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Video Game / Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass

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Open your eyes~
Open your eyes~

It's too early to say goodnight~
The sun is out, it's day outside~

It's too early to say goodnight~

Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass is an Earthbound-inspired RPG for PC by Kasey Ozymy, a.k.a Housekeeping. The game uses RPG Maker VX Ace as its engine, but has an entirely original soundtrack and artwork.

You play as Jimmy, a boy who dreams of a wide variety of fantastical things. He is joined by his brother Buck, his mother Helga, his father Andrew, and his uncle Lars. One day, Jimmy is tasked to go to the Beehive in Giant Garden to get some honey so Helga can make his favorite cake. So Jimmy sets out to get it.

But on his way, he runs into the Petty Thugs, who are terrorizing the citizens. After fighting them off, he learns that they were employed by a monstrous alien entity, the Pulsating Mass, who despises Jimmy and desires to destroy the dream world. Soon, Jimmy and his family are kidnapped and separated, and Jimmy must traverse the continents of the world to reunite with them and defeat the Pulsating Mass.


It was released on Steam on 7th August, 2018 as a commercial game, but there is a demo here.

See also Undertale, LISA, Space Funeral, OMORI, and Annventure, other EarthBound-inspired RPGs with dark atmospheres.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: The Hindenburg, Robo-Chan, Robo-Chan DX, and Twitching Thing enemies are all capable of doing this.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: The further along in the plot you go, the more things will cost, even if it used to cost less in the same location.
  • Adjective Noun Fred: "Battle Girl Maiko", a show (presumably an anime) that Lars and Jimmy watch together.
  • Adventures in Comaland: The game takes place in Jimmy’s dream world. It's strongly implied that Jimmy is very sick with incurable cancer and his goal is to gather the courage to let go of his guilt and pass on.
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  • Alien Abduction: Immediately after Jimmy and Buck get home from their trip to fetch some honey, an airship abducts Jimmy, along with his entire family. Subverted as it turns out to be manned by the human Petty Thugs, though double subverted as they are working for the very alien Pulsating Mass.
  • Ambiguous Ending: After seemingly defeating the Pulsating Mass once and for all, Jimmy winds up back in his house. From there, he can either select party members from across the entire game and re-enter the dream world through his closet, or he can leave his house through the front door. Leaving this way causes Jimmy to wind up in a world devoid of any color, almost looking like it was drawn entirely in pencil. Jimmy can't re-enter his house from here, claiming he can't remember what the inside looks like, so there's only one direction to go. During this entire segment, you can hear the sound of a heart monitor beeping in the background. After travelling for long enough through the now barren landscape, Jimmy walks over to the edge of the very cliff where Helga woke him up at the beginning of the game. A cut-scene then plays where we're shown a close-up of Jimmy looking over the horizon and saying "I'm Sorry"... which then bends into a straight, flat line. After one last title drop, the game fades to white, and the player is booted back to the title screen.
  • And Your Reward Is Furniture: You can collect a variety of furniture to decorate Jimmy's Clubhouse. Each piece provides a small stat boost, and completing a set gives a special bonus. The furniture comes in 'Common' (bought at stores), 'Monster' (stolen from monsters), and 'Rare' (often found in side dungeons and hidden toy boxes) varieties along with a 'Special' category for furniture with no set.
  • Animeland: Megatropolis, the area where Shinryu is located is a mishmash of various Japanese and anime stereotypes including but not limited to cute mascots, salarymen, robots, huge corporate buildings, ninjas masquerading as common people, enemies having "strong work ethic", and the Shinryu Academy area even imitating the style of a visual novel. The BGM there is named "Osaka Konnichiwa" and sounds similar to Vaporwave, itself based on certain Japanese stereotypes.
  • Background Music Override: Par for the course for the more Nightmare Zone dungeons, which use their own special themes.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The boss encountered in Fermata Forest is a large grizzly bear. It is not happy to see you and proceeds to attack. Jimmy can invoke this trope once he beats it and gains the bear transformation, which you can use to prove you are indeed bad news to others by roaring and slamming your head into your foes. There's also Jonathon Bear, Jimmy's favorite toy, who briefly becomes a party member until he's revealed to be a servant of the Pulsating Mass.
  • Big Bad: The titular Pulsating Mass is the entity that seeks to corrupt and destroy Jimmy's dream world out of hatred for Jimmy, and is the employer of the Petty Thugs as well as implied to be responsible for creating or corrupting the Nightmare Zone bosses. Though its nature is never fully revealed, it is indicated to be a representation of the real-world Jimmy's cancer.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Mr. Beaver's house, in Smile, as he says:
    It's quite a bit larger than it looks like from the outside. I bet it's bigger than you'd ever guess.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Verging on Downer Ending. The implication is that Jimmy has terminal cancer, represented by the Pulsating Mass itself, and is full of self-loathing at his weakness and the pain that his sickness has caused others. The "victory" he achieves by the end of the game just allows him to forgive himself and die in peace.
    • The Mouse family sidequest concludes this way as well. Cordelia is kidnapped by Mr. Cat, and you arrive far too late to save her from being brutally raped and murdered. You do kill Mr. Cat, thereby avenging her death (and the deaths of his other implied victims) and sparing future victims. But Mrs. Mouse dies from grief not long after. At the very least, Timothy returns home to be with his family as they try to move on.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Johnny Knives, who uses knives, as his name suggests. Amusingly, his knives can be stolen, turning him into the depressed and ineffectual "Johnny No-Knives".
