Humongous Entertainment (now Humongous Inc.) is a company for children's computer games, which is now owned by Tommo Inc. after Atari went bankrupt. Their five biggest franchises were Putt-Putt, Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam, SPY Fox, and Backyard Sports, although they had plenty of other small franchises such as Fatty Bear, Buzzy the Knowledge Bug, and Big Thinkers! Humongous was founded by Ron Gilbert of LucasArts fame and Shelley Day, beginning with Putt-Putt Joins the Parade. They became one of the most successful companies for childrens games, especially when their big hit, the Backyard Sports, came out, and actually became the only reason Humongous made a profit. They also made MoonBase Commander and many Blue's Clues' Licensed Games, and their sub-division Cavedog Entertainment made a few non-children's computer games including Total Annihilation and its follow-up Total Annihilation: Kingdoms.
Eventually, Humongous filed for bankruptcy, and sold all the rights to Atari, who continued four of the series, but only went one game on three of those four and stopped. The other one, the Backyard Sports series, lasted for several more years, but the series has since left HE's control and, after a hiatus, is now a mobile game series. Three of the games were also ported to the Wii by Majesco, but used ScummVM (a virtual machine made to run old Scumm-based games) without giving any credit to the developers whatsoever, so it now seems all series have been left abandoned and rotted. The fanbase is still strong, however, and continue to remember the games from their childhood. Many of the company's older games have been ported to mobile devices by Atari and Nimbus Games.
All demo download links are listed on their pages, since finding them is a bit of a Guide Dang It!.
As of April 17, 2014, Humongous has started rolling their old point-and-click games out onto Steam with the help of Nightdive Studios, most famous for re-introducing PC games like System Shock 2 and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. A list of the games currently available can be found here. However, the company currently being owned by dubious Tommo Inc.note has not gone well with some people.
Many of them are now available on Android as well.
Series by Humongous:
- Backyard Sports
- Big Thinkers!
- Blue's Clues (many of the licensed games)
- Bobo and Fletcher Go Deep Into The Congo (vaporware)
- Buzzy the Knowledge Bug
- Conjure! (vaporware)
- Fatty Bear
- Freddi Fish
- Future Dog: Dog of the Future (vaporware)
- Moonbase Commander
- Pajama Sam
- Pajama Man (comic books; the game is vaporware)
- SPY Fox
Series by Humongous's sub-division Cavedog Entertainment:
- Amen: The Awakening (vaporware)
- Butter (vaporware; working title)
- Elysium (vaporware)
- Glider Wars (vaporware)
- Good & Evil (vaporware)
- Great White Hunter (vaporware)
- Total Annihilation
Tropes in Humongous games in general:
- Anti-Frustration Features:
- In some of the games (notably the Freddi Fish series), if you fool around long enough, a character will give a hint.
- Most of the Junior Arcades had a "Junior Helper." which usually let you turn on unlimited lives and give you some other advantage.
- April Fools' Day: For April 1, 1999, Humongous's sub-division Cavedog Entertainment temporarily became Frozen Yak Entertainment.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Most of the demos do this.
- Company Cross References: They were extremely fond of these. Every game featured at least half a dozen cameos or references to their other works.
- Compilation Re-release: LOTS of them.
- Conspicuously Light Patch: Would very often give away item locations.
- Creative Closing Credits: Humongous was quite fond of these. Usually they had objects flying up or going across the screen, and clicking on them gave you different reactions. Other things included photo albums, a room with many click points, screens that show many random events, and much more.
- Creator In-Joke: Their headquarters was located in Woodinville, Washington, so you're going to expect a lot of jokes referencing said city and Seattle.
- Credits Gag: Virtually all games since Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo feature at least one "joke credit" (the aforementioned game has "If you lived in Cartown, you'd be home now," and Pajama Sam 1 has "No animals were injured or cheese eaten in the making of this game. ... Mmm, cheese.")
- Debug Room: Featured in all of the post-Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo games.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The earliest games had DOS graphics and MIDI music, and animated using sprites instead of hand drawn cartoon animation. Then there's minor details, like the 3D cursors in Freddi Fish 1 being longer and thinner than the later ones (changed in the 1998 re-release), and being unable to skip movement phases. The early HE games also had a Windows 3.1 pause menu, a quit button instead of a menu button, and no lip-sync.
- The End: Most of the games from their early years ended on this.
- Feelies: Included with just about every game at the time, though they have become more and more rare.
- Game Mod: By editing the games' config files, you may find additional scenes and extra jokes.
- The five games that use the YAGA enginenote are especially easy to mod, since the files can easily be extracted with 7-Zip.
- I Am Not Shazam: Apparently in the early years, the company was sometimes mistakenly called "Junior Adventures" due to it being a prominent logo on the first set of game boxes without the company's real name being front-and-center; "Junior Adventures" was actually the name of the product lineup rather than the company, but it was a genuine problem when vendors would try to look up a company called "Junior Adventures" to order games and would find nothing. While the lineup name was retained beginning in 1996, for a brief period of time it was given a 10-Minute Retirement in 1994 with the lineup name (and its rocket logo) completely pushed away. When the name was used again in 1996, a much lesser deal was made of it.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Partially averted. Usually the characters will give an excuse for taking anything not nailed down by saying something like "This doesn't belong here, so I'd better find the place it should go." At the base of it, though, the heroes are still snatching anything that looks important. Lampshaded by some of the original dev team, who will often use "borrow" jokingly as a nicer-sounding substitute for "stealing."
- Mad Libs Dialogue: You could say it was abused in Humongous games. The Backyard Sports were especially bad at this.
- Off-Model: The early hand-drawn games dipped into this fairly often. While the faraway shots looked fine for the most part, the close up shots tended to look awkward and jagged, and were even out of proportion at times. SPY Fox in Dry Cereal seems to be the point where they finally got the hang of it.
- Replay Value: A well done example. With the adventure games, every playthrough changes the puzzle solutions and even the characters involved in some cases.
- Same Language Dub: Several of the games were released in the UK with tweaked scripts and re-recorded dialogue using British voice actors.
- Shout-Out: Hoo boy. Humongous did a LOT of self Product Placement. They would advertise another one of their games wherever they could, such as on bill boards and click points.
- One of the billboards on Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo says "Shameless Humongous Entertainment self-promotion to be placed HERE."
- Spiritual Successor: Hulabee Entertainment.
- Humongous's sub-division Gaspocket Adventures, as a whole.
- Vanity Plate: Went through several iterations throughout the years, but the most well-known example is the drum roll crash followed by cartoonish gibberish with a still image of the company's logo on screen, followed by the Vanity Plate of whatever product line it was a part of (Junior Adventures, Junior Sports, Junior Arcades...).