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Video Game / The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary

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The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary is a Puzzle Game produced in 1993 by MECC, the same brains behind The Oregon Trail, Odell Down Under, and the Number Munchers series.

The player character attends a carnival, plays a shooting game hosted by the Quintessential Quizmaster Dr. Quandary, and wins a "Lifelike Action Figure". But upon claiming their prize, the player's soul is transferred into the doll, which is whisked away to Dr. Quandary's private island. The only way to escape is to solve Dr. Quandary's quandaries and find the ingredients for his Fixer Elixer!

The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary contains examples of:

  • A Winner Is You: All you get for all your hard work is a generic "Congratulations!" screen. There aren't even any end credits; you just get dumped unceremoniously back to the carnival, with your only option being to start all over again.
  • Crappy Carnival: From the ripoff "fortune teller" to the Ferris wheel that's clearly about to fall apart any day now to the midway game that sucks your soul into a doll and strands you on an island if you win, the carnival you start the game at more than qualifies.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The player character doesn't start speaking until they wake up as the doll. Once they do, they're full of sass and lampshades.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Once you win the game as B. Ginner, Dr. Quandary challenges you to come back and try again as O. D. Nary or D. Feecult, and even draws attention to the doll's Punny Name.
  • Elmer Fudd Syndrome: The Tax Cowwector.
  • Evil Laugh: Dr. Quandary cracks two: once when you choose your Lifelike Action Figure after Troggle Shoot, and once in his letter to the player (in writing).
  • Game of Nim: Disc Appear, played with a Beach Dudette and her collection of (rightfully) unwanted compact discs. The loser apparently has to listen to them.
  • Genre Shift: Target-hitting minigames abound, as well as the Acid Test, which is basically a Bullet Hell.
  • Graceful Loser: Dr. Quandary congratulates the player after they escape his island.
  • Guide Dang It!: The objectives of Tad-Pult are not indicated, nor is the correct post for the Tire Tower puzzle. Fortunately, there is a Help! option in the menu that will tell you these things.
    • Tax Factor can be a case of "Math Class Dang It", as it requires a head for numbers and has been known to stop adult players in their tracks, even on the easier difficulties.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Makes all the target-hitting mini-games and Acid Test really annoying.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun / Hurricane of Puns: Nearly every character, location, and minigame name is a pun of some sort.
  • Insistent Terminology: Used and then subverted. Dr. Quandary initially insists on calling the dolls "Lifelike Action Figures". Once you're on the island, he makes fun of you being stuck inside the DOLL.
  • Interface Screw: Tunnel Vision, true to its name, challenges you to solve a maze while only letting you see the path DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF YOU. Solving one of the tangram puzzles nets you a useful candle that outlines the maze.
  • Jerkass: Dr. Quandary steals your soul, and then writes you a letter mocking you about it.
  • Karma Houdini: Dr. Quandary never gets punished for stealing a kid's soul and putting it in a doll.
  • Large Ham: The only explanation for Quandary writing an Evil Laugh into his letter for the player character.
  • Meaningful Name / Punny Name: Choosing a Lifelike Action Figure to play as sets the difficulty for the rest of the game. The names of the dolls reflect this: B. Ginner, O. D. Nary, and D. Feecult.
  • Medium Awareness: The player character suggests using the Num Lock key (of the computer) to open the Num Lock holding Sir Pillory.
  • Mythology Gag: Troggle Shoot at the beginning of the game.
  • Parental Bonus: It seems unlikely that some of the references would have been understood by the target audience.
  • Puzzle Game: The game is a series of various kinds of puzzles - a memorization game, a math game, a make-shapes-out-of-triangles game, a maze, etc... - strung together by the plot and the item-collection.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: William Apespeare's dialogue, and occasionally Dr. Quandry's.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Subverted. Dr. Quandary wears a purple robe and a matching top hat.
  • Shout-Out: To the likes of William Shakespeare, Louis Armstrong, and... Sir Edmund Hillary?
  • Simon Says Minigame: Ape the Ape, of course! "Watch what I do, then you do it, too."
  • Towers of Hanoi: The Tire Tower puzzle in a junkyard. The completed tower enables the doll to reach a can of motor oil for the Fixer Elixer.
  • Transformation Trauma: The player character's initial reaction to waking up as the doll. Followed by snark.