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Video Game / Karoshi

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Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!

Karoshi is a series of puzzle-platformer games by Jesse Venbrux.

The gameplay is simple: Find clever ways to kill yourself. Over the course of the game, you'll have been crushed by a giant swinging hammer, launched a potted plant like a rocket, and flung yourself into a giant, severed version of your head. To do so, you'll not only have to think outside the box, but set the box on fire and jump into the flames.

Yes, it's that kind of game.

There are also five sequels: Karoshi 2.0, a sort of Expansion Pack with additional level editor, improved graphics, and many more absurd situations; Karoshi Factory, which focuses more of puzzle elements than unorthodox solutions, except the levels now require you to kill several characters in each stage; Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman, a sequel in the form of a flash game; Super Karoshi, another flash game where the main character gains the ability to turn into SUPER KAROSHI, who can't die but has to kill other businessmen. And then die. Finally, Mr. Karoshi for iPhone, iPad, Android and PSP which goes back to a more basic, classic gameplay but also introduces two additional characters, a chief and a Ms. Karoshi that can also be controlled in some levels.

The full series used to be available on the official website, which is now closed. However, you can still browse it on the Wayback Machine here and download the games from there.

This game provides examples of:

  • The Cameo: The Mubblies from Frozzd, another game from the same author, show up in one level of Karoshi 2.0. Another level references a never-completed project.
  • Continuity Nod: Super Karoshi has the rocket plant and swinging hammer from the first game, and choosing to go to hell at the end of Karoshi 2.0 has you playing the original first level.. over, and over, and over...
    • Mr. Karoshi uses a remixed version of Factory's theme.
  • Death as Game Mechanic: The game is all about finding a way to kill yourself, something the level design deliberately wants you not to do.
  • Denser and Wackier: While it definitely had a goofy sense of humor and a few gimmicky levels, the first Karoshi is mostly a fairly straightforward puzzle-platformer with a quirky premise. Karoshi 2.0, on the other hand, is completely insane, with almost every level having a solution that's unconventional at the very least, and often flat outright nonsensical and fourth-wall shattering. There's a reason the official website calls it "the maddest game in the series." Karoshi Factory and Mr. Karoshi are much more straight forward than even the first game, while the flash games are somewhere in between the first and second ones.
  • Defeat Means Playable: Happens bizarrely in the very end of the first game.
  • Determinator: The games themselves. Particularly Karoshi 2.0.
  • Driven to Suicide: Pretty much the whole plot of the game.
  • Drop the Cow: Though not for the usual reason.
  • Embedded Precursor:
    • Karoshi 2.0 features Karoshi 1 Speed Run mode, which lets you play all the levels of the original, except with a seven-minute timer.
    • The Flash games do the same: Super Karoshi lets you play Suicide Salaryman. If you haven't already, you need to do it in order to finish the last level.
  • Empathic Environment: In Mr. Karoshi, if you touch Ms. Karoshi, the character becomes happy and the surroundings turn pink. If she is killed, however, depression turns the current screen very dark. It's not only cosmetic, since it causes hazards to appear - flowers are turned into spikes, for example.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Inverted. Just about everything's trying to keep you alive (some of the traps you see are fakes, and one of the Spikes of Doom sprouts legs and runs away), and you have to foil them all anyway.
  • Final Boss: The giant head of the main character.
  • Gaiden Game: Karoshi Factory.
  • Genre Shift: Karoshi 2.0 has SUPER KAROSHI KART RACING 2000 EXTREME AWESOME.
  • Hand Wave: Mr. Karoshi can obtain a gun in some levels, but he can't just kill himself with it. Instead, he needs to shoot other things that will end up causing his death. The explanation is that Mr. Karoshi has no elbows, so he can't turn the gun toward himself.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Of course, the objective of the boss "fights" is to get killed.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: THANKS FOR PLAY and LET'S WORKING TOGETHER.
