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Video Game / Impossible Creatures

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A Different Kind Of Animal.

Impossible Creatures is an 2003 RTS by Relic Entertainment (of Homeworld fame), where you take 2 of 76 creatures, combine their features and then use up to 9 of them in your army. Although the game was rather well received by critics, Impossible Creatures sold poorly, thus denying any possiblity of a sequel. In spite of this, Relic itself would release a minor Expansion Pack in 2004, called Insect Invasion, which added 15 new creatures and a bunch of new multiplayer maps.

The campaign mode followed the story of Intrepid Reporter Rex Chance, who teams up with scientist Lucy Willing in a quest to find his father, Dr. Eric Chanikov. Unfortunately, it's not long before he learns of his father's death at the hands of the megalomaniacal executive Upton Julius, who plans on using Dr. Chanikov's Sigma technology (a system that can create hybrid creatures from the DNA of any two animals) to rule the world. Thus, Rex resolves to avenge his father by defeating Julius.

The game's engine would later be reworked and used in Dawn of War.

On November 2015, the game was re-released on Steam as Impossible Creatures: Steam Edition, by Nordic Games, and later released on GOG.COM.

Impossible Creatures provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Artistic License – Biology: Porcupines don't shoot their quills in reality, but we wouldn't have one of the few range attacks in the game if it followed reality.
    • The animal guide, once available on the official website and now bundled with the Good Old Games release, mistakenly classifies armadillos, bats, skunks, and wolverines as rodents, hyenas as canines, and, strangely enough, porcupines as primates.
  • Attack Reflector: The Deflection Armor ability, introduced in Insect Invasion and possessed by a couple of beetles, give the critters that have it a chance to reflect a ranged attack back on its attacker, damaging them.
  • The Beastmaster: Rex slowly begins to become attuned to the Sigma beasts, making them stronger while he's around them via the Pack Hunter ability and even commanding them even while the device in the lab that normally controls them is burnt out. The beginning of the last mission even has him take command of all the Sigma creatures that Julius has with him and cause them to turn on their old master.
  • The Berserker: Any critter with the Frenzy ability (possessed by vultures, wolverines, piranhas and sharks) becomes this, as they can expend their endurance and take more damage from enemy attacks in exchange for multiplying their own attack strength.
  • Big Bad: Upton Julius. Rex and Lucy fly from island to island to fight his cronies and ultimately take him down, since he wants to use the Sigma technology to Take Over the World. He also killed Rex's father, the man who created Sigma.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Dr. Ganglion at one point claims that he is "the greatest creator since the almighty himself".
  • Blinded by the Light: Sigma creatures with firefly tails (from the Insect Invasion Expansion Pack) can release a bright flash of light that prevents any creature blinded by it (friend or foe) from using any ranged attacks. This can make a bunch of ranged attackers easy prey for other melee creatures.
  • The Brute: Whitey Hooten is Julius's Dumb Muscle. He's not very bright, has a Hair-Trigger Temper, and his biggest asset seems to be his strength and brutality, as it keeps Julius's men in line.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Every single one of the villains; the Big Bad wants to conquer the world, his "dragons" are a whaler, a Femme Fatale and a Mad Doctor, and are all proud of it.
  • Competitive Balance:
    • Fragile Speedster: The cheetah is unsurprisingly by far the fastest creature in the game, but has average defense and low HP and damage to make up for it. Most other felines fulfill a similar role, although most of them are a bit bulkier.
    • Mighty Glacier: The elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus and other heavy-weight animals fulfill this role, with huge sizes, massive melee damage, HP and defense, but low speed and sight range. Most of them also pack charge attack (to essentially use them as a living battery ram), Horns (which can partially bypass an enemy's defense) and/or the Herding ability (to boost their defense even higher when in groups of four). The snapping turtle probably also fits here with by far the highest defense in the game and a surprisingly strong melee attack but the lowest speed and pathetic sight range.
    • Glass Cannon: Most ranged and some low level animals (which are almost exclusively small in size) are surprisingly strong when combined with something bigger, however their own contribution usually is restricted to their sheer damage output. Some notable examples are the piranha who has a vicious bite attack, as well as Pack Hunter and the Frenzy ability and the electric eel who has a massively powerful ranged attack, but both of them have terrible HP and defense.
      • Flyers all fall under this category, to an extent. While it's not mentioned in game, they take 40% increased damage from ranged attacks!
    • Stone Wall: Some animals whose main selling point is either above average defense or HP for their level, but have low damage output. Notable examples are the armadillo (with the second-highest defense in the game, but terrible damage), the camel (with fairly high HP) and the musk ox (with both good defense and HP, as well as Herding).
