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Video Game / Rise of the Triad

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Rise of the Triad is a First-Person Shooter released by Apogee Software in 1994. There's a story, involving a United Nations special operations team sent to investigate suspicious cult activity on a remote island, but you wouldn't know it unless you read the manual. Like most early FPS's, it's all about shooting anything that moves and picking up anything that doesn't. Rise of the Triad introduced a number of gameplay innovations, many of which have become common in the FPS genre: elevated platforms, jumping, sneaky enemies that play dead and steal your weapons, areas full of poison gas, a plethora of different missile weapons, adjustable violence levels with a password lockout, breakable windows, bullet damage to walls, selectable player characters with varying abilities, and extensive multiplayer support.


In an era where "online gaming" meant two people playing head-to-head over a direct modem link, Rise of the Triad offered 11-way multiplayer games over a local area network (a dedicated server is required for more than eight players.) The game supports a number of multiplayer variants, including basic deathmatch, several variations of "tag", a race to collect the most treasure in the least amount of time, and "Capture the Triad" - the first implementation of Capture the Flag in a first person shooter. Each mode offered a number of adjustable options to further customize gameplay. The game didn't support this newfangled Internet thing, just Novell NetWare, so the only way most people could enjoy an 11-player fragfest was to take over an office or academic computer lab after hours.

The adjustable violence setting allows the player to select from four levels of gore: the self-explanatory None, small spurts of blood on Some, big damage causing enemies to turn into a little pile of mush on A Lot, and the default setting of Excessive, which can occasionally result in Ludicrous Gibs. An "engine killing gibs" cheat existed that, when enabled, would cause exploded enemies to spew hundreds of pounds of gibs that would fly across the room.


Interestingly, the shareware and "registered" (full retail) releases of the game have no single-player levels in common (the retail version did include the multiplayer levels from the shareware version). Apogee sold three different versions of the game: a basic floppy-disk version, a CD version that included additional levels and other bonus material, and a Site License CD version. The Site License version allowed for installation on up to 11 computers and included multiplayer levels designed for big games, a signed license certificate "suitable for framing", and 11 individual license cards. Apogee also sold a bonus pack that added some of the CD bonus content to the floppy-disk version of the game. The full version of ROTT supports user-made levels. Additionally, the bonus pack includes the RANDROTT random level generator which can generate a set of up to 100 levels for either single-player or multiplayer.

Unfortunately for Apogee, Rise of the Triad hit the streets over a year after Id Software (who formerly used Apogee as a publisher) had rewritten the PC gaming rulebook with Doom. Originally pitched as a sequel to Wolfenstein 3-D, ROTT was built using its Game Engine and, like its progenitor, only supported walls laid out on a square grid at 90-degree angles to each other. Although staircases and bridges could be built using floating platforms (and players could go both under and over a bridge, which you could not do in Doom), the floor and ceiling heights throughout each level were fixed. Jumping was only possible through the use of fixed jump-pads. Next to Doom, which featured walls at any angle, variable floor and ceiling heights, and dynamic lighting effects, ROTT looked dated. However, despite being graphically behind the times, it was still a damn fun game.

Apogee/3D Realms have since released the source code to the game and there is at least one enhanced Win32 port of the game available. You will need the original data files (which remain copyrighted) to play it, though. (The data files for the shareware version are still available for free.)

A reboot, developed by Interceptor Entertainment (who also made Duke Nukem 3D Reloaded), was released July 31st, 2013. Trailer here. Multiplayer footage showcasing the weapons, levels and soundtrack here. Preorders for the new game were rewarded with the Apogee Throwback bundle, which included the original Rise of the Triad titles, as well as both of the Blake Stone titles.

During 3D Realms' "Realms Deep" event in September 2020, a remastered source port of the original ROTT by 3D Realms and Destructive Creations was announced for a 2021 release on Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, only for the remaster to be delayed without a release date. After two years of radio silence, the remaster was announced again during "Realms Deep 2022" as Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition, this time being handled by Nightdive Studios and New Blood Interactive. The remaster will feature all episodes from the main game and its expansion packs, 4K and ultrawide support, restored cut content, a sound test and the option to switch between the original game's soundtrack and the 2013 remake, revamped online multiplayer, a new level editor and a brand new episode.

