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Video Game / Gruntz

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"I don't want to hear ONE WORD about the pink gun!"
Average grunt equipped with a sponge gun.

Gruntz is a strategy/puzzle PC Video Game by Monolith Productions, published in 1999.

The gruntz are a bunch of small creatures seemingly made of clay. They strayed from home, thanks to a mysterious portal that brought them to unknown worlds. Now they want to find a way back. Only YOU can help them make it through the hellish puzzles, hordes of enemy gruntz and downright Malevolent Architecture that await them.

The only way to successfully complete a level is to find a Warpstone piece - which is the only thing that can bring gruntz back home - and get someone to carry it to the fortress, where the King is waiting. There are no problems with some of your other gruntz being left behind (or worse), but you DO have to be careful, lest it becomes unwinnable. Thankfully, the levels are littered with random weapons, bizarre tools and fancy toys that will help your gruntz deal with various obstacles.

This video game provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Coins and WARP letters. Every time you find them all on every level from a single world, the game gives you access to cheat codes.
  • Ability Required to Proceed: Several areas require Gruntz with the right tools in order to proceed.
  • Agony of the Feet: Said word-for-word as a random quote when your gruntz step on spikes.
  • Artificial Stupidity: This applies to both your gruntz and the enemy gruntz.
    • Your gruntz will always walk in a straight line towards their destination, carelessly walking into any obstacle that is in their path.
    • Both your gruntz and the enemy gruntz can be easily distracted by toys given to them, no matter what happens around them - if the toy is a mobile one, then it gets even better, since they will randomly drive into any instant-kill obstacle near them.
    • On multiplayer levels, the enemy shows some remarkable amounts of stupidity, such as: walking straight into pyramids that are about to raise (instant kill), under rolling boulders (instant kill), onto bridges that are about to sink (instant kill)...
    • If they have giant straws and stand on a goo puddle, then they will glitch out and just stand on the puddle instead of walking next to it to drink it.
    • They will break any bricks standing on their way to your gruntz, even if it means destroying their own fortress's defenses.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Using Timebombz as a weapon can score an instant kill. However, the enemy can easily move out of the way in the few seconds before the bomb goes off unless they're stuck or playing with a toy. The bombs are still a safe and effective way to deal with rockz and brickz, though.
  • Bag of Spilling: You do not keep any of the wonderful things you get from one level to the next. You don't even keep your gruntz!
  • Bandit Mook: The appropriately-named Tool Thieves will steal your Gruntz' item and fight them with the stolen item. Fortunately, the Thieves drop the items they stole on death.
  • Battle Boomerang: A boomerang is one of the long range toolz in the game. While it does middling damage, it flies around in a circle to and from the target hitting every grunt in its path, making it the most difficult long-ranged attack to avoid by far.
  • Bird-Poop Gag: One of the instant death hazards in "Trouble In The Tropicz" is a shadow of a bird that flies overhead. If a Gruntz moves under it, it drops a huge bird poop that destroys all gruntz in a 3x3 area underneath.
  • Blob Monster: In "Honey, I Shrunk the Gruntz", there's acidic kitchen slime that instantly melt any Gruntz they touch.
  • Bottomless Pits: All worlds have these in the form of holes your gruntz can fall into and instantly die, and which can somehow be filled by just swinging a shovel a bit. Worlds set high in the sky (or in space) also have areas that expose the ground down below. While not literally bottomless (except for space), they certainly make the fall fatal.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Gauntletz, a tool to break things and fight other gruntz. They are in nearly every level and are very useful.
  • Breakable Weapons:
    • If you attempt to break a red brick with your Gauntletz, it will destroy both the Gauntletz and the brick.
    • Wingz will disappear if you use them too much.
    • Ducky Tubes which will pop if you step on spikes.
    • Spingz that will also break if you step on spikes.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: All over the place, from the gruntz interacting with the narrator in the cutscenes, to the gruntz in level talking directly to the plyer.