  • Blob Monster: There are a few, with the most notable being the first monster you encounter, the Revolting Blob, which Jimmy can transform into after defeating it.
  • Body Horror: Almost every Nightmare Zone in the game features this in spades.
  • Book Ends: You begin the game with Buck as your only party member. You fight The Pulsating Mass with just you and Buck at the very end.
  • Bonus Dungeon: A regular occurrence throughout the game:
    • The Nightmare Zones are the primary ones. These dungeons tend to be chock-full of difficult enemies, and provide a sizable bulk of the horrific imagery present throughout the game. All of them feature a Bonus Boss to cap them off.
    • The Iron Flamingo is a required area in your first visit, but after escaping it, you can return much later in the game and beat it proper.
    • The Ultimate Construction, an area in Homeflower built by Mr. Mole, who requires that you follow several increasingly nonsensical rules lest you be dropped into the Punishment Room.
    • The Dark Dungeon, a board-game like area with 100 floors and the ultimate super boss, the Dark Demon.
    • The Heart Prison, the ultimate dungeon only available after beating the main story. It consists of eight mini-dungeons themed after a specific island and requiring a specific party member to enter, and ends with a rematch against a Nightmare Zone boss, now much stronger; except for the final one, which has a unique True Final Boss.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The eastern part of Bonita Vista has a variety of Beach Babes as random encounters. Sometimes, you'll find one who's been swimming for way too long. If you can beat her, you can talk to the crying girl on the west part of the beach for a Bronze Jimmy.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: A status effect afflicted by certain enemies. Afflicted characters can't be controlled and randomly attack allies or themselves for three turns. Killing or startling the foe that caused it will cure the afflicted party member.
  • Broken Bridge: Unbreakable Bridge is broken, initially preventing travel east to Sweet Melody.
  • Brown Bag Mask: The Guardian type enemies all wear one on their heads, with crudely drawn expressions on them.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The game is stuffed with bonus dungeons already, but the standard "post-game bonus dungeon" found in most RPGs does exist. The Heart Prison awaits you after you complete the game, and it is tough, split up into 8 segments that each require you to bring along a certain party member. Each is filled with strategically crafted encounters consisting of powered-up versions of various monsters from the game designed to be as annoying as possible, powered-up versions of previous bonus bosses, and a final encounter against a hateful version of Jimmy's family which is one of the hardest battles in the game.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • In order to trigger the tutorial battle with the Revolting Blob, Jimmy must touch or lick it. It is possible to continue without smelling it, however.
    • Despite giving you a decision on the surface, you must push Jonathan into the furnace to proceed past Whispering Valley.
  • Butt-Monkey: Half of the appearances of an Information Guy ends with him getting killed.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: Multiple:
    • In the cave underneath Giant Garden, monsters are obscured on the first turn of battle — except for their eyes. The spiders in the lower part can make characters Afraid when they emerge.
    • This is a theme with the enemies in the Unbreakable Bridge's side dungeon. The enemies and boss of this area are almost completely black against a black background.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": According to the Information Guy box in Smile, MP are called 'Moxie Points.' He's never heard of Magic Points.
  • Calling Your Attacks:
    • A common feature for many enemies in the game. If an enemy spends a turn doing nothing, chances are they're going to launch a strong attack next turn.
    • Punch Tanaka has this as a special ability. Using it causes his next attack to do double damage. Parodied, as he's calling shots for the middle of a battle.
  • Cap:
    • Items are capped at 10 to a stack, and you're only allowed one stack at a time.
    • Only one Nutrition Cube can be had in the demo, due to Rubik only selling you them if you don't have any.
    • According to the developer: "The money limit is 999,999,999,999,999, so for God's sake, never hit that."
  • Catching Some Z's: Multiple:
    • The icon at the start menu is a close-eyed Jimmy with a ZZZ rising from him, and the game starts with him being woken up by his mother, Helga.
    • Big Enormous is found in his tent in the Wilted Lands sleeping, with a "Z Z" bubble, that switches which one is lower and upper case repeatedly.
  • Catchphrase: Multiple:
    • Information Guy says "Would you like me to repeat that? (No/Yes)" after every sentence or series of sentences he says.
    • Bashicus Maximus, the Kingland Arena champion demands that you "FEED. THE. BEAST."
  • Cats Are Mean: When they aren't skipping turns watching you, the Unlucky Nekos in a side area in Shinryu have one attack: tearing out your guts for a One-Hit Kill.
    • Also, Mr. Cat who kidnaps and murders Cordelia Mouse of Smile town.
  • Cave Behind The Waterfall: Helga's memory zone, the Secret Cavern, is only accessible by entering Blue Staff River from the opposite entrance.
  • Chainsaw Good: One of the weapons sold by Chuff for 75,000 Dungeon Points. It gives the wielder 125 attack points.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Jimmy is the protagonist, and the Pulsating Mass is the main threat.
  • Chest Monster: Mimics, which resemble a toybox filled with blood and gore. They primarily show up in the Dark Dungeon, and feature heavily in the Halls of Greed.
  • Counter-Attack:
    • Some enemies can do it, usually indicated by the phrase "tenses its body like a python, ready to strike."
    • The Revolting Blob "tells an off color joke. It makes you want to hit him".
