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Video Game / Quantum Conundrum

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Then I flip a switch and fluffy is everything
Plush and sweet and soft and pink
I flip a switch and heavy is everywhere
Crash to the ground from out of the air
I flip a switch and time goes down, down, down
Stretching thin and stretching out
I flip a switch and lose the gravity
Light as a feather an floating free
— "Flip a Switch" by Gremlin, the theme song written for the game, neatly summing up what you can expect

Quantum Conundrum is a first-person perspective puzzle hybrid game in the same vein as Portal, of which director Kim Swift was a creative lead.

The player character is the 12-year-old nephew of Professor Fitz Quadwrangle (voiced by John de Lancie). When he drops by for a visit, his uncle disappears in an explosion. It is up to him find Fitz through the use of the Inter-Dimensional Shift Device (IDS device), which can move him between dimensions and affect the physics of the world around him.

It was released on June 21, 2012, for the PC, with console releases later on.


  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Science Juice.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: The manor, of course.
  • Bittersweet Ending: You save yourself from dying when the mansion collapses, and the professor escapes, but now you're trapped in the pocket dimension, and the whole world is being shifted by the Uber IDS.
  • Blamed for Being Railroaded: There are multiple situations where you are forced to break glass in order to proceed, yet Professor Quadwrangle chews you out over it every time. Amusingly enough, there is one singular area in the game where the Professor specifically says that breaking the glass is a necessary evil due to there being no other option, yet it's one of the few areas where you actually CAN avoid breaking the glass.
  • Book Ends: The generator room in the first wing (The End of the Beginning) and the generator room in the last wing (The Beginning of the End)
  • Brick Joke: At one point, the Professor warns you not to look at Ike in the eyes. Upon completing the game, you unlock the "Do A Thing!" option on the title screen, where you get to see what happens if you do...
  • Bullet Time: Slow-Mo slows time to a crawl, and lasers that shoot out of the wall can be seen slowly leaving their gun, allowing you to dodge past them before the laser reaches its target.
  • Clone Degeneration: Though it doesn't come up in gameplay, this is a limitation of DOLLI. It can be seen with the effect on each successive generation of the Professor's cloned cat. To quote the Professor:
    I want to clarify that Dolli is great for cloning inanimate objects, but she's not entirely capable with organic ones.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: The final level of the first section is called "End of the Beginning", while the final level of the third section is called "Beginning of the End".
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Portal players will kick themselves every time they try to use something and shift dimensions instead. The 'E' key, which tends to be linked to Use in any modern FPS, is the Fluffy dimension hotkey. Use is instead done by left mouse click, which is commonly associated with shooting something. It's softened somewhat by the HUD having a constant reminder of which buttons are used to shift dimensions.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Professor Quadwrangle has his moments, though since he's voiced by John de Lancie, it's to be expected.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Quadwrangle jokes about the possibility that the Inverted Dimension doesn't use an opposite sense of gravity, but instead the mansion is simply upside down. In the epilogue, the mansion falls off the cliff and ends up upside down.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Top speed runs often involve exploiting the game environment to bypass entire portions of some levels.
  • Easy Amnesia: Professor Quadrangle forgot the events leading up to his getting trapped in a pocket dimension on account of suffering a bump on the head when the explosion happened. Thankfully, that's all he's forgotten.
  • Evil Laugh: Professor Quadwrangle engages in a typical Mad Scientist laugh, for no other reason than he felt like it and thought his nephew was expecting it.
  • Exact Words: Fitz Quadrangle's first great scientific victory, his science fair project, 'The Effects of Radiation on Things'. Not as childish as it sounds: Things was the name of his pug.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Ike's dietary requirements include, among other things, several kilos of meat a day, asparagus, scrap metal, and "whatever else he has a craving for, really."
    Quadwrangle: Ike says he found your luggage in the lobby. And he would like to apologize for eating your pants.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Prof. Quadwrangle hypothesizes that the reason why tigers are going extinct today is because people are going back in time to when tiger-hunts were legal and shooting them.
  • Fun with Acronyms: DOLLI, IKE, etc. Quadwrangle loves them.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Game physics are tied to frame rate, which means any drop can cause unpredictable physics glitchs. These glitches can make some tests completely unsolvable. In particular, any test which requires stacking objects can result in said objects tipping over in mid-stack, ruining whatever puzzle they were a part of.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Played for Laughs with "Everyday I'm Shovelin'", Professor Quadwrangle's hole-digging machine. In the only picture of it, it's digging a hole in the ground and going into it. According to Quadwrangle, that was the last time he ever saw it.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: There's a couple dozen tiny robots, identifiable by the atomic ring pattern surrounding them, that the player can collect. There's also four blueprints, one for each dimension, which unlocks the use of those dimensions in the sandbox level accessible from the main hall.
  • Gravity Master: The Fluffy and Heavy dimensions serve this purpose, making objects ten times less or more massive, respectively. Notably, momentum is not conserved when switching between Fluffy, Heavy, and Normal; a Fluffy safe thrown in the air will retain its velocity if made heavier in the normal or Heavy dimensions. This is a vital aspect of solving puzzles.
  • Gravity Screw: In the Reverse-Gravity dimension.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Professor Quadwrangle comes off like this in the beginning, but quickly warms up.
  • Have a Nice Death: Whenever you die, the game helpfully lists an experience that the player character will never have.
    • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Including "Writing depressing comments for a video game" and "Going through this level with one less death."
    • Also a possible joke at Nomura: "Eating nothing but ramen for 3 months."
