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Video Game / Gish

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Meet the protagonist.

"Life isn't easy when you're a 12-pound ball of tar."
— Game description

Gish is a 2D platforming game released in 2004 for the PC. You control an amorphous tar ball character called Gish. Gish doesn't have limbs, so he has to navigate the environment in a different way.

Gish has four abilities: sticky, slick, heavy and expand. Becoming sticky allows Gish to stick onto most surfaces and grab objects, becoming slick helps him to squeeze through tight spaces and become frictionless, becoming heavy allows him to break things from above and fall down faster, and expanding helps him to jump and avoid falling damage. Gish can use those abilities as long as he wants, and he can use several abilities at once.

The game has 5 worlds. The first 4 have 5 normal levels followed by a boss level followed by a level where transportation is a key. The last world is a bit different. The game also features a level editor so people can make levels ranging from challenging to downright sadistic.

Gish also got a mobile phone port where the storyline continues from the ending of the PC game. It also features co-op mode.

Gish has shown up in other Edmund McMillen games: He is a playable character in Super Meat Boy, and a boss fight in The Binding of Isaac.

Not to be confused with the D&D slang for a Magic Knight, or the first album by The Smashing Pumpkins.

Gish contains examples of

  • 1-Up: Rare item that gives Gish an extra life. In Revamped version, 1-ups do not do anything.
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Although smaller than most of the sewers, it has large rooms, too. Canonically, Gish isn't a large creature though so sewers are quite cramped in some places. Partly justified for being an abandoned city.
  • Arc Number: 1300 which is the amount of points gotten from most of the secret areas in game.
  • Blackout Basement: World 2-6 takes place in a dark environment with limited visibility. Gish himself is the main light source.
  • Blob Monster: Gish and Hera resemble typical blobs. Also, Honey Bucket boss is also a blob monster.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Death Island. A boss from world 2 is chasing you while you try to make your way through a long cave clogged with skull pillars and enemies. But the reward is worth it.
  • Crate Expectations: Crates are common in World 2, sometimes being used as a puzzle element. Although they're not breakable.
  • Damsel in Distress: Brea is captured in the beginning of the game and needs to be rescued.
  • Dual Boss: World 3 boss and one of the world 5 bosses are Vis sisters. Stage 1 boss is a triple boss, consisting of 3 honey buckets.
  • Flash of Pain: Gish flashes red upon taking damage.
  • Flunky Boss: World 1 boss, world 3 boss and first world 5 boss. All these bosses spawn nibblers.
  • Glowing Eyes: Gish himself has glowing yellow eyes.
  • The Goomba: Nibblers are the most basic enemy. They move around, occasionally jump and bite when being close to the protagonist.
  • Goomba Stomp: Basic way to attack enemies. However, since it's a physics-based game, there are more creative ways of killing them like throwing them into the air, rolling over them, sometimes even making more obscure strategies.
  • The Grim Reaper: Although looking nothing like your usual personification of death. Seen in the teaser trailer of Gish 2.
  • "If I Can't Have You…: no one can!" as said by final boss, Hera.
  • Indy Escape: World 3-7 features a giant boulder chasing after Gish. Although you can abuse physics engine a bit and let the boulder roll over you.
  • Interspecies Romance: Gish is a blob and Brea is a human. With the good ending, they Even get married and in the mobile phone port, their children also make appearances.
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid: Lava does look very red and is not very viscous.
  • Lava Pit: Starting from world 2-7. In the bad ending, they're Lampshaded by Gish joining a group about danger awareness of lava pits.
  • Lethal Lava Land: World 3 is fire themed, featuring lava predominately.
  • Made of Plasticine: Big heads who have rather fragile necks. Sometimes they even die when jumping from moderate height or hit a sharper corner.
  • Minecart Madness: World 1-7 has a minecart Gish can ride on. Although you can just skip riding on it.
  • Multiple Endings: The ending depends on whether you save Brea or not.
  • Nothing but Skulls: The walls of Death Island are made of skulls.
  • Off with His Head!: Bigheads can be defeated that way which is rather simple considering their fragile necks.
  • Pressure Plate: Pressure plates are featured in some of the small puzzles. Often there are crates nearby.
  • Puzzle Boss: Aside from the first boss, all of them have a trick to defeating them. For an example, the world 2 boss can be defeated by exposing him to the light.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Hera is a villain. She has red eyes..
  • Shout-Out: To many video games. There are also secret Mario, Pitfall! and Pac-Man levels.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: Hallways with crushers are here-there. For an example, in 2-2.
  • Some Dexterity Required: First few hours of gameplay until you get a hold of controls. Jumping feels very awkward, navigating environments feels difficult, and so on and so on. Some time later, though, when abilities and their combinations are put to good use, it's much easier to do so.
  • Spikes of Doom: Spikes chip your health away constantly and it's hard to jump off of them. Sometimes it's possible to glitch through them. The damage caused by spikes is equivalent to number of spike tiles Gish touches.
  • Stationary Boss: Honey buckets at the end of world 1 do not move.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Gish can swim freely without drowning.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Gish likes to eat amber.
  • Temple of Doom: World 4 takes place inside Egypt-themed area.
  • Underground Level: First 4 of the worlds take place deep under ground. Especially world 2 which has your average cave setting.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Fourth boss. When all the blocks fail to crush it, it's time to restart the level. Also, some of the normal levels with lava pits can cause that. Third boss would also be Unwinnable, but fortunately it it still possible to use some brute force to defeat them should the original plan fail.
  • Vapour Ware: Gish 2
  • Visible Silence: Gish responds "..." to every boss. Only times when he says something else is when he says "Calm down ho" to Hera or when he manages to reach Satan. In the mobile phone port, he is much more talkative though.
  • Warp Zone: The game has a few of them. Example include at the beginning of 1-4 that takes the player to the fourth world.
  • Weakened by the Light: Second boss can be killed by exposing him to light.
  • Who Forgot The Lights?: Third area sometimes suffers from this when playing during daylight.
  • Wreaking Havok: One of the main selling points of Gish was its 2D physics engine. Aside from the protagonist, there are objects that move and fall in accordance to physics, and ropes that break under too much stress.
  • Yandere: Hera does not like that her childhood crush is hanging out with Brea.