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  • Magnificent Bastard: Among the people encountered by Razputin Aquato, these three have proven to be the most brilliant and amoral.
    • Ford Cruller is the founder of the Psychonauts and its greatest agent. After forming the Psychic Seven from several powerful Psychics, Ford fell in love with Lucrecia “Lucy” Mux. When Lucrecia left to help her home country of Grulovia win a war, she eventually was driven mad when she accidentally killed her sister Marona, taking on the name Maligula and terrorizing innocent people. Ford and his friends traveled to Grulovia to stop Maligula and Ford was able to subdue her. Ford then sealed Maligula away inside Lucrecia's mind and made her believe that she was Marona in order to protect her and Marona's son Agustus. Ford then shattered his own psyche out of guilt and convinced the world that Maligula was dead. His broken mind caused the Psychonauts to dismiss him as a "loon" but Ford found a way to temporarily restore his sanity and helped to organize the Psychonauts in secret. When Agustus' son Razputin Aquato came to Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp to become a Psychonaut, Ford began secretly training him and frequently gave him advice as he worked to stop the machinations of Coach Oleander. When Raz restored Ford's mind, the two worked together to permanently seal away Maligula and Ford was reunited with his beloved Lucy.
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    • Coach Morceau Oleander is a respected Psychonaut who secretly harbors dreams of world domination born from trauma he suffered as a child. Teaming up with Dr. Loboto, Oleander had him mutate a lungfish into a monster, who he then sent to kidnap the campers at Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp and bring them to his base at Thorney Towers Home for the Disturbed. Oleander would then have Loboto remove the campers' brains and put them into Brain Tanks that Oleander developed which he planned to use to take over the world. Oleander also implanted the persona of The Milkman into Boyd Cooper in order to destroy the evidence of Oleander’s scheme, and also managed to capture famed Psychonauts Sasha Nein and Milla Vodello by luring them into a trap. When Razputin Aquato managed to rescue Sasha, Milla, and Lili Zanotto, Oleander battled Sasha, Milla, and Ford Cruller. When his own brain was removed Oleander took control of one of his Brain Tanks and nearly managed to defeat everyone before Raz was able to restore his sanity, returning Oleander to his normal heroic self.
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    • Dr. Caligosto Loboto is a dentist turned freelance Mad Scientist who, despite his insanity, manages to be one of Razputin Aquato's most dangerous adversaries. Teaming up with Coach Oleander, Loboto mutated a lungfish into a monster to kidnap psychic children to power their Brain Tanks. Taking control of Thorney Towers Home for the Disturbed, Loboto has Crispin Whytehead guard the way to Loboto's lab, shielding him from Psychic interference for good measure. Loboto forces the brilliant Sheegor to be his lab assistant by holding her pet turtle hostage. After being defeated, Loboto was hired by the evil Gristol Malik to put his brain into the body of Truman Zanotto. Loboto kidnapped Truman and set up a new base in the Rhombus of Ruin, mutating several fish to help him and capturing Raz and his friends when they arrived. When Raz restored his Moral Compass, Loboto freed everyone and destroyed his base before being captured. When the Psychonauts tried to figure out who hired Loboto by tricking him inside of his mind, Loboto saw through the deception and took back control of his mind, managing to defeat everyone but Raz. Ultimately Loboto is able to escape Psychonauts HQ consequence-free.
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First Game

  • Accidental Aesop:
    • There's always hope no matter how hopeless a mental affliction may seem. Supportive assistance can help someone heal the source of their problems, and even realize they they don't need Take Over the World to feel validated.
    • The Censors, who almost exclusively say "No!", generally wear suits, and stamp out the weirder parts of people's minds, are an obvious mockery of Obstructive Bureaucrats whose job is to censor risky content, with Raz beating them up en masse. But in the game itself they're also established to be the main line of defense in people's minds to keep them mentally healthy, which leads to the interpretation that while these people can be boring and frustrating, they're often necessary to keep tense situations under control.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: As this is an extremely psychological game, this could apply to a great number of characters.
    • Is the Hand of Galochio real, or is it Raz's own psychic powers unconsciously manifesting his fears brought on by his family's superstition? The sequel confirms it to be the latter.
