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Video Game / Gimmick! (1992)
aka: Mr Gimmick

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Gimmick! is a 1992 Japanese Platform Game for the Family Computer by Sunsoft, released in Scandinavia as Mr. Gimmick the following year. In this game, an oni named "Yumetaro" (lit. dream + a boy's name) finds himself lost in a gift shop, when he spots a father looking to purchase a gift for his daughter's birthday. The oni hides among a bin of toys, and the father purchases him, unaware that he is actually a mystical youkai.

When the daughter unwraps her present, she is immediately enamored with the little Waddling Head, and he quickly becomes her favorite toy. The other toys in her bedroom grow anxious of the newcomer's popularity, and that night they come to life and kidnap the girl, taking her through a portal to a Floating Continent. Alone, Yumetaro leaps after her to save her.

Yumetaro's main weapon is a bouncing star that he generates above his head. He can ride the star if he leaps on top of it. He can also carry in his inventory up to three of the following, in any combination: fireballs that can fly straight, bombs with a reasonable blast radius, and Healing Potions.

An arcade version running on the exA-Arcadia system, titled Gimmick! exAct☆Mix, was released in 2020. It gives the game a 16-bit makeover with a redone FM synthesis soundtrack by Manabu Namiki, remixing the original compositions of Masashi Kageyama. It also adds a tutorial, a time attack mode, a "stage edit" mode that rebalances the game's difficulty, and other extra features.

Another Updated Re-release, called Gimmick! Special Edition, would be made available in 2023 for PC via Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Although not directly related to the similar Hebereke series, Gimmick! was linked with it in a PlayStation compilation.

Gimmick! uses these tropes:

  • 100% Completion: Collecting the hidden treasure in each stage, which is required for the true ending.
  • Adaptation Expansion: exAct☆Mix upgrades the original game's somewhat limited cutscenes, including the previously All There in the Manual point showing the girl's father purchasing Yumetaro.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: A small wall in a small hallway in the fourth stage.
  • Age Lift: Though her characterization remains unchanged from the original version, Yumetaro's owner is given a much older design in exAct☆Mix, appearing closer to a young adult than a child.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The manual elaborates on the backstory given in the game's opening cutscene, explaining that Yumetaro is not actually a Living Toy but rather a creature mistaken for one. The game simply starts out with Yumetaro being unwrapped, making it more ambiguous. The Japanese manual also includes the names of the major enemies for the first three stages. The Scandinavian manual gives the name of the protagonist (Mr. Gimmick) and, uniquely, the name of the girl (Mary).
    • The game's hidden Sound Test gives names for all of the tunes except for one, the final boss's first phase theme. On the original soundtrack, it's given the name "Evidence of My Life". Also, some tracks are given the subtitle "Take 2" in-game; a later release of the original demo tracks shows that they had "Take 1" versions that weren't implemented in the game. And while most of the song titles make sense in context, one that sticks out is the theme for the final stage, "Sophia". This may actually be the name of Yumetaro's owner, which isn't otherwise mentioned in the Japanese version.
  • Beam Spam: The first phase of the fifth stage boss eventually starts firing lasers at very fast rate.
  • Bonus Level of Heaven: The secret final level, unlocked by collecting all of the bonus items, takes place in a heavenly castle built upon a small floating island. It's a very serene and hazardless level, with peaceful music and cute enemies who don't attack you, as well as plenty of health pickups. This leads to the difficult True Final Boss and the game's good ending, where Yumetaro reunites with his owner and they escape together.
  • Bottomless Pits: Subverted twice to hide secrets for Genre Savvy players: a seemingly bottomless pit in Stage 3 leads to the stage's treasure room, and the same goes for a pit opened by a hidden switch in Stage 5. Every other instance averts this trope, as falling off screen always leads to a new area and death pits are clearly marked.
  • Bubble Gun: The weapons of the boss of the sixth stage.
  • The Cameo: The otherwise out of place final boss somewhat resembles Jay from Journey to Silius, which was also developed by Sunsoft, with his armor from the Japanese version but helmetless like in the overseas version. exAct☆Mix replaces him with an expy of Tesse from Waku Waku 7, and even gives her a parasol in the first form to make her more recognizable.
  • Cartoon Bomb: One of the items you can throw. It's not practical against regular enemies, but does extra damage to bosses.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Every stage in the game has three checkpoint areas. While they're often kept a reasonable distance between one another, Stage 6 uses the second and third checkpoints for the end-of-level boss fights. The first checkpoint is therefore placed at the very start of the tower section, meaning that a single death forces you to do the whole stage over. To compensate, exAct☆Mix clocks in the level timer at 4 minutes.
  • Continuing is Painful: You're locked out of the secret stage if you used a continue before reaching it.
  • Copy Protection: If the code for the intro text is tampered with, the gameplay is replaced with a black screen with the text "BLACK HOLE" shortly into the secret Stage 7, preventing players from reaching the True Final Boss and ending. This wasn't actually intended as an anti-piracy measure; it's a leftover from an attempt by creator Tomomi Sakae to take credit for his work. He made it so that if the words "A TOMOMI SAKAE GAME" were removed from the intro — knowing that Sunsoft would remove them — the game would be bugged, so they couldn't release it without his name. The "BLACK HOLE" screen also originally read "IMPERFECT VERSION", making his intent more clear. Sunsoft circumvented this by leaving an unused "TOMO" string in the intro code while replacing the actual text.
  • Cranium Ride: Not only enemies and your bouncing star, but also... flying cannon balls?
  • Damsel in Distress: Yumetaro's owner, a little girl, who has been kidnapped by other jealous toys and it's up to him to rescue her.
  • Death Trap: The third stage has several of them, ranging from ceiling traps to arrow traps.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • In the second stage, it's possible to skip a large part of the level and fight the boss early. If you do this quick enough, you will find him... sleeping, with an alarm clock mook by his side. In this state, the boss is a movable object, so you can push him towards the edge of the arena and hit him with a star as he about to wake up, killing him instantly.
    • When the second boss is defeated his sword spins over the air and lands pointy end in if it hits the wood part of the floor. There's a metal tile towards the left that will bounce the sword away if it lands there. Also, if the sword does get stuck on the floor, don't walk on it.
