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Video Game / Bill Nye the Science Guy: Stop the Rock!

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E Pluribus Science!

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Stop the Rock! is a 1996 adventure game developed by Pacific Interactive for Windows 3.x and Macintosh computers based off of the TV show. The game casts you in the role of a new science researcher at Nye Labs, Bill Nye's fictional science complex, located somewhere in Southern California. Almost immediately upon arrival, you're thrust into saving the world from the killer asteroid Impending Dumé by solving the riddles posed by the now-sentient, human-despising AI controlling MAAX, the Meteoroid And Asteroid eXploder, so it will actually do the job it was programmed to do. Oh, and you have just five days before the asteroid hits.

Aside from Bill Nye as... well, Bill Nye and Pat Cashman as Chet Brinkow, the game's scenery-chewing news anchor, the game has none of the recurring characters from the TV show, instead opting for an exclusive cast of original characters.

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Stop the Rock! contain examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The first MAXX does upon activation is decide to test humanity's intelligence or let the world be destroyed. The Evil Laugh does its sanity no favors.
  • Ambiguous Gender: MAXX does not use pronouns for itself and has a computerized voice that could go either way. When Bill finds himself using pronouns to refer to MAXX, he ends up saying "him, or her, or it".
  • Artistic License – Space: An anti-asteroid-and-meteoroid satellite system like MAAX would do more harm than good in real life since destroying asteroids and meteoroids large enough to destroy Earth would only create even more asteroids or meteoroids to impact the Earth—albeit smaller ones. Ironically, the In-Universe demonstration video for MAAX averts this—instead of outright destroying Impending Dumé, it's deflected by the MAAX satellite system away from Earth. This is consistent with how such a system would theoretically work in real life: detonate a small chunk of a killer space object such that the resulting debris will burn up in Earth's atmosphere while the object itself is nudged sufficiently off-course so it won't impact with Earth.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Chet Brinkow loves this trope. Best exemplified by his screaming rant on Day 5:
    Brinkow: ...with winds! Exceeding! 250 Miles! An hour! So have a nice evening! [calms down] And... good night!
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: The other lab members will call you out if you dilly-dally with solving the riddles.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Sure was lucky that a pterodactyl fossil being uncovered, a thunderstorm, a whale eating plankton over a specific underwater mountain and a volcanic eruption all happened in the five day span and close enough for Nye Labs to experience them to solve those riddles.
  • Edutainment Game: The game teaches grade-school science, of course!
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
    • MAAX, the Meteoroid And Asteroid eXploder.
    • Impending Dumé, the killer asteroid currently headed on an unchallenged trajectory towards Earth. Also crosses over with Punny Name and Meaningful Name.
  • Expy: MAAX is HAL 9000.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Due to the first-person perspective and no one addressing you with a name or pronouns, you never see any details about your character. This is lampshaded in the ending where Bill can't remember your name.
  • Foreshadowing: Those earthquakes that keep popping up? They're signs of an impending volcano.
  • Fun with Acronyms: MAAX, the Meteoroid And Asteroid eXploder.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Your "five days" to solve MAAX's riddles translates to several hours of game time; a minute ticks by every second or so. Be careful if you send the Poseidon II to a new location in the Pacific; the game clock will speed up tremendously while you watch its passage so that the player isn't sitting there doing nothing for hours, but this causes a loss of valuable time. It's better to set the destination, go solve some other riddles, then come back when the ship arrives.
  • It's Up to You: For some unfathomable reason, Bill Nye and everyone else are letting you, the new research assistant, do all the work. They're only there to support you via information gathering. Bill at least is trying to solve the problem directly by finding a way to reprogram MAXX, yet he still finds time to pop up when you play with the lab equipment.
