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Video Game / James Pond

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James Pond is a video game series created by the British developer Vectordean Ltd. and has been released on a number of consoles, most notably the Amiga computer and Sega Genesis.

An obvious spoof of the James Bond franchise, the titular character is an anthropomorphic fish named (surprise) James Pond who is secret-agent Double-Bubble 7 of the organization F.I.5.H. and has a "license to gill" in his battles against the evil J.A.W.S. organization and its leader Dr. Maybe (a spoof on the infamous 007 villain Dr. No). His adventures begin in James Pond: Underwater Agent (1990), in which he defends his watery home and its denizens from polluters and enemy agents. His next adventure, James Pond 2: Codename Robocod (1991) sees Pond wearing robot armor as he sets out to save Santa Claus and his toy workshop, and James Pond 3: Operation Starfi5h (1993) sends Pond into space to save the moon and its cheese supplies from Dr. Maybe in a Super Mario World-like adventure.

James Pond also appears in the spin-off The Aquatic Games, in which he is one of the playable characters in an Olympic-styled sports event. Most recently, Pond has been seen in the 2011 iPhone game James Pond in the Deathly Shallows. A Kickstarter project was announced in September 2013, but later canceled twelve days before it ended due to underperforming.

Tropes associated with James Pond:

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     All three games 
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the James Bond series. The levels in the original game are all named after films in the series.
  • All There in the Manual: For the first two games, you get barely a screen's worth of dialogue at best telling you what the game's all about. Averted in Operation Starfi5h, which opens with a lengthy story sequence explaining the plot.
  • Bottomless Pits: The two sequels have them, but they're barely an obstacle in the game at all, because strangely, the ones in James Pond 2 damage Pond but don't instantly kill him and The ones in James Pond 3 do kill him instantly, but are only in 3 levels in the entire game (at least if you don't glitch through the wall in other levels.), and the death animation is inconsistent: two levels ("Parmesan Plains" and "Slimeswold") have James Pond screaming (in a different way from when he usually dies) as he falls down a long bottomless pit, while the one other level ("Slippery Slopes") just has Pond bounce off the pit without screaming at all. (and depending on where you hit the bottomless pit, Pond might actually bounce back onto land, seemingly killed by touching the pit alone.)
  • Camp: Part of the appeal of James Pond is him being a Funny Animal fish who's a secret agent, trying the save the environment in the first game. The sequels have even more ridiculous plots, such as Saving Christmas in James Pond 2, which is actually very unclear about what you're saving besides Christmasnote , and the third game is about a moon being made up of all kinds of dairy products, not just cheese. (Oh, and the working name for it was Splash Gordon.) It actually helps that in the Sega Genesis versions of the first two games, the music sounds like it's trying to be orchestral due to the brass instrument soundfont, which distinguishes it from the more child-like marimba and woodwind instrumentation of the Amiga and SNES versions.
  • Expressive Health Bar: The games have expressive life count, with James's expression on the heads-up display reflecting the number of remaining lives (which in the first two games he counts with his fingers). The first two games also demonstrate Pond getting angrier as he loses lives, while he has a fearful expression on his last life in the third game.
  • Expy: Isn't it obvious by now?
    • The sequels parody other movie franchises titles, specifically RoboCop and Star Wars.
  • Level Goal: Underwater Agent has exit pipes, but you need to finish the mission first. RoboCod has poles that have red lights on top; they need to be flashing in order to exit the stage, which you will need to collect all the penguins (or elves in the Play-It, ltd. remake). James Pond 3 has beacons that look similar to the Robocod level goals, but with extra machinery on the top, and it usually does not have to be activated.
  • Mascot with Attitude: It was the 90s, after all. The very heyday of the animal-mascot platformer started by a certain blue rodent. Though James Pond actually predates Sonic, as Underwater Agent was released for the Amiga in 1990. Also unlike most examples is that he's not Totally Radical so much as Campy

     James Pond: Underwater Agent 
  • Abnormal Ammo: Pond shoots bubbles to trap enemies so that he can pop them away, though certain enemies are immune to them. He can occasionally get a gun that will kill any enemy.
  • Acme Products: Dr. Maybe is the head of ACME Oil in the first game. Said oil is polluting the environment.
  • Green Aesop: Most levels are about James Pond trying to prevent the destruction of the environment or extinction of endangered species.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The level names (From Three Mile Island With Love, The Fish with the Golden Bar, The Mermaid Who Loved Me, etc.) are all parodies of James Bond movies, of course.
  • Nintendo Hard: The first game... wooo, where do we begin? Enemies that rapidly appear and attack, invisible jellyfish that suck your life without you knowing, and no mercy-invincibility means that Pond will die very fast, especially in the later stages.
  • Opening Shout-Out: The first thing you see in Underwater Agent is a parody of the MGM Studios logo, complete with Pond impersonating the roaring lion.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Inverted. Being a fish, Pond can't breathe on land. In Underwater Agent, he can find a special helmet to keep his gills wet when he must surface. The sequels give him specialized suits as part of the plot.

