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Video Game / Ben There, Dan That!

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Ben and Dan's hand-drawn travels through the universe.

Ben There, Dan That is a point-and-click adventure that follows two intrepid explorers, the titular Ben and Dan, as they travel through various dimensions in a quest to return to their flat to watch Magnum, P.I. A combination of brain-teasing puzzles and some far-out thinking sees the dynamic duo quip, steal and murder their way through alternate reality versions of London. Humorous and surreal, the story begins with Dan dead, a firework and one of his orifices... after which they are kidnapped by aliens, and Hilarity Ensues.

It all makes sense when you play it

Sort of.

There is a sequel called Time, Gentlemen, Please! note  It expands upon the gaming hilarity and also becomes much more offensive in its own ways. After ruining the utopia they helped create at the end of the first game, Dan and Ben travel back in time to ensure that coat hangers are never invented.

Seriously. There's other stuff, some Nazis, and loads of references to other games and genres. It also has a pretty sweet boss fight at the end.

Both games are available on Steam for less than the price of a pint. Ben There, Dan That! is freeware. Time, Gentlemen Please! is not freeware, but is pretty cheap to buy.

After nearly 11 years, a third game was released on Steam in 2020 titled Lair of the Clockwork God. Instead of being a traditional point and click adventure, it mixes elements of the point and click style with Platform Game elements. It was bundled with a visual novel prequel, Devil's Kiss, showing how Dan first met Ben on his first day of attending Snootingham High School.

Ben There, Dan That provides examples of:

  • Author Avatar (the main characters.)
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: Pretty-much everything that happens is lampshaded the hell out of.
  • Blob Monster: Bob the Blob, who is actually a superhuman whose body is 86% water (a normal human's is 80%). Ben accidentally kills him with a sponge.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Frequently.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: At one point Ben uses a wooden plank to cross a river of lava. This is lampshaded if you examine the plank:
    Dan: Won't it burn or melt or anything?
    Ben: No.
    Dan: Thank heavens for heat resistant wood, now.
  • Cutting the Knot: Ben... erm... does this sometimes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both leads have their moments.
  • Drinking Game: The three Britons in the authentic British pub The Limey in the Eagleland dimension play one: they finish their glass whenever someone says "Come on England!". However, since the only drink they can get is low-alcohol American ale, they don't get very drunk as a result.
  • Eagleland: One of the alternate Londons is part of a universe where America has turned the tables on Britain and annexed it as the 51st state. London has become a schlocky, tourist-trappy Americana version of itself. The "authentic British pub" has two things on tap: beer, and that stuff Americans drink instead.
  • Easter Egg: The museum shop.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Though Ben wasn't too bothered about killing a priest with a bible, he draws the line at killing said priest's son (even if he is a zombie).
  • Expendable Alternate Universe:
    Ben: "I don't need to dispose of this corpse. He's from another dimension and therefore doesn't exist."
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: This is my partner Dan. My ADVENTURING partner. That there is my ADVENTURING partner Dan.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: At one point you have to club a priest with his own bible to continue. And that's just the beginning!
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Future Ben and Future Dan write themselves out of history.
  • In Medias Res: I'll say. The first task you have to complete is reviving your inexplicably-dead friend in the middle of some jungle somewhere.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Lampshaded with the velvet rope blocking off the museum shop (and subverted, if the player is insistent enough.)
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Taken to extremes.
    Ben: "It's not 'stealing.' It's 'adding to my inventory.'"
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid:
    Dan: "It's a bubbling, boiling river of orange-hot lava."
    Ben: "You sure? Looks like tomato soup to me."
    Dan: "Can it, you. It's lava, alright?"
  • Most Common Super Power: The tourguide in the superhero dimension, naturally.
  • The Most Dangerous Video Game: Parodied.
  • My Future Self and Me: The aliens are actually Ben and Dan's future selves in disguise.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, the adventure that preceded this one involved Dan getting kidnapped by an eagle, which somehow led to him being dead in the jungle, conveniently close to a Mad Scientist lair with a reanimation machine.
  • Ret-Gone: The fate of Future Ben and Future Dan. They disappear soon after being informed there be two Future Bens or two Future Dans, but the results of their actions remain after bootstraping their world conquest.
  • Scenery Gorn: Several of the alternate dimensions have backgrounds that consist of a London ruined by fire, ice, zombies or Americans.
  • Shout-Out (Too many to classic adventure games to count, but especially to Sam & Max Hit the Road, which the game owes a great deal to, and to Monkey Island.)
  • Sidekick: Dan. The stable of options you have for interacting with things even includes by default the option to inflict Dan upon it, ala Max from Sam And Max Hit The Road. This gets used once early on for a minor task, then lampshaded many times later on when Dan refuses to play ball.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World:
    Ben: (on looking at its door) "It's the inevitable slippy slidey ice dimension."
  • Take That!: The "authentic British pub" in the Eagleland alternate universe is basically a gigantic Take That! at everything that is American drinking sensibilities. The barman will only serve the watery, soulless American "beer" unless you can provide multiple forms of ID, chastises the drunken louts watching (American) football for being too rowdy (and the poor fellows can barely even muster any kind of rowdiness for nancy American football, with all its padding and not being rugby), and threatens to storm out should anyone manage to get drunk enough to pass out (which he makes good on).
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: There's an entire dimension of superheroes with really lame powers. The first one you encounter can fly, but it's more of a hovering a few inches off the ground. It's implied that everyone getting superpowers - but only pathetic ones - is what caused this world to become a utopia.

