, wielders of the powerful, perfectly-accurate Dangi Maser. If he sees you, you're as good as dead; they're more-or-less the human counterparts to the Enforcers. Luckily, you can pilfer their Masers and the ammo to load it with.
    • Many of the A'Khr (and a few of the Pfhor) in Phoenix have infuriatingly fast firing speeds. These are the main reason the scenario is Nintendo Hard.
  • Breather Level: Some of the scenarios have these. In Pfh'Joueur, for example, the levels on the Nor'Haket tend to be less difficult than the surrounding missions, and in many cases have more to do with puzzle solving than they do with fighting off aliens.
  • Broken Base: The entire Tycho Plank in Rubicon X, both regarding the quality of some of the levels and which ending is the best.
    • Regarding the levels, a few levels are reused with few modifications from the original game, which is almost universally disliked, and the combat is generally regarded to be almost impossible (and not in a fun way) on higher difficulty settings, but there are fairly strong disagreements regarding almost everything else.
    • Regarding the ending, it's widely disputed whether the Tycho plank or the Salinger plank is the "better" ending.
      • The Tycho plank involves betraying and "killing" Durandal (who may be a bit of a Jerkass but still generally comes across as something of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold) and killing a large number of scientists who were just doing their job, but it also appears to result in the virus samples being completely destroyed along with all knowledge of them. Lysander claimed the virus was incurable and that Information Wants to Be Free, which (if we accept him at his word - and since the game's tagline and main theme is "truth is the first casualty of war", we probably shouldn't) makes this arguably a superior ending for mankind generally, though it also becomes an extremely dark case of Black and Grey Morality on the player's part. On the other hand, the epilogue level, "Lazarus ex machina", strongly implies that we didn't actually kill Durandal; we appear to retain his primal pattern, and the level involves us inserting chips into a computer core, with the final terminal displaying Durandal rebooting.
      • The Salinger plank has us capturing the scientists. Durandal retains information about the virus. He tells us that he won't use this information against humanity, but even if we accept that he won't, we are left with quite a bit of uncertainty about whether information can leak out via the scientists themselves. On the other hand, we don't kill large numbers of more or less unarmed scientists who were basically just doing their jobs, nor do we betray Jerk with a Heart of Gold Durandal.
      • As a result, players still dispute which of these should be read as the Bittersweet Ending and which of these is the flat-out Happy Ending (some Take a Third Option and consider both bittersweet in different ways). It's likely that the ambiguity was deliberate on the writers' part - again, "truth is the first casualty of war".
  • Nightmare Fuel: See the series' Nightmare Fuel page.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Connected to Nightmare Fuel above; many of the scenarios get this way.
    • The level "Roquefortress" in Phoenix is an excellent example: the level is extremely dark, if you take a wrong step you will die instantly, and enemies come from anywhere and everywhere and it is difficult to keep track of them. It does not help that many of the enemies in this scenario fly and don't make any noise until they fire at you, and can take away a whole bar of health in less than a second. Oh, and the level is set out in a completely non-linear manner so it's impossible to keep track of where the enemies have been released. Have fun! (Despite that, the level, as well as the whole scenario, is awesome, and one of the best examples of Scenery Porn created in the engine to date. The main creator has studied architecture extensively and it shows).
    • The swamps on the Pfhor planet in Rubicon have alien noises as random ambient sounds. There are also Lookers in the swamp (whose chatter is among the noises that happen as ambient sounds), and it's next to impossible to see them even if you have liquid transparency enabled due to the thickness of the sludge in the swamp. Needless to say, when wandering through the swamp, you're pretty much constantly afraid that you're going to walk over a Looker and die.
    • Rubicon as a whole invokes this in its tagline: "Truth is the first causality of war." To put it this way, the only person you can trust not to have it out for you if you don't turn on him is Durandal—and even he makes some questionable decisions over the course of the plot(s).
      • Though in Rubicon X, as it turns out, Tycho also behaves surprisingly benevolently should the player choose to align with him - he probably qualifies as a fairly dark antihero at worst. He claims to have little concern with the fate of humanity in one of the game terminals, but his actions throughout his plank make this claim questionable. The worst actions he's responsible for are sending the player off to slaughter the Dangi scientists and kill Durandal, but the former is arguably justifiable from a utilitarian standpoint (knowledge of Achilles in the wrong hands would kill some 99% of humanity, so the safest recourse for humanity as a whole is to destroy all memory of it) and, as revealed in the epilogue, we didn't actually kill Durandal. Not coincidentally, this ties in with the scenario's dream story, which ends with the narrator destroying all record of his most dangerous work and fleeing.
  • That One Level: Secret levels tend to be infuriatingly difficult, although there are exceptions (the last secret on Tempus Irae is mostly an excuse for porn).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/Marathon