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Video Game / Cosmic Osmo

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"You are the busiest alien to ever romp around our humble solar system."
— Osmo

Cosmic Osmo is a 1989 Pop Up Video Game created by Rand and Robyn Miller of Cyan, Inc. Like its Spiritual Predecessor The Manhole, where Osmo had a brief cameo, Osmo lets you traipse undirected through a quirky universe packed with Easter Eggs, but this time IN SPACE. There is no ending and no score, and only the mildest of optional puzzles.

The setting is the Osmoian system, home of the quirky, amiable Osmos: aliens with huge feet and round, honkable noses. Your conveyance is a cozy two-room spaceship called the Osmobile, but you can also slip between worlds through a vast network of shortcuts. No matter where you end up, the Osmobile's autopilot will have it waiting for you in orbit.

The Millers' next open-ended HyperCard game, 1991's Spelunx, took a far more educational tone. The 1994 rerelease of Osmo added a Spelunx-like science complex, making both games each other's Spiritual Successor.


Despite Osmo's fanbase on the Apple Macintosh, where it remained an exclusive until 2008, it can now be found on Steam...for Windows users only. Even though the original won't run on today's OS X at all, and despite the developer of the Windows port saying that recompiling her work for OS X would be "trivial".

Cosmic Osmo provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Human: The player character. The Osmos refer to you as "alien". but of course pretty much anything that's not an Osmo would qualify as alien to them, including a human.
  • Animesque: The Ship Chip Lander cabinet art.
  • Baby Planet
  • Camera Abuse: A robot's gun can temporarily shatter the screen.
  • Clingy MacGuffin / Cool Ship: The Osmobile.
  • Console Cameo: You can find a Mac SE with micro-versions of Cyan's games, including this one.
  • Cool Gate: Osmo's garage houses a portal that cycles between four destinations.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cool Shades: Worn by a baby in the nursery. Instead of crying like the others, he bellows "OHHH YEAH."
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Unlike The Manhole and Spelunx, all rereleases of Osmo have retained their intricate black and white pixel art. (Cyan supposedly completed the graphics for a colorized version, but elected not to publish it.)
  • Edutainment Game: They aren't obstacles to overcome, but the CD version incorporates simple-to-use Bunsen burners, microscopes, etc. for kids to familiarize themselves with.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Cosmic Osmo: The Life of an Osmo
  • Everything Is an Instrument: The player can click anything from a row of pots and pans to a row of babies in bassinets like a makeshift xylophone.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: It seems to involve some sort of wormhole.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The Osmos address you only as "alien."
  • 555: Any phone in the game can be called from any other. All of the numbers start with 555.
  • Flat World: Even though the planet in question is spherical when viewed from space, you can hit the edges of the map (with a "bonk" noise) when navigating by boat.
  • Game Within a Game: Rubber Gut (a Stunt Copter parody) and Ship Chip Lander (a Lunar Lander parody).
  • The Generalissimo: Señor Osmollo appears to be this.
  • Granola Girl: Princess Osmorella, she of the lava lamps and "flower power" space van.
    "Come hither, groovy alien."
  • Gravity Screw: The interior of Osmo's home is upside-down. Your mouse cursor is inverted to match.
  • Improbable Weapon User: In the peaceful Osmoian System, the most common weapon is a cotton swab. Senor Osmollo actually has a gun, but it launches a giant swab when fired at the target next to him.
    • Hence the band named Swabs N' Roses.
  • Interface Screw: The cursor (a pointing hand) will sometimes act on its own, such as tickling a dog's belly or dunking itself in water when you touch something hot.
  • Level Ate: The Vegetable Moon, which is not at all limited to vegetables. There's a bananaphone, a vampire pumpkin, a spiral staircase of watermelon wedges...
  • Macro Zone: Everywhere. For instance, the tiny tent and igloo inside the refrigerator.
  • Mouse World: One Mouse Hole leads to a mouse-built teleporter. Elsewhere, you can ride a tiny mouse-driven submarine.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: It was promoted as being "for kids of all ages."
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Prof. Elvis Osmostein.
  • Oddball in the Series: The unexpected sequel Cosmic Osmo's Hex Isle, released 18 years after the original, was just a bland puzzle platformer.
  • Painted Tunnel, Real Train: A magic pencil found in a White Void Room can draw other areas of the game around you. Naturally, you're then actually standing in the location that you drew.
  • Planet of Steves: All of the Osmos' names are variations on "Osmo."
  • Portal Picture
  • Reset Button: Blow up the chemistry lab? Pull the lever and signal the janitors to fix it up when you leave.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Osmo has a framed photo of himself with Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies.
  • Shooting Gallery
  • Simpleton Voice: The Osmos are a rather simple folk, and the majority of them have dopey-sounding voices.
  • Sore Loser: Professor Osmostein will throw his coffee in your face if you beat him at his game.
  • Stylistic Suck
    Osmo: Now this is what I call gooood television!
    (On the screen, another Osmo bangs his head against the camera over and over, forever.)
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: An "Osman" comic with a caped Osmo is seen.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: Osmo offers to take us to his leader: Señor Osmollo.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Captain Osmo.
  • Techno Babble: Those rings on the Osmobile's nosecone? Aero-ether Quanto-particulate Detecto Rings. The antenna on top? A triple-loop Polar Yagi Recepto-Wod. And so forth.
  • Treehouse of Fun: Subverted. The treehouse is "a place of relaxation" with nothing but a hot beverage dispenser and some teacups on a picnic table.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Open Osmo's trash can, and the cursor gets sucked into the black hole he just threw away.
  • Updated Re-release: Cosmic Osmo and the Worlds Beyond the Mackerel added three new worlds to the original's four, along with enhancements such as a CD audio soundtrack.
  • The Voiceless: Señor Osmollo, the apparent leader of the Osmos, doesn't seem to be much of a talker. If you click on him, he merely salutes without saying a word.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Like with "The Manhole", most of the characters only have one or two phrases they'll repeat whenever you interact with them. Princess Osmorella has slightly more (around four), and Señor Osmollo doesn't say anything at all, he merely salutes you if you click on him.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox
  • World of Chaos: A pipe-smoking alien keeps a well-appointed living room in the mouth of a spaceborne mackerel which you can shoot at with giant Q-Tips. Need I say more.
  • World Shapes: Everything from a cardboard diorama to a stellated polyhedron.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The Osmo who guards the Swab in the Stone talks like this, even though nobody else (even Osmorella, his apparent ruler) in the galaxy does.


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