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Video Game / Stacking

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"Ain't no mess we can't address!"
— Blackmore family's Badass Creed

Stacking is an adventure puzzle game by Double Fine and takes place in a 1920's inspired world. That happens to be populated entirely by Russian matryoshka dolls. The game has you taking on the role of young chimney sweep Charlie Blackmore as he attempts to rescue his family from the clutches of an evil industrialist, The Baron, forcing them to work against their will. Charlie's tiny size proves very helpful in that it allows him to inhabit the body of any stacking doll bigger than himself and use that new form's skills to aid him in his quest.

As long as his target is larger (and not facing him) the youngster can stack several dolls upon each other, however only the skills of the outside doll can be utilised. This means Charlie has to unstack and stack accordingly in order to use the desired skill to overcome the games obstacles. The games puzzles have several means of being solved and as such rewards using different methods.

The lead director of this game is Lee Petty, the lead Art Director of Brütal Legend. He was inspired by watching his daughter playing with real matryoshka dolls and decided to make a game around it. Like Costume Quest, Tim Schafer took a back seat to allow Lee Petty to lead the project.

It was released February 9th 2011 for Xbox Live and PSN, where PSN Plus subscribers got the game for free. And March 6th 2012 for Steam.

Challenge: List Tropes Found in Stacking!