Trope Namer for Ludicrous Gibs.

Looks like the only way out is tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Monk Meal", "Priest Porridge". Picking up explosive weapons will give you messages like "You Have a Heat-Seeker!" or "You Bagged a Bazooka!". Also, "You Discovered a Developer Ball!"
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The game's Holiday Mode is very bit as bloody as the normal mode, and its Autobots, Rock Out! adaptation of "Carol of the Bells" is named "God Rest Ye, Deadly Gentlemen".
  • Ass Shove: According to a loading screen in the remake, the Monk Crystal healing items are suppositories.
  • Attackable Pickup: The Priest Porridge, which can be turned into a more effective Priest Porridge Hot with a carefully aimed explosion. The remake lets you do this to Monk Meal as well.
  • Bandit Mook: The Lightning Guards can snatch away your missile weapons with a terse "Gimme that!" if you get too close, which is a whole lot worse than the usual item-stealing baddies, because they'll immediately start using it against you.
  • Batter Up!: The magical Excalibat weapon. The reboot gives it an ominous-looking demonic eye that keeps fidgeting around as you hold it. The original game has a multiplayer map with this name, and the level is a baseball field.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The titular Triad, consisting of General John Darian Sebastian Kryst and El Oscuro. There's also the boss NME, but he's just a robot.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • The stuff El Oscuro says when you fight him is actual Latin; phrases include "Deus tuus sum" ("I am your god") and "Mundus tuus morietur" ("Your world will die").
    • "El Oscuro" itself is Spanish for "The dark"
    • A sound clip that was cut from the game (you can find it on the game CD or the downloadable ROTT Goodies Pack), intended to have been played when Snake Oscuro sees you, apparently translates to "Eat Your Veggies".
  • Bloody Hilarious:
    • Even the violence isn't taken very seriously - look closely when you blow up an enemy soldier and you can see his severed hand fly by wagging its middle finger at you.
    • Also, the smiley face on the charred skeletons of baddies toasted by the Flamewall weapon.
  • Blown Across the Room: The Shotgun in the remake does this to enemies, with added Ludicrous Gibs when they hit a wall.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Literally in the remake. One level in each of the first three episodes has a mini-boss that looks like a regular mook, but takes a lot more damage and has a health bar and unique name: episode 1 has a Strike Guard named Dirty Sanchez, episode 2 has a Triad Enforcer named Big John, and episode 3 has a Robot Guard named Mr. Roboto. The episode 4 mini-boss, El Zee, is a giant El Oscuro statue rather than a mook.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The pistols and MP40 have unlimited ammo, and never need to be reloaded. Even though this is still the case in the remake, there's a reload button because the animations look cool.
  • Breakout Character: Big John, the King Mook Enforcer boss in the remake, has become something of a popular meme thanks to his goofy dialogue, enough so that he's had cameo appearances in other games, including DUSK and Maximum Action.
  • The Cameo: As of the remake's 1.3 patch, Lo Wang from the 2013 Shadow Warrior reboot is playable in multiplayer.
  • Camera Screw: Shrooms Mode makes your view move up, down, left, and right all the time. This is done on purpose.
  • Camp Gay: Krist in the remake has a prissy lisp and threatens to sodomize you, man or woman.
  • Capture the Flag: The "Capture the Triad" multiplayer mode.
  • Catchphrase: Each player character has one in both the original (in which they're simple one- or two-syllable interjections) and several in the remake (in which they're lengthy phrases or even complete sentences).
  • Checkpoint: Present in the remake.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: In the original, the players are identified by their shirt color.
  • Cool Chair: Sebastian Krist. His chair shoots rockets and mines. In the remake it also flies and has an energy shield.
  • Crossover: With the Shadow Warrior reboot. ROTT gets Lo Wang as a playable character, while Shadow Warrior gets an Excalibat skin for the katana.