    • Punch Tanaka looks in his mirror to indicate he'll counter.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Dreamland may look like an idyllic paradise but under the surface it is filled with horrifying abominations and locations that represent various phobias. It’s heavily implied that the Pulsating Mass is responsible for the various horrors in both a literal (being the entity that corrupted the world’s inhabitants) and figurative (being a manifestation of Jimmy’s terminal cancer which corrupted his childlike innocence) sense.
  • Cumulonemesis: There are cloud creatures to fight, mainly in the Cloudy Hill area:
    • Puff, who often skips turns by apologizing for being weak.
    • Eddy, a muscular cloud man
    • Cumulus, a beefy cloud man who can counter your attacks.
    • Wendy, a slap-happy cloud girl who can hit the entire party.
    • Nimbus, electricity wielding cloud creatures
    • Cloud Babies, which appear in Giant Garden. This conjoined cloud creature splits into two other cloud creatures if not killed by the end of the turn, or if their Cloud Thread is stolen.
    • Bad Weather, which generally appears in the caverns below Giant Garden, are cloud creatures that look like The Grim Reaper, with a scythe and cloak.
    • Cloud Princes, who appear in The Ultimate Construction and are masterful swordsmen.
  • Death Is Cheap: Generally dying causes you to lose half of the cash you're carrying and boots you to the world map (or some other safe place). In the Dark Dungeon, you lose all the Dungeon Points earned that run instead. Exaggerated with the Life Insurance, which you get by defeating Mr. Grouse. It completely removes the Dollar penalty from dying.
  • Defeat Means Playable: To gain a monster's form, Jimmy must first defeat them in a boss battle. Played with in the case of Punch Tanaka, who you do defeat multiple times in a fight, but you don't gain his form until after his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Dem Bones: Multiple:
    • Skitterbones, which are the animated bones of Skitters
    • Skeleton Fops and The King of Fops, which are exactly what they sound like.
      • The Mad Queen in the mirror, who's been skinning others as well as herself.
  • Depth Deception: After the battle against Possessed Buck on the roof of Tetsuya Kawaii, Lars pulls a ladder out of nowhere and uses it to climb to the moon in the background, taking Hitomi with him (since she's from a race of Moon People) to start a new life with her.
  • Developer's Foresight: Lose against the Revolting Blob (which must be planned, as even going Attack! Attack! Attack! would lead to a victory), and Buck tells Jimmy that he's not leaving until the Blob is defeated. Since Lars is blocking the exit to the house, leaving is impossible, and the only path forward is to defeat the Blob.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: The titular villain is one of these: for some reason, it just showed up one day, dead set on killing Jimmy. Everything that comes out of its mouth(s) is a long tirade about how much it hates Jimmy and how gruesome his death will be. Every other antagonistic force in-game has deeper motives, including the ones that it corrupted. Which makes perfect sense when its true nature becomes apparent.
  • Difficulty Levels: There's an Easy Mode, described as:
    Great for people who play at a leisurely pace. Monsters have reduced stats and give double experience and money, random encounters are less frequent, and you lose less money when you die.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Pulsating Mass is a malignant all-consuming blob of flesh that rots and corrupts everything it touches. In other words, cancer. The metaphors become more prevalent after the game's Wham Episode, especially in Central Stamen, where Jimmy collects "medicine" that alleviates the worst of the Buddy Bees' symptoms but also makes him weak, tired, and depressed. In Heart Prison, he gives an especially sick Buddy Bee all three types of medicine at once...only for the Bee to die anyway, its last words asking how Jimmy can possibly stand taking so much.
  • Dream Within a Dream: The Sleepwalkers in Ebeezil's Domain (at least the ones that don't appear as enemies) describe it as such.
  • Dying Dream: The ending implies that the entire game is the dying dream of a child with cancer.
  • Elemental Hair Composition: Some of the cloud enemies look sufficiently human to have cloud hair, like Wendies, who are cloud girls with long, curly blown-cloud / gust-like hair.
  • Encounter Bait: The out-of-battle ability of the Revolting Blob, when activated, summons one of the Random Encounters of the area.
  • Fireballs: The Rotting Jack O’Lantern is capable of blasting enemies with fireballs.
  • Flavor Text: available for just about every item and skill you encounter.
    • Items:
    • Skills:
      • Low-Level Goon: Bully: Utilize your brawn to hide your low self-esteem.
    • You can also gain the flavor text for enemies by Grifting Knowledge from the Bookworm enemy in The Great Library.
  • Fog Feet: Information Guy's ghost, which appears when Buck kills him after the Revolting Blob fight.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In The Wilted Lands, when trying to take the Low-Level Goon exam, the narration remarks upon how Jimmy can't read the test because it's all scrambled. Because of this, he just scribbles in the answer bubbles to look like a ninja. It seems like a gag about how stupid the Low-Level Goons are. This is actually an early hint to his dyslexia, something that becomes much more obvious in Shinryu.
    • The scarecrows in Giant Garden can be shaken to hear grim prophecies referencing the side bosses that appear in Homeflower.
    • The Information Guy is frequently seen eating bananas when he isn't talking to you. An optional area reveals that Information Guy is actually a species of short-tailed monkeys.
    • In the boss battle against Mutt, its howling attack has a side effect of making Jimmy afraid. Later, in the Abandoned Gigaplex, it's revealed that Buck narrowly saved Jimmy from being mauled by a dog.
