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Video Game / 1001 Spikes

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"Gah! What a nuisance! Fine - I'll take your stupid offer! I'm going to get those treasures and throw them into your stupid grave!"
Aban Hawkins

Released by Nicalis on the PC, Play Station 4, Play Station Vita, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U in June 2014, 1001 Spikes (Or, its full title, Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes: The Temple of the Dead Mourns the Living) is the... touching story of a Aban Hawkins, a perpetually furious archeologist put against the sort of odds that make Indiana Jones' escapades look like a pleasant stroll to the museum. The hotheaded protagonist is stuck somewhere between being a "Well Done, Son" Guy and just wanting to punch him in the face, to the point where he is instantaneously spurred into action when he learns of his father's demise and subsquently finds a letter that both mocks him and challenges him to search the lost ruins of Ukampa.

Seen as the twisted lovechild of Super Meat Boy and I Wanna Be the Guy, 1001 Spikes has a title that understates the sheer level of tricks and traps laying before you, giving you 1001 lives to get through them all. The difficulty is somewhere in between the two, combining some trial and error gaming with challenges that require platforming skill as opposed to purely memorisation.

Aban himself also appears as a playable character in two of Nicalis' crossover games, Crystal Crisisnote  and Blade Strangers.

Compare with I Wanna Be the Guy and Super Meat Boy.

This game contains examples of:

