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Video Game / Deadly Creatures

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Two deadly creatures in the foreground, an even deadlier one in the back.

"And George Struggs, the cops asked him what happened before he slipped into that coma, and he kept mumbling something about deadly creatures."

Deadly Creatures is a 2009 video game developed by Rainbow Studios and published by THQ for the Wii. It goes against the normal flow of action games by ditching the standard grizzled space marine protagonists and instead starring a tarantula and a scorpion. The two arachnids are unwittingly caught up in a plot by two humans to dig up a treasure in the desert.

Playing as the scorpion is a straight Action-Adventure, while playing as the spider is more akin to Survival Horror.

The game's concept came from a dream lead designer Jordan Itkowitz had about using the Wii Remote to control a snake, and eventually the idea expanded to other creatures, and in the end, only the scorpion and tarantula remained.

Did we mention that the two humans are voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Hopper?

Not to be confused with Nightmare Creatures, another horror-themed video game with a similar title but a totally different cast and story.

This game provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Specifically applies to the grubs, see Gotta Catch 'Em All.
  • Alien Blood: The blood is completely biologically accurate. Vertebrates such as snakes and lizards have red blood, while arthropods, including the playable arachnids, have green blood. Either way, plenty of it gets spilled.
  • Allegorical Character: Struggs basically represents everything that's wrong with humanity, in line with the game's Central Theme: he's a petty, selfish, amoral asshole who never misses a chance to demean his companion or piss on nature, and he's willing to attempt murder over just a bit of gold.
  • Arch-Enemy: Implied with the rattlesnake and the playable tarantula. The snake goes out of its way to antagonize the spider at any given opportunity and is a Recurring Boss. A picture of the two fighting is even on the box art.
  • Artifact of Attraction: The Civil War gold that serves as the story's MacGuffin. People have killed each other over it before, and Struggs repeats history by turning on Wade before the story is over.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Happens early on with the rattlesnake. And then there's that last battle...
  • Awesome, yet Impractical:
    • Poisoning things with the Tarantula. The charge-up takes a long time and leaves you a sitting duck. You can web up an enemy to immobilize it, but that still leaves you open to its buddies. And if it's alone, you may as well just knock it over and start feeding on it instead.
    • The Scorpion has burrowing. Does tremendous damage, but the input is specific and doesn't always read, it depends on unpredictable AI to walk over the burrowed scorpion, and he just plain can't do it in certain locations. However...
  • Back Stab: The tarantula loves this one, although the scorpion can do it too.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: In chapter 3, you see the rattlesnake pursue and devour other spiders, and it stalks you throughout the level. At the end, you finally come face to face... only for it to be captured by humans before you can throw down. The real boss of Chapter 3 is actually the Crimson Widow you just beat earlier.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The tarantula's final fight against the rattlesnake, thanks to some spilled oil cans and an errant shotgun blast.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: The tarantula and scorpion face each other several times over the course of the game. If you lose the fights you get a Game Over, but if you do enough damage your enemy will simply leave.
  • Big Bad: Struggs, though in an interesting twist he does not directly menace the arachnid protagonists until the end of the game. He is the villain in the human-centric plot that goes on in the background until then, however.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: The very first boss in Chapter 1 would be unbeatable if it wasn't for the wall of cacti nearby.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Albino Rats (every bit the Lightning Bruiser that normal rats are, with even higher damage output and more health) and Horned Lizards.
  • Bullfight Boss: Chapter 2's boss battle against the Gila monster.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Used to justify the varied abilities. After the scorpion kills another scorpion that was trying to burrow after prey, it gains the Dig ability itself (after a cutscene showing it eating its opponent's head, no less). And later it eats the first mantis that it fights in order to learn how to chop down grasses. Likewise, the tarantula gains the ability to web-jump and walk upside-down after eating a black widow spider and a lizard, respectively.