    • Jack of All Stats: The three primates (the baboon, chimpanzee and gorilla) and the two bears (the grizzly bear and the polar bear) appear to be mostly this. They all have to some extent decent damage, defense, speed, good HP and no special abilities that require any micromanagement.
    • Lightning Bruiser: The sperm whale which is not only by far the largest creature in the game, but also has the strongest ranged attack which can hit multiple opponents at once, but doesn't hurt allies, a decent bite in melee as well, exceptional HP, above average sight range and swims fairly fast in water. Its only shortcomings are its inability to walk on land (which is why you're mixing it to begin with) and its huge cost as well as appearing only very late in the game due to its sheer power. Its slightly smaller and weaker cousin, the killer whale, fulfills a similar role.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Other than having pre-built infrastructure the enemies in Campaign Mode usually play by the rules. However, in mission 9 the enemy has more than nine creature types to field and has no Arbitrary Headcount Limit.
    • Certain enemies in Campaign Mode never run out of resources, able to produce creatures and henchmen indefinitely.
  • Cruella to Animals: Velika La Pette.
  • Damsel in Distress: Towards the end of the campaign, after Rex and Lucy reach Julius' islands, Lucy is taken hostage by Julius, and Rex must rescue her in addition to bringing Julius down.
  • Defenseless Transports: Your gyrocopter is one of the main ways to transport non-amphibious or non-flying creatures across difficult terrain, but it has no way to defend itself against other aerial critters or anti-air towers.
  • Deflector Shield: The Lab Defense upgrade allows you to generate an electromagnetic barrier around your base, greatly boosting its defense. However, it's a constant drain on your electricity supply and it also overheats your structure, so you can't keep it up forever.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: Or should we say design-it-yourself units.
  • Diesel Punk: Set shortly after the Spanish Civil War, the opening speech being in 1937, but with technology far more advanced than anything in the 30s or 40s. Despite everything being coal-powered, it follows the Diesel Punk aesthetic more as far as setting and building design.
  • Dig Attack: Some animals like ants and lemmings provide this ability, which render the burrowed creatures invisible to all but sensory animals.
  • Dumb Muscle: Most henchmen. Also, Whitey Hooten.
  • Eagleland: Upton Julius who is even straight up described as a capitalist incarnate. His creatures are (allegedly) offensively very powerful for their level, but cost a lot of resources to create so playing as his army caters to aggressive resource mining in order to spam his creatures. Rex himself is also a benign depiction of this trope.
  • Everything Fades: Played straight with buildings and constructs, but justified in-universe with the actual animals, as fading away/dissolving upon death is stated as a side-effect of Sigma technology.
  • Expansion Pack: Insect Invasion, which adds various new creatures (usually insects) such as Spiders, Bombardier Beetles, and Fireflies, new abilities, new technologies and new maps.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Virtually no gun displayed in the series fires actual bullets, only radio tags or tranquilizers, and the most lethal they get is with Rex's rifle that fires neurotoxin darts.
  • Fake Longevity: As Computer Games Magazine pointed out, there were countless combinations that one could make, yet only a handful of them were worth using.
  • For Science!: Lucy Willing has this as one of her quotes, and it also characterizes her view of the Sigma technology until they discover that the villains are experimenting with using it on humans.
  • Fusion Dance: The Sigma technology essentially merges two creatures together, creating a creature that is more powerful as a result.
  • Game Mod: The Tellurian mod is a rather famous one. It introduces new creatures such as Anglers, Naked Mole Rats, and more plus adding abilities to older ones. Along with some balancing changes to the original and Insect Invasion creatures, it also adds a handful of new maps to play on. You'll rarely find an online game that doesn't use this mod and it was actually nearly included as an official mod for the Steam Version. The only reason it wasn't was because it would make it harder for the makers of Tellurian to update it, so instead it was one of the first mods released when the game got workshop support.
  • Giant Flyer: What happens when you give oversized creatures (rhinos, elephants, great white sharks) wings.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom / Prophet Eyes: For some reason all the creatures have white, glowing eyes. After he is revealed to be a genetic experiment; Rex Chance's eyes become like those of the other creatures.
    • In a limitation of the engine, even the normal animals you harvest DNA from have no pupils in their eyes.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: In the event that a henchman is ordered to attack, he just swings away at his target with his bare hands without much skill.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Whitey Hooten. It is even a plot point as at one point, his furious yelling causes an avalanche that opens up the way to his base.
  • Healing Factor: Critters with the Regeneration ability have this, usually granted from chameleon, komodo dragon and lobster DNA, and is a truly invaluable ability. Rex even has it too.
