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Video Game / Decap Attack

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Get a-head in life and death!

Decap Attack was a weird Platform Game developed by Vic Tokai and published by Sega for Sega Genesis/Mega Drive in 1991, and probably the only game in existence which starred a headless mummy. However, it began its life as a totally unrelated Japanese game called Magical Hat Flying Turbo Adventure, based upon the anime Magical Hat. When it arrived at the USA and Europe, it became a wacky monster adventure set in an island shaped like a skeleton body.

The story is, as always, pretty simple: the demon Max D. Cap emerges from the underworld and breaks Body Island into seven parts. Mad Scientist Frank N. Stein creates a headless mummy named Chuck D. Head for the sole purpose of trying to defeat Max and rescue the island.

Decap Attack was adapted into a long-running comic strip in British magazine Sonic the Comic, which brought the zaniness of the game up to eleven.


The game provides examples of:

  • Advancing Wall of Doom: One in the form of a totem pole in Stage 3-1. One touch, and lights out for you.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Some enemies. Strangely enough, bones still explode out from them when you defeat them.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The sixth boss is a big, friendly-looking yeti.
  • Cephalothorax: Chuck isn't completely headless, it just doesn't sit above his shoulders; he has eyes and a mouth in his torso. However, there is a powerup that places a skull where the head normally would be, which is thrown when you make a punch.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: The potions that destroy every enemy on screen don't work on the bosses.
  • Deader than Dead: Chuck is already a reanimated mummy, but upon losing all of your Video-Game Lives (which involves Chuck dissolving into the ground), the Game Over screen gives him... a halo?
  • Advertisement:
  • Dem Bones: Among the enemies there are living fishbones.
  • Denser and Wackier: To quite a degree, the entire game is this compared to its original Japanese Magical Hat form. While Magical Hat had an already lighthearted and silly tone in general, Decap Attack opts for a goofier, Halloween-inspired setting, with wacky and comical monster characters and a "Young Frankenstein meets Looney Tunes" tone being at odds with the spookier-looking stages and music that goes with it.
  • Difficulty by Region: Decap Attack has more enemies in levels compared to Magical Hat, and bosses have harder attack patterns. To compensate, you now have a Life Meter to deal with all of this, whereas Magical Hat made you a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • Expy: Max D. Cap is essentially Satan.
  • Ghost Leg Lottery: The bonus rounds are done in this style.
  • Goomba Stomp: Your main method of attack besides punching and using potions. It usually takes three of these in a row to defeat an enemy.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: If you run off a ledge at full speed, but then turn right around at the last moment, you can still move through the air in a straight line for a moment until Chuck slows down, realizes where he is, and frantically attempts to run back to the ledge until he finally falls, anyway. If you are still close to the ledge when this happens, however, you may be able to make it back.
  • Hearts Are Health: Played with; your health meter is comprised of actual, realistic beating hearts.
  • Humanity Ensues: As a reward for defeating Max, Frank restores Chuck back to life as a blonde human man named Charlie.
  • The Igor: Dr. Stein has a green faced hunchbacked assistant — who, as it turns out, is actually named Igor.
  • Lava Pit: Falling into one of these equals instant death. If you somehow don't see them, you will surely hear how loud their bubbles burst at the surface.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Stein, Chuck's creator, complete with a hunchbacked assistant.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Whenever you die.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: Bosses are destroyed by having multiple small red explosions cover their body after flashing a lot.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: By the time Chuck gets back home at the end of game, he collapses right on Frank's doorstep.
    Chuck: Doctor, I'm totally dead!
  • Punny Name: Almost every name in this game is a pun of some sort. The main character is called "Chuck D. Head" (because he kills enemies by throwing a head at them!), his creator is named "Frank N. Stein", and the Big Bad is "Max D. Cap". The names of the various locations are all puns on the name of the body part they resemble, such as "Armington", "El Beau (elbow) Island", "Tibuland" (tibula) and so on.
  • Skippable Boss: You can avoid the second boss altogether after having found the object, by jumping on certain platforms.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Stage 6, "Last Leg Land".
  • Solid Clouds: Grey clouds can be stepped on.
  • The Spiny: One of the enemies has a spiky shell, thus it cannot be stomped on.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Psycho Fox. This game and its original Magical Hat form utilize the same formula and engine as the former game.
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: Arrow blocks act as springboards. Many launch the player sideways instead.
  • Stock Femur Bone: When enemies die, two femur bones fly off of them.
  • Technicolor Death: When the bosses die, they flash like strobe lights, and stars appear.
  • Temporary Platform: Log platforms collapse when stepped on.
  • Use Your Head: Your only projectile is to throw Head at enemies.
  • Vent Physics: Certain blocks produce gust of air that launches the player upwards.