  • Central Theme: Mankind is the deadliest creature of all. The animals in the game fight and kill each other for things like territory, food, or simple survival. Humans, meanwhile, can and will kill each other just for a bit of money—or for no reason at all. Even in the end, Struggs's near-death is by his own hand.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Struggs talking about how horrible it would be to get stung in the balls by a scorpion.
    • Just before that, Wade was telling a story about getting stung by a scorpion that came through the toilet. Guess how the scorpion gets into the gas station in the final chapter?
  • Climax Boss: The rattlesnake in Chapter 9. A Battle Amongst the Flames with the Tarantula's Arch-Enemy, and it's even the last enemy the Tarantula faces, but it's not the final boss of the game.
  • Colossus Climb: The final boss. Scorpion vs human.
  • Critical Existence Failure: No amount of poison or blows will stop you until all your hitpoints are gone.
  • Crosshair Aware: Also during the final boss.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The rattlesnake is bitten several times by the Tarantula, webbed up, bitten even more, tricked into biting itself, shot point-blank with a shotgun, and then blown up.
  • Degraded Boss: A Crimson Widow serves as the boss of Chapter 3. Other versions appear as Elite Mooks in later versions whenever Black Widows appear. A Horned Lizard also serves as the boss of Chapter 5 and you fight it again at the beginning of Chapter 6; after this they become semi-recurrent Demonic Spiders. (Still keep everything nasty about them, though.)
  • Deus ex Machina: As the Scorpion is confronted again by the Gila Monster in a tunnel, the blade of Wade's shovel hit the beast, chopping its neck.
  • Dueling Player Characters: The game has a few portions where the tarantula and scorpion cross paths and you have to beat one with the other.
  • Elite Mooks: Crimson Widows to Black Widows, Bone Scorpions to other enemy scorpions, Emerald Mantises to the normal kind, Silverback Tarantulas to the other kinds, Albino rats to normal rats... suffice to say, the game does this a lot.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Mostly justified, as these are merely predatory animals acting on predatory instinct. But one must wonder why dung beetles are out for blood. Also, it seems that the vertebrates will team up with the invertebrates against you, instead of devouring them first before you ever arrive...
  • Evil Is Petty: Struggs goes out of his way to verbally berate Wade at every turn and tricks him into rubbing dried horse shit all over his body, basically for no reason other than to be a dick. Considering he's planning to kill him for the treasure, it's to be expected.
  • Finishing Move:
    • The scorpion has a unique finishing move for every enemy.
    • The tarantula has a sort-of finishing move of her own by feeding on enemies.
  • Flunky Boss: The Crimson Widow that serves as the boss of Chapter 3 fights alongside several normal Black Widows.
  • Fragile Speedster: Quite a number of enemies.
    • Wolf Spiders, which go down in a few hits (or even one in later chapters, if you get a strong move like the Scorpion's sting or the Tarantula's sneak attack) but are very fast, enjoy side-hopping, and like to bring friends when they fight you. The Wolfpack Boss fight against almost a dozen of them in Chapter 7 exists to remind you why the Fragile Speedster should be feared.
    • Lizards (except Horned Lizards) are very fast and have a dash attack that's extraordinarily difficult to dodge and is faster than anything you can pull off, but they have less health than any other vertebrate and an easily broken guard.
    • Tarantula Hawks are a mid-level enemy and a group of them fighting together even serves as the boss battle of Chapter 4. However, they tend to rely on hit-and-run tactics, poisoning you and then hanging out in the air where you can't reach them. If you manage to get one when it's close to the ground, however, you can bring it down in just a combo or two.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The game will randomly not work with certain Wii Remotes - the motion controls won't pick up gestures, and there's no way of telling which ones will and which ones won't be compatible except for trying.