  • Accidental Misnaming: The kids from the beginning of the zeppelin level can never remember Charlie's name.
  • Adults Are Useless
    Charlie: Can't adults do anything by themselves?!
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Completing a set of Hi-Jinks will result in either getting a doll's accesory turn to gold, or gain a golden accessory. The only exception is the "Artful Dodger" Hi-Jinks, which has The Baron's guards gain a "Kick Me" sign on their back.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Baron seems perfectly fine with using child labor and kidnapping to get what he wants.
  • Big Bad: "The Baron." The largest doll.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Levi and "Hobo Team Bravo" during the final battle.
  • Black Comedy: This game includes such cheerful events as a strike ending because the workers are promised nutmeg in their lunches (paid out of their salary), and child labor being abolished because it's inefficient and the children whine about it.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: You can use Chastity (the attractive female doll) to lure guards away from their posts or to distract them as you take control of them.
  • Dumb Muscle: Simpleton the Strong.
  • Eat the Rich: Implied to be literally the final fate of The Baron. He falls into a pit of orphans, they swarm over him, and when they disperse, there's nothing left but his hat and monocle.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Parodied. The name of the ending fight is called "RoShamBo Rumble" and consists of fighting the final doll of The Baron, who can stack into dolls with a rock, a stack of paper, or pair of scissors their head. The strategy is to stack into a doll with the opposing "element" of The Baron's current doll and attack him.
  • Everyone Hates Mimes: You can get a hi-jink by smacking mimes around.
  • Eye Pop: Scaring dolls with the Kodiak bear, the Mummy, or Peck the Clown causes this.
  • Face on a Milk Carton: The "wanted" posters on the zeppelin are these.
  • False Camera Effects: a good amount of the in-game cutscenes, most notably the one that play when you enter an are for the first time, do quite a a bit to replicate movies made on reels of film, including the film being slightly out of place.
  • Fake Longevity: Averted; despite the presence of Hi-jinx and unique doll collection quests, this game is relatively short.
  • Family Theme Naming: All the members of the Blackmore family except Charlie have names beginning with A.
  • Fartillery: Meriwether Malador's ability. Felicity Fowler has a nicer version; she can "Pass Potpourri".
  • Final-Exam Boss: The Baron, to a certain extent. While you won't have to use every ability seen up to that point, you're certainly expected to remember the capabilities of quite a few unique characters to whittle him down to size.
  • Glove Slap: An ability performed when controlling a small, nameless "rich-guy" doll.
  • Gold Digger: Chastity.
    Chastity: Do you happen to know your net worth? I'm not after your wealth, I'm just fascinated with math and numbers!
  • The Great Depression: The setting was inspired by this and elements of the late Victorian era. Child labor is a major theme.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Lots of Oliver Twist-esque child labor jokes.
  • Hobos: Levi and his pals. The DLC concerns an entire city of hobos, which is ironic as part of the defining nature of hobos is that they have no permanent residence.
  • I Am Legion: The Baron is storing many smaller versions of himself.
  • Interface Screw: Some dolls will distort the screen in some way when stacked into. For instance, stacking into a dog will make everything appear in near-monochrome, while stacking into a hazard suit dulls out the sound and adds a rounded glass filter.
  • King of the Homeless: The Hobo King in the DLC.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: The first three levels are set respectively in a train station, on a cruise ship, and on a zeppelin.
  • Large and in Charge: Invoked Trope, according to Tim Schafer. Larger dolls tend to have more authority and status, while smaller dolls are insignificant in both physical size and social status, fitting in with Social Classes being a recurring theme of the game. The Big Bad is the largest, wealthiest, evilest doll. And of course, the hero is the smallest doll.
  • Lethal Joke Character:
    • Meriwether Malodor initially seems like a character whose interminable flatulence is played for laughs, but when his gas is combined with an open flame later on, he produces explosive results multiple times.
    • Hans Allendorf might also count. He initially possess the most useless ability in the game, but each subsequent level provides him with an ability that can solve one of the puzzles there. In The Lost Hobo King DLC, he's a hidden character possessing the single most destructive ability, which doubles as the easiest, albeit not necessarily most obvious, solution to a particular puzzle.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: One large gentlemanly doll has a boxing glove for the "Proper Uppercut" ability.
  • Male Restroom Etiquette: Charlie can break rule #4 in the male restroom at the station. This is required for one of the Hi-Jinks.
  • Manchild: Simpleton the Strong. One of the largest dolls, he dresses in stereotypical boys clothes (beanie on head and lollipop in hand.) He also hates clowns..
  • Matryoshka Object: Pretty much all of the characters.
  • Monster Clown: Peck the Clown is a massive and creepy-looking clown, unlike the other Non Ironic Clowns in the game.
    Peck: Never look a clown straight in the eyes.
  • Mouse World: Most of the objects used by dolls are made on their own scale, but the architecture that they live in is mostly made of common objects on a human scale, suggesting the doll world is made from pieces of an unseen human civilization.
  • Odd Name Out:
    • The Blackmore children are Albert, Abigail, Agatha, Archibald ... and Charlie.
    • Charlie's middle name, however, is Alister.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The cutscene right before the final battle seems is very Hollywood blockbuster feeling, in a stark contrast with the silent movie feeling of the game. Stuff Blowing Up, Indy Hat Roll, Outrun the Fireball, Slo-Mo Big Air, the works.
  • Plot Hole: A particularly blatant one occurs when the rest of the Blackmore family rescues the father. In order to get to him, each Blackmore has to use their unique ability before necessarily being left behind in order to permit the smaller members to progress. In the end, the smallest doll Charlie finds his father and inexplicably brings the rest of the family to him despite them all being stuck behind impassible gates just seconds before!
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: The end of every chapter involves using a set of dolls' unique abilities to pass a series of gates. The Blackmore Family goes through this twice.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Works of Frédéric Chopin are used in the soundtrack.
  • Rich Bitch: Several females on the train stage.
  • Saw a Woman in Half: This is one of the Illusionist family's tricks; although, since the "woman" is a doll that is already bifurcated, it's not very impressive.
  • Serial Escalation: The piano-playing doll set has a performance that must be seen to be believed. Each doll has their own piano, in which the next smallest doll stands on to play their smaller piano. This happens recursively for six dolls. They ALL play at the same time, with different tracks from the game soundtrack all playing at the same time.
  • Scenery Porn: Cut-scenes are told in acting stages
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The Baron and his entourage of wealthy friends.
  • Shout-Out: One achievement is called A Mass Effect.
  • Showrunner: Tim Schafer, taking a backseat to Lee Petty, like he did with Costume Quest.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Messiah by Shiny.
  • Starving Artist: Levi the Hobo. As you gather collectibles he decorates the subway with brilliant dioramas.
  • Supermodel Strut: Chastity's wooden lower half has a unique little swing to it when walking, which is the best a Matryoshka Object can do to invoke this trope. Guards In-Universe get distracted by it, so it must work.
  • Take Your Time:
    • Lampshaded during the cruise. The newspaper article reads "Guilded Ship goes on never-ending cruise."
    • Special mention for the end of the zeppelin level.
  • Toilet Humor:
    • Meriwether Molodor's Flatulate ability, and Hans' Go Potty ability. Felicity Fowler has the Pass Potpourri ability, where she lets out a rather pleasant waft.
    • If you possess a Kodiak Bear (or Peck the Clown), you can use the Growl ability to scare others. They run away and drop sawdust.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Hans appears in every level in the game, each time having a more useful ability than before. He starts out with the entirely useless "Go Potty" ability. In the Hobo King DLC, he has one of the most powerful abilities in the game which allows him to take down hoards of zombies with ease.
  • Unflinching Walk: Charlie does one in the cutscene just before the Roshambo battle finale. It's the only cutscene that does not look like a silent movie.
  • The Vamp: Chastity uses her feminine wiles to seduce and distract guards.
  • Violent Glaswegian: One large, nameless doll in plaid talks with a stereotypical Glaswegian accent, and has the ability "The Northern Kiss," a headbutt so strong it temporarily knocks the head off the doll you hit.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Loads and loads. Some of it is required for Hi-jinx awards. Beat people up. Set them on fire. Terrify them with horrible roars or make them faint. Many, many dolls allow you to do terrible things to other dolls.
    • Stick buckets on their heads for no reason.
    • Hug them without warning or consent!
    • Freak them out by sniffing their butts.
    • Fart on the elderly, or just anyone you like.
    • Go steward-hunting.
    • One of the most hilariously heinous things one can do in The Lost Hobo King DLC, which is also a challenge solution, is to trap children in cages, then use them as live bait to distract zombies. (They don't come to physical harm, though.)
  • Where Are They Now: After beating the game, the newspaper loading screens display information regarding various unique dolls found throughout the game and what becomes of them.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Simpleton the Strong hates ghosts and clowns.

All Solutions Found!