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Video Game / Joe & Mac

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A series of Platform Games developed and published by Data East. The series began with the 1991 Arcade Game Caveman Ninja, known as Joe & Mac: Tatakae Genshijin ("Fighting Cavemen") in Japan. Set in Prehistoria, the objective of the game is to rescue the titular duo's harem of cave girls from a rival band of Neanderthals and their dinosaur pet bosses. Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja saw quite a few home ports (with or without the subtitle), namely the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Amiga, DOS, and Zeebo.

It was followed by two SNES sequels: Congo's Caper (1992) and Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics (1994). There was also an arcade spin-off in 1994 titled Joe & Mac Returns, an Elimination Platformer similar to Data East's TumblePop.

On November 6th 2009, French developer Golgoth Studio (which earlier remade Toki) announced that they were working on a remake of the first game. Lack of updates since then placed this Joe & Mac remake squarely in Development Hell until the company's demise. On October 14, 2021, publisher Microids and developer Mr. Nutz Studio picked up this remake; it was released in December 2022 on consoles and PC as New Joe & Mac - Caveman Ninja.

Joe & Mac provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: If you go down the middle and lower paths after the final boss, the ending will show you being chased by either an overweight middle-aged cavewoman or a male neanderthal in a drag. Though Joe and Mac have the same scared reaction when they're being chased by groupies.
  • Adaptation Species Change: In the 2022 remake:
    • The animated dinosaur skeleton is changed from several random bones to a complete giant theropod dinosaur skeleton (possibly a Giganotosaurus).
    • The penultimate boss is changed from a carnivorous dinosaur with a long snake-like neck to an actual giant snake.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: In Lost in the Tropics players can spend money to decorate their hut.
  • And Your Reward Is Parenthood: In Lost in the Tropics both Joe and Mac can get married and have a baby with their respective wife.
  • Attack on the Heart: The only way to beat the final boss is to attack the giant beast's heart, thus weakening the boss' attacks on you.
  • Bamboo Technology:
    • Mook neanderthals riding foot-powered wooden helicopters. They throw bombs at you, for some odd reason. The SNES version removed the helicopters, but features motorcycles (whose sprite is based on the aforementioned helicopters).
    • In the village in Joe & Mac 2, a primitive telescope and pulley are present.
    • The final boss of Joe & Mac Returns is a wooden Giant Mecha. When you destroy it, the rider continues fighting you in one of the wood helicopters.
  • Bound and Gagged: The cavegirls, all tied up in various forms during boss fights. This was removed from the SNES version for obvious reasons.
    • The redheads and brunettes are tied to poles.
    • The raven-haired ones are under Unwilling Suspension.
    • The blondes simply have their hands tied behind their backs.
  • Charged Attack: If you take too long to fire, it will tire your caveman out, and you'll take damage.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: In Joe & Mac Returns, when the two heroes aren't out rescuing cavegirls, Joe and Mac try to peep at them while they're bathing, blow their bikini tops off, or just outright steal their bikinis.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer:
    • Joe (Player 1) - green
    • Mac (Player 2) - blue
  • Company Cameo: The Data East logo can be seen on the rocks of the first volcanic level of the first game.
  • Doppelgänger Attack:
    • Only in the arcade version, it's the duo's only "ninja" attack.
    • The Final Boss in the first game sort of does this, but the doppelganger transforms into one of the other cavemen to attack.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: The mammoth boss loses his trunk, and both of his tusks through the course of the battle.
  • Flame Spewer Obstacle: Stage 4 in the original has flames coming out of lava.