  • And Your Reward Is Clothes – This is what most of your money will go towards. Granted, the costumes are worth it, because they change how Aban behaves.
    • Fighter Aban can only have one Hadoken on screen, but it has an enormous hitbox which helps to deflect shots. While the Hadoken is on the screen, he has a spinning melee attack he can use while moving, and his Shoryuken high jump can actually kill enemies if timed correctly.
    • Soldier Aban has a rapid fire machine gun, and is able to grab ledges.
    • Space Marine Aban has the same machine gun, but a melee weapon with an upwards cleave and an inability to grab ledges.
    • Slayer Aban has a whip as a standard attack and the usual ranged knives by pressing up and attack.
    • Knight Aban has the distinction of being one of only two characters capable of taking more than one hit, at the cost of his melee attack.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Aban is an archaeologist and his archaeological methods are rather unscientific.
  • Anger Born of Worry: This is the catalyst to Aban's hatred of his father, as the latter's obsession with going on exotic adventures for treasure puts him in danger, affecting those who care about him. The hatred is spurned further when Aban becomes furious over Jim's decision to not share his fortune with his son due to not earning the findings himself.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Hasis, the master of the Cult of the Tower of Nannar: he flies, summons lightning to strike you down and casts fireballs to scorch the ground you fight him. It's all quickly shown to be a ruse with Hasis using strings, tesla coils and some sort of bomb to fight you, but he's still a pretty tough boss, mind you.
  • Bragging Rights Reward:
    • Curly Brace is arguably one of the most useful characters in the game due to her extreme air mobility. However, unlocking her requires all thirty golden skulls, which are hidden at best and controller-snappingly frustrating to get at worst (or both), and can only be obtained by Aban, meaning you essentially have to master each of the levels to even get her. Even after that, the only way to use her in the second half of the game is to complete it in its entirety with Aban.
    • The bigger example of this, however, is Thompsoncare. It costs a staggering 1,000,001 coins, a figure that can only be achieved by grinding the extra modes of the game. When obtained, it gives you infinite lives, which in most games would easily warrant that price. There's just one slight issue, however. You effectively have infinite lives anyway. Any time you run out, you get a small game over and then get given some lives back. Seeing as there's no checkpoints in the stages, this is utterly superfluous, and all it effectively does is remove your lives counter. However, buying it is required for two achievements.
  • Captain Obvious: Dying results in a black screen with text declaring "YOU ARE DEAD!"
  • Character Select Forcing: Somewhat – Aban, in his normal self, is the only one who can find the Golden Skulls. Everyone else is stuck with finding coins instead. It’s then enforced far more strictly in the second half of the game. As soon as you get to Antarctica, you can only use Aban until you’ve completed all of the Antarctica levels, after which you’re allowed to use the others.
  • Checkpoint: Subverted. The player comes across a short flag but it crumbles once the player reaches it. The rat will tell that this game has no checkpoints.
  • Damsel in Distress: Your goal in "The Tower of Nannar" is to save a woman from being sacrificed by cultists.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: The time between death and continuing on your next life is never more than three seconds.
  • Death Throws: Present and accounted for. Inexplicably happens when you touch a bottomless pit, and there’s variants of it when you’re hit by fire or a Scorpion.
  • Determinator: Not even hundreds of deaths can stop Aban in his quest to prove himself for parental recognition and profit.
  • Developer's Foresight: The treasures that give huge amounts of lives in the final levels of each world remain there, albeit greyed out if you re-visit them. However, if you try and be clever and go back to get them for more lives, they crumble into nothing and give you a 1down.
  • Down the Drain: Stage 3.
  • Easy Level Trick: Several levels have destroyable or pushable blocks that let you skip areas, sometimes up to two thirds of the level.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Of a sort. You are allowed to skip levels, but you cannot access the end of Ukampa with any levels flagged as skipped - You get a single screen of text and are booted back to the map. In Antarctica, you're not allowed to skip at all without an item from the shop.
  • Empty Room Psych: 5-5 does this to a tee. The previous level is by far one of the most grueling that the character’s come up against, so every second the player spends in here tends to be terrifying because they expect spikes or a Jump Scare to come up. But… no. The only risk is falling in the lava at the bottom. Even the level’s name, “Too Easy”, reinforces this. The confusion from most Let’s Players is palpable and hilarious.
  • Expy: An obvious one of Indiana Jones.
  • Flame Spewer Obstacle: Final level in world 2 introduces flame traps that shoot out flames at regular intervals.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Conseil’s Duty Free, to an extent. All of the costumes he sells tend to be not quite as advertised, a ploy to get Aban into advertising contracts, or both. The rest of the stuff he sells though, such as the Skull Detector, Extra lives, and Thompsoncare are fully above board, though.
  • Insult of Endearment: It's implied by the true ending that Jim addresses his son this way. Possibly by Aban to his father, as well.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: Present sometimes in the main game, but most blatant in the Tower of Nannar bonus mode.
  • Jungle Japes: Ukampa is located in a jungle. The first stage plays the setting straight.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The temple in Stage 4 features lava and fireballs that will burn you to a crisp.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: In addition to the ones previously mentioned as well as Tina and Jim Hawkins, lots of different characters from other games are present.
