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Video Game / Hugo's House of Horrors

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Seems like a nice house...
A short adventure game from 1990. You play Hugo in a quest to rescue your girlfriend from a house inhabited by monsters. Followed up by two sequels, Whodunit? and Jungle of Doom, and the basic premise was retooled as a Wolfenstein 3D clone called Nitemare 3D in 1994.

There's also a film called Hugo that has nothing to do with the games.

This game provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Family: Hugo, his Great Uncle Horace, his Great Aunt Hester, and his Cousin Harry.
  • Amateur Sleuth: In the second game, Penelope, unable to reach the police after witnessing Great Uncle Horace's murder, takes it upon herself to solve the mystery.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Within two minutes, Hugo goes missing in Whodunit? and Penelope takes over as the player character for the next 98% of the game.
  • Angry Guard Dog: there's one in the first game. It's not pleasant to look at, and if it catches you, it eats you (or so you're told: Hugo just kind of falls over).
  • Arc Number: 333 is the solution to the combination lock in the first game and part of the phone number to dial in the second. Trying it on a safe later in the second game will just result in the game mocking you for thinking that would work again. It also appears again in Nitemare 3D.
  • Ascended Extra: In the first game, Penelope was a Damsel in Distress who only appeared at the very end, and even then we only saw her shadow. In the second game, she becomes the player character.
  • Behind the Black: A puzzle to cross an impassible chasm is to walk along the pixel-sized ledge that is not described in the room description, and not visible on-screen.
  • Boss Button: Pressing F9 takes you to the DOS prompt, which could then be used.
  • Bound and Gagged: Penelope in the first game, though this is more of an Informed Attribute since we only ever see her shadow.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The second last obstacle in the game is an old man that asks you six trivia questions, with five of the questions being based on various period TV shows and movies. The last question is "Did you register the shareware?!"
  • Cutting the Knot: In Hugo 2, you encounter the old man again and it looks like he's going to be asking you a bunch of stupid questions again. Instead, Penelope just knocks him out and continues on.
  • Damsel in Distress: The objective of the first and third games is to rescue Penelope. In the first game, from being kidnapped. In the third game, from being poisoned.
  • Decoy Protagonist: You start the second game playing as Hugo, just like in the first. But after a grand total of two actions, Hugo goes missing, and you then take control of Penelope for the rest of the game.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • Try throwing those matches across the bridge in the second game.
    • Or kissing the French Maid.
    • Try typing "fuck" in the first.
    • You can also kiss the girl who finds Penelope at the beginning of the third game.
  • Dirty Old Man: Two of them in Hugo 2: the gardener, who tries to seduce Penelope with "kissy, kissy!", and the old man, who uses magic to draw Penelope towards him.
  • Dumb Waiter Ride: Penelope travels in a dumb waiter from the study to the kitchen.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: There are lots of ways to die in these games:
    • In the first game, it might be curtains for you by the butler chopping your head off, the nice doggy eating you all up, the vampire bats, or the mummy.
    • In the second game, it might be death by killer bees ("stingeroo!"), the venus fly traps, the mechanical monster ("exterminate!"), a slithery snake (who appears in the list of murder suspects), being blasted by dynamite, falling into a chasm ("how careless!").
  • Exact Words: When it comes time to solve the mystery of who murdered Great Uncle Horace, the true answer is nobody. However, Cousin Harry is also counted as correct, as he plays the killer in the play they're rehearsing, so in a sense, he did kill Great Uncle Horace.
  • Excuse Plot: The entire first game. Penelope has been kidnapped! By...someone. And taken to a house! For...some reason. Save her!
  • Fooled by the Sound: Whodunit?: You have to lure the maid away by making her think Uncle Horace is ringing for her. To do this, you have to rub a bell with catnip, so that a cat plays with the bell, and makes it sound.
  • French Maid: Hugo 2 begins with a saucy-looking French maid, who is bossy and obstructive. Some of her lines are as follows:
    "Please go to your room, Monsieur!"
    "Monsieur, please go to your room. We can have ze little chat later, no?"
