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Film / Press Start

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"This is no game. It's a movie!"

Zack: Why'd you let him hit you?
Sam: It was his turn.

Press Start is an independent spoof comedy film produced by Dark Maze Studios.

It chronicles the adventures of Zack Nimbus, the 'Chosen One', Lin-Ku, an overly violent Ninja, and Sam, a woman warrior in a spacesuit. They set out to find the three ancient relics and battle The Empire ruled by the nefarious Count Nefarious Vile and they spoof more video games than you can count along the way. Featuring special appearances by game actors Daniel and Carlos Pesina (Mortal Kombat) and music by videogame composer Jake Kaufman (Contra 4). Made on a budget described as "spare change placed in a mayo jar," the film was well received by many video game websites. It even spawned an Animated Adaptation series which premiered on Channel Awesome, and a sequel, Press Start 2 Continue was released in March 11 2011.


According to the production notes (available in PDF on the website), the original concept by Ed Glaser was Videogame: The Movie! - like the Scary Movie series, only funny. It was written by Kevin Folliard. The truly great thing is that everyone involved in the movie has either worked on games or is a hardcore fan, so naturally the movie is Troperiffic. Plus, most of them are accomplished martial artists that raised the level of fight scenes in the movie. The incredibly low budget was worked around thanks to the extremely committed and versatile team.

So sit back, relax, and get ready for some cheesy video game laughs. Just Press Start.

Recap here: Recap.Press Start

Has nothing to do with book series of same name, thought it also has to do with video games.