     James Pond 2: Codename RoboCod 
  • Art Course: In James Pond 2, one of the doors has an art-themed workshop with paint and pencils. There's also music-themed room in the level as well.
  • Bears Are Bad News: A giant teddy bear with butt spikes is the first boss.
  • Blackground: Both in the original Amiga version and the Sega Genesis and SNES versions, the backgrounds of the levels will be complex (in the former, it's colorful parallax patterns mostly, and in the latter two for technical reasons, it's objects related to the level themes, but some bonus rooms, as well as the final room of the art and music level, have nothing but black.
  • Covers Always Lie: RoboCod has a few examples:
    • Many of the covers depict Pond using a gun. While he can use a gun to shoot enemies in James Pond: Underwater Agent (and actually doesn't even always need a gun, but some enemies need to be killed with a gun) and James Pond 3, in James Pond 2, Pond always has to jump on enemies; there's no gun in the game.
    • In addition, the SNES version, "Super James Pond", has screenshots from the original Amiga version on the back, which had complex backgrounds. The SNES versions use a slightly more colorful version of the backgrounds from the Sega Genesis version, which was made up of foreground objects arranged into a pattern.
  • Hub Level: The outside of Santa's castle acts as one, as it has all the doors leading to each world. Sometimes plaforms and items appear depending on which level you completed. In addition to the Secret world that recycles the sweets and vehicles levels, there's also another secret levelnote  that appears at the top of the level after you finish the bathtub level, and it requires you to ride a platform up there, and to carefully time your jump.
  • Level Ate: The third world, as well as the second door inside the Secret room in the castle window in the Hub World, are themed after sweets of various kinds, such as candy, chocolate bars, cake, and the below-mentioned Product Placement. The one found in the secret level in the window also has a bouncy room made of jelly.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Penguins at the North Pole! They probably had to do with the below-mentioned McVitie's penguin biscuits product placement. You also have to rescue penguins from the levels in order to go onto the next stage... maybe. The manual claims the Penguins you collect are stuffed toys with bombs, but the intro says that Pond must rescue them. The Play-It, ltd. remake removes them.
  • Non-Lethal Bottomless Pit: As stated above, the bottomless pits only take away one of James' energy, and don't kill him instantly unless it's his last hit.
  • Palette Swap:
    • The yellow rock/pebble graphics that can be found in the first room of the cars/vehicles level can also be found in the underwater parts of the bathtub level, except colored blue-green.
    • In the second room of the sweets level, the ice cube bars (which are completely solid) look like a more detailed and blue version of the chocolate bars (which you can walk through).
  • Polar Bears and Penguins: Well, not even polar bears, just penguins. The ones in the levels themselves may or may not be bombs, but they definitely are part of the Product Placement mentioned below.
  • Product Placement: Robocod frequently plugs McVitie's Penguin Biscuits, a real-life candy in the UK. The Play-It, Ltd. remake removes the marketing. In addition, the original Amiga version and the Sega Genesis and Commodore 64 versions have Bertie Bassett, a mascot for Liquorice Allsorts (or Licorice in American English) candy in the UK. The SNES, AGA Amiga and Amiga CD32 replace him with a generic gingerbread man, but oddly, Bertie Bassett is restored in the Play-It, ltd. remake; albeit, at the very last level, and with a revamped sprite for the handheld ports.
  • Saving Christmas: Dr. Maybe has taken over Santa's workshop, and Pond must save Christmas! and penguins too... if the intro is to be believed.
  • Secret Level: They are hidden in either small spaces or in empty spots covered by ground. One of which is actually an entire world located in a side window outside Santa's workshop, although the two levels in the area are a repeat of the sweets and mechanical/vehicles level. The Play-It, ltd. remake removes them in favor of simple bonus levels you need to collect all bell items in the room to access.
  • Snowlems: They appear as enemies.Dr. Maybe himself operates a Snowman mech suit as the Final Boss.
  • Sugar Bowl: A literal example with the sweets world, which is made of candy, cake, icing, and McVitie's Penguin Biscuits. Another level similar to it appears in the Secret world you can get to through the window outside Santa's workshop, but also with a very bouncy jelly/jam room too.