  • Death by Cameo: Tom Hall plays El Oscuro, the final boss of the game. Also, all of the digitized sprites are made from 360 degree photos of Apogee staff in costume, most of whom worked on the game. The remake does the same with Interceptor's staff.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the original was over-the-top, it was, at least, mildly serious. The remake features oodles of Borderlands 2-style humor, featuring smart-ass remarks upon death, various tasteless jokes from the prisoners, a buttload of pop culture references, Thi making suggestive noises each time she jumps, and much more.
  • Destroyable Items: The Ankh coins in the original game.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: ROTT is quite possibly the first First-Person Shooter to have environmental objects that could be destroyed, featuring breakable glass, barrels that randomly contained weapons and other goodies, and stuff like torches and coins getting shot out. One of the end-of-level bonuses is for destroying all the plants on a level.
  • Digitized Sprites: All of the actor sprites are scanned in images of Apogee staff in costume. The turrets and robots, including the NME, are scanned in images of steel models.
  • Disintegrator Ray: The energy balls you can shoot from your hands when you have the God Mode invulnerability. On top of that, it has seeking capabilities and can go on to another nearby enemy after erasing the previous one from existence.
  • Downloadable Content: The remake has plans for it - and it will all be released for free.
  • Dual Boss:
    • The level "Krist Cross" in Extreme Rise of the Triad makes you fight two Krists at once, although you only need to defeat one to finish the level. This applies to any other custom level with multiple bosses.
    • NME Mine from the same add-on exaggerates it, making you fight against four NMEs. Just try to dodge all the stuff that flies at you.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Bad Ending, obtained if you didn't destroy all of El Oscuro's larvae in the final stage before taking him down. More like "A Bunch Of Small Kabooms Over the Picture of Earth Used for the Apogee Logo", seeing as the planet never actually shatters on screen, but it's implied. Fortunately, the game immediately warps you back to the final level to rectify your oversight.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The game insults you for the two lowest difficulty settings. One of the possible names for the lowest one is "I am a chew toy" with a picture of a doll in a dog's mouth, while the second-lowest is "Will of iron, knees of jello," with a picture depicting a dollop of smelted iron on a cube of jello.
  • EldritchAbomination El Oscuro's true form, which is basically a snake made out of giant humanoid heads. In the remake, his true form instead looks like a human-spider centaur thing.
  • Elite Mooks/Heavily Armored Mook: The heavily armored Triad Enforcers; they have a heavily damaging, lead-spewing M60 and can toss grenades as well. They can take several dozen bullets before dying, but a few rockets to the face will deal with them quite nicely.
    • The remake adds a new one called the Uberpatrol, which can roll like the Strike Team, throw nets like the Overpatrol, steal weapons like the Lightning Guard, and use a machine gun like the High Guard.
  • Evil Laugh: General Darian does this constantly, along with saying "They'll bury you in a lunchbox"
  • Environmental Symbolism: In the original game, lights in walls may mean different things, according to the manual of the shareware:
    • Some Triad walls near switches have 1-4 lights in them. The number of the lights indicates how many walls will move when the switch is flipped.
    • Some walls have big X lights which mean a nearby area is very dangerous but visiting it is not necessary to finish the game.
  • Eye Scream: The idle animation for the Excalibat in the reboot/remake is your character trying to poke it in the eye. They get shocked for their troubles.
  • Excuse Plot: An evil cult being funded by a movie company (!?) is going to blow up L.A. and you have to Kill 'Em All to prevent it. And then the expansion's plot is that when you killed the Big Bad, he rewound time so that the events of the main game never happened and you get to do the whole thing again, only now they sure know you're coming.
  • Expansion Pack: Extreme Rise of the Triad, with 42 new Nintendo Hard levels exploiting various engine tricks to add new features like teleporters and "Ballistitowers".
  • Follow the Money: Played straight with the Ankh symbols.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • Look at Ian Paul Freely (one of the playable characters), and think about his name for a minute.