This film provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody - And how.
  • Alliterative Name - Princess Passionfruit and Plumber Pete.
  • Animated Adaptation - Press Start Adventures.
  • Beleaguered Assistant - Johnson.
  • Beware the Silly Ones - Vile. genre-blind buffoon he may be, but he's a very tough final boss.
  • Brick Joke: Subverted - Zack's refusal to participate in the the Jackomo card game Side Quest is itself a Running Gag, but when Zack & Lin-Ku reach Vile & promise to defeat him, Vile asks if they have several powerful weapons & pieces of armour. Zack then asks how they could get that stuff, and Vile responds with "You have to do very the Jackamo card tournament."
  • Butt-Monkey - Johnson gets turned into a turtle. A turtle.
  • Captain Ersatz - Essentially every character. Carries over into Adventures. See Shout-Out.
  • Card-Carrying Villain - Vile.
  • Character Level - Zack seems to be leveling up quite quickly in the beginning of the film. (He's a level 4 Swordsman!) In one of the later web-toons, his bedroom has a certificate mounted on the wall, congratulating him for making it to level 99.
  • Chekhov's Gun - The Virtual Visor.
  • Creator Cameo - Ed Glaser plays "Justin Bailey", Vile's employee, as well as the voice of the lair's self-destruct mechanism. Writer Kevin Folliard, in addition to voicing Lin-Ku, also has a brief appearance as "Jungle Jerry".
  • Department of Redundancy Department - Did you know the ancient prophecy was made by an ancient prophet?
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies - The abandoned research facility was hit with a "zombie virus".
  • Exposition Fairy - Zippy, bringing you a big healthy dose of Annoying Video Game Helper.
  • Face Palm - Sam does quite a few of these.
  • Fangs Are Evil - Vile.
  • Freudian Trio
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: After Zack kills one ever mentions him, or the incident. Again. Ever. In any way. Even Sam, who actually liked Zippy, and ends up dating Zack, never brings it up. You'd think you'd care if your significant other killed your pet...
    • Actually, Vile had changed the channel on his viewscreen at that time, so Sam never saw Zack kill Zippy. Still doesn't explain why she hasn't questioned what happened to him.
    • He later shows up in hell.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension - For the climactic battle, Vile teleports them all to a dark, featureless place because "property damage is only funny if it's someone else's."
  • Guide Dang It! - The final battle would have been MUCH easier on the heroes if only they'd done the Jackamo card game sidequest.
  • Hammerspace - How Press Start explains Kirby's Zippy's ability to eat things and then shoot them out of his mouth as an energy blast.
  • Hand Wave - When Zack tries to bring up the point that killing the current ruler of most of the world (evil or not) might send the world into a socioeconomic turmoil leaving it vulnerable to a dictator of equal or greater power, Sam and Lin-ku pretty much do this.
    "I think they'll be okay."
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath - Lin-Ku's cast page in the animated episode "Speed Run" calls him "ethically challenged".
  • Hyperactive Metabolism:
    • Zack eats a turkey leg Lin-ku finds on the floor to regain health. Revisited when he attempts to eat a medkit.
    • Lin-Ku also does this to regain health by eating Captain Psychodrive's heart.
  • In a World… - The trailer. Word for word.
  • Intimate Healing - The 'Life Lady', taken right out of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
  • Izchak's Wrath - Lin-Ku axes the shopkeeper to see if he had NPC Invulnerability, and he later shows up as the third guardian.
  • Large Ham - Count Vile. Totally Count Vile.
  • La Résistance - As straight as it could possibly be played.
  • Laughably Evil - Again, Count Vile.
  • MacGuffin - The Ancient Relics.
  • Mistaken for Gay - Zack, unaware of Sam being female, mistakes her early affection for this. Later, when Zack and Lin-Ku wait outside the third dungeon and Zack shares this, Lin-Ku ends up mistaking Zack as gay.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast - Nefarious Vile. Seriously. Also, Captain Psychodrive.
  • Nobody Poops - averted when Sam locates some zombies in the men's room... as they're taking a piss. She shoots them.
  • Only Sane Man - Johnson. Carries over to the Animated Adaptation.
  • Power Makes Your Hair Grow - Zack.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits - How the creator describes the Resistance.
  • Rule of Fun - Apparently, how the movie was made on such a low budget.
  • Running Gag:
    • Lin-ku's ninja stars, Zack thinking Sam is a boy, the Shopkeeper, and Jackamo cards. Oh boy those Jackamo cards.
    • The Virtual Visor. It causes headaches.
  • Samus Is a Girl - Not to the audience, but to Zack Nimbus thinking Sam is a boy. Of course, the movie was specifically trying to parody the Trope Namer with this...
  • Shout-Out - Arguably half the fun of the movie. Too many games are referenced to name.
  • Take That! - The CrazyFeline game controller is called "a third party piece of crap". The Visual Visor to the Virtual Boy.
  • The Chosen One - Played straight. Zack Nimbus is chosen by a prophecy from an ancient prophet.
  • The Unintelligible - Zippy.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch! - "Game over, you son of a bitch."
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself - Subverted and played straight. Lin-ku pulls this when fighting Captain Psychodri- I mean G. Foreman. However, Zack and Sam have no problem letting the murderous ninja do the fighting for him. Played straight when Zack tries to intervene in the fight, but Sam stops him.
  • Took a Shortcut - The Shopkeeper continually shows up wherever the heroes go. Including a secret passage Sam discovers by blowing up a wall. It gets lampshaded.
  • Warp Zone:
    • Zack and Lin-ku would've had to go through some terrible places to get to Vile's Lair. Instead, they opt out for one of these.
    • Referenced in the Animated Adaptation.
    Vile: Come, Johnson! We'll take the Warp Zone! * SMASH*
    Johnson: Sir, that was your Berry Blast Sports Drink.
  • When Trees Attack - Voiced by Egoraptor even!

