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Video Game / Willy Wombat

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Somewhere under this moonlight is the Eden that I seek...

"Dark souls who taste the forbidden fruit...
Lost souls who yearn for freedom...
Search the foreign lands for Miracle Gems.
When six Miracle Gems reunite...
The doorway to the garden of freedom, Eden, shall show it's way."

A 1997 top-down action-platforming game for the Sega Saturn released only in Japan by Hudson Soft, with all characters designed by Susumu Matsushita (the same designer for both Adventure Island and Motor Toon Grand Prix). The game stars the titular Batman-esque wombat who is a drifter in a post-apocalyptic world populated entirely by animals. The story itself is surprisingly hard to follow due to little set-up and the character interactions being rather random and surreal, though essentially Willy, previously a high ranking general in the police force of a totalitarian civilization by the name of "Prison" one day stumbled upon data concerning mysterious artifacts by the name of Miracle Gems and a mysterious realm by the name of Eden. After reading through the data and discovering an Awful Truth, Willy is convinced to break out of prison and begin traveling through the world in search of the Miracle Gems. Along the way, he meets an old dog by the name of Java who claims to know about the Miracle Gems and is willing to assist Willy in his hunt...for a price. Meanwhile a trio of elite officers from Prison named Notes, Mail, and Tagdor are tasked with hunting Willy down and getting to the bottom of what made him go rouge. You control Willy as you explore the abandoned ruins of the post-apocalyptic world solving puzzles, fighting through endless hordes of ghosts and doing your best to evade capture by the Prison elite. The most stand-out element of the gameplay is the ability to control the camera unlike other top-down games at the time. Unusually, though the the game was only released in Japan, it utilizes a full English voice cast.

Surprisingly, this game actually had a large impact on the name of a famous video game mascot: Crash Bandicoot. Early on in development, Crash Bandicoot was originally named Willy Wombat, but Crash's creators, Naughty Dog had later discovered that the name itself was already taken by this game, which had soon led to the name change in due time. Sadly unlike Crash, Willy's game only received decent reviews and quickly faded into obscurity.

Willy Wombat contains the following tropes:

  • Artifact of Power:
    • The Miracle Gems spoken of in rumors and myths. While you can't directly access their powers on their own, once all six are gathered together they're supposed to reveal the path to the garden of freedom, Eden.
    • Willy can also come across Ancient Scripts during his travels that Java can then decipher in order to give Willy powerful special techniques.
  • Award-Bait Song: The ending theme, Fearless Heart. A sappy love ballad that's implied to be from Mail's perspective given the use of an instrumental version for scenes relating to her.
  • Awful Truth: The Regeneration Unit is secretly stripping away the free will of any and all who use it in order to turn the citizens of Prison into mindless slaves who will work themselves to death. This information is so heinous that it makes Willy turn rouge the moment he realizes it. When Notes and Mail later discover the truth as well, it's enough to send them both into Heroic BSoD long enough for Tagdor to ambush them, mortally wounding Mail in the process.
  • Aerith and Bob: An especially absurd example. Willy is the only person in the game with a remotely normal name.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The game ends with Willy running off to continue his search for a land of freedom that he can call Eden with Notes not too far behind after using his newly realized sense of free will to follow Willy in search of more adventures.
  • Battle Boomerang: Willy's main method of attack. He can send out two boomerangs at a time or slash with them as a melee attack.
  • Big Bad: Doctor Tron, aka Java, is the main villain of the story and has been manipulating Willy to get the Miracle Gems. He does have elements of Well-Intentioned Extremist with his plans to restore the free will of everyone in Prison, though his self-absorbed and power-hungry ways ultimately keeps him a villain that you need to eventually fight.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Tron's Castle, the final stage in the game. Transitions into Eternal Engine as you get deeper into it.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tagdor ends up dead after going rouge and getting his brains eaten out by ghosts, Mail passes from her injuries after Tagdor's ambush with Notes not having come to terms with it yet, Prison is descending into anarchy due to Doctor Tron's machinations, and both Notes and Willy more or less have nowhere left to go home to. The bright side is that Doctor Tron's plans to restore everyone's free will goes off without a hitch and the Regeneration Unit is destroyed in the chaos with the destruction of Tron's Castle ensuring its advanced tech can never be abused to oppress free will again. After the dust settles, Willy decides to continue walking the earth to find Eden and help those he finds along the way with Notes deciding of his own free will to continue hunting Willy in the hopes of a proper rematch.
  • Blithe Spirit: Willy's main goal is to do this wherever he goes, helping people find their own "Eden".
  • The Confidant: Java becomes this to Willy over time. Whenever they meet up at one of his safehouses, he always listens to Willy's plights and offers up sagely advice. Given he was using Willy to get to the Miracle Gems, it's brought into question how genuine he actually was.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The game has a cartoony and goofy artstyle, but it definitely does not sugarcoat the fact the world is in shambles and has some surprisingly dark villains. Also, Anyone Can Die.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Prison sees Willy as this, which is why they sent Notes, Mail and Tagdor after him. Turns out it was Tagdor they should have been keeping an eye on instead.
  • Death Mountain: The Caves of Zibet and Megalo Canyon are both in mountainous and treacherous areas.
  • Defector from Decadence: It's implied that Willy's job as an Enforcer for Prison was quite cushy, but he drops it all and leaves in an instant once he discovers what's really going on behind the scenes.
  • Demonic Possession: If a living person is overwhelmed by a ghost they'll get their brain eaten out, leaving them as a shambling, mindless vessel for the ghosts to manipulate. Tagdor ends up befalling this fate and Willy is forced to cut him down.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Early on Tagdor is tasked with tailing Willy and reporting back when he discovers what Willy is up to and is explicitly told NOT to engage him. Desperate for glory and to get back to the luxury of Prison, Tagdor ignores Notes' orders and decides to ambush Willy the moment he finds him and gets knocked flat on his ass. By the time he comes to, Willy is long gone with the Miracle Gem and Notes kickes him off the team for insubordination.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Java, the old man who has been saving your game, turns out to have been Doctor Tron all along and was using both Willy and Notes to get his hands on the Miracle Gems.
  • Epic Flail: Tagdor's weapon of choice. He trades the spiked ball on the end out for a more intimidating golden one later on after getting possessed by ghosts.
  • Expy: Willy bears more than passing resemblance to Batman in appearance, though in terms of personality they could not be more different with Willy being exceedingly jolly.
  • Foreshadowing: Several times through the game, the presence of a Miracle Gem is shown to draw in ghosts from everywhere due to their attraction to the Miracle Gem's power. Once all six are collected and their powers begin to resonate together, they end up drawing out an absolutely MASSIVE ghost who kills Doctor Tron and starts off the chain reaction that destroys Tron's Castle.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The entire plot of the game occurs due to the existence of and behind-the-scenes dealings in Prison. They were the ones who commissioned Doctor Tron to create the Regeneration Unit to brainwash the citizens of Prison and force them to work themselves to death forever and part of that system involved creating the Miracle Gems to house all of that free will. They then had the bright idea to try and scorn Doctor Tron after the work was done, inciting him to escape and plot his revenge. This then leads directly to Willy finding Tron's notes and escaping himself to look for the Miracle Gems. Their only saving grace is that they end up orchestrating their own downfall.
  • The Gunslinger: Notes is implied to be this, though we never get to see him in action.
  • Game-Over Man: Depending in where you die, one of the police officers will appear to mock you or express disappointment.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Living in Prison seems to have this effect on people. This is thanks to the Regeneration Unit stripping users of their free will and making them content with performing slave labor for their entire, hyper-extended lives.
  • Glory Hound: Tagdor is only on this mission so that he can win glory, praise, and a promotion to Commander rank.
  • Gratuitous English: To the point of exaggeration. The title, some text items, and the whole voice cast is in English.
  • Hero Antagonist: Mail and Notes, both are trying to catch Willy but have nothing but good intentions. Tagdor not so much.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Averted in-game with Mail being a short and fairly androgynous girl. This is played straight in the instruction manual where Mail is portrayed as a lot taller and curvier.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Regeneration Unit back in Prison. It's able to reverse the aging process and cellular degradation, restoring anyone who uses it to their youth. Notes mentions, however, that it isn't true immortality due to the fact that they can still be hurt and killed and if nothing else, their heart will eventually give out and they'll die permanently.
  • Informed Species: Willy does not look remotely like a wombat.
  • Knight Templar: Notes and his gang. As far as they know, Willy is a dangerous criminal and they are their officers ordered to hunt him down for the greater good. Willy challenges their perspective repeatedly and over time this breeds change in their outlooks on their roles in the Prison system.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Aah, you should state your own name before asking another's..."
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The world at large has become overrun by hordes of monstrous ghosts who are described as being "spirit forces of the dead." Being attacked by a ghost without the means to defend yourself leaves you susceptible to getting your brains eaten and body possessed.
  • Posthumous Character: Doctor Tron, the scientist responsible for creating the Regeneration Unit who leaves behind the cryptic clues that persuade Willy to escape Prison. Except he's not quite dead after all...
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Miracle Gems are made of the condensed free will of every citizen who's ever set foot in the Regeneration Unit
  • Really 700 Years Old: All the main protagonists sans Java look to be in their late teens or early twenties but they're implied to have been alive for decades or centuries thanks to the Regeneration Unit. Java, as the inventor of the Regeneration Unit was also easily capable of keeping himself alive all this time too despite looking much older.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: Inverted. Ghosts are hypnotically attracted to Miracle Gems due to their being made from free will and the life force that comes with it.
  • Righteous Rabbit: Mail is a rabbit officer who chases Willy due to thinking him a criminal, though overtime she starts to reconsider this and eventually questions who the real villain among them is.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: A vast majority of the game takes place in ancient ruins. Combined with Eternal Engine as you reach the end of the game.
  • Save-Game Limits: In order to save your game you have to travel to one of Java's safe houses and pay him three Hexagon Medals(obtained by collecting a certain percentage of gems in a level.) He can also decipher Ancient Scripts for Willy and will occasionally provide wisdom to help Willy in his search.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Ruins of Khuf.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Willy and Notes both give one of these to Doctor Tron near the end of the game.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Morwegian Woods
  • Token Evil Teammate: Unlike Notes and Mail who both have redeeming qualities and want to catch Willy to bring him to justice, Tagdor is a violent and repulsive thug who just wants to kill Willy for fun and glory.
  • Urban Ruins: Detriam City, an abandoned and dilapidated ghetto, is the second area in the game.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Before Willy went on the lamb, he and Notes were implied to be very close friends.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Tagdor begins asking this of Notes with progressively more frustration as their hunt for Willy drags on. While Notes is taking his time to find the perfect moment to ambush Willy and figure out why he went AWOL, Tagdor simply wants to put a bullet in his head and drag his carcass back to Prison. It's this growing frustration with Notes that leads Tagdor to start disobeying Notes' orders to enact his own plans.
  • You Are What You Hate: Tagdor is often quick to taunt Willy for all the crap he goes through in the name of "Freedom" and balks at the idea of willingly disobeying orders and ditching the comfort of Prison. The irony of him being the first of the three to strike out on his own and start disobeying orders is completely lost on him.