  • Genre-Busting: It's Xenofiction told from the point-of-view of Sonoran Desert arachnids that is also a story of human greed and cruelty, and that's not getting that the two playable characters have radically different play styles. The Tarantula's segments play like Survival Horror, with you being severely outmatched by most enemies, and it also has a heavy exploration bent to it. The Scorpion's levels, meanwhile, are straightforward Action-Adventure due to it lacking the exploratory tools of the Tarantula yet having the capability of going toe-to-toe with most of the enemies in terms of combat.
  • Glass Cannon: Black Widows and Crimson Widows. Insane damage output thanks to having the worst poison in the game, but little else going for them: they don't have good defenses, they aren't especially fast, and they don't have a lot of HP. The most that can be said is that they tend to show up in numbers.
  • Gold Fever: This winds up causing some... friction... between the two human characters. And considering the bones you find underground, it's not the first time...
    Wade: "How much do you think is in there?"
    George: "Enough. (Whack!) Just not enough to go around."
  • The Goomba: Normal beetles, who have no gimmicks and are easily stomped by both characters.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Grubs and Leaf Crickets. Leaf Crickets up your maximum health while grubs unlock concept galleries.
  • Groin Attack: The strategy for defeating Struggs is to crawl into his pants and sting his junk.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Struggs likes to collect desert creatures. Granted, he never actually catches the scorpion, but the tarantula and rattlesnake do cause him some problems. As does a Gila monster he caught on a pre-game "hunting trip".
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: You can't beat the Gila Monster in Chapter 2, only dodge it until you can dig your way to an escape route.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Struggs in particular represents everything wrong with humanity: he's a slob, pointlessly cruel to nature, and willing to commit attempted murder over a bit of gold.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Delves into it a bit. Did You Just Sting Cthulhu In The Junk?
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Both arachnids regain health by eating crickets, grubs, and pill bugs, in addition to the above-mentioned feeding ability.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: There's Easy, Normal, and then Deadly.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence:
    • The scorpion finds several of these in later chapters, as it cannot jump. The tarantula can.
    • There are a number of obstacles that one arachnid can't get through but the other can. For the Tarantula, the aforementioned jumpable obstacles, and web slinging. For the Scorpion, there are dig spots and dead grass that can be cleared away. Usually resulting in traversing the same level a different way as an alternate arachnid.
    • And then there's that black mist that either keeps you going forward, keeps you on the chapter's path, or keeps you in a a fight.
  • In the Back: How Struggs deals with Wade.
  • Jack of All Stats: Enemy Tarantulas and Scorpions. Decent maneuverability and offense and they can mimic the starting movesets of your characters, but nothing to really make them stand out.
  • Kaiju: While the animals are all normal-sized, according to Word of God the battles amongst the titular deadly creatures are meant to evoke kaiju battles.
  • Last Lousy Point: Finding that one grub you missed back in chapter 3 or 7.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Done in two different flavors:
    • Rats. They are very agile and are capable of stunlocking you. The tradeoff is that they actually don't have that much HP for a high-level enemy, but that matters less than you'd think, considering that they tend to show up in groups of at least two and that getting stunlocked even once is generally guaranteed death.
    • Mantises have similar damage output to rats, are swift, and are generally more durable. However, they are less aggressive and will typically try to hang back and wait for a chance to strike rather than rushing in like rats, making for a more defensive and less frantic battle.
  • Marathon Level: Chapter 7 for sure. The longest level in the game, multiple boss fights, coupled with a labyrinthine layout while you're exploring the abandoned truck and Checkpoint Starvation. Chapter 8 is also long, but not as bad.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's mentioned that the treasure is supposedly cursed, though Wade doesn't put much stock in the notion. It's left ambiguous whether Struggs getting wrecked by the scorpion and then blowing himself up was just him being really, really unlucky, or if the Deadly Creatures were the instruments of the treasure wreaking its curse on Struggs.