The Animated Adaptation provides examples of

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot - "Misshapen pentagram. Unacceptable. >:("
  • And I Must Scream - The Dark Mages have no mouths. And they certainly won't have mouths once they're frozen into a pillar.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking - Vile doesn't mind that you've shot fireballs at him or knocked a statue on top of him. He only cares that you've altered his crayon drawings his blueprints.
  • Art Evolution - Compare the art and animation in "Poker, Mon" (particularly that of Reptillor) with any current episode. There is a decent amount of improvement which will hopefully continue.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil - When Vile became the ruler of Hell, he quit with the eternal damnation to plan to return to life, eventually resulting in the near destruction of the universe.
  • Banana Peel - How Vile defeats Satan and gains control of Hell.
  • Big Damn Heroes - The other Resistance members show up to save Zack, Sam and Lin-Ku in "Golden Axed".
  • Brick Joke:
    • Everyone should smile when a DMA agent enters Vlad's throne room.
    • "But first, some electrolytes!"
    • Actually, most of "Pac-Manifold" uses jokes from "Pac-Manic Depression" to even funnier effect.
  • Build Like an Egyptian - "Tomb Traitor".
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Belfast.
      Belfast: After twelve seconds we sent out a search party. (Beat) Us.
    • Also, Vile.
      Vile: I can't tell you how much fun I'm having, Vlad! Did you know I get to torment these people forever!
      Vlad: Yeah, that's the general idea.
  • Chainsaw Good - By Johnson, of all people.
    Johnson: What? I may be a turtle with glasses and a tie, but I'm still evil.
  • Charged Attack - Sam's blaster. Deconstructed somewhat in "Megabusted" when she and Lin-ku discover how inconvenient a charged attack without a cancellation method is.
  • Christmas Episode - combined with Musical Episode.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment - Vile decides to occupy Hell's residents with macaroni projects. Vlad lampshades this trope.
  • Covert Pervert - Trenton Belfast.
    Belfast: As sure as the curves of a curvaceous concubine of succulent succubi.
  • Crimefighting with Cash - How Lauren Ketch contributes to the Resistance. Sometimes a case of Screw the Rules, I Have Money!.
  • Creator Cameo - Aside from the fact that writer Kevin Folliard plays the voice of Lin-Ku, director Ed Glaser appears as an employee of the Vile corporation, and later as the ultimate game designer, God.
  • Curse Cut Short - Vile at the end of "Pac-Manic" and "Pac-Manifold".
  • Deadpan Snarker - Vlad, especially when talking to Vile.
  • Deathbringer the Adorable - Sort of: Count Nefarious Vile gets along with Zippy quite well, loves crayon drawings, and uses a My First Pony Princess notebook for all his official business. He's also extremely oblivious to... well, everything.
  • Designated Girl Fight - Lauren Ketch versus Sam.
  • Dissimile - "In a world much like our own... except with monsters and robots and anthropomorphic animals..."
  • Don't Explain the Joke - "Tomb Traitor".
    Sam: Where is your famili-
    Lauren: IT'S MY GUN!
  • Double Entendre - Plumber Pete's cast page in "Speed Run". "Perks" indeed.
  • Dream Land - Visited for one episode. Zack calls it the "scariest place [they've] ever been."
  • Early-Bird Cameo - Princess Xanna of Press Start 2 appears on a newspaper in the first episode of season three.
  • Elaborate Underground Base - Locations are captioned. One such location? "The Underground Lair of Count Nefarious Vile". Strangely enough, it looks more like a Death Mountain.
  • Empty Cop Threat:
  • Femme Fatale - Morgan le Slay, succubus and Vlad's sidekick/assistant.
    Morris: (Your) outfit is far too revealing for a boy his age!
    Morgan: To wear or to look at?
  • Fetch Quest - The entirety of "Side Quest".
  • Forced Tutorial - The gang gets stuck listening to one when trying to acquire dragobos. Instead, they use its convoluted nature as a Logic Bomb against attacking robots.
  • For the Evulz - A lot of Vile's actions, particularly in his miniseries, Dial V for Vile.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom - Vlad is probably the most notable, since his eyes make a significant color change and spark with electricity when he decides to call lightning from the sky, but Vile and Lin-Ku have them in the animation as well.