  • The Hedge of Thorns: Bramble fences can be grown to keep ground-based enemies out.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Dr. Ganglion defects to Rex after his base is destroyed, then goes back to Upton in the final level.
  • Hero Unit: Rex and Lucy are both this in the campaign and if either one dies you lose the mission. Lucy is essentially a more efficient henchman (though she moves more slowly), while Rex initially... has good HP and runs quite fast. He can also collect samples from wild animals to induct into your army, but that's the extent of his initial usefulness. As the campaign goes on he gets a plethora of useful special abilities, though.
  • Homage: Lucy is captured by a giant gorilla called The King.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: As Dr. Gangleon remarks when he's asked to battle Rex, "I'm a doctor, not a combined creature strategist!"
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: All the henchmen look and sound alike, even in the cutscenes. The villagers too, even the African natives look the same as the Eskimos, except for clothing.
  • Informed Species: The game has a "spitting cobra" that is bright blue.
  • Informed Flaw: Lucy would like you to know that Rex has awful hygiene, but of course we behind the screen cannot check. One of his abilities is later revealed to be Poison Touch.
  • Instant Expert: In the campaigns, all Lucy needs is a quick look at an enemy structure, and she can instantly draw out the blueprints to build her own.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Rex's background as a war correspondent is one of the reasons he goes and digs deeper into the plot.
    • Being the intrepid kind of a reporter is also said to have cost him the job of a correspondent in the first place, when he "broke the rule to never get involved and got himself involved".
  • I Warned You: Lucy would like you to know she did say landing on an active volcano is crazy.
    Rex Chance: Nobody likes an 'I-Told-You-So', Lucy!
  • LEGO Genetics: The entire basis for the gameplay.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: The animals themselves and the very reason why the Sigma Technology is considered so powerful.
  • MacGyvering: Being forced to repair the lab over and over again, Lucy bemoans she's starting to run low on bailing wire.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr Ganglion.
  • Make Some Noise: Soundbeam Towers are your basic defensive structures and can bombard enemy units with debilitating soundwaves. Also, whale DNA can give your critters powerful sonic blasts.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: Flying creatures. Unhindered by terrain, can't be attacked by enemy ground creatures and unlike ground creatures they also won't get into each other's way. However, they are constantly in motion which makes it more difficult for them to use special abilities and also easier to target for enemies that can attack them and they have a crippling weakness towards Anti-Air towers.
  • Merging Machine: What kickstarts the game's plot: the discovery of a new technology that merges two creatures together.
  • Mind Virus: One campaign mission involves a biological disease that affects Rex's creatures, slowly turning them neutral and then hostile against him, and part of the mission involves releasing a tankful of antidote.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Possibly the ultimate example. The game revolves around creating these and using them to fight other Mix-and-Match Critters.
  • Mook–Face Turn: The source of your Redshirt Army.
  • Neutral No Longer: Rex's backstory has him being fired from his job as a war correspondent.
    Rex: The first rule of journalism is, you don't interfere.
    Lucy: And you interfered?
  • No Fair Cheating: An extremely mild form - using cheat codes to increase coal, electricity, research level, etc. results in a henchmen calling out, "Somebody's cheating!" in a patronizing voice.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Lucy and Rex. They spend all of their time exclusively in each other's company throughout the campaign, and Rex must even rescue her after Julius takes her hostage in the final stretch of it. However, while Rex mildly hits on her a couple of times, nothing romantic comes of it, and the campaign ends with them remaining friends and allies.
  • One-Man Army: The Loner ability is an incredibly expensive ability that massively boosts the research level requirement, cost, and build time for any critter that has it, but it also massively boosts their attack and defense if they are fighting alone, practically turning them into a One-Beast-Army.
  • Parental Substitute: Lucy gets involved with Rex's crusade against Julius because his father was apparently acted as a father figure to her as well.
  • Percent Damage Attack: The Insect Invasion-exclusive wasps have the Assassinate ability, which instantly eliminates a fixed percentage of a target's health with a single melee sting, even the normally implacable Loners. Three stings is a guaranteed kill.
  • Portmanteau: The combined creatures' base names:
    Dr. Ganglion: Combine a Komodo Dragon with a Skunk, and you get a *snort*Komodo Drunk! Heh! Heheh! Quite funny!
  • Poisonous Person: Well, creature anyway. There are many creature abilities that can inflict or spread poisonous damage, from the simple Poison delivered through melee attacks and Poison Touch that infects any enemy that attacks that critter, to the spreadable Plague and the debilitating Stink Cloud.
    • And then Rex is revealed to have the Poison Touch ability, making him a literal example.