    • There are Gravitational Anomaly Disks, which are floating platforms. Some elevate up and down, turning them into Elevator Gravitational Anomaly Disks.
    • The remake affixes a backronym to the Drunk Missile: Destructive Randomly Unguided Nullification Kit
  • Gangsta Style: Typing "imgangsta" into the console as of patch 1.4 enables gangsta mode, where all weapons are held hilariously askew. Yes, even the Excalibat.
  • Gas Chamber: You'll occasionally stumble into one, where you'll suffocate to death unless you quickly find a gas mask. There will be enemies inside trying to kill you anyway. They can't wear gas masks and tend to die in pretty short order.
  • God Mode:
    • Accessible through an in-game powerup as well as the usual cheat code, God Mode doesn't just make you invincible, it also makes you ten-feet tall (but not in the remake) and capable of firing blasts of energy from your bare hands that can disintegrate everything in the room, all while your character keeps making bellowing "God-like" noises (based on the ones John Romero would make while fooling around in DOOM with cheats on).
    • There's also a Dog Mode that transforms you into an invincible (except in the remake's multiplayer), two-feet tall dog capable of firing a deadly supersonic bark.
  • Goomba Stomp: You can kill any non-boss character this way, including other players. They (even NPCs) can do the same to you.
  • Gratuitous Latin: El Oscuro in the original spat out angry, nonsensical Latin at you ("eat your veggies", among them).
  • Guide Dang It!: The "Bonus Bonus" End-of-stage bonus, which can only be obtained on very few specific stages, including exactly ONE stage in The HUNT Begins. Getting it requires getting every other end-of-level bonus in the game (not just the ones "possible" in the level, EVERY one), which means the level must have a powerup, health item, pushwall, plant, firewall (one from an earlier level can be brought), life item, healing basin.... The game was released in 1994. The only Bonus Bonus obtained on video to date went up in 2009. Even with the guide, it's still difficult to obtain, and thus it was never noticed that the game would crash if you got that bonus.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: Try and quit, and it will throw up a picture of a syringe, cyanide tablet, electric chair, etc, and say "Press Y to inject, swallow, throw the switch..."
  • Guns Akimbo: Or, as they say, John Woo style.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: With the exception of the NME, the bosses are very basic and easy to beat. Getting there, on the other hand...
  • Healing Spring: The healing basin.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Has one of the earliest FPS examples in the form of the Triad Enforcer, a rotund soldier armed with a heavy machine gun who's got about 10-12 times the health of a regular enemy and can soak several dozen bullets before dropping. In the remake he was turned into a single character, a Mini-Boss named Big John.
  • Hey, Catch!: The black-clad Elite Mooks will humorously punctuate each thrown grenade by yelling "Here, catch!"
  • Hitscan: The bullet weapons.
  • Holiday Mode: For Christmas, has a notable 'portrayal', with music replacement.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: There are three lists of four names used by the game (only one of which is present in the shareware version) and which list is used is randomly selected every time the difficulty selection screen shows up.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: If you damage Lightning Guards enough, they'll sometimes drop to their knees and start begging for you not to shoot them (despite the gore, this is what really got the game a higher RSAC rating for violence than Doom). It's a trick, though; if you choose not to kill one, he'll play possum for a little while, and then get back up and keep attacking you.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: While the remake doesn't use Digitized Sprites, the characters are modeled after real people:
    • Taradino Cassatt is Interceptor Entertainment CEO Frederik Schreiber.
    • Thi Barrett is former adult film star Misti Dawn.
    • IP Freely is Interceptor executive producer/lead level designer Daniel Hedjazi.
    • Lorelei Ni is Vivian Nagy, wife of Apogee Software CCO Terry Nagy.
    • High Guards are based on Interceptor lead character artist Chris Pollitt.
    • Lightning Guards are based on Interceptor lead 3D artist Nick Quackenbush.
    • Triad Enforcers are Interceptor employee Stefan Madsen.
    • Monks are Interceptor employee Asle Høeg-Mikkelsen.
    • General Darian is Terry Nagy.
    • Sebastian Krist is Joe Siegler, reprising his role from the original.