    "Monsieur, I told you already, it is ze third door on ze right!"
    "Blah blah blah blah blah..."
  • Funetik Aksent: The French Maid in the second game replaces most of her "th"s with "z"s.
  • Go Fetch: In both of the first two games, there is a puzzle involving throwing an object to distract a dog. In the first game, you throw a chop to stop a zombie dog from eating you. In the second game, you throw a stick to lure a perfectly normal dog out of its dog house.
  • Hand in the Hole: In Hugo 2, if you investigate a mousehole by putting your hand in, you are rewarded with mouse droppings.
  • Happily Married Hugo and Penelope from the end of the first game, onward.
  • High on Catnip: In Whodunit, a tricky puzzle to get past the Motor Mouth French Maid is to pick a catnip plant, rub a bell with it, and offer it to a cat, who then plays with it, and rings the bell to distract the maid.
  • Inheritance Murder: Penelope discovers Great-Uncle Horace's will, which leaves a fortune to Hugo, which is a possible motive for the murder.
  • Jungle Japes: The third game takes place in the jungle, where you must save Penelope from a poisonous demise.
  • Key Under the Doormat: The key to the titular house is in a pumpkin on the front porch.
  • Locked Door: In the first game, the front door is locked, and the puzzle is to find the key. In the second game, several doors are locked, or "won't open", and are never seen opening.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Inverted in Jungle of Doom: just after they crash land, Penelope tells Hugo to change his usual cyan and magenta duds, as they clash with the jungle scenery; he changes into an Indiana Jones-style Adventurer Outfit with a leather jacket and brimmed hat.
  • Mad Scientist: There's a scientist in the first game. His apparent goal is to use his machine to people.
  • The Maze: In Hugo 2, there is a hedge maze containing various items needed for the game.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: In the third game, the South American jungle has elephants, hyenas, and suspiciously African-looking natives. Amusingly enough, the game acknowledges the misplaced elephant, claiming it just escaped from a zoo.
  • Monster Mash: Several monsters appear in the first game, most of which are having dinner.
  • Not What It Looks Like: In the kitchen in Hugo 2, the cook carries a knife which is dripping with blood: the dripping is even animated.
  • Obscured Special Effects: In the first game, which appeared to use much simpler programming than the later games, certain actions were not allowed, or the game intervened in some way, presumably to make the game mechanics simpler.
    • If you try to take the broom in the kitchen, you get the message "Gonna do some sweeping, are we? Hey, the broom appears to be held in place by magic! Despite your best efforts, you can't move it!"
    • Hugo can wear a mask, which appears on his head. But if he tries to go into the laboratory with it: "the radiation from this room knocks your mask on to the floor"; because Hugo undergoes transformations in the laboratory, and the mask would have complicated these. The same happens when Hugo enters the basement: "You casually throw the mask away, since you won't be needing it any more", because of a later screen when Hugo appears small.
    • Some of the items (the oilcan, the knife and the whistle) could not be dropped, because then they would have to appear on the screen.
  • Off with His Head!: If the butler from the first game approaches you while you're wearing the monster mask, he'll give you a pork chop. Let him catch you without it on, and you'll get this kind of chop instead.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Of a sort. The exterior of the titular house is borrowed from a common "haunted house" stock image. The outside of the house does not match the layout inside.
  • Palette Swap:
    • A specific sprite for a fat moustached man walking with his hands joined together is used several times throughtout the games for a different character, with minor modifications. He is green and bald as The Igor in the first game, and pale red as the guardian of the jail. In the second game, he is a gardener and a genie.
    • The dog in the second game is merely a recolor of the one from the first game.
  • Paper Key-Retrieval Trick: In Hugo 2, the character you control encounters the locked door in a hallway but can't open it. It is opened in the finale, where Hugo puts the newspaper under the door and pushes the pencil through the keyhole to unlock the door, where you meet with a character in the hallway.
  • The Peeping Tom: Penelope witnesses the murder in Hugo 2 by looking through a keyhole; she does not see the murderer, only the victim; although the colour of the murderer's sleeve gives a clue.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: In Hugo 2, there is a talking parrot in the room where the murder takes place. Is the bird a reliable witness?