    • Augustus, even the evil zombie version in Raz's mind, DOES have a point. All the Psi Cadets at Camp Whispering Rock were more proficient with their psychic powers, but it was ultimately Raz's acrobatics that allowed him to save the world. If they were able to fly like Milla and Sasha, we would have seen them using those skills in Basic Braining. Not even Lili would have been able to scale the upper levels of the asylum or avoid the bull in Black Velvetopia. Augustus insisting on Raz training physically before psychically could have been due to the Aquato family's traditions. Supported by older Aquatos using psychic powers in the trailer for the second game. Augustus simply didn't want Raz to start training so young. After the sequel it's also possible that Augustus' refusal to let Raz go to Whispering Rock was not hatred of Psychics but a subconscious resentment towards the Psychonauts, as the repressed memory that they hypnotized him into thinking his aunt was his dead mother may have resurfaced slightly.
    • Since the only real image we see of the Butcher is a single memory, which may or may not even be true to what happened, he could be seen as anything from a simple family man who failed to properly explain the concept of raising animals for the slaughter to his impressionable son to an all-out sociopath.
  • Anticlimax Boss: The final boss of the game. You get big, beat it up until you run out of juice, you turn invisible, and then you wait to regain enough energy to turn big again. Even if your invisibility doesn't last long enough, as long as you turn it off and on before it runs out, you're still safe.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The 2011 Steam version had an update that made the infamous Meat Circus level a bit less frustrating, in several ways. Arguably the most important of the bunch, you no longer lose a mental layer every time you fail to protect Oly or fall into a Bottomless Pit, only when you lose all your mental health. This dramatically decreases your chances of getting kicked out (especially if you increased your mental health to the maximum by saving everyone's brains and earned the Regenerating Health by going up to Rank 90), so you won't have to repeat parts you've already beaten nearly as often. The section with Lil' Oly is made much easier by having him be able to take more damage from the mutant rabbits, and the water in the obstacle course doesn't rise as fast as it did in the original version, giving you more time to finish the section you're on.
  • Awesome Music:
    • The main menu theme, and all its variations.
    • The Meat Circus track.
    • The music that plays when Raz earns a merit badge.
    • The totally boss electric flamenco guitar that plays throughout the Black Velvetopia level.
    • As an added bonus, the music at the end of the game that plays when Raz, Lilli, Sasha, Milla, and Oleander fly off to rescue Truman Zanotto. Literally perfect!
  • Best Level Ever:
    • Lungfishopolis, because, honestly, who wouldn't love to fulfill their Kaiju-related fantasies by going all Godzilla on an entire town?
    • The Milkman Conspiracy is loved for being a crowning level of funny as it's home to the G-Men, Boyd's insane ramblings and of course, The Milkman.
    • Black Velvetopia often gets cited as an exemplary level, because of its Awesome Music and distinctive visuals, and because of how well the level's structure represents Edgar's psyche.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The Nightmare fights. Originally they were going to be a running subplot in the game, but got dropped somewhere in development. The two that are fought are merely a leftover.
  • Breather Level:
    • The Milkman Conspiracy level is much less action-oriented than the other levels of the game, with the focus being on Raz finding different objects in order to progress to certain areas. There are no enemies besides the two Nightmares and the Den Mother Boss Battles and the platforming, while present, is actually fairly tame.
    • Waterloo World mostly involves simple puzzle solving and is the only Asylum level without a boss fight.
  • Cargo Ship: Admiral Cruller and his canoe.
  • Catharsis Factor: The final boss. After the Nintendo Hard difficulty level of the preceding Meat Circus section, a Curb-Stomp Battle made for the perfect palate cleanser.
  • Cheese Strategy: Barring Dragon, the luchadores in Black Velvetopia can be easily defeated if you ram into them over and over with the Wrecking Ball upgrade for the Levitation Ball.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • Clem and Crystal have suicidal tendencies, which wouldn't be funny normally. Seeing Crystal admit cheerfully and nonchalantly that she and Clem were trying to kill themselves is so audacious that it can loop around to being hilarious.