    • The rest of the characters are a mix of different faces.
    • Doug Wendt is the only character not modeled after a real person.
  • Interface Screw: Several:
    • If you get trapped by an Overpatrol, your view is partially blocked by a net and you can't do anything before you get out. That can be done by either rapidly hitting the left and right arrow keys several times or using a knife if you have one.
    • The Elasto Mode makes you move even when you don't press any keys and bounce off walls and objects.
    • The Shrooms Mode makes your view move up, down and sides, and you see all the enemies, traps, and movable columns as one-coloured with the colour blinking and changing all the time.
  • Interface Spoiler: In the remake, any of the human enemies can play dead (not just the Lightning Guard like in the original, and they'll do it without begging for mercy first too). But since the HUD displays how many enemies you've killed in the last few seconds (for score multiplier purposes), you can tell when they're faking it because that number won't go up.
  • Ironic Echo: During the fight with General Darian in the reboot, one of his taunts is that he'll "bury you in a lunchbox". Guess what the name of the achievement you get for killing him is.
  • Joke Level: Several, which can generally only be reached with the level warp cheat:
    • "The Vomitorium", consisting of a couple of huge rooms chock-full of Shroom and Elasto items and a bunch of glowing walls with "YOU DO NOT BELONG HERE" written on them. If you manage to find the flying GAD that takes out out of the main room, you'll find a boss fight against the NME in extremely close quarters, which is impossible to win without cheating.
    • "This Causes An Error!", a tiny room with a moving wall that moves off the edge of the map, crashing the game (after showing a drawing of the wall leaping out of the level and shouting "I'M FREE!").
    • "The Grand Vomitorium" from Extreme Rise of the Triad, which starts out like the original Vomitorium, but instead of an NME fight it has a series of outdoor areas where you have to avoid various obstacles trying to push you off the map. It's theoretically winnable without cheating, but one area has a series of GADs which spell out the not-too-subtle message "CHEAT NOW".
    • The remake has "Escape from the Vomitorium", which again starts out like the original Vomitorium, but ends with a series of Platform Hell jumping puzzles...and Checkpoint Starvation is in full effect - you die, you start the whole level over. If you manage to reach the end, you get eaten by the Dopefish.
  • Jump Physics: You literally walk in the air.
  • Kaizo Trap: When a boss dies, he blows up (justified because bullet weapons and melee attacks don't do anything - you have to use missiles, magic, or some combination of the two). If you happen to die in the explosion, you get a Game Over. Even with maxed out lives.
  • Kill It with Fire: One of your weapons is a Flamewall. And, for good measure, if an enemy dies to a Flamewall, he becomes a charred skeleton that collapses to the ground with a xylophone sound.
  • Level Editor: A random level generator named RandROTT was shipped with the CD version of the original game. There are also third-party editors for it. There's also an official level editor for the remake, and it's called Ludicrous Development Kit.
  • Level-Map Display: In the original game, there's one that shows every wall and actor in the map and can be zoomed, and looking at it pauses the game.
  • Limited Loadout: the player can hold at one time any number of the infinite-ammo bullet weapons (of which there are three: single pistol, dual pistols, and machine gun) and only one of the limited-ammo missile/magic weapons. The remake lets you have both a missile and a magic weapon at the same time, and also gives you a knife for melee attacks and cutting through the Overpatrol's net (whereas in the original you had to find the knife and could only use it once before having to find another one).
  • Loading Screen: The one in the original is a still portrait of the HUNT team, whereas the one in the remake is the camera panning across levels, superimposed by hints and trivia.
  • Locked Door; several variations:
    • Some doors require a gold, silver, iron, or Oscuro key.
    • Others are switch- or touchplate-operated.
