Gary Gadget (Mulle Meck in Swedish) is a series of Swedish children's books by the authors George Johansson and Jens Ahlbom. Despite the duo writing 27 books in the series over the course of 17 years, the series is best known internationally for the six video games published by Levande Böcker between 1997 and 2004. While only one of the games got an English translation, several of the games got translations to Dutch, German, Russian and Finnish as well. (Since not every character in the series got a Dub Name Change from the English version, this page will use Swedish names of characters unless otherwise noted.)
The series revolves around Mulle (aka. Gary), a man living with his dog Buffa somewhere in northern Sweden who likes collecting all kinds of junk, mostly old machinery, and then builds new machines (and even an house) out of them. The games loosely follow the first four books, and also introduce plenty of characters that Mulle has to help in some way, generally by either building them something that will solve a problem or just performing Fetch Quests.
The five games based on the franchise, listed in chronogical order of release, are as follows:
- Mulle Meck bygger bilarEnglish
- Bygg båtar med Mulle MeckEnglish
- Bygg flygplan med Mulle MeckEnglish
- Bygg hus med Mulle MeckEnglish
- Upptäck rymden med Mulle MeckEnglish
The game series provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: Erik Ersson can never get Mulle's name right, calling him stuff like "Murre" or "Muppe".
- Adaptational Nationality: Gaston Garson and his wife Gabriella Gourmet, who are French in the original, are named Gogi and Guliko respectively in the Russian translation and are instead Georgian.
- Alliterative Name: Most characters, which usually also doubles as Meaningful Name in the case of their last names.
- All-Loving Hero: Mulle himself has a very chipper view of the world and people around him. This is especially pronounced in Upptäck rymden med Mulle Meck: he seems perfectly fine with the idea of aliens visiting Earth on the basis that "a stranger is a friend you haven't gotten to know yet". The closest he comes to a negative opinion of anyone appears to be Erik Ersson, and even then he only calls him a Jerk with a Heart of Gold despite the latter not seeming to treat him with all that much respect.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Downplayed; whenever you complete a quest, you get a new part to use in your vehicle. Not all of these parts actually affect your vehicle's performance.
- Art Shift: The original books were painted in watercolours; the games have some images in that style and some using digital drawings with flat colouring.
- Canine Companion: Mulle's dog, Buffa, who tags along in all of his adventures. By contrast, Figge Ferrum has a dog, but most of his quests in Builds Cars revolve around finding the dog for him.
- Chaos Architecture: The maps can be very different in different games. For example, in Builds Boats much of it is covered with water, and characters' homes are located on coasts, and in Builds Planes water makes up a relatively small portion of the map. On the other hand, Builds Planes includes more zones than the other games, including areas covered in snow and deserts. In the last two games, however, the maps look mostly the same.
- Dub Name Change: Every translation does this for most (if not all) characters. For example, the titular character is Mulle Meck in the original, Gary Gadget in English, Petrovich in Russian, Masa Mainio in Finnish, Willy Werkel in German and Miel Monteur in Dutch. These names usually keep both the alliterative theme and the meaningful names.
- Endless Game: The games don't really have a proper endpoint to speak of even though they have a limited number of tasks to complete or gadgets to find.
- Fetch Quest: Most of the games' content is this; the rest of the time is spent designing your vehicle (wackiness optional).
- The Hermit: Each game typically has at least one individual that lives alone far away from everyone else and are often the most difficult to reach. The player is often awarded with stuff just for managing to find them.
- Implied Love Interest: Mia Minardi, a local teacher who appears to be interested in Mulle. While Mulle seems to reciprocate, he is either too busy or shy to spit it out. The closest they get to a Relationship Upgrade is a kiss on the cheek in Mulle Meck bygger hus, after which Mulle just says "Hey, Mia... See you" and leaves.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Aside from Mulle and his dog, there are almost 40 characters for him to visit over the course of the games, some of which are Recurring Characters.
- Misplaced Accent: Sam Scribbler is the only character to have an English-sounding name in the Swedish version, and is supposed to be American. In his first appearance he speaks just like the other Swedish characters, but then gains a strange accent that can't be placed anywhere. Ironically, he appears in all of the games except for the one game in the series that actually got an English dub.
- Odd Name Out: The last game's Swedish title would translate to Exploring Space with Gary Gadget, unlike the previous games, which use a Gary Gadget Building ... format. However, the Russian, Finnish and German translations rename it Gary Gadget Building Rockets to keep the tradition. It's also the only game not based on a book by the original authors.
- Oop North: A variation; the games take place in a fictional area called Djupforsen (lit. "the deep rapids"), whose exact location is never stated. However, Mulle and Figge Ferrum in particular have strong Northern Swedish accents and several of the games take place in sparsely populated forest areas, very clearly evoking an stereotypical (if child-friendly) image of Northern Sweden.
- Protagonist Title: Every game includes the protagonist's name in its title.
- Sequel Hook: Mulle Meck bygger hus ends on one. Mulle finds a house that rose from the ocean which includes a note from his Long-Lost Relative; once he reaches the telescope room, he theorises that she is travelling the stars and resolves to travel through space to find her.
- What Would X Do?: In Mulle Meck bygger hus Sam Scribbler has a sign in his room that reads "Hur skulle Hemingway ha gjort?", or "How would Hemingway have done [this]?"
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: While the setting of the series, Djupforsen, is implied to be located somewhere in northern Sweden, it is never specified where exactly that is.