  • Casino Park: "High Rollerz", a Floating Continent of casinos and giant billard balls.
  • Checkpoint: Several per level. You must have the required number of gruntz with the appropriate tools/toys to progress. Otherwise, it's unwinnable...
  • Cherry Tapping: Some of the fights amount to this if everyone has no tools or crap ones. This can also happen in a fight against a Tool Thief, who steals your gruntz' tools and uses them against them.
  • Clapper Gag: Is referenced with the Black Screen curse. Curses are multiplayer items that, when picked up, cause some kind of temporary inconvenience for other players. This particular one causes other players to have their screen become completely black (except for the gruntz themselves), and the grunt who picks it up can say "Clap on, clap off!".
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Your gruntz are orange. Enemy gruntz cover a wide palette, each color denoting a different behaviour.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: While there are no conventional time limits, if any of your gruntz without a tool is left idle for long enough, they'll complain about not moving. Additionally, the king pacing the fort will sometimes impatiently check his watch or look out for where the gruntz are on the level.
    "You probably should move before the screensaver comes on!"
  • Cool Sword: The Sword tool, which looks like a pirate saber. It's pretty cool, considering that it only takes two hits to kill a grunt, which makes it the strongest melee weapon in the game.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Warpstone pieces. They're 4 pieces of a big circular rock with a spiral in the center, and getting them together is the only way the Gruntz can go back home.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Tool Thievez. They steal your gruntz' tools and use them against your gruntz, and your gruntz have to fight them bare handed!
    • Toyerz are specifically about giving your gruntz a toy and forcing them to play around. If it happens to be a mobile toy, then your gruntz will most likely drive into something hazardous.
  • Convection Schmocvection: Lots in the third world, Gruntz In The Tropicz. There are pools of lava right next to trees and grass, and there are wooden bridges over those pools, some of them even submerging into the lava without burning. Needless to say, so long as your gruntz don't directly step into the lava, they're fine.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Once you give a tool to a grunt, he keeps it until death or getting a new one. Especially grating if it's a crap tool and you lost a good one to get it. The Warpstone holder has the worst luck - he's very slow, cannot attack or defend himself, and you must protect him until he gets to the end of the level.
  • Damage Reduction: Shieldz can completely prevent damage taken from bare-handed gruntz and gruntz wearing boxing glovez. Gunhatz divide all of the received damage from ranged attacks by half.
  • Death from Above:
    • The birds in "Trouble In The Tropicz" drop giant bird poop that kills any gruntz in a 3x3 radius.
    • The aircraft in "High On Sweetz" drop exploding packages that kill any gruntz in a 3x3 radius.
    • The spotlights in "High Rollerz" force your gruntz to sing if any of those spotlights catches them. Since your gruntz can't sing properly, a trapdoor opens up underneath them and removes them from the game.
    • The UFOs in "Gruntz In Space" have two searchlights that instantly melt any gruntz that come into contact with them.
  • Death Course: Each level amounts to this, and they get harder and harder as you go. You have to get past enemy gruntz, floors decorated with sharp spikes, eternally rolling boulders, holes in the ground, pits filled with oil, tar and such, and that's not even half of it...
  • Death Mountain: "Rocky Roadz", a generic forest setting.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The "Easy Mode" disables world-specific instant death hazards and crumble bridges while reducing the damage your gruntz take and slowing down the rolling ballz. It also removes the Warp Letter and the hidden teleporter switch from the level. Additionally, if you need to use those hazards to kill tough enemy gruntz, things will get more difficult for you.
  • Eject the Loser: This happens to your gruntz in High Rollerz if they are touched by a spotlight - they're unable to sing properly, so a hole opens below them and drops them from a great height.
  • Escort Mission: The gruntz carrying Warpstone Pieces are this. They cannot defend themselves, they cannot pick up any tools, and if they die, you lose. And you have to bring them every time to the end of the level to win.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Let's see... besides the omnipresent level-themed rolling boulders, there's also birds that drop instant-kill poop, airplanes that drop exploding presents, spotlights that force gruntz to sing (and since they can't sing well, they get ejected), kitchen slimes that melt gruntz, and UFOs whose searchlights do the same.