    • A few are unlocked/opened and locked/closed after a predefined amount of time has passed since entering the level. These doors are usually in secret areas.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Look at the page image. As mentioned above, this game is the Trope Namer, and for good reason. Exaggerated with Engine-Killing Gibs mode.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Drunk Missile weapon fires five missiles at once that initially are unguided, but can home in on one poor sucker. The results in a room full of bad guys can be quite messy. Somewhat less in number is the Split Missile, which, if charged, homes in on enemies.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Count how many kinds of booby traps there are in Rise of the Triad. Pushwalls, flaming pushwalls, shrooms in a jar, boulders, lava pits, shredders, up-'n-down shredders, ceiling shredders, flamethrowers, floor flamethrowers...
  • The Many Deaths of You: Get crushed by a flaming wall, get set on fire (as the camera spins around you before you explode), jump off the map or impale yourself on an iron-wrought fence, get shot to death, gassed, accidentally blow yourself up...
  • Meaningless Lives: Spending a life just sends you back to the beginning of the level - when you can just load up your last save. The remake does away with lives entirely; the ankh coins that counted towards extra lives in the original are still in the game, but give you points instead.
  • Mirror Boss: El Oscuro returns your projectiles.
  • Morale Mechanic: Subverted. One enemy unit type, when reduced to low hit points, would sometimes drop to their knees and beg for their lives. If you didn't kill them within a few seconds, they would collapse... then jump up when your back is turned and keep attacking.
  • Mushroom Samba: SHROOMS MODE!!!
  • Musical Gameplay:
    • Awakening the boss will change the music to the boss theme.
    • If you exit the level in Dog Mode, an unusual level completion music is played.
  • Musical Spoiler: Once an boss is awakened the level music will change from an normal level track to the boss theme.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the remake, you can activate the missile launch during the final battle and kill everyone in Los Angeles, triggering the bad ending.
  • Nintendo Hard: 84% of all levels in the original ROTT and 98% in Extreme.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Fireball-shooting zombie death cultist monks that speak in Ominous Latin Chanting and a robot boss that engages in Macross Missile Massacres.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: "...during the creation of this video game, although one dog did get its butt spanked when it peed on the carpet.", according to the credits of the shareware version of the original game.
  • Non Standard Game Over:
    • If you fail to destroy all the larvae in the final level before killing the boss, you destroy El Oscuro... but decades later, one of his spawn comes to power and explodes the Earth. But nice job, anyway. You are also treated to a charming snippet:
    Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu suuuuuuuuuuuck.
    • In the reboot, when fighting El Oscuro's monstrous form, you can press the button on the console to blow up L.A. El Oscuro, of course, has some choice words for that.
    El Oscuro: Oh, no you didn't!
  • Non-Indicative Name: The track "Mist Ache" has a Punny Name but is a rather sad and somber tune
  • Off Screen Start Bonus: The first level of the reboot has a boarded up passage behind where you start, with the message "Not A Secret" printed on the planks. Shooting through it leads you to an MP40.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Engine Killing Gibs mode causes enemies killed with missiles to spew gallons of blood in all directions.
  • Power Floats: God Mode (in the remake, at least) removes all view bobbing when you move, implying this.
  • Pressure Plate: Lots of pressure plates in the original game. They can open doors, cause walls to move, or set off Booby Traps.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: One of the tracks is a techno remix of "Adagio for Organ and Strings in G Minor" by Tomaso Albinoni. Another track is a remix of "Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary" by Henry Purcell. There's also a remix of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" by Anonymous, see the Holiday Mode example above.
  • Punny Acronym: NME stands for "Nasty Metallic Enforcer" and is pronounced "enemy".
  • Punny Name:
    • "Taradino Cassat", for Spanish speakers, if you consider that tarado is a slang word for idiot and even retard.
    • Ian Paul Freeley hangs his own Lampshade in the ending wherein he complains about how he saved the damn world, but people only care about making fun of his name. Making Freeley's situation even worse, according to the manual he wrote a novel called The Yellow River.
    • Dog Mode, which is a pun on, well, God Mode.
  • Putting on the Reich: Outfits worn by the enemies allude to Nazi Germany (a holdover from the initial plan to make the game a sequel to Wolfenstein 3-D). Bizarrely enough, the manual says they're surplus Korean uniforms, presumably North Korean. They also have MP-40s. It's taken further in the remake, where the Triad has long red banners with white crosses, stahlhelms, missile launchers whose handles are based on those of the Panzerschreck, etc., while the surplus Korean uniform bit is implied with some televisions depicting actual real-life footage of Kim Jong-Un.