  • Glurge Addict - Vile.
  • Got the Whole World in My Hand - The Vile splash page that sometimes introduces the episodes.
  • Harmless Villain - Vile usually isn't harmless - but he's pretty damn stupid, especially in "Statue of Limitations".
  • Hypocritical Humor - Sam, to Lauren Ketch in "Tomb Traitor":
    Sam: I've been violating ancient ruins longer than you, Lauren!
  • Incredibly Lame Pun - All the episode titles.
  • Laughably Evil - Vile, in several ways.
  • Ledge Bats - The opening narration of Press Start Adventures references them as part of how the villain conquered the world.
  • Limited Animation: Any movement is saved for when it's necessary.
  • Limited Wardrobe - Played straight for most of the cast, but sort of averted with Lin-Ku, whose outfit is always the same but whose color often changes. Of course, this is a relatively subtle shout-out to the palette-swap ninjas in Mortal Kombat, as Lin-Ku is sort of based on the idea of an MK style ninja, rather than any one in particular.
  • Made of Explodium - The golem in "Food Fight". Lampshaded by Zack.
  • The Men in Black - The Department of Metaphysical Affairs, which seems to combine a traditional Men in Black "supernatural investigators" vibe with the US Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Metaphorgotten - Vile in "F-Xerox".
  • Mr. Exposition - Rick from Accounting in "F-Xerox".
  • Mr. Fanservice - Scarth. KUH. Rooooooth! (He even has onscreen fangirls.)
  • Murder Is the Best Solution:
    • Lin-Ku's standard approach to problems. For example:
      Lin-Ku: You know, I almost wish I hadn't broken our grappling hook disemboweling that troll.
      Zack: That was a forum troll!
      Lin-Ku: I said "almost".
    • And in the movie:
      Lin-Ku: Wait! I know these guys! Don't kill them!
      Zack: Did you say don't kill them?
      Lin-Ku (visibly uncomfortable): Yeah, I know. It felt weird.
  • Oh, Crap! - The entire Resistance in "Endgame (Part 2)".
  • One-Winged Angel - Vlad almost does this in "Golden Axed", but decides against it since he already accomplished his goal.
  • Only Sane Man - Oddly enough, Vlad.
    Vlad: Does anyone lock the door around here?
  • Orcus on His Throne - Vlad really likes Jeopardy.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vlad is clearly based on Castlevania's Dracula, has an apparent affinity to bats, and flat-out states that his moat is meant to keep out vampire hunters. But he has blue hair, lacks a mouth (maybe he talks telepathically?), refers to himself as a "dark lord of chaos" rather than a vampire, and can conjure lightning bolts out of nowhere. At this point, he seems more like a lich than a vamp.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil - Pretty much every good character, since being a video game hero usually entails killing the bad guys. In particular, Trenton Belfast refuses to consider making peace will evildoers, and Lin-Ku is downright bloodthirsty.
  • Platform Hell - Johnson has to go through a lot of it to get a certain library book.
  • Power Echoes - Vlad, whenever he wants to make an impression (or alternately, when he's really pissed off).
  • Put on a Bus - Lauren Ketch more or less vanished after season 1 until she reappeared near the end of season 3.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight - After the entirety of "Solicitors", Vile sets Vlad over the edge.
    Vile: Vlad, I don't have all day.
    Vlad: -ZAP!- Vile, you have all of eternity! Cricket, I'll download Botsky a new Sharper Image share and get you a rubber sleeve for the mask you already have. Kid, I'll buy ten subscriptions if you hurl them through the windows of the DMA office daily. Morris, four steps to the left. Belfast, leave now and I promise to stake myself later, but only if you promise to name one of your descendants Sissy Belfast so I can rib on him when he tries to kill me in fifty years!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning - Vlad and Lin-Ku.
  • Rich Idiot With No Day Job - Lauren Ketch, according to the cast page in "Speed Run".
  • Right Behind Me - Lin-Ku in "Beer Comes a New Challenger".
  • Running Gag - The moment Lin-Ku walks into the shop in "Side Quest," you know someone's getting axed.