    • When Jimmy defeats the Rotting Jack O’Lantern, he has an Imagine Spot about dying and his whole family mourning his death- obviously him imagining what is going to happen when he finally succumbs to his cancer.
    • Several bosses in the game have some time limit aspect to them. Imaginary Numbers will start using its powerful move if enough turns pass and you're unlucky enough not to have it glitch out. Grimclaw will slam into the ground for a party wipe if you can't kill the Brain Worms infecting it fast enough. The Doomsday Clock will do exactly what it says if you can't beat the Black Prophet fast enough. This obviously symbolizes Jimmy's days being numbered due to his cancer.
    • One of Punch Tanaka's documents he left during his introspection trip states that he's unsure about his goals and skills and that he should try some occupations, like being a janitor, to discover what he's good at. Sure enough, when Jimmy goes to Shinryu, Punch has infiltrated Shinryu Academy in the guise of a janitor (he's not really good at it, though).
  • Four-Seasons Level: Fermata Forest lets you cycle between the four seasons, which is necessary to access certain treasures or hidden pathways. The Heart Prison version has a similar gimmick but changes it to that the seasons automatically cycle at certain points.
  • Funny Animal: Most, if not all of the animal characters act pretty much exactly like humans, including having their own communities in Smile and the Giant Garden.
  • Game Over: Rarely occurs, and losing the tutorial battle leads to Developer's Foresight.
    • Losing against an enemy usually just means being moved to a safe area and losing half of your money.
    • If you deliberately lose against the Revolting Blob (which must be planned, as even going Attack! Attack! Attack! would lead to a victory), Buck tells Jimmy that he's not leaving until the Blob is defeated. Since Lars is blocking the exit to the house, leaving is impossible, and the only path forward is to defeat the Blob.
    • If the Doomsday Clock in the Black Prophet battle strikes thirteen, then one happens.
  • Giant Spider: A bunch live in the lower part of the Giant Garden caves. There's an even bigger one known as the Whisper Weaver at the end.
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: The red dog in the Wilted Lands only leaves his spot for a Nutrition Cube.
  • Giving Up the Ghost: When Buck kills Information Guy after he explains how Jimmy's Empathy works, his ghost comes out of his corpse to ask if the player would like the monologue repeated.
  • Gradual Regeneration: Multiple, with Regenerating Health and Regenerating Mana:
    • Lars' laziness allows him to regenerate HP over time.
    • Andrew's erudition gives him passive MP regeneration.
    • There's also a variety of equipment and furniture sets that provide passive regeneration for HP or MP.
  • Healing Hands: There's are a number of skills for healing others, including First Aid, a basic 25% heal learned from a manual, High Five, a 50% heal, and Comforting Smile, a party heal. There's also Sunny Day, learned from a manual and exclusive to Helga, which will heal the entire party by 75% of their HP.
    • Helping Hands is an equipment exclusive to Jonathon Bear that replaces his basic attack with a group heal.
    • Jimmy's Phoenix form has Sacred Flame, a 50% health revive, Calming Breeze, which heals everyone for 50% HP, and Sacrifice, a once-per-battle skill that renders Jimmy unconscious, but revives and fully restores everyone else's HP and MP.
  • Guide Dang It!: Triggering the Beach Babe Bonus Boss fight in Bonita Vista. Unlike all the other bosses, who are triggered in specific areas like in every RPG, the Beach Babe is disguised as a random encounter in Bonita Vista- and since you are likely to be at a level high enough to be able to skip random encounters, and the temporary absence of your healer can turn you off from fighting too much, you are all too likely to choose to skip the area’s battles and never come into contact with the boss.
  • Healing Potion: Ants on a Log, which restore 50% of total HP, and Nutrition Cubes, which restore 100%.
  • Healing Spring: There are pink fountains with smiling hearts at the top which fully recover HP and MP.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The vast majority of the optional areas don't feature traditional Background Music, instead opting for horrific ambient noises or distorted samples to help signal that you're entering a nightmare.
    • Special mention goes to Counting Backwards From Infinity, in which the player is subjected to having numbers rapidly shouted into their ears by several disembodied noises.
  • Heroic Mime: Jimmy. You do get his thoughts on some areas if you press A, though. The party member descriptions in the status menu are also done from Jimmy's point of view. Averted with the second Jimmy in Central Stamen, who has quite a lot to say about you, and none of it is very nice.
  • Historical Domain Character: A sneaky version of Abraham Lincoln sometimes appears as an enemy in the 'Biography' section of The World's Library.
  • House Squatting: You meet Mr. Marvelous in a mansion on your first trip to Legato. After clearing Legato Castle, you learn it actually belongs to Harply.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Information Guy is impaled on a stalagmite after being rejected by the Petty Thugs' sorting hole.
  • In-Game Banking Services: There's a bank that stores money, giving a 20% interest rate, which is useful because you lose half your money fi you die and Adam Smith Hates Your Guts. Moreover, you need $100,000 in your account to enter the Accelerated Dynamics side dungeon.
  • Innocent Innuendo: After the opening, Jimmy's parents say they're going to have "adult fun time" and lock themselves in their room. By using the Revolting Blob or Happy Little Sunflower on the second-floor shower drain, you can fall into their room and discover they're just hula-hooping.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: You can obtain various pieces of furniture that can be placed in the Clubhouse to boost stats.
