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Video Game / The Bizarre Adventures of Woodruff and the Schnibble

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The Bizarre Adventures of Woodruff and the Schnibble (European title Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth) is a 1994 French adventure game developed by Coktel Vision. The game was created and written by artist Pierre Gilhodes, the creator of the Gobliiins series, of which Woodruff shares its visual style, gameplay and offbeat humor, though is not an official part of the Gobliiins series or canon. Woodruff was distributed in North America in 1995 by Sierra.

The game begins where a great city has since devolved into a nightmarish dystopia, ruled by a bureaucratic and totalitarian government. Heading the government is The President, accompanied by his corrupt and maniacal advisor the BigWig, who enacts excessive taxation (including taxes on breathing and walking) and fear-based propaganda upon the city citizens, including a peculiar warning about a nocturnal beast who feeds upon those who oppose their government's regulations. In the lower levels of the city, relations between humans and Bouzouks have grown to their most tense, giving rise to a group known as the Bouzouk Freedom Party, a terrorist organization who, being natural pacifists, have yet to commit any actual acts of terrorism.

Professor Azimuth, an eminent political and scientific human personality known for his work on manipulating the aging process of cells, sympathizes with the plight of the Bouzouks and becomes determined to help end their oppression. In his research, he discovers the legend of the Schnibble, a mystical entity that is believed to have the ability to cause peace and prosperity to flourish, and begins work on finding a way to unleash it. Word spreads about his work, and Azimuth is hailed as a hero by the Bouzouk community. Unfortunately, word of the Schnibble also reaches the ears of the BigWig. To stave off any chance of a revolution, the BigWig and his thugs storm the home of Azimuth and his young, adopted half-human, half-Bouzouk son, Woodruff.

Professor Azimuth barely has time to hide Woodruff before the BigWig breaks into their house, kidnapping the professor and ruthlessly gunning down Woodruff's beloved teddy bear in the process, but not before befitting him with a Viblefrotzer, an invention of his own design that can speed up the aging process (and looks eerily similar to a Sony Walkman). Within seconds, Woodruff ages about fifteen years, finding himself now prepared for an epic quest: rescue his adopted father, avenge the death of his teddy bear by extracting revenge on the evil BigWig and find a way to unleash the Schnibble and bring peace back to the city.

This Video Game contains examples of:

  • After the End: The opening prologue explains that the game takes place several centuries after a nuclear war irradiated the surface. Surviving humans have recently emerged from their underground bunkers and taken over the city from the Bazouks, a race of peaceful mutants who evolved on the surface.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Many puzzles require money to solve, and the only way to earn more money beyond your first coin is through gambling. Fortunately, you are guaranteed to win if you are down to your last coin.
  • Career-Ending Injury: If Woodruff confronts the Bigwig without a shield to protect himself, the Bigwig will use a gun concealed in his metal nose to shoot off Woodruff's nose. Without his nose no one can take him seriously, as a result Woodruff's days as the city's last hope for freedom abruptly come to an end.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The early phase of the game is extremely silly, with multiple breakages of the fourth wall. By the time Woodruff learns about Coh Cott, the game (while still humorous) reshapes itself into a study of racism and cultural interaction.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The chewing gum, which is required twice (the second one at the end of the game).
  • Chekhov's Gun: Several. For example, the underwear button.
  • Cult: The Schnibble Cult. They're backed by the Bigwig, who's exploiting the concept of the Schnibble for his own gain.
  • Demonic Possession: The Bigwig was a decent man until he opened a sealed Bazouk artifact, freeing the Beast and being overtaken by its evil. Two of the bad endings have Woodruff suffer the same fate.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Beast is on a poster at the very start of the game.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: While some of the game over screens make sense (for example, not having a way to rid yourself of the Beast's possession), some take active work to trigger (for example, leaving and returning to the poker game three times).
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Beast, an ancient Bazouk devil-figure.
  • Fantastic Racism: Humans towards Bouzouks.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Using the Discerning Formula on the three cup man makes Woodruff realize that the man is cheating, and how he does it. However, up until that point is completely possible to win him by abuse of Save Scumming, which shouldn't be possible if he was actually cheating.
  • The Ghost: The game has the eponymous Schnibble, the savior of the city, who everybody the player meets says is just around the corner. Near the end, it's revealed that the Schnibble was a fictional person invented by Professor Azimuth to give the people hope, and inspire people to action, helping the less fortunate. Since the player has done exactly that, he has effectively become the Schnibble.
  • Gonk: Azimuth and the Bigwig are both humans, but have exaggerated and rubbery features rather similar to Woodruff's and the Bazouks. The game's other human characters have a much more normal appearance.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Woodruff is half-human and half-Bazouk.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Coh Cott has red hair and Woodruff falls head over heels for her the first time he sees her.
  • I Can't Reach It: Woodruff has to go past an acid liquid river but is barefoot. If he has one boot (which is acid-resistant), he says that he can cross it by hopping on one leg. But not being the sharpest pencil in the drawer, he hops in the acid with his bare foot and is forced to go back. He could simply try again and hop on the booted foot this time, learning from his mistake (even an idiot can think this), but no, he will repeat the same mistake again and again. The player is meant to find another boot so he can cross the river full-booted every time. But then, Woodruff is an Idiot Hero.
  • Idiot Hero: Woodruff, who begins the game somewhere between minutes to days after being turned from an infant into an adult.
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: Sort of an Unfortunate Names case is that the way Coh Cott's name is pronounced sounds like a Czech and Slovak cuss which means "dick".
  • Inherently Funny Words: The main theme behind the names of everything.
  • Inside a Computer System: The Health Wiseman is trapped inside the virtual trip until Woodruff frees him.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: The bad endings have elements of this.
  • Layered Metropolis: The great vertical city of Vlurxtrznbnaxl. The citizens live in different parts of the city according to their socio-economic status: the poor live on the lower levels, the rich and powerful live on the higher levels.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Once Woodruff learns to levitate, he strikes this pose every time he does it.
  • Light and Mirrors Puzzle: One such puzzle appears at the beginning, in the shop. You must position two mirrors so that they're able to correctly deflect a light beam and hit a nose, making it visible.
  • Limited Animation: Parodied when Woodruff places a stone 'A' into an indentation. Instead of showing him doing this, an animator pops up (conveniently obscuring Woodruff) and complains about how hard to animate the scene is, especially because of all the nonsensical words.
  • Magical Incantation: The seven Formulas you learn to use.
  • Mind-Control Device: The hypnotic CD you get in the Schnibble cult.
  • MockGuffin: The titular Schnibble, a mysterious object/person which could save the city and which everyone was after, turned out not to exist; it had been invented by Professor Azimuth to give people hope. In a Fake–Real Turn, Woodruff takes down the corrupt government and assumes the throne as a benevolent ruler, effectively becoming the Schnibble.
  • Never Learned to Read: Woodruff, having literally just left infancy, doesn't know how to read at the start of the game. One of your first tasks is learning how.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: The game starts with Woodruff, a toddler, aging into an adult after his adoptive father Azimuth sticks a device on his head. This device turns out to be an age-adjusting device Azimuth had built as part of a plot to kill the Bigwig. When the Bigwig's men came to capture him, he used it to age Woodruff up so that he could carry on the work; when you meet the (newly-teenaged) Azimuth later, he gives it to you, and you yourself use it to age the Bigwig to dust.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The backstory of the game has a shining example: when humans first arrived at the Hill, the Bouzouks decided to scare them off. Their means was a giant statue of an armed, armored Bouzouk warrior. The humans read this as a threat, and the resulting war began a long history of mistreatment for the Bouzouks.
  • Psychometry: The Past Formula. When used on a statue of a commander, Woodruff is transported to a scene representing both the war where the commander fought, and the creation of the statue itself. Woodruff can also change how the statue looks and save a Bouzouk's life, both of which affect the future/present, combining this trope with Time Travel.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Beast, who controls the Bigwig.
  • Reused Character Design:
    • The boss of the Pooschn-rble factory looks nearly identic to Queen Xina of the third Gobliiins game.
    • The entire Boozook race vaguely resembles Winkle, just without ears.
  • Right Out of My Clothes: If Woodruff steps into the acid river without boots, he leaps out of his clothes (and then falls back into them).
  • Running Gag: The little man who pops up and questions whether you've paid your taxes.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Beast was one, and the final puzzle is putting it back into a can.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: You find one inside the Schnibble Cult.
  • Sequence Breaking: The gong sequence in the Schnibble Cult is always the same on every playthrough. If you learn/memorize it you can totally ditch negotiating with the cult leader and the cult computer as well as save some of your precious strulls.
  • Spell Construction: Once you've learned some of the Wisemen's Syllables, you must enter a special screen, where you make specific groups of three Syllables (using some instructions you find in the Bouzouk throne room) to create some magic Formulas.
  • Spell My Name With An S: The game can't decide if the native mutants are called "Boozooks" or "Bouzouks". Both spellings are used in different places.
  • Super-Strength: Woodruff gets this power once you make the Strength Formula. It also seems to be permanent, as Woodruff doesn't need to repeat the Formula each time he needs to use this power, as he needs to do with all other Formulas.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Near the end of the game, you acquire a teleportation device, which cuts down a great deal on your backtracking.
  • Themed Party: Near the end of the game, Woodruff attends a party hosted by Coh Cott, themed around eyes.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Woodruff can repel the Beast from his body by... eating bouzuhouli, an old Bozouk dish.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: After you go back in time and save an injured bazouk, a Chinese-stereotype "guru" (whose existence you've caused) will periodically show up and give you such powers as... the ability to control your hair growth. Subverted when Woodruff asks what use these powers are and is told, "Individually, they are useless. But once you have mastered them all, you will gain the ability to levitate!" And indeed, levitation is necessary to complete the game.
  • Words Can Break My Bones: The nine Syllables originally known by the seven Wisemen.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: You cannot call plot-important tobozon numbers until you learn about them in-game.

Alternative Title(s): Woodruff And The Schnibble Of Azimuth