    • Seeing Milla's Nightmares? Terrifying. Getting an achievement for doing it called "I'm sure she's over it"? Darkly hilarious.
    • Removing someone's brain? Horrible. Inducing them to sneeze out their brain? Hilarious.
    • Raz's childhood memories of his family and the circus painting his father as a horrifying mental monster who tries to kill him? Sad and scary. Said mental version being such an Abusive Parent he proudly proclaims he hates seeing his son happy? Hilarious.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • The Tragedy variations of the stage actors are some of the trickiest monsters to fight in the game, mainly due to how all three variations appear at once from the first time one changes the mood lighting of the stage.
      • The thistle actors spin like saws, and while they're spinning are effectively invincible until they (briefly) stop.
      • Hell hounds breathe fire at you (which makes Raz run around almost uncontrollable when lit) and can turn to face Raz while they attack.
      • Harpies fire shots at you while suspended in the air, and can push you back with a screech if you manage to get close.
    • The exploding rats in the upper floors of Thorney Towers, while easy to kill, come at you frequently in big enough numbers that you might not be able to shoot them all from a distance in time, can sneak up behind you if you're not looking, and take off a chunk of your health if you get caught in their explosion leaving you confused and vulnerable to more exploding rats.
  • Difficulty Spike:
    • The Meat Circus is insanely difficult compared to the other dozen levels of the game, and many players (such as Yahtzee Croshaw) believe it to be one of the few flaws in the game. A lot of the criticisms of the level are detailed below, under Disappointing Last Level.
    • In general, the game picks up in difficulty once you enter the Lungfish's brain. This is completely justified as all the previous minds were camp counselors willingly letting children in to teach them psychic abilities, in specially-constructed parts of their trained minds, and they were all generally sane. Starting with the lungfish, however, you are an intruder upon the minds you enter, and they are all much less sane.
  • Disappointing Last Level: The final level, Meat Circus, is often cited as one of the worst parts of the game. While it does a good job storywise with wrapping the plot up, the level itself is incredibly frustrating to play through. The first segment is a pseudo-Escort Mission where you have to protect Oly from constantly-respawning enemies while also holding a rabbit in place long enough for him to catch it... four times in a row. Not helping is that you're constantly being at risk of falling from the extremely vertical level and having to redo a huge chunk of it, along with Oly constantly screaming and whining throughout it. The second is Raz's father's obstacle course, which demands very on-point platforming skills and has tons of Checkpoint Starvation, along with you having to put up with his constant one-liners. While the bosses are a lot easier, they end up being downright anti-climatic due to how hard the other segments were.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • D'artagan (sic)—a character cut from the final game, who nonetheless appears in lots of fanart, occasionally shipped with the hero Raz.
    • If you look you can find a following for just about every student in the camp.
    • Fred has quite the fan following too.
    • Edgar is practically something of a mascot for a number of the game's fan artists, though not necessarily as a subject - in general, the asylum inmates are rather well-loved in the fandom.
    • Boyd Cooper's level is one of the most popular ones in the game, and with his simultaneously disturbed/disturbing and amusing character, he does look to be the most liked out of the Thorney Towers residents.
  • Fanon: Loboto being Bobby's father, due to the similarities in their appearance and personality.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Admiral Cruller's borderline-romantic obsession with his canoes in this game became far less funny once the sequel was released, considering his relationship with Lucrecia Mux, who specialized in hydrokinesis.
  • Genius Bonus: The Waterloo World level's background music is composed of the lesser-known portions of the 1812 Overture. For the record, the piece celebrates the defeat of Napoleon's army (though not at the Battle of Waterloo).