  • Jerk Jock: Jimmy's older brother Buck. He's rude and domineering towards Jimmy, and kills Information Guy for being too wordy. His skillset is even labeled "Nerd Bash"!
  • Job System: Jimmy can use his powers of empathy to take the form of strong enemies he defeats throughout the game. As he levels them up, they increase his overall stats. He is also able to equip each form's various abilities and special passive abilities as they level up so that he can use them in his normal form, or in any form. Deconstructed, as this is Jimmy's way of escaping from his poor self-image in the real world.
  • Joke Item: Enemies can drop Marvelous Coins after battle, and their description in the item menu bills them as being completely worthless. Late in the game, you can get equipment and furniture from Mr. Marvelous after collecting enough coins. All the items come with serious drawbacks.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Johnny Knives, or rather "Johnny Katana," would agree.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Well, not kind-hearted, but Johnny Knives liked cats when he was "Johnny Cats", called that, by the rest of the Goon leadership, because he "really loved cats. [He] had like ten of them."
  • Leaning Tower of Mooks: The Turtle Stack enemy, which decomposes into individual turtles when damaged enough.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: Happens in Mute Notes twice, first to Jorgen and then to Information Kid.
  • MacGuffin: The Secret Knowledge, which holds the power to defeat The Pulsating Mass and what you spend the last third of the game chasing around. For extra "generic macguffin" points, you never even figure out what exactly the instructions to defeat The Pulsating Mass are or what special characteristics it holds.
  • Mailbox Baseball: Referenced for the empathy text of the Low-Level Goon, when Jimmy imagines himself in the role of one. Among the many activities, he imagines driving down the neighborhood street with his fellow goons, smashing mailboxes with a baseball bat.
  • Mana Potion: Choco-cola, which restores 25% of a character's MP. The super version heals 50%.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: As found in Smile:
    • Mr. Beaver has four brothers, as said when he talks about his bedroom:
      [My mother] raised me and my four brothers in a lodge she built herself.
    • The mother of the Mouse family of Smile, has five children: Sunny, Timothy, Cordelia, and Beatrice, with the gravestone outside belonging to a lost fifth child, Bethany.
    • Amusingly, Mr. Marvelous explains he originally had hundreds of siblings, but he and his brother were the only ones to make it out of the pond. The rest were eaten by goldfish.
  • The Medic: Multiple:
    • The Happy Little Sunflower's skillset is comprised mainly of healing abilities. Its one offensive skill is an anti-undead light spell.
    • Helga becomes the dedicated healer for the party, with access to both High Five and Comforting Smile. She even has exclusive access to the best group healing skill in the game.
    • Jimmy's Phoenix form, unlockable by completing the volcano dungeon, is also a powerful healer with access to the strongest revival skill in the game. He can also sacrifice himself once per battle to completely heal the rest of the party.
  • Metal Slime: Multiple:
    • Rad Ghosts, first encountered in the Wilted Lands. They're worth 300 experience, but they only take three actions: nullifying all damage for the turn, inflicting a status effect that prevents someone from gaining experience, and running away. They're also incorporeal, making them resistant to most attacks. Defeating one requires careful use of Buck's stunning ability and the Happy Little Sunflower's light spell.
    • Skeleton Fops, encountered in Whispering Valley, drop $1000 when killed, but always take 1 damage from any attack and flee at the start of the second turn. To kill it, you have to steal the correct Weird Bone out of the four they carry. Choosing wrong causes it to flee instantly. In other words, you always have a 25% chance to kill it.
    • Appearing in a mini-dungeon accessible in Shinryu after completing a short side quest are Super Rad Ghosts. They have ludicrous amounts of speed (to put it in perspective, 661 agility isn't enough to out-speed it,) their ennui attack hits the entire party, they have 2,000 health, and they always appear with an Unlucky Neko, whose only actions are to waste a turn or insta-kill a party member by tearing their guts out. Combined with its allies, you can get a bit over 10,000 experience from one.
    • The Skeleton Fops also have an upgraded version. The King of Fops has six Weird Bones, and guessing wrong results in taking a volley of cannon fire. The good news is that since they don't run from choosing wrong, you can have multiple chances if you have more than one thief. Stealing the right bone nets you $10,000.
    • To a smaller extent, Lucky Nekos, found in the same area as Super Rad Ghosts, also apply. They're a reliable source of Marvelous Coins, but they start every turn by giving themselves Counter or Reflect. They also flee at the start of the fourth round of combat. Your best bet is to go pure physical and try to tank the damage, since Counter doesn't negate damage but Reflect does. A slightly tougher version appears in the Arena. That version gives all enemies Counter or Reflect.
  • Mini-Game: A few:
    • The Dark Dungeon is a 100-floor dungeon that plays like a board game. You roll a die to move along, fighting monsters and collecting unique treasure as well as Dungeon Points, which can be banked and spent on a variety of items.
    • After defeating Chancellor Pulsating Mass, the Arena becomes open for business. In it, you battle up to seven waves of enemies while under the effect of a random handicap. Winning battles gives you points to spend on equipment. By beating all seven waves or buying the trophy with points, you can fight a boss to unlock the next rank.
    • The Arcade in Shinryu has four mini-games. There's a Skee-ball game, a Whack-a-mole game, a Rock-Paper-Scissors game, and a timing-based game called 'Punch Tanaka's Ultimate Man Test.' The games all give tickets that can be redeemed at the counter for various items and equipment.