  • Invincibility Power-Up; Red diamonds in Super Karoshi turn the salaryman invulnerable, in addition to giving him infinite jumps.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • You explode whenever you touch anything deadly. Except when getting electrocuted in Mr. Karoshi where the result is a little pile of ashes.
    • In Mr Karoshi, if another character catches fire, he/she will explode after a few seconds and his/her pieces can set others on fire.
  • Meaningful Name: Karoshi, which means "death from overwork" in Japanese.
  • Misère Game: You're a suicidal salaryman, and the objective of each level is to kill yourself.
  • Multiple Endings: Sort of, in Karoshi 2.0 you end up in heaven and you have to choose between a heart or spikes, the heart gets you a blank screen that just says the end, the spikes on the other hand make you repeat the first level of the first game over & over & over &...
  • Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles: They pop up in an underwater level in Karoshi 2.0; of course, you're trying to avoid them so you can drown.
  • Paradiegetic Gameplay: Some of the puzzle solutions are a bit... unorthodox.
    • 2.0 is particularly creative about this. Some examples include pressing keys when prompted, exactly what you need to do being veiled as a warning that bad things will happen if you do it, resetting the level only to find something changed, jumping off the main menu screen, and playing an actual CD on your computer to get an ingame stereo to push a safe onto you.
    • And in a puzzle in Super Karoshi you have to click a link to go to the download page for the other Karoshi games. The level itself even notes that this is a shameless plug.
  • Poison Mushroom: Kryptonite in Super Karoshi turns off player's super mode. Collecting this is usually needed to beat the level.
  • Press X to Die: 2.0 has a room entitled "Press Q to quit."
    • A few of the puzzles literally involve pressing X (or at least a different key) to die. Of course, since dying is the whole point of the game, this is a good thing.
  • Pressure Plate: Pressure plates serve as common puzzle elements.
  • Radiation-Induced Superpowers: You turn into Super Karoshi for the first time after you fall into a barrel of blue toxic waste.
  • Red Herring: Many levels have these.
  • Reverse Psychology: Used in some levels.
  • Rule of Three: "Don't touch the spikes" *you walk into the spikes* "No" *Reset Button*
  • Running Gag:
    • And Super Karoshi has several false endings.
    • And the "K" key. "There is a key to this level" indeed.
    • Thanks For Play
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • "You will quit if you press "q".
    • Subverted in the following level.
  • Sequential Boss: Your head. The games joke about this, constantly telling you that it really is the final boss this time, no lie!
  • Soft Reset: Some of Karoshi 2.0's puzzles require you to go back to the main menu.
  • Spikes of Doom: Unlike most of the other games, spikes are your friends in this game. Most of the time anyway. Game knows this and sometimes does subversions of Spikes of Doom trope in forms of fake spikes.
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: Springboards are particularly present in Super Karoshi, being able to launch both the player and other salarymen in the air.
  • The Stinger: Karoshi 2.0 has a few levels after the credits.
  • Suicide as Comedy: Naturally.
  • Super Mode: In Super Karoshi. Upon collecting an emblem that looks like Superman's logo, you gain a cape, Goku-like golden hair, full immunity to all damage (except for fire), the power to break blue crystals, and an infinite double jump. Collecting a chunk of Kryptonite will revert the transformation.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: One level in Karoshi 2.0 requires you to play a CD in your computer, which requires that you, the player, have the needed objects in real life. If you do not have a computer with a CD drive and a music CD, the level is impossible in the normal edition. An alternate version of the game that lets you win that level without breaking the fourth wall exists.
  • Unwinnable by Design: "Karoshi 1 Speed Run" in Karoshi 2.0 gives you a time limit to complete every level from the first game. One level requires you to wait. If the time left is less than the time needed to win the level, you'll have to start again from the beginning.
  • Violation of Common Sense: You want to die instead of to live like in other games. Inverted in Karoshi 2.0. To get the good ending, you must choose the heart in the last scene instead of spike, or else you will get Non-Standard Game Over Kobayashi Mario of the stage 0 in black and white which you can never win.
  • Waiting Puzzle: Level 23 in the first game has you in a hole and a clock on the wall, ticking...
  • Wrap Around: The solution to some of the levels in the games.