  • Power Pincers: Available from lobsters and scorpions. Not only do pincers give a creature an additional pair of limbs to attack with, they provide the Barrier Destroy ability, which increases damage done against buildings while making them immune to damage from bramble fences.
  • Projectile Webbing: The Web Throwing ability held by the spiders from Insect Invasion allow them to throw immobilizing webs on enemy foes.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Most of Julius's henchmen, according to Lucy's case profile of Whitey Hooten, wherein she claims that most of them hate Julius but do what he says because they're scared of Whitey. And this does seem to be the case, as many of them defect to Rex's side throughout the campaign when given the opportunity. Averted with Humphrey and Bugsy, Velika's henchmen who are loyal to her and only too happy to fight Rex in the campaign's final mission against her.
  • Putting on the Reich: Upton Julius dresses in what either is or very much looks like a Gestapo uniform. Given that the events of the game canonically take place in 1937, the former seems more likely, though Dr. Ganglion mentions that he wants to protect his beloved America from fascists (and communists).
  • Revealing Hug: When Lucy and Rex embrace, the audience sees Rex's Sigma mutation reaching another stage when his eyes begin to glow the same pupil-less white the combined creatures have.
  • Shock and Awe: Any hybrid that uses electric eel DNA, even allowing them to throw massive bolts of electricity and blasting everything around them with an electric corona. Anti-Air Towers also throw bolts of static electricity to knock enemy flyers out of the sky.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Velika is occasionally likened to a witch, and she just happens to be rather fond of bombarding you with flying monkeys.
    • After receiving some archerfish from villagers and using the resulting creatures to put out some fires, Rex tells them, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish."
  • Smelly Skunk: The skunk (and the shield bug in Insect Invasion) weaponize this facet when they expel a large Stink Cloud. The cloud is dense enough that ranged attacks cannot be launched into it, and non-immune enemies inside it are slowed and cannot launch ranged attacks out.
  • Spike Shooter: Porcupine DNA can grant this ability, either by launching them at a single target or shooting them all around in an area-of-effect attack.
  • Splash Damage: The characteristic of artillery attacks, from thrown rocks by chimpanzees to water bombs from archerfish.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: In Insect Invasion, the Disorienting Barbs ability shared by tarantulas and porcupines allow them to release a flurry of barbs at enemy critters, removing their buffs from Pack Hunter and Herding.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Late into the campaign Rex and Lucy discover that the villains aren't using just animals in their experiments...
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Melee < Ranged < Artillery < Melee.
  • Termite Trouble: Any beast with a termite head and the Infestation ability becomes this to any structure, as they can burrow into it and sacrifice themselves to deal massive Damage Over Time to that structure.
  • The Tunguska Event: Leads to the events of the story.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: Your Lab and base is basically a steam locomotive with rotors.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Lucy's case profile of Velika heavily implies that she and Julius are sleeping together. She believes that Julius keeps her around for her "less tangible abilities." She also says that their goals are complimentary because while Julius wants to Take Over the World, Velika wants to "take over Julius," over an image of Velika and Julius embracing, with Velika clawing at Julius's back with her Femme Fatalons.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Downplayed with Velika and Rex. She makes a few flirty comments towards him and, when he rebuffs one of her advances, launches a devastating attack on the Lab, supposedly to show him the wrath of a Woman Scorned. However, it's unclear whether she's serious, given that she was already planning on capturing him per Julius's orders, along with the fact that she and Julius apparently having a thing with each other.
  • Walking Wasteland: The Defile Land ability (given to cockroaches and bats in Insect Invasion) allows critters to leave behind a trail of invisible filth, that will heavily damage any non-immune creature that steps on it.
  • Wham Line: "He is the very essence of Sigma."
  • You Didn't Ask: This is Lucy's response to Rex after he is stunned that she and his father used to work for Upton Julius.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: There are two resources, coal and electricity. Coal must be mined using henchmen from piles lying around on the map, whereas electricity is produced at a constant rate using certain buildings. Electricity is necessary in large amounts for completing research levels and animals' special abilities, whereas coal is necessary in average amounts for... just about everything. Most games start with you having enough coal, but lacking in electricity, whereas in the late game you will be running out of coal, but drowning in electricity.
  • You Killed My Father: Part of Rex's vendetta against Julius and his cronies is that Julius killed his father. One of the few times he loses his composure is when Whitey Hooten reveals that his father is dead, after which Rex demands Lucy take him to Whitey to get revenge.
    • Also, Velika's henchmen Humphrey and Bugsy, who are brothers, have this attitude towards Rex in the final mission of the campaign on Velika's islands. After you destroy one of their Labs, the other one will swear revenge against Rex for taking out his brother.