  • Excuse Plot: Here's our story: the orange gruntz were having fun with their toys. Then one of them found some mysterious giant buttons on the ground. Pressing them opened a strange gate with a portal in it. This was the moment when they were attacked by blue gruntz who were previously spying on them. In a desperate effort to save themselves, orange gruntz jumped into the portal, and blue gruntz followed them. Cue them having to go through numerous puzzles to come back home.
  • Final Battle: The final stage of the final level has a TON of enemy gruntz with different tools at the end. Fortunately, you have a large army of gruntz with you as well. Don't expect most of your gruntz to survive. You can soften this a bit by having your Gunhat user pick off some of them first, though.
  • Floating Continent: High Rollerz world is basically a casino flying high in the sky, with a dash of Pinball Zone. Viva Las Vegas!
  • Flying Saucer: The Space Zone level has UFOs. While standing underneath them is perfectly safe with no fear of abduction, they also have two spotlights that rotate around it that are lethal, instantly melting any Gruntz they touch.
  • Forced Tutorial: Double subverted. The actual tutorial levels are completely optional, but the regular levels also have Hint Books, walking onto which causes a grunt to stop and read their contents. In some cases, you have to walk onto them to progress...
  • Gimmick Level: Various, but a special mention goes to the one in the High Rollerz world where you race against a rolling ball (in order to activate switches so that it continues rolling) for the whole level; a deliberate aversion of Take Your Time.
  • Guide Dang It!: The game contains a secret level that can be accessed from within a normal level, but you'd be forgiven for never realizing this, considering that entering the secret level requires acquiring an item that you can't get your hands on in that level without cheats, and stepping on a specific tile while carrying said item.note 
  • Green Hill Zone: "Miniature Masterz", a gigantic miniature golf course.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: The Conversion sign powerup allows the user to convert any enemy Gruntz they attack to their side. The downside is that the sign holder's health will constantly deplete until they die, and they won't leave behind goo when they do so.
  • Hero Must Survive: Besides the obvious Warpstone carrier Gruntz, there are also other situations. In the final level, there's a huge number of enemy Gruntz at the end. Right after that, there's the finish portal as well as the warp stone piece... however, in order to obtain the warp stone piece, you need to fill in a Bottomless Pit with a Shovel Gruntz, and in order to get to the finishing area, you need a Gauntlet Gruntz to break the bricks surrounding it. If either died during the Final Battle, it becomes Unintentionally Unwinnable.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • One of your gruntz has to pull one off during the last level. One grunt stops in front of an arrow, while the other, carrying a pink gun, has to step onto crumbling bridges and shoot a ball at the arrow, so that the other grunt can be pushed past the arrow by the ball. Unfortunately, in order to shoot the ball, the pink gun grunt has to stop on the crumbling bridges... which results in him falling into the space abyss below immediately after shooting.
    • Also in the final level, the final exit is surrounded by bricks. All but one are a black, explosive brick on top of two brown bricks, but the last is a black brick under two brown ones. You'll need your Gauntlet Gruntz to break the latter, but when he breaks the black one, it blows up on him and kills him, although that leaves an opening for the stone carrier to get through.
    • And then there are of course the situations where a grunt has to blow himself up with a bomb in order to destroy an otherwise impassable obstacle.
    • Subverted if a grunt must be left behind by the level's design in order to win: they'll teleport out with the others when the level is completed.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Used by yellow enemy gruntz, which are appropriately known as "Hit and Runners".
  • Idle Animation: No matter what tools your gruntz are holding, there are always some amusing comments they can say and things they can do with them while idle.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Gruntz with Strawz can suck up the good puddles of dead gruntz, including orange ones. This can then be used to create new gruntz.