    What are you doing with that knife?
  • Redhead In Green: Penelope, who is red-haired, and wears a green dress in the second and third games.
  • Red Herring: In the second game, the final bits of evidence are red herrings based on Cliches. You instead have to locate them.
  • Schmuck Bait: When you pick up the whistle in the first game, the game asks, "I wonder what the whistle is for?" But if you blow it right away and go into the next room, you get killed by the dog. However, the whistle actually does have an important, positive (albeit technically not mandatory) use in the game.
  • Shout-Out: The old man in the basement/cave asks you several questions relating to The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Thankfully if you never saw them, then the help text will tell you the answers.
    • The opening theme music is a mishmash of both the "Dragnet March" and the synthesizer lick from Boz Scaggs' "Lido Shuffle."
    • The killer dog is accompanied by a brief clip of "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?".
    • In Whodunnit, the opening music is "English Country Garden", as the game is set in England. When Cousin Harry plays an organ, there is a PC-speaker rendition of Widor's Toccata, a well-known but notoriously difficult organ piece.
    • In the sequel Hugo's girlfriend Penelope saves The Doctor from a Dalek, confusing the hell out of a lot of stateside players who weren't familiar with British programming (the BBC America channel wouldn't exist for another seven years after the game, so Doctor Who was very much a niche fandom in the U.S. until then). In fact, a few strategy guides written at the time treat it as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The only way to pass a rockfall is with dynamite. Trying to use the dynamite in any other part of the game brings the message "there is a time and place for everything, and clearly this is neither!".
  • There Are No Bedsheets: In the second game, Penelope lies down on the bed and sleeps, on an apparently bare bed, and does not even remove her shoes.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Typical for its genre and era, experimenting with items has a very high probability of resulting in death.
  • Twist Ending: The murder in the second game? That was actually Hugo's uncle and cousin rehearsing a play where they play the victim and killer, respectively.
  • The Unseen: Penelope is only seen as a silhouette in the first game, but gets an actual sprite in the second and third games. The end of the first game shows a heartwarming silhouette of Hugo and Penelope together.
  • Unwinnable by Design:
    • In the original, you can only obtain the bung in the scientist's lab while shrunk, and the machine only shrinks you the one time. If you miss it, you've got nothing to plug the boat in the cave with. It's also possible to miss the treasure while escaping from the mummy, and the last puzzle, past the Point of No Return, requires it.
    • In the second game:
      • Woe betide you if you get those matches wet when they accidentally drop into the water. The solution is to drop the matches, pick them up, drop them again, pick them up again... It is possible to get across the bridge without dropping the matches, if you walk across the bridge very carefully.
      • Once you leave Retupmoc, you can't go back. If you happen to leave without the Sonar Screwdriver, you can't open the safe to read Horace's will.
      • You only get one chance to retrieve the photo album after luring the maid out of the parlor.
      • If you refuse Hester's offer of a glass of wine, you lose your chance to read the letter on the table.
    • In the third game, forget to go to the plane first and you're screwed as soon as you visit the witch doctor. There's literally no way out. Also releasing the mouse at the wrong time, or failing to tranquilize the Elephant at the right time (or not at all) would make the game unwinnable as well.
  • Voodoo Doll: In Hugo 3, the game directs you to make a clay model effigy of the witch doctor who has imprisoned you, and to stick a pin into it. (Interestingly, the game does not use the word "voodoo".)
  • We Were Rehearsing a Play: The objective of the second game is to solve the murder of Great Uncle Horace after personally bearing witness to it. At the end of the game, Horace turns out to be alive and well, and it is then explained that he and Cousin Harry were... well, rehearsing a play.
  • Witch Doctor: Hugo 3 features a witch doctor. If you look through the window of his hut, you see "the witch doctor, a cooking pot (big enough to put somebody in), and a cage for imprisoning people".
  • You Bastard!: Type in an f-bomb and Hugo replies "Same to you, loser!".
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: Parodied:
    ->open bolt
    Please say "undo bolt".