  • Mirror Boss: The second Jimmy in Central Stamen can transform into different monsters, just like you can. He has the same attacks, too, for the most part.
  • Money Spider: Enemies drop Dollars, without explanation as to how.
  • Mood Whiplash: The game regularly indulges in this, switching periodically from long stretches of standard JRPG affair and whimsical, Earthbound-esque worlds, to suddenly thrusting you into nightmarish settings rife with Body Horror, blood and gore, and dozens of other common horror tropes. The switch from these dread-filled sequences back to the comparatively happy-go-lucky mood of the normal areas is often just as sudden. For a few notable examples:
    • After defeating the Petty Thugs at their HQ for the first time, Jimmy can then go and get the honey from the Beehive, or enter a Bonus Dungeon. Either way, what was previously a lighthearted, kid-friendly adventure abruptly turns horrifying- the bonus dungeon is a dark, claustrophobic cave with creepy music and a scary snake boss, while the Beehive is now corrupted and the inhabitants have been turned into zombies with rotting flesh.
    • On the other side, the horror-themed third world, Grim Echoes, ends with one of the most disturbing areas of the game, Jonathon Bear's Playtime Forest. But once the boss is beaten and a cutscene plays, Jimmy is immediately transported to Kingland, a Retraux parody of classic JRPGs.
  • Mook Maker: Cloud Babies. After one turn, they turn into two random cloud monsters. The Bagspider Cocoon and Fish Bucket encountered later in the game also fall into this category.
  • My Brain Is Big: The Pulsating Mass shows up in the retraux 8-bit area of Kingland as "Chancellor Pulsating Mass", manipulating the King with the mental powers coming from its oversized exposed brain. You also fight him as a boss, and luckily its portrait is still a low-res sprite.
  • My Name Is ???: Used for people who speak from off screen:
    • The "???" that calls "Jimmy, wait!" when he enters the Giant Garden after the Petty Thugs leave, is revealed to be "Timothy Mouse" after he walks up to Jimmy.
    • In the Buddy Bees' hive, the Queen Bee first talks from off screen, as "???", letting Buck and Jimmy pass her guards.
    • A number of locations on the world map (typically more mysterious and/or secret places) are listed simply as "???". Some of them get proper names as you explore the locations further, while others remain nameless.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Super Deathbot 5000, which first appears in your first visit to the Iron Flamingo, but only if a Mobile Alarm enemy summons it. If you see one, run. After completing the Central Hub, you can access the Iron Flamingo again, where they appear as regular enemies. They're still nasty, but it's possible to beat them this time.
  • Non-Indicative Name: When you can first get to Unbreakable Bridge, it's broken.
  • No-Sell: Helga's optimism gives her immunity to common status effects (Sick, Sleep, and Immunodeficiency.)
  • Not Quite Dead: At the very end of the game, the Pulsating Mass can be seen still thriving just outside Jimmy's house.
  • Noir Episode: The Mute Notes area in Sweet Melody is a noir-esque area. The club, Wharf Dog, is attacked by a murderer who kills a victim via Lights Off, Somebody Dies, and the wannabe-Hardboiled Detective Inspector Ludwig investigates who the culprit is. The area even has noir-style jazz as the Background Music. And then the culprit turns out to be an Eldritch Abomination possessing a dog.
  • NPC Roadblock: The Petty Thugs block the way into the Giant Garden until the Low-Level Goon in Smile is defeated.
  • Obliviously Evil: The Beach Babes fought in Bonita Vista don't seem to be actively malevolent, just airheads who involuntarily hurt Jimmy and the party (and sometimes themselves) while playing volleyball and surfing. One of them even loses a turn by apologizing after hurting someone with her flying disc. However, one of them (see Boss in Mook Clothing above) does attack on sight and is quite dangerous.
  • Obviously Evil: Chancellor Pulsating Mass is a green-skinned, deformed, wizened sorcerer and nobody in Kingland sees anything wrong with him. Justified since he's using his mental powers to brainwash the King and his cohorts into accepting him.
  • Percent-Based Values:
    • The Ants on a Log restore "50% of max HP".
    • Buck's Nerd Bash skills, are some of which are presumably basing their percentages off the standard Attack commands:
      • Bully does 150% physical damage
      • Mag Combo does "300% physical damage", with a "two-turn cooldown".
      • Inner Rage boosts the ATK stat by 50%, while removing player control of Buck.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: In the beginning, when talking to Andrew, Jimmy's dad, he discusses the crystal he's looking at with Techno Babble:
    Hello, Jimmy. Did you know that polyaacharine crystals take several millennia to exasterate? And who knows how long for one of this size? Yet this one seems to be supported on this newly-formed cloud bridge.
    I'll have to add this to my notes.
  • Player Headquarters: The Clubhouse. It has a healing fountain, an ATM, a teleporter to travel to continents Jimmy has visited, and a music player. You can also decorate it with furniture for a variety of benefits.
  • Race Against the Clock: A somewhat literal version of this trope takes place in the battle against Black Prophet. If you fail to kill him before the Doomsday Clock strikes thirteen, it brings about the end of existence, causing the game's only instance of a hard Game Over.
  • Rainbow Speak: Used in Kingland, to homage the conventions of old-school 8-bit RPGs, and in Shinryu Academy, to parody its use in visual novels (the colored words are seemingly random). In general, it is used when the Pulsating Mass (colored in orange) and The Secret Knowledge (colored green) are mentioned.