The comic provides examples of:

  • Acting Unnatural:
  • Adaptational Villainy: Igor. In the games, he's helpful and concerned for Chuck's well-being when he goes off to defeat Max. In the comic, however, he's an evil-minded sociopath who's constantly trying to kill Chuck off.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of monster archetypes.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Chuck's "big brother" is fellow monster, Boris. However, Boris quickly grew bored with life at the castle and went off to become a film star.
  • Ascended Extra: Head. In the game he was merely an optional item for Chuck (with no indication of being an actual character), while the comic turns him into a comedic foil of sorts.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Head.
    Head: I didn't always do this for a living, you know. The drama critic of the Wigan Advertiser said my Yorick was one of the most moving performances he had the privilege to witness!
    Chuck: As I recall, the Wigan Advertiser described your Yorick as "crass and utterly tasteless".
    Head: My interpretation of the part was simply too challenging for them. Besides, I can only do a Cockney accent!
  • Black Comedy:
    • Chuck gets a bomb blown up between his shoulders, killing him temporarily. Even Max D. Cap's goons are concerned.
      Goon 1: Is he okay?
      Goon 1: That's a relief, if he'd been hurt the boss would have killed us!
    • The very first strip opens with a bat named Kevin introducing the reader to Stein's experiment. He lasts exactly five panels before Igor pulverises him with a mallet.
      Igor: Crazy bats, always talking to themselves...
    • The other bats' attempt at revenge causes the accident that flattens Chuck's head into his torso, causing Stein to think it's been knocked off. Igor proposes using Head as a replacement.
    • The first storyline ends with Igor taking the failed clone of Chuck, a dim-witted gameshow contestant, into the dungeons. The contestant is completely oblivious, and stays there.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: The Thin Controller — Max D. Cap's daughter — qualifies as this. She's smitten with Prof. Stein, who doesn't reciprocate due to how... well, she's a demon.
  • Dem Bones: Head, the talking skull.
  • Denser and Wackier: As if the game wasn't already silly enough, the comic takes the silliness and cranks it up to eleven!
  • Enemy Mine: Chuck and Igor team up to rescue Head from the horrific fate of... being forced to listen to the Mr Cuddle Bunny books.
  • Expy:
    • Max D. Cap is basically Satan, albeit quite genial in nature, and always accompanied by his accountant, who encourages him to be more stereotypically evil.
    • Professor Stein is based on Victor Frankenstein.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Played for Laughs. Stein's nanny reading the Mr Cuddle Bunny books as a bedtime story is considered this by Chuck, Head and Igor.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Hell is like this. No one seems to mind. The trains even run on time!
  • Funetik Aksent: Stein's German accent portrayed like this. It's also fake; he's really a former choir boy from Cardiff. It's apparently common knowledge that Stein is from Cardiff, enough so that the recently created Head says "everybody knows it" when asking why he bothers with the accent.
    Stein: Quiet, Head! Or it's back into the dungeons mit you!
  • Gang of Bullies: Stein was plagued by one during his school days. However, he eventually got his revenge and the experience put him on the path to Mad Science.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: At the end of the day, regardless of the monstrous nature of its cast, it's a comic for kids. The word "Hell" was used on a few occasions. Granted, it was because the cast were literally in Hell.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Igor. The "heroic" part is up for debate.
    Igor: Hey, I was only trying to help!
    Prof. Stein: Ja, unt der last person you tried to help ist still in traction!
  • Hurricane of Puns
  • The Igor: Igor is an unorthodox depiction of one. He's a sociopath who constantly tries to get Chuck killed.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Chuck. Or he wants a normal life, anyway.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Due to an accident during his creation involving a hydraulic platform falling on him, Chuck's head is imbedded in his torso. He can attack people by extending it outwards to headbutt them with all the force of a truck. Or, failing that, he can chuck Head.