  • Race Lift: The remake changes the nationalities of two HUNT members: Thi Barrett is changed from Scottish to Canadian, and Ian Paul Freely is changed from Greco-Spanish to British.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: In the remake, General Darian falls victim to this after you get his health to zero: he pins you down and points his gun at you, it fails to fire, he looks down the barrel, and it blows his head off.
  • Rocket Jump: The Trope Maker. The first game that allowed you both to look up and down and fire a rocket that won't instantly destroy you utterly, as long as you're wearing Asbestos Armor.
  • Score Screen: At the end of each level, the game tallies up your score, based on how many enemies you killed, your health at the end, how many secret walls you opened, and various other bonuses. Notable for the incredibly catchy tune that plays over it, "How'd I Do?"
  • Secondary Fire: The Excalibat, The Split Missile and Dog Mode in the original game have this. So do most weapons in the remake.
  • Secret Level: There's at least one in each episode in both games.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: There's one made by the ROTT community, which makes the entire game Nintendo Bloody Impossible (think of I Wanna Be the Guy) instead of just Nintendo Hard. All you need to do is: 1: Go get WinROTT, 2: Look for config.rot file and set the SuperHard option to 1, 3: Open WinROTT itself and set 'TIMELIMIT 36000; MAXTIMELIMIT 36000; WARP (fully optional) [number of level you wish to play]' in the command line, without quotes. Time limit gives you a possibility to have infinite lives during those 10 hours of play. 4: Select the hardest difficulty. Never use savegames. The basic purpose of this challenge is to polish your missile-dodging skills SO thoroughly you couldn't even imagine. The catch is: every Lightning Guard wields one of the many lootable rocket launchers (or, considering there's no sprites of them carrying a RL, rocket pistols). Should you only be unstrafeful for a split second, you'll be thrown back to square one. Considering Low Guards and Lightning Guards tend to change between each other randomly, the challenge will become purely luck-based. Have fun dying!
  • Shareware: The original game has this and the commercial, full version. The shareware has different levels from the full game. Its title is Rise of the Triad: The HUNT Begins and the full version is named Rise of the Triad: The Dark War.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: The first form of El Oscuro. Attacking him causes him to eat your missiles and regain energy. You're supposed to run away and let him wear himself out and revert to his snake form, which you chase down and kill. Except that every other challenge in this game essentially boiled down to shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more, and then when everyone's dead, try to ask a question or two, which makes this a bit counterintuitive.
  • Shout-Out: Now has its own page.
  • Sound-Only Death: When you tell the game to exit out, it will put up a message suggesting you getting killed. Confirm the quit out, and it plays an appropriate sound-bite before exiting. The complete list is as follows:
    • Press Y to pull your plug (sound of a heart monitor flatlining)
    • Press Y to open trap door (someone falls, then a twisting/creaking of a rope)
    • Press Y to release cyanide gas (a splash of liquid, then the hiss of gas rising)
    • Press Y to activate the electric chair (the sound of electricity crackling)
    • Press Y to drive your car off the cliff (a car skids and crashes)
    • Press Y to activate guillotine (the blade falls, then the thump of a head landing in a pan)
    • Press Y to signal firing squad ("Ready, aim, fire!" BOOM)
  • Smoldering Boots: The Game Over screen has these, as seen in the image at the top.
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: The jump-pads; some can only be used once, but most work infinitely.
  • Standard FPS Enemies: Some examples include...
    • The Grunt: Low Guards, armed with pistols and are pretty much everywhere.
    • The Rocketeer: Lightning Guards, which sometimes carry rocket launchers.
    • The Heavy: Triad Enforcers, armed with M60s and grenades that eat health like candy, and Robot Guards, robots that deal a LOT of damage, and are immune to bullets and the Flamewall. There's another variety of robots that are invulnerable to everything, requiring you to run past them.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Played with. You've got your pistol and machine gun, both of which have unlimited ammo, but from there the game offers several rocket launchers with different functions, a magical baseball bat, a literal God Mode, and an alternate Dog Mode.