  • I'm Melting!: This is the default way the gruntz die - they turn into a pile of goo that can be later sucked up to reuse for creation of another grunt. Also said word for word as one of their death quotes. Of course, this isn't going to happen if they die by getting crushed or blown up, or by falling into a Bottomless Pit.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Almost every tool can be used to fight other gruntz. A few examples include giant straws, giant springs, wings, welder kits, ducky tubes, heavy boots, spy gears... their effectiveness varies, however.
  • Invisible Grid: The game uses a top-down view with a slight angle, with the levels consisting entirely of 32x32px tiles.
  • Jungle Japes: "Trouble In The Tropicz", a generic tropical setting.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Welder's Kit tool. It shoots a fireball that is an instant kill to any grunt except the ones wearing Gunhats.
  • Knock Back: Some of the weapons have this, such as the Boxing Glovez and the Sponge Gunz. You can actually fire the Sponge Gun at a Bottomless Pit, then let your Gruntz walk there just as it hits them, which pushes them past the pit before they can fall in. the Gravity Bootz tool makes a grunt immune to knockback.
  • Level in the Clouds: "High On Sweetz", a mixture of that and Level Ate, with lots of candy growing on top of the clouds.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Shieldz mitigate most melee damage dealt to Gruntz, even making attacks from bare handz and Boxing Glovez ineffectual. They don't reduce damage from ranged attacks, however.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Welder's Kit launches ranged fireballs that One-Hit Kill any grunt not wearing Gunhatz, and two-shot those wearing one. It also has a long cooldown period between attacks.
  • Mini-Golf Episode: "The Miniature Masterz" takes place on a mini-golf green with rolling golf balls in place of rolling boulders.
  • Mouse World: "Honey, I Shrunk the Gruntz!", a giant kitchen.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: When a grunt carries a sword and is forced to walk around non-stop for longer periods of time, you can hear him saying this:
    "My name is Grunt Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!"
  • Multiplayer-Only Item: The Multiplayer levels are about conquering other players' fortresses. These Multiplayer levels feature Curses: special items whose purpose is to cause some temporary inconvenience (primarily Interface Screw) to other players, which includes shrinking the screen to a tiny rectangle, making the terrain pitch black, forcing the screen to shake, or causing the gruntz on the battlefield to randomly change their colours. While it's technically possible to put a Curse item on a Singleplayer level, they serve no purpose there, since there are no human players to be affected by it and AI-controlled opponents don't react to it either way. The only Curse that can be potentially useful is the one that changes gruntz' colours, allowing for a "remember who is who" kind of level. There are also two unique spells: teleport (warps all nearby gruntz to random locations) and toyz (forces all nearby gruntz to play with a random toy).
  • No Fair Cheating: The game has an odd variation where cheat codes work perfectly, but if you use any of them (except a select few), you can no longer save your game.
    Since you have cheated, you may not save your game.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: One of the quotes said by a grunt when he dies.
  • One-Hit Kill:
    • The Welder's Kit tool fires a fireball that instantly incinerates any enemy grunt (unless they are wearing a Gunhat), but has a ridiculously long reload time.
    • The Timebombs destroy any gruntz in a 3x3 radius when they explode.
    • There are also giant bombs that destroy both the grunt that holds them and everyone around them in a 3x3 radius.
  • Press X to Die: The Big Red Button on the interface is this. If pressed, it will start a countdown and will make all of your gruntz explode once it reaches zero. The game suggests to use it if you want to restart the level.
    • There is also the MPBOMBAGE cheat that does the same thing minus the countdown.
  • Putting the Pee in Pool: On very rare occasions, if a ducky tube grunt continuously swims through a pool for an extended period of time, he may end up saying a line that amounts to this.
    Ducky Tube Grunt: Hey... the water's warm over here... and kinda yellow too, HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Played for Laughs. The Gruntz do get back to their homeworld... but they leave their beach ball behind in the Space Zone final level. The narrator even mocks them for it.
  • Random Events Plot: You gotta admit, there is no logic behind the progression between each world. While at first it's reasonable with the gruntz going from a forest to an ice world and then to tropics, it stops making sense when they somehow wind up in the clouds high above the ground, and then... in a casino? And then in a gigantic kitchen? And then on a big golf course? And then in space? (This could be rectified a bit if there were more cutscenes in the game than just intro and outro...)