  • Difficulty by Region: In the Scandinavian version, you start with four more lives and get extra ones more often than in the Japanese version.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Some of the blob enemies will blink in confusion and sprout propellers to fly around if they can't reach you from the bottom of a wall. It is highly unlikely for anyone to see this behavior unless they were toying around with the enemies.
    • One oddly motionless enemy in the second stage can be controlled by the second player. Sadly, he can't be taken out of his room.
  • Energy Ball: A few of the enemies can fire these.
  • Every 10,000 Points: An extra life is earned at 10,000 points, and every 25,000 (in the Scandinavian version, 20,000) thereafter.
  • Evil Overlooker: In exAct☆Mix, the title card for each level features its boss and other enemies overlooking the island the game takes place on. After the level is cleared, they're shown defeated as the score tally is made.
  • Feathered Fiend: Stage 4's boss is Hiyoko (literally "young bird" in Japanese), a hatchling bird who attempts to evade your every attack and spews fireballs should you get too close.
  • Floating Continent: Where the whole game takes place at. There are actually two of these: a larger main one where the most of the game takes place, and a smaller one appears after collecting all the secret treasures. A world map of the continent is seen between levels, but due to being a linear arcade game, exAct☆Mix reduces the world map to the title card for each level.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In exAct☆Mix, Yumetaro's owner's underwear can be seen through her pajamas during the brief flashes of light when she is warped away in the opening and back home in the good ending. This was subdued in subsequent updates.
  • Game-Over Man: In exAct☆Mix, Yumetaro is seen tossed on a pile of pink Yumetaros on the game over screen, in reference to the opening cutscene.
  • Gangplank Galleon: The second stage takes place mostly on a pirate ship.
  • Gender Flip: The True Final Boss in exAct☆Mix is female rather than male.
  • Genre Mashup: The game's soundtrack mixes together pop, acid jazz, free-form Classical Music, and Hard Rock. Masashi Kageyama specifically sought to focus on genres outside the scope of typical video game music, which at the time was usually a blend of Progressive Rock and Yellow Magic Orchestra-style Synth-Pop.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: After fighting through a cast of animal plushes (and a Spider Tank), players find the true final boss is a humanoid swordsman who rules over a castle. The game never explains what his goal was.
  • The Goomba: Ohagi (lit. bean cake), those black beady-eyed enemies.
  • Healing Potion: Yumetaro can carry pink potions that refill health, and twice per stage he will encounter an orange potion that increases his maximum HP (initially two) by one.
  • Helpful Mook:
    • A crow is perched in the crow's nest in the second level, and will take Yumetaro across a gap when ridden. If you went for the secret item, he'll fly you back from there, as well. It also shows up to give Yumetaro a ride during the bad ending.
    • A sauropod appears in the fourth stage shooting fireballs at Yumetaro. If it's attacked, though, it'll become friendly and take him across a lake.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Inexplicably done with Yumetaro's owner in exAct☆Mix. Not only is she visibly aged up, with her design accentuating an adult hourglass figure, but the opening and closing cutscenes also feature a Freeze-Frame Bonus of her in her underwear as she's being teleported. This is in spite of her maintaining her childlike characterization from the NES original, and makes for a bizarre juxtaposition with the unassuming content of the rest of the game.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: Conveyor belts appear in the first stage, and the last three. It's more believable in the sixth stage, which takes place in a factory.
  • Instant-Win Condition: An odd mix of this and Kaizo Trap. Once you defeat a boss, any bottomless pits stop functioning. However, you can still take damage. Once you defeat the second boss, he drops his sword onto the ship where it gets stuck; the sword can still hurt you if you touch it.
  • Interface Spoiler: exAct☆Mix spoils the entire cast of enemies on the title cards for each level, including the two boss characters that are meant to surprise players by how they look out of place in the game's setting.
  • Living Toys: Yumetaro is mistaken for one at first. However, the other toys come to life and kidnap their owner out of jealousy for his popularity.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: In the true ending, defeating the boss causes his fortress to self-destruct. Yumetaro and his owner make it out in the nick of time.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The NES version's previously-unused song "Strange Memories of Death" is used in exAct☆Mix for, fittingly, the "Continue?" screen that appears when losing all your lives. Since it only lasts ten seconds, though, you don't get to hear much of it.
  • Minecart Madness: This is one section of the fifth stage, which takes place in a mineshaft.
  • Mini-Boss: The second, third, and fourth stage all have mini-boss fights prior to the actual stage boss; the sixth stage has two prior to the Final Boss.
  • Multiple Endings: Two of them: the sad ending that plays if all six secret items aren't collected or if a continue is used, and the true ending if Yumetaro defeats the True Final Boss in the secret stage.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Despite its cutesy looks, the game can be brutally difficult even on the second stage. A good part of the challenge comes from the high learning curve of using Yumetaro's star projectile.