  • Goddamn Bats: The exploding rats in the asylum are quite possibly the most annoying creatures in the game. They will make a beeline to you and their explosions quite big, worst of all though is these explosions are bursts of confusion energy so impact will result in a hazy effect overwhelming the screen and your controls being reversed. This makes you a sitting duck for more rats to hit you or completely wreck your platforming. And even using the shield ability doesn't stop the confusion effect.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Due to the ability's animation, levitation gives you a very small amount of height when you're hovering in the air. Fine enough, but there's no real limit to how many times you can use this effect while suspended in the air. Thus, with a series of quick button inputs, you can activate and deactivate Levitation repeatedly for what effectively amounts to flight. For a platformer, this is a godsend, and it breaks the game so hard that the sequel had to considerably nerf the ability to prevent any further Sequence Breaking.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Loboto's "if the tooth is bad, we pull it" comment is a bit less amusing due to The Reveal in Rhombus of Ruin — namely, that his psychic-hating parents had him get a lobotomy to get rid of his powers.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: You get an achievement on Steam for listening to Vernon's entire story foreshadowing the asylum called "Wolpaw Says Thanks". This is very similar to an achievement in another, later Eric Wolpaw-penned game, Portal 2, where a very similar thing happens if you save the Prometheus/Oracle turret.
    • The Phone Operator G-Man's line about mobile phones making land lines obsolete. This was before Blackberries and iPhones were everywhere.
    • The fight in Black Velvetopia against Tiger. Richard Horvitz would later oppose El Tigre, a tiger-themed luchador hero, as the evil Dr. Chipotle.
    • Speaking of Richard Horvitz' career, after Raz went kaiju in Linda's mind, so would Alpha in the crossover comic Justice League/Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
    • A brain inside a tank that is being led by a psychic that wants world domination? Where have we seen this before?
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: "You guys wanna split a cab" for Edgar/Fred/Gloria/Boyd.
  • Les Yay: Seemingly subverted between Franke and Kitty (the most they do in-game is hold hands, something relatively standard of girls their age), and they refer to each other as "sista", but their Campster profiles list music and TV shows known for Les Yay, like t.A.T.u.., Xena: Warrior Princess, and Ellen. Kitty also has "Dating, Serious Relationship (Women and Men)" listed under "Looking For..." Franke's only Interest is Kitty, and she's listed as being in an Open Marriage.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Pretty much every line, but the gems given to us by The Milkman Conspiracy deserve special mention.
    • GOGGALOR!Explanation 
    • "YOOOOUUUUUUUU CHEATED."
    • Dogen and Among Us Explanation 
  • Padding: Minus Boyd Cooper, whose sole role is to destroy Thorney Towers to cover Oleander's tracks, the residents of it and their mental worlds don't have a very significant effect on the narrative of the game, mostly being there to justify getting past the (equally insignificant) Crispin Whytehead. That being said, they're all considered likable characters in their own right, and lead to some very funny and memorable moments.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • The PS2 port features numerous sound glitches and framerate issues and almost always crashes during a playthrough, especially in the minds of the Lungfish or Gloria.
    • The Mac port is also really bad, with numerous sound glitches and occasional screen-blurring. Thankfully, Double Fine has a dedicated team working on patching the Mac and Linux ports, and most of the issues have been ironed out, though the Mac port is frequently considered to be the inferior version.
  • Presumed Flop: The game is often referred to as a notorious flop, but as creator Tim Schafer noted in the 2015 documentary series What Color is the Sky In Your World?, its sales were nowhere near as disastrous as reported at the time. It was reported to have sold about 100,000 units when it actually sold about 400,000. Still not great, but far from a disaster. That said, it didn't turn a profit for quite a few years and its sequel has taken 16 years to come to release, so this may have only been half-defied.
  • Praising Shows You Don't Watch: Naturally, as arguably gaming's most notorious Acclaimed Flop, although its availability through Steam and other Digital Distribution services have helped it reach more people than it did at first.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Elton's voice actress, Cristina Pucelli, would later receive recognition for her role as Luan Loud on The Loud House.
  • Signature Scene: The most remembered stage, of course, is The Milkman Conspiracy.
  • Special Effect Failure: After Maloof and Mikhail become associates, they can be seen by the cabins playing ball together. The animation for them playing ball involves the both of them briefly adopting a Pstandard Psychic Pstance as they bounce it over to each other. However, the animation makes it looks like they're hitting the balls with their faces instead of their hands.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Unless you watch all the cutscenes where they interact, (some being trigger-cutscenes) you'd be very confused at how fast Raz and Lili hook up.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song
    • Raz's "Badge Get" musical sting sounds very much like "Gotta Fly Now".