  • Mighty Glacier: Horned Lizards. Their thorny hide will No-Sell any attack that isn't made to their face (and hurts you for trying), they can curl up into a defensive ball that deflects any move, period, they hit extraordinarily hard, and they have a projectile attack and you don't, forcing you to come up close and play on their terms.
  • Mouse World: The game is told through the eyes of a tarantula and a scorpion.
  • Press X to Not Die:
    • Again, the scorpion's finishers, though a few boss fights uses this as well.
    • Let's not forget the QTEs where you fall into a Black Widow nest, usually without warning, and where failing to push the right button in time results in instant death. Could also count as scary.
  • Recurring Boss: The rattlesnake, for the tarantula.
  • Rule of Cool: Why can a scorpion perform fatalities? Why can that tarantula jump around like Spider-Man on speed? Because it's cool, dammit!
  • Scenery Gorn: Subterranean tunnel that has you crawling through the bones of a long-forgotten corpse? Mass of brambles covered in spiderwebs? Ruined truck that's become a haven for wasps and spiders? A rusty, forgotten culvert filled with creaking chains and shorn metal? It's all here.
  • Scoring Points: Killing baddies scores points, which are used to unlock new attacks. However, the game is linear so you'll always have to fight the enemies, and the attacks are unlocked one at a time, so you'll usually have everything before end, making the points a token reward.
  • Sequential Boss: Done at the end of Chapter 1, where you fight the rattlesnake with the Tarantula and then immediately fight the soon-to-be-player-controlled Scorpion immediately after, and the beginning of Chapter 6 you fight a Horned Lizard before immediately battling the Tarantula.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: The Shield Beetles, who can form their carapace to bounce off attacks. That's basically all they've got going for them.
  • Shout-Out: The protagonists' fighting styles are partly based on Scorpion from Mortal Kombat and Spider-Man, naturally.
  • Simple, yet Awesome:
    • The Scorpion's Finishing Moves. They instantly kill any opponent when used successfully, you're completely invincible during execution even if you fail, and it even restores a little bit of life. Even if you fail, if you're quick on the trigger you can just initiate it immediately when normal gameplay resumes. The only reason not to do it is if you're getting tired of the scenes.
    • Unlike the Tarantula, poisoning with the Scorpion. It takes much less time to charge up the venom, and you can do it from a safer distance thanks to his stinger tail.
    • Stealth attacks from the Tarantula. Deal massive damage, enough to one-hit-kill certain enemies, and can also be used to escape hairy situations. Though be careful using it on Horned Lizards. Unless it's set up so that the lizard is facing you but isn't aggroed (which is rare) then you'll just hurt yourself on its hide.
    • Just press C with the Tarantula and he'll blast web directly in front of him. This can be used immediately after a combo to set up the enemy for another combo, can be used to stop a charging enemy in its tracks... it's extremely versatile. Though again, the Horned Lizard can No-Sell this one.
  • Sinister Southwest: Deadly Creatures takes place in the Sonoran Desert and has its main characters, a tarantula and scorpion, fighting and killing for survival under the backdrop of very real human greed and cruelty as one of their number falls to Gold Fever.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: There would be no way to beat the rattlesnake if it didn't expose its tail for you to bite after striking enough times.
  • Title Drop: See the page quote.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Found yourself laughing at the Wolf Spiders whenever they showed up after Chapter 2 or 3 because they Can't Catch Up and you're just that much stronger than them? Well, have fun fighting a dozen at once in Chapter 7's Wolfpack Boss.
  • Wolfpack Boss: The game likes doing this.
    • The boss fight of Chapter 4 is fighting two waves of multiple Tarantula Hawks (which previously served as powerful enemies which you would encounter one at a time throughout the chapter.)
    • Chapter 7 has multiple instances, including two Albino Rats at once, two Horned Lizards at once, and a fight that will make you fear even the timid Wolf Spider when you have to fight nearly a dozen at once.
    • Chapter 8 has you fight multiple Crimson Widows (which are at this point Degraded Bosses) at once with Black Widows helping out.
  • Xenofiction: The protagonists are a tarantula and a scorpion being a tarantula and a scorpion, with the human interactions happening in the background.