Time Gentlemen, Please! provides examples of:

  • Bad Future: Hitler rules the world, and reality itself is collapsing due to his overuse of time rifts.
  • Bag of Spilling: Lampshaded.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: A list of innocuous items required to complete the game. One of them, unfortunately, is someone's poop.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Well, this being an adventure game, every single item you can pick up will later prove useful. But Ironjaw's jaw is a more conventional example.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Dan, sort of.
  • Crapsack World: The beginning of the game. Dan and Ben, rulers of the world, order everyone to watch Magnum, PI. Everyone dies due to starvation and filth.
  • Darker and Edgier: ...Sorta. It's still very silly, but there's more sexual jokes and swearing. And Nazis. Plus, for some reason the options menu has a "Racism" option which you cannot turn off.
  • Deus ex Machina: Literally, after Ben obliterates the universe by killing their past selves.
  • The Dragon: Ironjaw, Hitler's right-hand dinosaur clone.
  • Game Within A Game: Two of them, and they're both plot-important.
  • Godwin's Law of Time Travel: Apparently, messing with the history of coathangers can ultimately lead to Adolf Hitler conquering (and screwing up) the universe.
  • Mind-Control Device: Coat Hangers!
  • The Napoleon: Hitler's portrayal in this game.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Sentient Nazi Dinosaur clones! With guns!
  • Noodle Incident: What does them preventing coat hangers from being invented cause Stupid Jetpack Hitler? Presumably it's a mix of everything they did back then (crushed butterflies in prehistory, trade a Tamagotchi for a backscratcher, etc.) but it's never clearly determined.
  • One-Winged Angel: Future Hitler
  • Reset Button Ending: What happens at the end of the game, more or less.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: They accidentally kill all of humanity. Now they trying to use time travel to stop this from happening. Rather then stop themselves about a couple of weeks in the past they decided to prevent coat hangers from being invented.
  • Shout-Out:
    • This game is a continuation of the love letter to LucasArts' SCUMM games of the early nineties. From the annoying parrot to "I'm selling these fine leather jackets."
    • If you talk to the electronic door lock in the first screen, you get a shout-out to Sneakers ("My voice is my passport. Verify me.")
    • The title is a line Thomson mangled in Tintin and the Picaros.
  • Sidekick: Dan wants to become less of a Sidekick and more of a... kick.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: In a very Indiana Jones way.
  • Those Wacky Nazis
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Oh dear...
  • Too Dumb to Live: The main characters. Not only do they frequently nearly get them selves killed but their stupidity gets every one else but them killed, including the past Ben and Dan when they try to talk them out of killing the inventor of coathangers.
  • Unwinnable: Averted. Nothing you can drop into the exhaust port is necessary by that point.

Lair of the Clockwork God provides examples of:

  • Downer Ending: Ben and Dan escape the destruction of the Earth that they caused in a rocketship... The End.
  • I Regret Nothing: Normally, this is a beautiful, poignant phrase. In this game, however, it's a petulant gripe that directly causes the end of the world.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It turns out that the world was being destroyed because of them. Ben's refusal to feel guilty about this and just wanting to go back to killing things that got in their way disgusts the Clockwork God, who gives up on humanity and deactivates the barrier that protects mankind, deciding to replace humanity with a new race planning to upload himself into Dan.

Devil's Kiss provides examples of:

  • Academy of Adventure: On their very first day of attending Snootingham High School, Dan and Ben meet each other and end up having to fight demons and deal with a conspiracy together.

Alternative Title(s): Time Gentlemen Please