    • The track "The Censors Unleashed" contains a few bars from the beginning of Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik".
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Clem and Crystal, bizarrely subverted with their suicidal tendencies.
  • That One Achievement: "Christmas Shopper", a secret achievement for purchasing something from the camp store on Christmas Day. It being the only achievement that can only be earned on a specific day is annoying enough, but on the PlayStation 4 version, it's mandatory in order to get the platinum trophy, meaning it can take players literal months to complete the game (depending on when they play) if they don't want to change their console's internal clock in order to get it.
  • That One Level:
    • Meat Circus, infamous for its difficulty. It combines Timed Missions, Escort Missions, Rise to the Challenge, a Timed Jumping puzzle where the boss is trying to knock you off with attacks from offscreen, and three incredibly similar boss fights. Five years after the game's release on Steam, a patch was made available that made the Meat Circus easier.
    • The upper levels of the asylum. They're dark, have some tricky jumps, and are home to some really annoying enemies.
    • The Race section of Milla's mind. While the race itself isn't that bad (you just have to outpace Bobby Zilch by going on the speed boosts, which the track provides you amply with), when it comes to getting the figments, it's downright terrible. It takes over twenty minutes to go over all the routes thoroughly, most of the figments blend into the track around them, and when you finally reach the end and realize that you're still missing a few, you won't be blamed for wanting to throw your controller at the screen.
    • There will come a moment where you'll eventually have to begin grinding for the expensive cobweb duster, either by killing enemies for about an hour or by doing the immensely annoying Dowsing Rod minigame where you have to nearly break your keyboard in half as you tap like crazy to rip out another arrowhead from the ground. It's even worse if you waited until the Milkman Conspiracy stage (which is when the Duster is first needed), as you'll have to attempt to find arrowheads in a dark camp full of psychic animals, meaning you don't even get the benefit of hunting for deep arrowhead deposits.
    • Gloria's Theater can be a pain to get through because of all the intentionally awful acting which plays for each set and mood, the path to progress being rather obtuse on the first playthrough, and just generally not being as entertaining or creative as the levels that come before or after. The second part also features some tricky platforming on tight catwalks with lots of enemies, along with a ton of Camera Screw.
  • That One Side Quest: Collecting all the figments to get 100% Completion. They are hundreds of them in each level, they are 2D, they move, they fade in and out, they are neon which makes them hard to see in several levels, and there is no radar or anything to help you track them down. This is at its worst in Milla's Dance Party, where the color scheme of the level combined with the figments being heavily spread throughout the racing portion make it difficult to find all of the figments there without a guide.
  • Ugly Cute: About half the characters in this game are sort of adorable, Sheegor in particular.
    • Linda is pretty cute once she's not being mind-controlled. What a magical lady...
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • Quentin has a fairly androgynous design and prepubescent voice, so it's not obvious that he's a boy.
    • Franke has long hair, but her style is very 60s/70s, so she could easily pass for a long-haired boy.
    • Bonita Soleil has a very pretty, feminine design... and a very gruff, masculine voice. If it wasn't for the other characters in Gloria's mind referring to her as "she", it'd be ambiguous whether she's a masculine-sounding woman or a feminine-looking man.
    • This was apparently one of the reasons D'artagen, the original protagonist, was scrapped in favor of Raz: his hat made him look too much like a girl (the other reason was that his hat was also a pain to animate).
  • Vindicated by History: Critics loved it, but it wasn't until years after its release that it started selling well. In the years between its original retail release and its eventual digital release, word of mouth spread about the game's quality and helped elevate it from being a Cult Classic prior, but what really put it on the map was its inclusion in a Humble Bundle that got its sales numbers exceeding its lifetime retail sales within hours.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Between the cartoony art style, the main character being ten, and the fact that the surface-level writing doesn't delve into inappropriate topics, nothing about the game would immediately give the impression that it's not for kids. Then you suddenly start unpackaging extremely mature themes such as child abuse, depression, suicide, Family-Unfriendly Death, numerous Adult Fears, and the Meat Circus.

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