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Video Game / JauntTrooper

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JauntTrooper (previously known as Mission: Thunderbolt and DoomsDay 2000) is a series of Science Fiction Roguelikes set After the End. Having nudged humanity into a devastating World War III so as to soften us up for conquest, aliens now lord over the ruins of Earth. Hope for the human resistance may lie in the abandoned R&D labs of MegaCorp International, where prototypes of advanced technology are said to exist.

But when you finally reach the entrance, the Sole Survivor of your team, you discover that the enemy has beaten you to it...

Author Dave Scheifler was disappointed by the Railroading endemic to Eighties computer games. Instead of a prescribed solution to each obstacle—keys to open doors, weapons to kill monsters, a Hazmat Suit to cross a waste spill—why shouldn't you be allowed to use the crowbar in your inventory to smash through a nearby wall? Or take the rubble from the wall and build a walkway through the waste pool? Or scoop toxic waste into a container and hurl it at an enemy?

The game he built along these lines was a hit among coworkers at DEC, spreading to the company's Mainframes around the world. Having completed three episodes of a planned four or five, he started over, porting the series to PC and Mac for home users. However, neither Shareware releases nor a boxed version from Casady & Greene got much attention... outside of lavish praise and awards from reviewers. In the end, the series was left unfinished on all three platforms.

Tropes found in the JauntTrooper games:

  • ASCII Art: What the DEC version used in place of graphics (technically, it was ANSI art). There was also a custom graphics font that would replace the ANSI if your terminal supported it.
  • Bench Breaker: How to escape when you're tied to a chair with no items in reach.
  • Buffy Speak: Many monster species have names like "slimy thing", "icky lump", or "icky thing".
  • Charm Person: The "stimmer" device can brainwash creatures into defending you with their lives, or failing that, at least render them docile.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Among those trying to kill you are humans described as collaborators.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The first thing you encounter is a message scrawled in blood, warning of the aliens' presence.
    Beware of the Zytts!!!
  • Cowardly Boss: The Final Boss in Firestorm will teleport away to recover her health. Overcoming this is a major test of your ingenuity.
  • Creator Thumbprint: The splash screen by John Calhoun shows the view past a woman with her back to the camera, as do his splash screens for Glider Pro and Pararena 2.
  • Crowbar Combatant: The crowbar is not only a durable tool for prying and smashing things, but one of the better early-game weapons.
  • Disney Owns This Trope
    • The game was initially divided into "operations" rather than "missions", but an arcade game called Operation Thunderbolt forced a change of title.
    • CyberCops were called RoboCops until a certain hit movie came out.
  • Escape Rope: The portable "panic button," which usually teleports you to the game's starting point (but can also beam in a squadron of JauntTroopers who'll make short work of all nearby enemies.)
  • Explosive Breeder + Money Spider: Icky Lumps, which you can pen off and "farm" for their coins.
  • Expospeak Gag: How library terminals describe your inventory items, with a dash of Sophisticated as Hell.
    Bone: A length of dense, semirigid, porous, calcified connective tissue of the skeleton of most vertebrates (doggies like them a lot!)
  • Gravity Screw: Gravity wells are Heavy Zones to the point of immobilizing you.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]:
    • The default Player Character name is "Captain Hazard".
    • You also get to name creatures you befriend, and items you haven't identified yet.
  • In the Future, We Still Have Roombas: Utility bots patrol the complex, cleaning up anything they deem a mess. This can be useful as well as aggravating to the player.
  • Lost Superweapon: Your first mission is to recover a prototype Antimatter bomb.
  • MegaCorp: Both the game's developer and the in-game example of this trope are actually called MegaCorp.
    You may find that we poke fun at ourselves within the game. In the world of JauntTrooper, MegaCorp has become a globe spanning entity with all of the power and influence of a world government. Unfortunately, with size and diversity comes complexity. Being not always up to the challenge, the monolithic MegaCorp International creates a great many products, and it creates those great many products poorly.
  • No Recycling: Averted. Turning in objects to Reclamation Centers for their scrap value is one of the game's biggest sources of income.
  • Old Save Bonus: On platforms where more than one episode was released, you could carry your save files forward through the storyline.
  • Portable Hole: There's a monster by this name that consists of a roving hole in the ground, through which you can drop things.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: Wild dogs are among the animals loose in the abandoned MegaCorp complex. They're also likely to be the first creatures the player befriends.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender
  • Replay Value: One of the game's primary design goals, hand in hand with its Wide-Open Sandbox approach to problem-solving. Equipment you depended on in one game might be rare or nonexistent in another. Conversely, you might have to adapt to certain kinds of monster being much more plentiful.
  • Save Scumming: The author hates this technique to the point of issuing "penalty points" every time you save without quitting, and listing the number of times you did so next to your high score.
    When Dave originally released the game, there was NO provision for saving a game, trying something, and reloading the saved image if you died. NONE! We testers had to plead with him to add something like that, and when he did, his comments were to the effect that "cheating SHOULD be as painful as possible!"
  • Sequel Hook: In Firestorm, you come across an incomplete Stargate. Subsequent games would have had you obtain the missing components from MegaCorp's Far East manufacturing facility, and finally launch a counterattack on the aliens' homeworld using the bomb recovered in Thunderbolt.
  • The Six Stats: With one addition, Speed (SPD).
  • Shout-Out: Sonic screwdrivers, chameleon circuits, and transmat booths are all out of Doctor Who. (Whovians had an advantage in knowing that a sonic could pick locks, disable traps, and repair items; others tended to discover one of these uses and assume that was it.)
  • Take Me to Your Leader: Bug-Eyed Monsters say this in a Funetik Aksent.
    • If you lead a friendly BEM out to the surface, he will in fact meet with your commanding officer and pledge the BEMs' support against the Zytts. You then return to your mission with a few extra Character Levels under your belt.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Some creatures' loyalty can be won by offering food (or tossing them a bone).
  • There Are No Rules
    Rule #1 is complete your assigned Mission. There is no Rule #2.
  • Title Confusion: In between retitlings, Retronyms, and punctuation/capitalization discrepancies, the three released games add up to over a dozen variant titles.
  • Unidentified Items: The game encourages you to experiment with items to discover their uses, and then assign them names yourself. You can have their true names identified if you find a library terminal, but its assessments of what they're good for can be vague or misleading.
  • Vibroweapon: Vibra-knives, vibra-swords, and vibra-lances have "high-speed oscillating blades".
  • What the Hell, Player?: Instead of taking the Lightweight Anti-Matter Bomb back to headquarters, you can detonate it yourself and destroy a huge chunk of the Earth in a mushroom cloud.
  • With This Herring: Your Starter Equipment consists of a butcher knife, a battered laser pistol, and a black pill in case of capture.
  • Written Sound Effect: Since the game's sounds provide useful cues about events you can't see, there's the option of textual sound effects for players who can't or don't want to hear them.

Alternative Title(s): Mission Thunderbolt