     James Pond 3: Operation StarFI5H 
  • Abnormal Ammo: Returning from the first game after being absent from RoboCod, Pond can shoot enemies again, but with a fruit gun he needs to find first. (See Edible Ammunition below)
  • Ax-Crazy: One of the enemies, "Alan McRat", Drives Like Crazy and tries to run over Pond.Dr. Maybe himself becomes a non-violent variant during his Villainous Breakdown if you get the good ending when in Sandbox Mode, where he quotes Darth Vader and claims he's been playing I-Spy with his Uncle Frank!
  • Blackground: Unlike the above example from RoboCod, the backgrounds aren't outright nothing per se, but a black space background with stars. Most of the levels in the game have plains or mountains, so the space background is saved for some boss levels and levels in high places. Two levels in the ice cream world have snow in front of the screen with this background. In the Amiga versions, however, all levels are like this.
  • Bottomless Fuel Tanks: In what is either an intentional but subtle cheat code or a glitch, you can set A or C to jump in the options, and as a result, Pond will not run out of fuel when using a jetpack, because it seems the B button (the default jumping button) uses fuel regardless of whether it's the jump button or not.
  • Cheesy Moon: The entire plot of Operation Starfi5h is that Dr. Maybe wants to mine the moon and cripple the cheese market with his ill-gotten dairy gains. Not all the levels in the game are actually cheese levels (they're all dairy product levels), but there's actually two different cheese "environments"—the regulary yellow-orange holey swiss cheese, and a later section of the game referred to as "blue cheese", which has a weird, vine-like surface with thorns. This place actually appears on the map as a palette swap of the yellow cheese's map section graphics.
  • Continuity Nod: In the opening cutscene of Operation Starfi5h, Dr. Maybe is seen leaving Santa's Workshop where he had just been defeated in the previous game.
  • Darker and Edgier: Surprisingly for a James Pond game. The game feels much larger than the previous two, has legitimate Nightmare Fuel moments (even if the moments in question sound silly on paper), and you can actually get bad endings, one of which implies James Pond himself gets killed. It also has profanity.
  • Edible Ammunition: Pond now can use a fruit gun he either must find on the ground or take from certain mouse enemies. There are five different fruit ammo, two pairs of which are virtually identical; apples (the default ammo) and cherries are balanced, oranges and lemons are rapid-fire, and cupcakes are homing bullets.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Downplayed. There's a glitch that can cause Pond to fall through the solid ground and die from falling to the bottom of the screen. The glitch itself occurs randomly, but one way it can intentionally be triggered is to try and pick up a jetpack while standing upside-down when the ceiling and ground are close enough.
  • Item-Drop Mechanic: Sometimes, Pond can get the above-mentioned fruit gun by killing small mice enemies using it to attack Pond (thankfully, they never use the other fruit ammo). The enemy in question is, appropriately enough, named "Verminator II".
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Subverted, Dr. Maybe was simply losing it.
  • Level Ate: The moon isn't just made of cheese, but other dairy products too, and even non-dairy foods related to said dairy products! The game starts off in a plain orange cheese area, the second area of the game is a custard area, which also has bananas as obstacles, The third area of the game resembles the first cheese levels, but covered with slime and mushrooms, the third world is a yogurt area with fruits, the fourth is a butter plateau that has beanstalks, bread, eggs, and teacups, the fifth area is a blue cheese area that has vines underneath the cheese, and appears a lot more plant-like, and the last area in the game is an ice cream snowcap. As a bonus, the custard, yogurt, and butter levels all have lava-like liquids that hurt Pond when he falls into them.
  • Mining for Cookies: Mining cheese from the moon is Dr. Maybe's goal. It's Justified since the Moon is (albeit not only) actually made of cheese, but he apparently wants a specific, edible kind (which is also justified, since stepping and walking on the regular soil would probably get it inedibly dirty). There are four levels in the game taking place at Cheese mines, which when cleared, become permanently inaccessible. The Mines are actually a cover-up for Dr. Maybe's real plan, which is extracting presumably radioactive cheese, Stiltonium, to make bombs with.
  • Multiple Endings: Four of them in Operation Starfi5h, two of them bad:
  • No Fair Cheating: Averted with one of James Pond 3's Good Endings, which if you use the cheat password, gives you an otherwise normal good ending where Dr. Maybe goes delirious and starts quoting Darth Vader. The closest thing to this trope you get is a "Now try without cheating!" message that appears after the enemy list and credits.
  • Palette Swap:
    • The underground "slime" levels such as "Slimeswold" actually reuse the above-mentioned rock graphics from James Pond 2: RoboCod.
    • The above-ground "slime" levels downplay this, as those levels reuse some of the cheese levels' graphics, such as one flower sprite and the swiss-cheese holes, but still is visually different (Maybe Dr. Maybe already successfully mined the cheese in those areas?)
    • In addition to "Slimeswold", the rock graphics from James Pond 2 also are reused on some platforms in the "blue cheese" areas. The blue cheese area itself is represented on the map by a palette swap of the earlier yellow cheese's map graphics.
    • The blocks in the Ice-cream-snow world are grainier versions of the blocks from the yogurt/fruit world.
  • Password Save: A notoriously complex and frustrating one, due to the amount of levels and different paths and outcomes you can take, to the point where just save files seem more convenient. (Which is actually the case for the Amiga versions)
  • Permanently Missable Content: Downplayed since the game itself uses a complex password system, meaning you could go to previous passwords you had if you've kept them around, but in James Pond 3, whenever you complete a cheese mine level, the level is inaccessible afterwards, unlike regular levels or even bosses. One cheese mine, "Rennet Mine 1", has a "Micro-map" that unlocks the Secret Level "Hidden Cheese Silo", so if you complete the cheese mine without getting the micro-map, you can't access "Hidden Cheese Silo". Getting the map itself is tricky, but not too hard, and you can restart the level if you miss it.
  • Point of No Return: Ultimately subverted depending on what path you take or if you manage to find a way back through a cave, but the level "Slitherpool" cuts off the rest of the map before that point if you reach it through the "slime" levels, but the level itself is near the end of the Yogurt section. Of course, if you accessed the Yogurt world through the "Slimeswold" cave levels, you still might be trapped if you didn't get the Micro-Map in "Bubbling Plains", but you could still get back to previous levels through the caves found near the bottom of the butterscotch/butter plateau.
    • Also ultimately averted with "The Chunnel" mentioned below in Warp Zone, but it's insanely difficult to get out of, and you still might run into this situation, since the level it goes to is in the Slimeswold cave.
  • Precision F-Strike: If you beat a boss, the screen that gives you the password has "...damn clever gadget, eh?"
  • Product Placement: Not in the original Sega Genesis version, but the Amiga versions have the Penguin biscuits return, albeit in one level.
  • Put on a Prison Bus:Unlike the previous two games, Dr. Maybe gets sent to jail at the end.
  • Secret Level: There's lot of them in this game. Most of which can be accessed by a Micro-map item that resembles a face with blue curtain bangs. Some micro-maps open up a whole series of levels, some of which have a Micro-map in them too! Although all but one of the secret levels directly accessed by a micro-map have a fake micro-map that does nothing. One of the secret levels can only be accessed by falling into a certain pit, and it ends up at the last level, Neopolitan Peninsula.
  • Shout-Out: While the James Pond games already have their shout-outs, being a James Bond parody, James Pond 3 has specific shout-outs:
    • The scrolling text at the end of the intro is obviously meant to parody A New Hope, even name dropping the title! And that's not the only Star Wars reference.
    • The second boss in the game, "Lair of the Mush-Beast" in the slime world, later returns in the blue cheese section as "The Fungi Strikes Back", and that's not to only reference to that specific Star Wars movie.
    • If you get the good ending while playing in Sandbox Mode, you get not only a good, but a funny ending where Dr. Maybe has a psychotic breakdown and quotes Darth Vader, saying "I am your father..."
    • One of the mouse enemies, Artie, sometimes either throws bombs at you or holds the above mentioned fruit gun, these two enemies are called "Verminator" and "Verminator II"
    • Another enemy's name is "Johnny Ratten"
    • An auto-scrolling level in the Yogurt world is named "Fruitassic Park".
  • Warp Zone: Two levels in the game, "The Chunnel" a Nintendo Hard yellow cheese cave that will trap you in the first world, and "The Lost Caves", another cave level very late in the game (in the Blue cheese world), have these. For the former, it's the only way to get out, where it takes you to "Nether Slimeswold", but for the latter, it takes you to a Secret Level not accessible by a Micro-map, "The Long Tunnel", which itself has a Warp Zone going to the final level, "Neopolitan Peninsula". The McVitie's Penguin biscuit Product Placement also returns from RoboCod in a level exclusive to the Amiga versions that can be accessed through one of these in the second level, "East of Edam".


Video Example(s):


Penguin Biscuits

The introduction to James Pond 2: Codename Robocod ends with product placement for McVite's Penguin Biscuits.

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