  • Random Encounters: Though they can be avoided if your level is high enough.
  • Retraux: The graphics have a grainier and more retro style than most RPG Maker VX games, the aesthetic is very obviously Earthbound-inspired, and the world map uses the same style as Chrono Trigger.
    • Taken even further in the land of Everchip, a kingdom modeled after old-school medieval fantasy video games. The people, land, and music in that world take on a much more 8-bit quality.
  • Running Gag: Multiple:
    • Information Guy being the Butt-Monkey, which often involves him getting killed horribly, like by Buck, or being impaled on a stalagmite.
    • In the Wilted Lands, every member of the Petty Thugs seems to have a different idea of what "the first rule of gooning" is. The secretary says that it's "getting here in the nick of time", the instructor says it's "brush your teeth after every meal.", the Information Guy video for the GECE is... never said, and then the instructor changes his to just following orders, the Prospective Goon says it's "work together with your friends so you can achieve your dreams".
  • Save-Game Limits: There are 8 save slots, and you can save almost any time outside of battle.
  • Shock and Awe: Nimbuses have only one attack, firing a Startling "bolt of electricity".
  • Shout-Out: Multiple:
    • Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice appears an enemy in the 'Classics' section of The World's Library. Don't steal his tea.
    • A somewhat stealthy one involves the Onefish and Twofish enemies. They're also red fish and blue fish.
    • The Bookworm's Knowledge for the enemy Thirteen states that it came from a universe ruled by The God of Crawling Eyes.
    • The moment you directly fight The Pulsating Mass has it take the form of a giant, fleshy labyrinth, with a spherical core that possesses the ability to mimic whoever it chooses. In other words, Giygas' Devil's Machine.
    • An enemy is a mud golem with a flower on its head, which is identical to Bud the golem from Housekeeping's previous game The Heart Pumps Clay.
    • During his travels Jimmy finds a magical talking fish that promises him it'll grant a wish if they can save it from a fish processing plant, like what happens in that episode of The Simpsons where they travel to Japan (said area in the game is Japanese-inspired as well). Unlike the Simpsons, however, Jimmy can actually save it and unlock a side area.
    • The "Tetsuya Kawaii" brand is a clear reference to Sanrio, with its mascots Robo-chan and Gero being ersatzes of Hello Kitty and Keroppi.
    • A giant red dragoness falling in love with someone of a different species (Lars) reminds of Shrek.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Andrew and Helga are very much in love and call each other sappy pet names all the time. Even their battle stats are built to match: Andrew is the Black Mage to Helga's White Mage, and both will always be the same level and have the same amount of max HP and MP.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: This probably has something to do with why the boss of the Surprise Creepy Bonus Dungeon in The Wilted Lands is a giant snake.
  • Soulful Plant Story: In one scene, Jimmy empathizes with the Happy Little Sunflower and imagines what it'd be like to be a sunflower. He then imagines being picked by a girl and wilting until he gets fed to her pet hamster.
  • Spam Attack: Buck has a 25% chance of hitting twice. This can be boosted with certain equipment, such as Buck's Mixtape.
  • Species Surname: The residents of Smile, given the ones who obviously are, the ones that aren't so obvious are implied to be:
    • The Mouse family, who are human scale, speaking mice.
    • Mr. Beaver, builder.
    • Mr. Grouse, banker.
    • Mrs. Robin, shop stand owner.
  • Status Effects:
    • Sick, which deals 30% of a party member's maximum health at the start of a round. There's also Acid and Poison (which the player can use and deals damaged based on the user's MAT,) and Infested, which is used solely by the Gut Worm enemy and deals 60% of a character's health per turn.
    • Startled stuns a character for a turn, but becomes Alert when it wears off, preventing stun-locking. There are also variants like Afraid, Heartbroken, and Crying, which aren't blocked by Alert and may last multiple rounds.
    • Terminal, which kills a character after 3 turns and is only used by Super Deathbot 5000 and The Whisper Weaver.
    • Stat-altering status effects like Sticky, which reduces Agility by 50% (a variant of Slow). Special note goes to Hyper, which doubles speed and MP costs.
  • Stone Wall: The Revolting Blob, which takes a penalty to magic attack but specializes in defense. It can also provoke enemies to draw attacks.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: Johnathon Bear’s Playtime Forest starts off as the sweet and innocent looking set of the titular show, with cutesy and mostly harmless enemies based on the show’s supporting cast. It slowly goes from that to a nightmare covered in blood, organs, and buzzsaws with the enemies become deformed, mutilated, and far more dangerous in battle. It ends off with a battle against Jonathon himself, now a giant and deformed monster who attacks the party so he can have Jimmy all to himself. It’s implied that the dungeon symbolizes both Jimmy’s guilt at shoplifting a Jonathon doll and having your childhood innocence corrupted.
  • Surprise Creepy: At first, the game seems like a typical light-hearted adventure through a dream-esque landscape. Then you return to the Buddy Beehive and find it's suddenly turned into a nightmarish labyrinth of undead mutated bees, and it doesn't get any better from there. Another example is the beach of Bonita Vista, full of vacationers and hot babes, but half of it has been abandoned, and you see piles of trash everywhere... cue rotting beached whale carcass (the area's BGM is even named "Dead Whale").