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: An odd variant, as while Professor Quadwrangle is clearly seen in paintings, he never appears in person, unless you count his glowing silhouette in the final levels.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: There is a number of situations where you're capable of walking over what is obviously a hole big enough for you to fall through, with you effectively standing on air.
  • Hurricane of Puns: All of the books around the Professor's Mansion have titles like "Great Exponentiations" and "Heart of Dark Matter". Level titles are no exception, and the Professor chimes in with a few of his own.
  • I Fell for Hours: The last level has a straight drop down a giant tube that takes about a minute to finish. Thanks to the malfunctioning Uber-IDS at the bottom, this can become even longer if the garbage in the tube is caught by Reverse-Gravity and drags you back up with it.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Apparently, the future will still not have flying cars. One of the Have a Nice Death messages says you'll never have the opportunity to complain about the lack of flying cars.
  • Kick the Dog: There's an achievement, "Big Meanie", for knocking Ike over with an object.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Professor Quadwrangle acknowledges the implausibility of a wall fan somehow managing to pin a fluffy safe to a wall with enough force to support your weight when you use it as a platform.
  • Loophole Abuse: The buttons are pressure-sensitive. While this is meant to keep fluffy cubes (or other normally heavy items) from triggering them, stacking enough fluffy objects onto a button will trigger it, since the weight adds up.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Quadwrangle is a benign version.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Why this building is designed so that several rooms are potential death traps that can only be avoided with careful use of the IDS is never explained.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Played for a little Black Comedy; the player character is explicitly a child (complete with a shorter-than-normal height for the player's viewpoint), and can die in several ways throughout the game. It then informs you of one of the many, many experiences the player character will never have, including being taller than four feet, reaching age 13, and not having peaked at ten.
  • Mission Control: Professor Quadwrangle provides direction, information on how the alternate dimensions work, and various background tidbits.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • When the professor invented a freaking time-machine, he began using it to get futuristic clothing and to legally hunt tigers.
    • The nuclear Clothes Drier
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: You activating the Uber IDS, combined with all of the spilled Science Juice around the mansion, ends up sending the entire world through the different dimensions.
  • No Name Given: The player character.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Professor Quadwrangle is fairly upfront about the unsafe conditions in his home, lampshading it a few times in the particularly deadly tests.
    • Played with in the early levels, at least, where a majority of the unsafe things are actually the result of the security measures triggering due to the power going out.
  • Not Quite Flight: One of the tricks to solve puzzles with anti-gravity is to use a moving object to float over long distances through gravity switching. You can get as far as you want, but can't turn.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: In the Fluffy Dimension, you become immune to fall damage.
    • Although in general, falling from great heights does nothing to you except make your vision blurry for a few seconds. If you die from falling, it's usually because it's a Bottomless Pit or a hole filled with Science Juice.
  • The Professor: Professor Fitz Quadwrangle.
  • Punny Name: "Quadwrangle" is a pun on "Quadrangle" (a four-sided polygon) and "wrangle", appropriate given that he's created the ability to shift between four alternate dimensions. Another relative has the last name of "Triwrangle."
  • Required Secondary Powers: Quadwrangle's main inventions (the jetpack, the freeze ray, the glove) all have the ability to act as a mode of transportation, possibly justifying the bizarre platforming elements of the game.
  • Selective Gravity: Justified. Since the IDS prevents the wearer from being affected by dimensional shifts, the player experiences gravity normally in the Fluffy/Heavy/Reverse-Gravity dimensions.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Each level has a goal for time, dimension shifts, and lack of deaths. Certain ones also have collectibles, which the level select screen helpfully points out. They don't necessarily need to be done together, though all of them are doable as such.
  • Sequel Hook: The entire world is being affected by the Uber IDS, and Professor Quadwrangle is about to set his mind to both solving that problem and getting the player character back from the pocket dimension.
  • Shout-Out: One of the Professor's time-traveling portraits shows him in future "space" clothes, and also wearing Adam Jensen's trademark shades.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • When changing to the Heavy dimension, which also turns everything metallic, half the portraits are depicted in heavy metal garb.
    • Professor Quadwrangle describes the dimension he's trapped in as containing things like cell phones, and the clouds in the sky are apparently made of lint. It's a Pocket Dimension.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: The Professor's memories start to return, and just as he starts to realize what it is you shouldn't be doing, instead of giving him a moment to warn you, you finish turning on the uber-IDS and plunge the world into chaos.
  • Sugar Bowl: Fluffy dimension, which renders objects much lighter than they are normally, makes everything white and soft. The pictures also become more childlike, such as having those depicted wearing cat costumes and other funny things.
  • Take Your Time: During the last parts of the game, professor Quadwrangle urges you to go to the Uber-IDS section due to the entire manor shaking and being quite obviously unstable. However, nothing stops you from revisiting the previous sections or just walking around for as long as you want. And when you do enter the Uber-IDS section, there's no time limit on the levels either, despite the constant rumbles. Even when you reach the Uber-IDS and activate it, professor Quadwrangle urges you to get to him before it's too late, but in reality you can just stand there with nothing happening except the frequent rumbles.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Some of the puzzles are like this, especially since screwing up on most of them will end in your death. One particular test requires exploiting Slow-Mo to have an object above you fall below you so you can land on it mid jump, which a lot of players won't immediately catch on to.
  • Wham Line: The instant you activate the Uber IDS, Professor Quadwrangle gets his memory back and realizes exactly why you should not activate the Uber IDS:
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Professor Quadwrangle will call you out whenever you start breaking things in his mansion. Played for Laughs, of course, since many of the puzzles require vandalism.