    • Commander Video from BIT.TRIP. Kind of ironic considering he was the first unlock in Super Meat Boy too. Has a floatier jump and a huge wide projectile that penetrates.
    • Sugimoto from Tempura of the Dead. Has a Sword Beam, can pause his momentum in midair by attacking, and can also Air Dash.
    • President Thompson, also from Tempura, has a double jump and a machinegun.
    • Zombie the, well, zombie, again from Tempura, has a semi-aimable bubble shot that’s affected by gravity (unless you press forward while shooting), and is the other character capable of surviving a hit, at the cost of losing his head and being forced to use melee attacks.
    • Juni from Knytt Stories. She can Double Jump, Glide, and can both Wall-slide and Wall Jump once, letting her effectively jump five blocks high.
    • El Testigo, an Author Avatar of Jonathan Blow (The developer of Braid). He attacks with a glitched ball of code, altering the appearance of blocks and slowing moving objects. He can also Goomba Stomp enemies.
    • Nyx from NyxQuest. She can perform several small Double Jumps in the air, and has a strange attack in the form of an orb that pauses in the air then launches.
    • Finally, we have Curly from Cave Story. She is armed with a machine gun (though in practice it’s more like an automatic pistol), but more importantly her Booster 2.0 is present and accounted for. She would be termed as a Game-Breaker if it wasn’t for the reasons mentioned in Bragging Rights Reward.
  • Meaningless Lives: Zig-Zagged. Initially the enormous amount of lives you start with – 1001 – sounds like you’d never run out. You will soon learn otherwise. However, whenever you beat a world, you find a treasure that gives you a good amount of lives, up to 256 in some cases. This can be repeated with every character. Also, when playing as Aban, every time you collect a Golden Skull, you get a 1up, which works as pretty good life insurance. However, all of this is negated when you discover that if you run out of lives, you simply have to read through a few lines of text in a game over screen, and are then given a few lives back.
  • Nintendo Hard: Come on. With a title like that, can you expect anything less? One Hit Kills, I Wanna Be the Guy style traps that manage to get into your head and put dart traps exactly where you’re jumping, and extremely precise jumps? All par for the course.
  • "Number of Objects" Title
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Every single character apart from Knight Aban dies in a single hit. Knight Aban has two hit points, just like the person he’s cosplaying as.
  • Perfect Poison: The darts from the various traps are explained to be poisoned, which is why they kill instantaneously. Doubly so for scorpions, which turn you purple when they kill you.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Aban plays this to the tenth degree. There is pretty much no occasion where he isn’t in an anger-induced grimace in a cutscene. He does give a thumbs up whenever he beats a level, but his facial features are invisible due to sprite limitations.
  • Platform Hell: Teeters on the edge of being this. Yes, there are some traps that you'd need to be psychic to avoid sometimes, but most of them can be seen coming and have a small moment of warning, and the game is polished and tight enough that you can't be screwed over by bad controls.
  • Primal Stance: Aban's base sprite shows him legs spread, crouched over and ready.
  • Quick Melee: Aban has throwing knives, but the game neglects to mention that you also have a melee attack, performed by throwing a knife at extremely close range to a scorpion, which causes him to instantly zoom forwards and slash the scorpion for a one hit kill as opposed to the standard three attacks.
  • Redundant Researcher: An extremely rare case of this where the main protagonist is the one this trope is referring to. Aban’s Father outwits him at every turn during the story, much to his fury.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Rats the player encounters are almost as large as the player character.
  • Rustproof Blood – Pretty much every spike in Ukampa has still-red blood all over them. which makes you realize how many people must have tried and failed to explore this place…
  • Scary Scorpions: One of the most common enemies the player encounters is a player-sized dangerous scorpion.
  • Serial Escalation: Never, ever think “The game can’t get any harder than this, right?”. You will be disappointed. Often.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Your main form of defense against the many dart traps in the ruins. Projectiles can be destroyed with other projectiles. Bizzarely, harmless pixel-wide droplets of water count as projectiles for the sake of shot deflection. This has cost people lives occasionally.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: World 3 introduces crushers that regularly smash into the ground.
  • Skyward Scream: Happens almost every single cutscene where Aban unlocks a new costume from the shop.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The last five worlds all take place in Antarctica, but this trope is – for a game like this – bewilderingly yet mercifully averted in the case of the player character. However, blocks are not exempt from this when being pushed, despite being completely safe to stand on without slipping.
  • Spikes of Doom: As it is clear from the title, the game features spikes all over the place: On the floor, on walls, on ceilings. Some only emerge when the player is near them. Spikes themselves are covered with blood.
  • Tap on the Head: What Aban does to his dad when he finally finds him. He fails on the first attempt, but succeeds by the second, with the help of a penguin.
  • Temple of Doom: The main setting of the game.
  • Temporary Platform: Seen in multiple places, the Crumble-When-You-Step-On It, the Temporary-after-hitting-a-switch kind, and the good old Mega Man toggling variety.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Practically required to get past the game, and it gives you 1000 lives for this exact purpose.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Picking up the key in any level changes the BGM to a much more upbeat remix.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: This seems to be Aban’s entire motivation to get through the ruins, combined with a sheer hatred of the man. Granted, it is completely and utterly warranted.
    • Beating Antarctica has them soften up to each other, even for a little bit.