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Video Game / Captain Novolin

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"Captain Novolin is a game that teaches you about diabetes. However, this game doesn't tell you how to manage your diabetes. Your Doctor will tell you about your individual care. WARNING: ANY CHANGE OF INSULIN SHOULD BE MADE CAUTIOUSLY AND ONLY UNDER MEDICAL SUPERVISION."
The game's intro blurb

Hello TV Tropes! I have diabetes. Is there anything special I should know before describing Captain Novolin?

Captain Novolin is an Edutainment Platform Game developed by Sculptured Software and published by Raya Systems for the SNES in 1992. It tells the heartwarming story of an Inspirationally Disadvantaged superhero, whose superpower is the fact that he happens to have diabetes. As such, for him every day of his life is an epic struggle against his illness — you must fight against evil alien invaders who have taken the form of malicious junk foods, all the while making sure to eat regularly and keep your blood sugar levels consistent (and check your feet for sores and blisters).

In case you couldn't tell from the above paragraph, the game was intended to help children learn about diabetes. The game was endorsed by Novo Nordisk, manufacturers of the Novolin brand of insulin, from which the game takes its name. Raya Systems also released other educational games with similar themes, such as Packy and Marlon, a game starring two elephants with juvenile diabetes.


This game contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: The final boss, Blubberman, can throw insta-killing pies at you, along with electrical currents along the floor.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: The enemies are actually aliens disguised as sugary junk foods. No real explanation for why the healthy food walks around, though — possibly to more clearly mark it on-screen so you can get them.
  • Big Bad: Blubberman, leader of the aliens — a fat old man in a floating wheelchair who launches electricity and deadly pies at you.
  • Cool Boat: Novolin rides a speedboat in some levels. Averted however, in that not only it is very slow and clunky to control, it's also a massive target — making dodging enemies and projectiles (along with the odd food item you don't need to get) in these levels much harder than it needs to be.
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  • Elaborate Underground Base: Captain Novolin's base in the intro counts as both this and an Absurdly Spacious Sewer, given that it's built underneath the streets of Pineville and accessed via an elevator based on a manhole cover. From what else we see of it, it also includes a computer console — complete with television — and an exercise treadmill built into the floor.
  • Eternal Engine: The last level takes place inside the aliens' spaceship, complete with electricity traps along the floors.
  • Exact Time to Failure: In-universe, Mayor Gooden only has enough Diabetes supplies with him to last for two days after being kidnapped by the aliens. By the time you find him inside the spaceship, he'll be suffering from either high or low blood glucose — sometimes unconscious, which requires giving a Glucagon shot to revive him — and the last question in the game involves helping him accordingly.
  • The Good Captain: The protagonist is a superhero named Captain Novolin.
  • Goomba Stomp: Novolin's only means of offense is to jump on enemies. Just be sure to hold down on the D-pad when you do so.
  • Imagine Spot: Novolin has these in between (and sometimes in the middle of) levels, from doctors who provide diabetes-related advice. Although mostly there for educational purposes, they can sometimes provide the answer to the quizzes in the middle of and at the end of each level.
  • In a Single Bound: Captain Novolin's "superpower" is the ability to jump really high. Well, that and diabetes.
  • Mini-Game: Two of them appear here — one that involves checking your blood glucose (BG) by matching the color of a blood test strip with the vial, and another that appears twice each day — involving taking the correct amount of insulin depending on how high or low your blood glucose is from how much or how little food you've eaten in the level so far. There is no consequence for failing.
  • Pop Quiz: The game uses short quizzes to break up its levels, asking the player questions about diabetes and how to manage it. However, all the answers are told at the start of the level, so the quizzes usually just depend on the player remembering the answer they read three minutes ago, and some questions are only tangentially related to diabetes at best ("Check you feet [sic] for sores!") or just plain inane ("Why is it good to eat at even times through the day?")
  • Product Placement: Captain Novolin is named after Novo Nordisk's Novolin brand of human insulin.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: An information box cautions the player to "check you feet" while hiking or exercising.
  • Save the Princess: The mayor was kidnapped... and coincidentally, he also has diabetes!
  • Shout-Out: One of the doctors in Novolin's Imagine Spots in between the levels bears an uncanny resemblance to Will Smith.
  • Shows Damage: Sort of. If Novolin's blood glucose starts going too high (from eating too much), his walking animation will be different — showing him hunched over and with his tongue hanging out. It doesn't affect how he controls, nor does it occur if he actually does take damage, but it's there to represent extreme thirst and tiredness — two common effects of hyperglycemia (High blood glucose). Note that he also does this animation on the mountain stages regardless of his blood glucose level, which presumably was intended to help point out what effects strenuous exercise can have on diabetics.
  • This Just In!: Novolin finds out about the alien invasion and the Mayor being kidnapped from a news bulletin on TV, whilst he's exercising on a treadmill in his underground base.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: There's something a bit ironic about a diabetic superhero — who gets hurt if he so much as touches sugar — apparently being the only person on the planet capable of fighting off the Sugary Junk Food aliens.
    Novolin: This looks like a job for yours truly, CAPTAIN NOVOLIN!
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Sums both the below and the end-of-level quizzes, mostly. This game has a major obsession about diabetes awareness.
  • Viewers Are Morons: When you talk to people, Captain Novolin will take the time to inform them that he has diabetes — in one case complete with his own card of proof. To be fair, though, he does have a reason for it in realistic terms — since you can't exactly explain that you're diabetic and that you need assistance if you're unconscious, so that at least makes sense.
    "If I am found ill or fainting, please give me some sugar. If this does not revive me, please call a doctor or an ambulance immediately."
  • Voodoo Shark: The enemies are aliens disguised as junk food (with the properties of such), so a diabetic superhero, of all people, has to fight them? Why not just send someone who doesn't have diabetes, and can therefore touch the aliens without dying instantly?
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • The sugary junk food, even by just touching enemies disguised as it.
    • Any food, if you consume too much or too little of it. This will cause you to suffer either hyperglycemia / hypoglycemia (Overly high / low blood glucose, respectively) and simply keel over regardless of what your health is at.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Having diabetes isn't really a superpower. Therefore the only thing keeping Captain Novolin a superhero is his courage to take out the anthropomorphic food despite not really having any superpowers, making him a Badass Normal at best. Unless the game intends to treat his odd Jump Physics as a superpower.
  • A Winner Is You: The game ends with your final score being shown, along with a short sequence of Novolin shaking hands with the Mayor and receiving the Key to the City as the aliens' spaceship flies away.