    • Even the first level has its moments. In an underground section, there's a platform attached to a rope, hanging over a pit of spikes. Jump on the platform and it'll slowly take you to the other side... and open up halfway through, dropping you into the spikes.
    • It's even worse if you're going for the true ending. You not only have to get all six secret items and beat the hidden stage, but you have to do all that without using a single continue.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Most characters in the game are animals and fantasy creatures. Then one of the latter bosses is a serious-looking Spider Tank and the final one is an action figure of a human swordsman.
  • One Bullet at a Time: One of Yumetaro's more annoying limitations is that he can only have one star on-screen at a time.
  • One-Hit Polykill: You get more points by hitting multiple enemies with one star.
  • Plot Coupon: You'll never see those secret treasures in use; a Floating Continent just appears out of nowhere. It's implied they may be the girl's belongings, as several of them resemble what a girl might typically have in her room (a flowerpot, an hourglass, a teapot, a mirror).
  • Retraux: exAct☆Mix was released in 2020, but looks as though it could've come out in arcades the same year as the 1992 NES game, with its FM soundtrack and 16-bit sprites.
  • Save the Princess: In this case, Yumetaro's owner (named Mary in the Scandinavian manual). She can only be rescued by collecting the six secret items and clearing the secret stage.
  • Scenery Porn: There's a brief sequence in the first stage where you walk through a submerged tunnel surrounded by moving fish. This part isn't there for any reason other than to show off the effort the developers put into the game. In the second stage, there's a similar area where you can see a vista of the horizon over the ocean, again solely for aesthetics.
  • Secret Stage: Get all the hidden items from the previous stages to reveal one. It's also the only way to get to the True Final Boss.
  • Sequence Break: You can use a bouncing star to skip almost three-quarters of stage 2. However, you'll miss one of the secret items.
  • Sequential Boss: The fifth stage's boss, after being defeated, comes back with a Spider Tank. The True Final Boss also has two forms; a figure cloaked in black who fires magic blasts, and a futuristic warrior who wields a sword.
  • Shark Tunnel: One part of the first stage. Thankfully, there are no sharks.
  • Slow Laser: Fifth boss shoots visibly moving lasers in the first phase.
  • Some Dexterity Required: A basic maneuver that the game requires you to master involves throwing a star at a precise angle so that it lands underneath Yumetaro, so you can jump off of it in mid-air and reach a higher platform. This is necessary to reach the secret items in several stages, including the first.
  • Spider Tank: The fifth main boss in its second phase.
  • Spikes of Doom: Every stage has spikes except the second stage and the secret seventh stage.
  • The Spiny: Spiky enemies in the second stage and cat-like Ohagi enemies in the secret stage.
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: Springboards can be found in the fifth and sixth stages. Some can be pushed around.
  • Stalactite Spite: The third stage has falling rocks which will only activate once you get close to them. The level has a general theme of booby traps, so this is fitting.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Yumetaro can drown in water that's barely twice as deep as he is high.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: exAct☆Mix's title is a Portmantitle of "exA" and "exact mix", indicating the remake being on the exA-Arcadia hardware.
  • Temporary Platform: These show up on occasion, appearing as falling logs or stone platforms or the like. Using Yumetaro's star allows you to cross these without touching them.
  • True Final Boss: A mysterious horned man with a cloak, whose first form is strikingly reminiscent of Dracula. In exAct☆Mix, it's a girl in a poofy dress and top hat wielding a parasol instead, but her attacks are the same. In their second phase, the cloak flies off and their armored true form is revealed, armed with a Laser Blade (the man in the original), or a jewel-tipped scepter (the girl in exAct☆Mix).
  • Tube Travel: Transparent tubes show up in most levels to take you from room to room.
  • Unique Enemy: Most of the stages have a set of unique enemies particular to them. In particular, stage 6 has a pair of enemies at the beginning that resemble a yeti and a raccoon; neither will actively attack you, and instead just play with each other (unless you attack one of them, in which case the other will become hostile).
  • Vengeful Abandoned Toy: The story begins when a young girl is given a green, big-eyed toy with a tiny horn on top of its head as a gift. After the other toys in her toy box watch her play with it, they come to life while she's asleep and whisk her away to another land. The new toy then has to go after them to save the girl.
  • Waddling Head: Yumetaro and most all of his enemies.
  • Wreaking Havok: The physics are astoundingly advanced for a Famicom/NES game. Getting all the secret items requires a cursory knowledge of how said physics affect your star's trajectory.
  • Youkai: Yumetaro is an oni (note the horn), and other creatures throughout the game resemble various youkai as well; for example, the level 6 boss attacks with what resembles Hitodama Lights.

Alternative Title(s): Gimmick, Mr Gimmick