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Destroying rocks, candies, bricks, dices and sugarcubes with the steel gauntlets is not just rewarding, it's very often essential to your progress. But beware of the hidden bombs...
  • Secret Level: Each level has areas accessible only with the use of red wormholes (which appear temporarily if you step onto a specific tile) and secret switches (which make parts of the terrain change temporarily).
    • Additionally, it seems that the game was intended to have actual secret levels as well. They would be unlocked if a grunt carrying a specific tool (most likely one that is impossible to get on the main level without cheats) steps on a specific tile. However, only one such level made it into the game.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: The dark green enemy gruntz always hold shields (in the levels made by the developers, anyway).
  • Shovel Strike: Gruntz holding Shovelz naturally use this to attack.
  • Shout-Out: Two Gruntz quotes have a reference to Monolith Productions' past games:
    • A Gruntz with the sword may call out "Captain Claw!"
    • When a Gruntz is called to attack an enemy, they may yell "Let's Get Medieval on them!"
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: "Gruntziclez", a generic icey setting.
  • Space Is Air: Even when the Gruntz wind up in space, they still walk on the ground and breathe as in any other world, and walking off an edge into space abyss still causes them to fall down as if gravity was present. The wings tool still allows for flying, too.
  • Space Zone: "Gruntz In Space", a moon-like environment set across space.
  • Spikes of Doom: Usually only a mild annoyance, unless you must walk through a lot of them with no protection. Most of the time, you're more likely to die from rolling rocks, pitfalls, lava/water, slimes, UFO lights, etc.
  • Spring Coil: Springz, obviously. They allow you to jump over some obstacles.
  • Suicide Attack: The Bombz basically make the Gruntz holding it into kamikaze bombers.
  • Super Drowning Skills: The gruntz normally avoid falling into water for a good reason (though there's a rare tool allowing them to swim). But if they do fall into water, they drown instantly.
  • Take Your Time: Unless there's specific object such as a rolling ball to keep up with, there's no time limit to complete the missions. The first training level even makes fun of this, telling you to finish the level before the king loses all of his hair, before remembering he doesn't have any.
  • Temporary Platform: There are two kinds of bridges that fall into this: ones that will crumble shortly after being stepped on, and ones that appear and disappear in a predetermined pattern.
  • Time Bomb: Timebombz, obviously. Both as a reusable tool that a grunt can use as many times as he wants, and as a surprise variant that can be uncovered when a rock is destroyed. Both types have the traditional look of a bundle of dynamite sticks with wires and a clock attached to them, and they start ticking faster when about to go off.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The Wingz, which allow gruntz to fly over obstacles and bottomless pits. Nearly a Game-Breaker if you didn't have to ration their usage.
  • Tornado Move: The Wingz changes a Gruntz' attack into a tornado projectile that hits all Gruntz in its path (including your own), causing damage and Knock Back in a random direction.
  • Unwinnable: What the Big Red Button is for.
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: Tool Thievez will steal the weapon of the first armed Gruntz it encounters and use it against them.
  • Victory Pose: The gruntz do that if they manage to successfully end a level. Their king even dances when it happens.
  • Violationof Common Sense: The hidden teleporter switch can be anywhere in a level. This includes some instant death traps such a hole (such as the final level). Happy hunting!
  • Weaponized Headgear: Gunhatz, natch. They can fire cannonballs that 2-shot Gruntz at a huge range of 6 squares while also providing extra defense against ranged attacks.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Since you need to get the Warpstone piece to the king to finish the level, if the grunt carrying it dies, the level will immediately fail.
  • Wind from Beneath My Wings: Wingz allows the Gruntz equipped with it to fire tornadoes from them that can hit all Gruntz in its way, causing damage and Knock Back in a random direction when they hit.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The Z for plurals, which is everywhere in the game.