  • Informed Attribute: Max is described by the Professor as being one of the most evil beings alive, as he borrowed the Professor's lawnmower and never returned it. Max even boasts about not returning the lawnmower
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Especially bring monsters — and other crimes against nature — to life.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Professor Stein, obviously. He really enjoys his work.
    • It seems to run in the family, as seen when his mother visits.
  • Mistaken for Own Murderer: "Who Killed Chuck?" has a weird variation. Detective Case is investigating the disappearance of a double-glazing salesman, who was in fact murdered by Igor. Case quickly suspects Chuck of the crime, and Igor is only too happy to point the finger at him and help Case hunt Chuck down. What Case doesn't know — and understandably doesn't believe it when he's told — is that Chuck was the salesman; Igor killed him because Dr. Stein needed a fresh corpse for his latest experiment.
  • Monster Mash
  • No Name Given: The Thin Controller.
  • Note from Ed.:
    • A notable running gag is that Megadroid, Sonic the Comic's fictional editor droid, would regularly remind the reader that he can't believe he's allowing something so bizarre in his pages.
      "Let's face it, this monster is going to turn out to be something really stupid, isn't it? At least there's only one week to go of this and then we can get back to running a sensible series - MD."
      "Next: Something really stupid."
    • The second storyline opens with Megadroid warning the reader that it's not his fault the strip returned, the fans wanted it that much.
    • One issue opens with a health warning for jokes that can damage the reader's sense of humour, with Megadroid apologising in particular for "the natural yoghurt joke on page three." No such gag happens, with Megadroid apologising for "the non-appearance of the natural yoghurt joke", claiming that they removed it on the advice of the comic's legal team.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Some people call Chuck a zombie, others peg him as a mummy. Regardless, he doesn't hunger for human flesh... in fact, he's quite fond of cheese.
  • Periphery Hatedom: invoked
    • In-universe example in the comics. Igor kept Mr Cuddle Bunny, who wrote cutesy stories about himself, locked in a tower so he wouldn't read any more. This backfired, when Mr Cuddle Bunny finally escaped, he revealed to them, that he'd used the ten years he was locked in a tower to write six hundred and forty three more books.
    • Within the wider fiction of Sonic the Comic, Megadroid, the comic's fictional editor, makes it very clear that he thinks the strip is a waste of time and he doesn't understand the appeal.
  • Poisonous Person: Chuck is shown to be this in the first issue when a vampire bites him and ends up dying immediately upon consuming some of his blood.
    Chuck: There's nothing wrong with my blood, matey!
    Head: Aside from that it's purple.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The demons of Hell.
  • Shout-Out: Many. One notable example in the new series involved Chuck and Head meeting Berk, Boni and Drutt when wandering through the castle:
    Chuck: Berk! Shouldn't you be making supper for the Thing Upstairs?
    Berk: Globbits! I, erm, completely forgot!
    Head: Hey, Boni.
    Boni: Good evening Head, old chum!
  • Sickly Neurotic Geek: Head is this. Sort of.
  • Sixth Ranger: Kevin of the TPC (that's Transylvanian Pest Control). He only ever appears to tackle the dreaded pumplekin menace.
  • Smug Snake: Igor.
  • Soup Is Medicine: Stein's nanny feeds Head a disgusting green broth to help him get over his drinking problem.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The "Pumplekin" pumpkins, which are silent in their first appearance and snarky gits in their second.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Max makes sure to note that he doesn't have Stein's lawnmower... in the middle of a grand villain speech.
  • Take That!:
  • Token Evil Teammate: Igor, Stein's lab assistant, constantly tries to kill Chuck and generally just insults everyone.
  • Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: "B" coins are unusually large.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Chuck, while normally a nice guy, can descend into this if you're not careful.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Igor doesn’t seem to care that the experiment to bring Chuck to life was a success.
    Igor: Alright, so you’ve created life. Now can we have our tea?
  • With Friends Like These...
  • World of Pun: Lots of them. See Punny Name above.