  • The Topic of Cancer: The word is never said outright, but the entire game is heavily implied to be the imagination of a little kid dying of terminal cancer, represented by the Pulsating Mass itself.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Information Guy dies several times throughout the game, yet always seems to come back. It turns out that Information Guys are actually an entire species, rather than one person who keeps coming back to life.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: "Thirteen" is the name of one of the enemies that appear in the side dungeon at Unbreakable Bridge.
    • When the Doomsday Clock strikes thirteen in the fight against Black Prophet, the fight ends with a Game Over.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Pulsating Mass itself, having taken control of Central Hub.
  • Through the Ceiling, Stealthily: After the opening, Jimmy's parents say they're going to have "adult fun time" and lock themselves in their room. By using the Revolting Blob or Happy Little Sunflower to become a more liquid / thinner form, on the second-floor shower drain, Jimmy can fall into their room and discover they're hula-hooping.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Necronomicon, which can be found between floors 95-99 of the Dark Dungeon. It's a weapon for Andrew that boosts his magic attack by 275 points, but gives him -3% MP regen.
  • Tragic Abandoned Toy:
    • Turnbuckle, the Optional Boss of Turnbuckle's Mansion, is the leader of the Whispering Valley's toy army. He used to be a toy Jimmy used to play with, but was left forgotten and was on his way to be destroyed to make way for new toys and memories about them. To avert his and his fellow forgotten toys' fates, he built a mansion to serve as a sanctuary for his kind, and built an army to claim revenge on Jimmy for stopping playing with him. In the end, as he perishes, he spends his last words expressing gratitude that Jimmy visited his mansion and was willing to play with him one last time, accepting his impending death.
    • Jonathon Bear was Jimmy's favorite teddy bear toy who was locked away by the boy out of guilt over the fact that the boy shoplifted him. As he was revealed to be vengeful over his abandonment, serving as the Grim Echoes' Arc Villain, Jonathonland shows the situation from his perspective, depicting him in a much more sympathetic light: he used to be an obsolete and outdated model of Jonathon Bear plush toy line, but Jimmy liked him more than the newer models. However, he was too expensive, so his mother refused to buy him. As a result, Jimmy decided to shoplift him, lying that Jonathon was his grandmother's gift as an excuse. They used to play together all the time, but the guilt over shoplifting the teddy bear eventually led to Jimmy hiding and locking him away in the closet, and as the story ends, the camera pans on Jonathon Bear's torn-up and ruined body, with Helga expressing sympathy for Jonathon in spite of his past deeds.
  • 20% More Awesome: The Flavor Text of Buddy Bee Honey, is "50% friendlier than normal honey."
  • Verbal Tic: "Marvelous" for Mr. Marvelous, as seen in his first appearance. In order:
    there's nothing we can do... is what I would be saying if I weren't so marvelous.
    [wa-ah-ah-ah! Speech Bubble]
    I've already concocted a marvelous plan that can't possibly fail.
    [If Jimmy has the Balloons]
    Now sit back and watch my marvelous plan go into action.
    [Ties ballons to the weight in the way, which then floats off]
    Look at that! Isn't it marvelous?!
    Can you imagine the marvelous things it will see on its journey?
    Another marvelous part of my life has gone exactly as planned!
    This is just the start of a marvelous day!
  • Video Game Stealing: The Grift command of the Low-Level Goon form, which allows theft of things that aren't dropped, like a Stuffed Skitter from Skitters. Non-inventory items can also be stolen:
    • Weird Bones from Skitterbones, which, if stolen, automatically defeat the Skitterbones.
    • A Mack from a Turtle Stack, which, as it is a stack of a Mack and a Mortimer, sends the stack toppling and splits the stack into temporarily stunned versions of its component monsters.
    • An Edge from the Triangle, Square, Pentagon, and Hexagon enemies, which turns the enemy into the one with one less side- or, if you steal it from the Triangle, makes it case to exist because there is no shape with two edges.
    • It even works on some bosses. In the first battle against Johnny Knives, stealing his Knives turns him into the depressed Zero-Effort Boss Johnny No-Knives. Meanwhile, the Black Prophet and GAMM-E Bonus Boss battles allow you to steal objects to give yourself more time and damage the boss, respectively. The Golden King, in his first fight, has four treasures that, when stolen, will lower his defense and give you a bigger reward, but make him stronger, while the rematch requires you to steal those treasures to be able to damage him at all.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Jimmy is such an empathetic person that by imagining what it's like to be certain enemies, he can transform into them.
    • Involuntary Shapeshifting: In the Dark Dungeon, Jimmy is forced to switch to a random form each floor and can't change in battle. This also applies to the fight against the Dark Demon, where Jimmy randomly switches to a new form every three turns.
  • Wham Episode: The first visit to Central Hub. The Pulsating Mass wins, the Secret Knowledge is lost, Punch Tanaka sacrifices himself, and it becomes clear that, in the real world, Jimmy's hospitalized and doesn't have much time left. The remaining dungeons all deal with how Jimmy's family has affected him throughout his life, and how they try to cope with his sickness.
  • Your Head Asplode:
    • According to Punch Tanaka in the postgame, this is how he died - the possessed Buck punched him in the face so hard his head burst.
    • The fate of the Information Guy during the arena tournament in Kingland. He gets paired with the resident champion Bashicus Maximus: we don't see the fight, but it lasts literally a couple seconds and Bashicus says he smashed Information Guy's head just by touching him.