  • Licensed Game: Of the Bill Nye the Science Guy TV series.
  • Literal-Minded: Chet Brinkow has this tendency in exchanges with Corrine Kawabi.
    Kawabi: Chet, take a chill pill! The fat lady hasn't even sung yet!
    Brinkow: ...What does opera have to do with anything, and where can I get one of these [does air quotes] "chill pills?"
  • Meaningful Name: Almost everyone has one (see Punny Name).
  • Medium Awareness: Chet will sometimes open his breaking news with "We interrupt this CD-ROM".
  • Pirate Parrot: Captain Swell Whitecap has one.
  • Plot Lock: You can't get the password to Nye Labs' Sky Labs (the atmospheric research wing) until you meet Connie Vection in person by inducing convection by boiling water in Nye Labs' cafeteria, which prompts Bill to contact you and give said password to you. Sadly, the password is impossible to get unless you choose the "Join Nye Labs" (Story Mode) option in the beginning, meaning the Sky Labs are off-limits if you picked "Hang Out" (Sandbox Mode) instead.
  • Point of No Return: Once you embark to rescue Sam Andreas from the erupting Mt. Pavlov, you won't be able to return to Nye Labs unless you restart the game or load an old save.
  • Prepositional Phrase Equals Coolness: Just like the TV show it's based on, many of the game's scientific devices use the "[Somewhat-Generic-Description-of-Device] of Science!" naming schema. There are a few devices which avert this, such as an electron microscope.
  • Punny Name:
    • Almost everyone who isn't Bill Nye has one of these. Many of them are also meaningful since they also tell you what their field of expertise is. Examples include:
      • Connie Vection (Atmospheric sciences)
      • Sue Nami (Oceanic sciences)
      • Sam Andreas (Geology and paleontology)
      • Swell Whitecap (captain of the research vessel Poseidon II)
    • Impending Dumé, the asteroid which heralds impending doom and will destroy Earth if you don't solve all of MAAX's riddles. Technically, it's named after Velanique Dumé, one of the astronomers who made the discovery, though the "Impending" part is probably deliberate Gallows Humor.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: MAXX speaks in iambic pentameter for some reason, so this happens quite a bit.
  • Stock Footage: While it's mostly relegated to news segments, stock footage is also used for some of the Nye Labs equipment, such as the R.O.S.E. (Remote-Operated Submersible Explorer) live feed.
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • When it comes to meteoroids and asteroids, this is MAAX's job description.
    • You can do this to a balloon by using the Nye Labs Pressure Chamber of Science! to expose it to a zero-pressure environment.
    • The pressure chamber itself will also explode if you attempt to increase pressure beyond the chamber's maximum limit.
  • Spinning Newspaper: These are used in the ending to show the news of your accomplishments.
  • Take That!: When you examine the sonar device, Bill comments it's like talk radio. Then he starts going off on a tangent about it.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Swell Whitecap, captain of the Poseidon II and wanna-be pirate, talks like this.
  • Timed Mission: "Join Nye Labs" (Story Mode) plays this straight since you have only 5 days to save the world from Impending Dumé; "Hang Out" (Sandbox Mode), however, averts it since there's no time limit, allowing you to explore Nye Labs and experiment with its various devices all you want.
  • Time Keeps On Ticking: The clock won't stop while you're communicating with the lab technicians or fiddling with equipment.
  • Time Skip: You'll skip ahead to the next day after solving a few riddles, so you don't have to wait around until the next one becomes available.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The game suddenly throws the player into a simple, Myst-style puzzle when rescuing Sam Andreas from Mt. Pavlov.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Several earthquakes caused by Mt. Pavlov's imminent eruption occur during the 5-day-long story mode. If you don't use the Tectonics Lab equipment to measure and identify them, you'll be unable to pinpoint their source and get the answer to the final riddle on Day 5. Helpfully, Sam Andreas tells you (in vague terms) when this happens.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Blow up the pressure chamber and Bill will let you have it both for destroying lab equipment and for wasting time when there's an asteroid on the way.
  • World of Ham: To the point where the only person who isn't a Large Ham is news reporter Corrine Kawabi.