  • For the Evulz: The first level in Joe & Mac 2 would have ended without a boss fight, if it weren't for some random neanderthal whacking a sleeping Stegosaurus on the head For the Lulz.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The first game has two final bosses, depending on which version you play. Most versions feature some sort of caveman-dinosaur hybrid that attacks by leaping at you in rapid somersaults, and spitting up larvae-like creatures. The NES game's manual identifies him as 'The Fabled Sagileocorn', whatever that means. The SNES version instead has a Big Red Devil, complete with pitchfork and demonic cackle, who turns into a more challenging blue form when you beat him. Both of them count; even moreso since they are both fought inside of a snake-necked Tyrannosaurus rex, for some reason.
  • G-Rated Sex: In Lost in the Tropics, after getting married if Joe or Mac buy flowers for his wife, a soothing music will play followed by a text message saying that he "feels very happy", the next time he visits his wife a baby will be with her.
  • Head Swap: Joe and Mac themselves, plus the redheaded and brunette cavegirls. The two Tyrannosaurus bosses from the first game count as well. One is a normal T. rex while the other is a red variant with a long, snakelike neck.
  • Inventing the Wheel: One of many weapons in the game is a rolling stone wheel.
  • Mama Bear: The first boss, a Tyrannosaurus rex, awakens once you hurt its offspring.
  • Mammoths Mean Ice Age: In the both the first game and Joe & Mac Returns, a Woolly Mammoth acts as a boss in the ice-themed level.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The second boss, which bears an incredible resemblance to Audrey the second. It can grab and eat you, which is an instant kill. In the original arcade version and NES port, the plant will actually spit out your bones. This was removed from the Genesis port, Game Boy port, and SNES arrangement.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In Congo's Caper, an almost literal example of this trope are the four caveman bosses you must fight after the intro stages. Two of them are actually a ninja and pirate, respectively. One is technically a vampire, but is nonetheless undead like a zombie, and the last guy isn't a robot, but he is a Mad Scientist who builds a dinosaur robot out of wood and stone.
  • One-Winged Angel: In Lost in the Tropics, when you beat Gork at the final level, he summons the Chief's stolen crown and gains nigh-indestructible powers from it.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Despite the title, Joe and Mac don't have any ninja powers except for the Doppelgänger Attack.
  • Power-Up Mount: Two water-based levels have your cavemen ride on either Pteranodons or plesiosaurs. In Joe and Mac 2, you encounter three ridable beasties as well, all of which have a Breath Weapon. The treetops stage has a friendly-looking fat Pteranodon that can spit seed-like projectiles from its beak, and the swamp stage has a the other two. The first is a small Styracosaurus that spits tiny fireballs and the second is a chubby little Plesiosaurus that spits concentrated bursts of water.
  • Sequel Number Snarl: Joe & Mac 2 is known as Tatakae Genshijin 3 in Japan and Joe & Mac 3 in Europe. The Japanese title makes sense, since Congo's Caper was Tatakae Genshijin 2 over there, but the change from Joe & Mac 2 to Joe & Mac 3 is a bit more puzzling (unless they were counting Joe & Mac Returns as "Joe & Mac 2", which came out almost at the same time).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Upon defeating one of the bosses, your player will pump a fist in the air.
    • Also, there's Cola as a collectible food item, which was common in Data East games.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Both the first game and Joe & Mac Returns have an ice-age themed level. Lost in the Tropics also has one based on the Grim Up North.
  • Smooch of Victory: After every boss fight, the rescued cavegirl will kiss your character on the cheek, restoring his health. If two players are playing, only the one who dealt more damage to the boss gets it (much to the other's chagrin).
  • Temper-Ceratops: A Triceratops acts as the boss of the snow level in Lost in the Tropics.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: If either Joe or Mac lose all their energy, they transform into winged souls and fly off in the series (averted in New Joe & Mac, though).
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: It's possible for your caveman to fall over dead from starvation in some versions, such as the arcade version, where your life gradually decreases (most versions, such as the SNES version, don't have this feature); or, more hilariously, fall over dead from starvation soon after surviving an attack with one HP left. This is lampshaded when Joe or Mac suddenly clutches his stomach and says, "I'm hungry!" before dying from starvation.
  • Womb Level: The last level of the original game is inside the Tyrannosaurus you defeated in the penultimate level.