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Video Game / Paganitzu

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Paganitzu is a 2D Puzzle Game developed by Keith Schuler and published by Apogee Software in 1991. It follows the exploits of explorer Alabama Smith in the titular Aztec pyramid. The game is divided into three episodes:

  • Episode 1: Romancing the Rose (released as Shareware)
  • Episode 2: Quest for the Silver Dagger (often abbreviated to just The Silver Dagger)
  • Episode 3: Jewel of the Yucatan (note that the first and third names are spoofs of Romancing the Stone and its sequel The Jewel Of The Nile)

The basic story is as follows: Alabama Smith is a well-respected archaeologist until a tabloid newspaper runs a story accusing him of giving birth to twins. To restore his credibility, Al heads to Mexico, to the Aztec pyramid of Paganitzu (meaning "Temple of the Gods") to find the legendary Crystal Rose. This is covered in episode one.

In episode two, Al goes deeper into the pyramid to find the magical Silver Dagger, which he plans to use to defeat the evil Aztec deity Omigosh whom he accidentally released from the Crystal Rose at the end of episode one.

In episode three, Al (who is now a ghost after being killed by the Silver Dagger) can see that the pyramid is actually a living being of flesh and blood. He must find the Skull Oracle, who can send him back in time to find the Aztec wizard Devasco, the only person who can defeat Omigosh.

Paganitzu is actually the third game in a series, the first being the ultra-obscure Castle Zhagwar and the second the slightly-less-obscure Chaguniztu (which was published in the disk-based magazine Big Blue Disk by Softdisk, aka the company the id Software guys came from).

Tropes in this game:

  • Can't See a Damn Thing: Level 17 of the first game begins in a dark room. Wandering into the area full of spiders is a death trap, but it is possible to light the room by moving the right place.
  • Demonic Possession: Omigosh possesses Maria's body in episodes two and three.
  • Easter Egg: Several:
    • Episode one has hidden inscriptions in each level (usually humorous) which give you points for finding them. One of them claims that its reader will be "stricken with the curse of baldness". Sure enough, as soon as Al walks away from it, his hat falls off and he's bald. For the rest of the game, Al's hat will occasionally fall off, and you can't finish the level without picking it up. Once you beat the episode, you get a message saying his hair has grown back.
    • Episode two has a hidden scene where Al trips and falls unconscious, then a Yorp from Commander Keen appears, puts on Al's hat, and walks around for awhile making faces at him. When Al wakes up, he spends a couple of minutes describing a dream he had about Commander Keen, finishing by saying that it's another great title from Apogee Software.
    • Episode three has several extremely well-hidden secret exits to levels from Chagunitzu.
  • Giant Spider: One of the main enemies in episode one. If one is prevented from moving (i.e. no empty spaces on any side of it), it explodes and clears out the surrounding tiles. This is necessary to solve a few puzzles.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Revealed by the Skull Oracle in the ending.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Al tries to kill Omigosh with the Silver Dagger, but is unable to control it and gets killed himself.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The second episode takes place in a section of the pyramid filled with fire and lava.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Most notably in the first episode with its spear traps.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Anything that can harm Al will kill him in one hit.
  • Poke the Poodle: What Omigosh threatens to do to the world: "I'll double the price of refreshments at movie theaters, and make Quayle the president of the United States!"
  • The Power of Love: Maria's love for Al allows her to forcibly exorcise Omigosh.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Aztec god To'ku Paga, or as he prefers to be called, Omigosh.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Omigosh was too weak to leave the pyramid; the Skull Oracle just wanted Al to get rid of him because of all the racket he was making, so he made up some stories about all the horrible things Omigosh was doing around the world. That's right, Al gets killed and Devasco goes to Hell because a nearly powerless god was noisy. At least Al comes back to life and ends up with Maria.
  • Stealth Pun: One level in episode one has a section of red pipe shaped like the letter C. You have to explode a spider next to it to remove part of it, then clear a path through water with boulders, to progress. That's right, you're parting the red C.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Episode one makes Al's hat fall off at random times, which can block spiders and make them follow a different path, and persists even after Al dies and restarts the level. If you are extremely unlucky, it is possible for this to result in a spider immediately coming after him and killing him when the level starts, quicker than he can retrieve his hat, over and over again until he runs out of lives.
  • Womb Level: The entire third episode (and in retrospect the whole game; Al just couldn't see it in the first two episodes).