  • The Stinger:
    • In the remake, after the credits roll, the HUNT team sees one of El Oscuro's disembodied eyeballs come back to life and escape through the portal. Cue Sequel Hook as the heroes follow it into the unknown.
    • In the original, after the credits roll, you see the HUNT portrait with the text "The HUNT is victorious. The End", but if you wait long enough, they all get various holiday-themed items at the same time and the text changes to "Now go and celebrate! The Real End"
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In the first level of the remake, behind the player's starting point is a boarded up area labeled "Not a secret".
  • Take That!: The Democrat and Republican Bonuses are obtained by doing things like not using handguns and ingesting all the Shrooms in a level (D), or collecting all the weapons and destroying all the plants on a map (R).
    • A light-hearted one at the memetically popular "Call of Duty Dog" from Call of Duty: Ghosts, in the form of a teaser trailer showcasing dog mode, claiming it's modern.
    • The remake features the Mission Briefing for E4L1 stating that the last thing they need are El Oscuro's parasites to get to Scientologists.
    • E4L3's mission briefing tells you that hiding behind a wall will not make your health regenerate, and then asks you where you got that idea.
  • Take That, Audience!: During a Comm-Bat game in the original, if you went into negative scoring by killing yourself, your player's portrait would change to poke fun at you (in addition to serving as a negative score symbol):
    • Taradino would have wide goofy eyes looking in different directions and an open mouth with only one tooth.
    • Doug would have a similar appearance to Taradino.
    • Lorelei would cover her face with her hands.
    • Thi would go wide-eyed and pucker her lips.
    • Ian Paul would go wide-eyed, stick his tongue out, and wear a clown nose.
  • Tennis Boss... No. Tennis Player. Let's face it: you had a lot of trouble while dodging your own projectiles that Snake Oscuro mirrors.
    • In addition, the alternate fire on the Dark Staff in the reboot will catch enemy projectiles, and releasing the button fires them in the way you're facing.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the remake, General Darian goes from a bog standard King Mook to a cyborg with a shotgun arm. Krist turns into a Puzzle Boss with a jetchair equipped with lasers.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: According to the game's opening, it takes place "one year in the future".
  • Two Words: Added Emphasis: One of the difficulty levels in the game is "Two Words: Reaper Man".
  • The Walls Are Closing In: In early versions, even touching an approaching wall causes instant death. While walls usually were independent movers, there are some places where sections of walls move back and forth to crush the player and one level where it appears the walls are closing in when you hit a touchplate but stop at the last second.
  • Truly Single Parent: El Oscuro's true form in the final level you find "his" embryos everywhere and have to destroy all of them or you get the Downer Ending where one grows up to destroy the world a few decades later.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: "Getting the Drop" in the Extreme expansion, which is a difficult level to begin with, is nearly impossible to complete with any character other than Thi Barrett - there's a puzzle at the end of the level that involves making a maze out of pillars and running across them to get to the end of the level. Problem is, Barrett is the only character that can actually make it across without falling in-between - any other character simply falls through the pillars, making it impossible to finish the level. It's thankfully possible to bypass it by using the Excalibat to Rocket Jump, but the Excalibat is easy to pass up, and the level prior does a good job of making you use up as much of the ammo as possible.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The half-crazed escapee who informs the HUNT of what the Triad is up to in the intro disappears. In the remake, the question's answered: he joined the HUNT strike team on their mission, though he only shows up in multiplayer.
  • What the Hell, Player?: In E2L1 of the remake, there's a room with Dog Mode and some dogs. If you shoot the dogs, you'll get the message, "WTF! Don't shoot the dogs." Keep shooting them and you'll be instantly killed.
    • Also, in the remake, beat the game and stick around after the credits. You'll be told there's nothing to see. You'll be asked why you're still there. But you do get to see two development videos. The shareware version of the original does the same but without the videos.