  • Say My Name - "Scarthcaroth." "Scoffkuhraugh?"
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness - Trenton Belfast. He usually fails at it, though.
  • Shaped Like Itself - Count Nefarious Vile is indeed nefarious and vile. His actor, Peter Davis, is fond of speaking like this.
  • Shout-Out - probably even more of them than in the movie.
  • Ship Tease - In "Endgame (Part 2)", Lin-Ku and Sam, of all people, can be interpreted this way.
    Lin-Ku: You know, you really shouldn't have run off without someone to watch your back.
  • Super Drowning Skills - Very subtly lampshaded in "Pit Fallout" (it's a quick comment that's quite easy to miss if you're not paying attention).
    Sam: Besides, the blaster would incinerate the crocodile's mouths and then what would we do? Swim?
    Lin-Ku: Good point.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial - Lin-Ku. All the time.
    Lin-Ku: Your highness, I'm telling you, the guy was inside-out when I found him!
  • Take That!: Trenton's copy of the movie Wishmaster, which reads "You'll wish you'd rented Leprechaun instead."
  • Temple of Doom - The home of the dark mages.
  • The Devil Is a Loser - Vile.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy - God spends his time hanging out in Heaven playing games and ordering taking out. He only intervenes when Vile's actions in Hell start messing with the cosmic balance.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill - Scarthcaroth in "Endgame (Part 1)". Lampshaded by Vile.
  • Too Kinky to Torture - Trenton gets blasted by chaos magic repeatedly during a raid to retrieve an oracle. He claims it "started to feel good after a while."
  • Unfortunate Names - Pay attention to Belfast's "screwed up family tree" in Symphony of the Trite.
  • Vice City - The City of Freedomsville which is visited for one episode. Lin-ku falls in love with the free-for-all nature that rules the place and chooses to stay behind to begin a life as a crime-boss. Until next day where he, to his disappointment, finds out that that killing off the other crime-bosses have caused the citizens to reclaim their city and turned it into a peaceful Utopia.
  • Villains Out Shopping - It seems that every villain in the Press Start universe shops at Occult Mart.
  • Villain Teleportation - Vlad. He... morphs places instead of walking.
  • Violence Is the Only Option - What Belfast believes in "Mage of Empires". Averted when Sam reaches a diplomatic solution.
  • The Voiceless - Scarthcaroth. It bites him in the butt when he challenges Vile for control of Hell and gets stuck with Joke Character Stan Hibachi as a tag-team partner.
  • Is It Really Worth It - How Lin-Ku feels about Zach in "Endgame (Part 2)".
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong? - Unsurprisingly, Vile says this just before the universe starts falling apart.
  • What the Hell, Hero? - Sam calls Lin-Ku out on his Anti-Hero tendencies before kicking him off the team.
    Lin-Ku: Hey, I didn't mean for Zack to...
    Sam: Save it, you're out.
    Lin-Ku: What?, I botch just one mission and I...
    Sam: It's more then just that, everyday you tread the line between hero and thug. I just don't know what side you'll end up on anymore.
    Lin-Ku: Listen we won the day like we always do...
    Sam: We got lucky Lin-Ku but you weren't there when we needed you.
    Lin-Ku: So I got a little carried away, next time...
    Sam: There is no "next time" Lin-Ku, you have to learn to trust your partners. The bloodiest path isn't always the best one. Next time someone needs your help, don't turn your back on them. Take that advice.
  • Whip It Good - Belfast.
  • Xanatos Gambit - Vlad creates an Evil Knockoff of Zack to go and try and kill him. Seems a pretty straightforward and easily foiled plot, right? After a brief (and stupid) Spot the Impostor moment, Zack kills his double and that's that, right? Wrong. Remember one of the rituals to unlock one of the gates of Hell? "The hero that killed Vile must spill his own blood on the altar". Evil!Zack is still Zack, so no matter what the outcome was (Zack killing evil!Zack or Evil!Zack killing Zack), the ritual would be fulfilled.
  • Yandere - Amy Rose... I mean, Vicki Violet in Attract Modes is probably one of the biggest ones around.

Press Start 2 provides examples of