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Anachronox was a third-person RPG from mid-2001, developed by Ion Storm Dallas (infamous for Daikatana; the Deus Ex team was Ion Storm Austin) for the PC. A sort of a love-letter to Japanese-style RPGs (especially games such as Final Fantasy VII), it tells a Science Fiction story that follows the tale of a down-on-his-luck detective Sylvester "Sly Boots" Bucelli and his eclectic True Companions, who range from a stripper/assassin to an old collector of seemingly inert Phlebotinum to an alcoholic superhero to a planet shrunken down to your size. In true JRPG tradition, Sly and his companions travel to a variety of planets, meet interesting and weird people, hunt for widgets, and engage in a lot of turn-based combat.
Although intended to be a humorous game, it isn't really a parody of the genre. It features a wide variety of tropes commonly associated with Japanese RPGs of the period such as the 3D installments of the Final Fantasy series, as opposed to Western PC RPGs of the period such as the Baldur's Gate series. The game did reasonably well with critics, but was not a big seller. Among those who did play it, it is notorious for its ending, which is a very obvious lead-up to the sequel that was never to be.
You can watch most of it as a movie featuring all it's cutscenes.
It is now available on GOG.com
This game provides examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo: Shields and mystech are powered by radioactive rodents.
- Apocalypse How: Sunder suffers a Class X, which is itself merely one part of a larger plan by the villains to perform a Class X-5. To be specific, since reality is an endless cycle of Big Bang/Big Crunch, they seek to eject enough matter from the past universe into the present universe so that universe has no Crunch, destroying not only the present universe but the future universe where their enemies are.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Three.
- Badass Longcoat: Boots, by the end--especially with his "Cap" skill.
- Bag of Sharing: Just one inventory, even in segments where everyone's spread out in totally different areas. Or on totally different planets. In prison.
- Butt Monkey: Oh, the poor, poor Bipidri.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: Every type of mystech has a specific color, and every character in the party has their own type they have the best affinity for -- the matching color will be prominent in their appearance. For example, Rho is best with poison (green) while Paco has affinity for fire - thus Rho wears a big green coat while Paco's hero spandex is red and black.
- Combat Stilettos: Stiletto wears them, naturally.
- Disc One Nuke: Paco's Infinity+1 Sword is obtained by photographing eight red Bipidri and turning the photos in to an NPC on Anachronox. Said eight Bipidri are all placed in areas you'll visit before meeting Paco. As a result, you can get his weapon well before he should have it, making his initial level (and several after it) a cakewalk.
- Emergency Transformation: Fatima was put in the Life Cursor after she was thrown from Boots' crashing car, which ultimately crashed into her.
- Executive Meddling: The development team was fired the day before the game was released, removing any hope of a sequel.
- Face Heel Turn: Although the character was actually a Heel for the entire length of the game.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel
- The Future Is Noir: The Bricks, the first area of the game, is a place a Blade Runner character might find comfy.
- Game Breaking Bug: One of the red Bipidri is placed in a location that makes it impossible to get a full-body picture. Since you need a fair portion of its body in the shot for the NPC to give you credit, this will result in you taking dozens of pictures just to get a valid entry.
- Global Currency: The galactic currency is the Canadian Dollar.
- It's the de facto Galactic Currency. One of the newsfeeds you can read in the game mentions that a conference will be taking place soon to decide if the "Loonie" should become the de jure currency.
- Green Rocks: The Mys-tech "stones", which are really what let you cast your spells, once they are eventually "awakened." Each one corresponds to different elements, such as wind or healing.
- Guide Dang It:
- The red Bipidri, one of which is inexplicably in space. The same goes for the TACOs, which are more numerous and even more difficult to find.
- A very mild version, as it's not spelled out in black and white and thus easy to miss. Spells have certain types: confusion, damage, poison, etc. Casting these on enemies does as you would expect. Casting them on yourself, on the other hand, does the opposite (cure poison, remove confusion, etc.). Nowhere in the menu is this mechanic actually discussed. Instead, it is Rho who tells you about it when you first arrive at Votowne, and she isn't perfectly clear about it (the idea was that you're supposed to test it yourself, it being a new frontier and all). It's quite possible to go through the entire game without realizing this helpful fact.
- The Gunslinger: Boots, and Rho depending on the weapon she's using.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Hints are dropped here and there in the game that Sly Boots wasn't always the bum he is at the start of the game. Then a pair of cutscenes roughly halfway to three-quarters of the way through the game show that he was once a respected Private Eye in the fashionable section of Anachronox, with a nice office, a snappy suit, and a Cool Car.
- Idiot Hero: Boots. He can't spell "Anachronox." He lives on the planet Anachronox.
"Unachronox! Man, you guys are dumb."
- Improbable Weapon User: Rho Bowman uses devices that attacks with SCIENCE! Democratus attacks with orbital lasers and nukes. Paco, being a comic-style superhero, equips old issues of his own comic to access his fighting moves.
- And don't forget that the most powerful spells are powered by bugs.
- Infinity+1 Sword: Each character has their own. Notably, Paco's can be obtained earlier than you actually get the character, making him stupidly overpowered in the short term. Also, the "harmonic" mystechs, one for each color, are the most powerful mystech in the game, short of the eight super-bug modular mystech.
- Jerkass: Sly Boots. This is even mentioned in the manual when after giving the sob story of his life up until that point in his bio, Fatima (who narrates the manual) says "But don't feel bad for him. He's a jerk."
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Lampshaded. At one point you can break into someone's room. They'll acknowledge that you're probably here to rob them and make no effort to stop you, nor is there any punishment for it.
- Knife Nut: Stiletto has plenty of throwing knives to go along with her Combat Stilettos.
- Level Scaling: Enemies are scaled to Boots' level after leaving an area, and his fellow teammates are likewise scaled to close his current level. This had the effect of discouraging Level Grinding, as doing so excessively made the game impossible to win (almost all your teammates would be useless against even mooks).
- Limit Break
- Mini Game: All of the characters' "world skills," which let you do things like pick locks and hack computers, are controlled by playing simple games.
- Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Democratus High Council.
- Order Versus Chaos
- Overly-Long Fighting Animation: Unusually for a PC RPG of the time, some of the game's Bouge skills have cutscene-like animations.
- A "speed up" key is added in a later patch, which greatly remedies this situation.
- Power Walk: The ending cutscene.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Come on, you have to guide a team of a loser detective, a sadist Badass Grandpa, a robot that would make Asimov cry, a geek scientist who accidentally destroyed a planet and killed a lot of other scientists (though to be fair, you find out it wasn't actually her), a planet shrunk down to human size, a killer stripper and a drunkard superhero.
- Ridiculously-Human Robots: PAL, which is a plot point since robots do not usually act this way.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: You may save only with savepoints if you want.
- Sequel Hook: Averted, sadly. Literally, if just one line were changed, it would be right back to being a very obvious hook.
- Standard Status Effects: Although they have weird names, in keeping with the game's tendency to have everything a standard RPG does but with odd names.
- Stealth Pun: For starters, both your characters' Deflector Shields and Applied Phlebotinum run on "Neutron Radiated Glowdents"; N-R-G.
- True Companions: And a bizarre set of one, at that. One of your companions is an entire planet, shrunk down to your scale.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: The game features at least one short stealth sequence and a mandatory rail shooting section.
- Virtual Ghost: Fatima, Boots's "LifeCursor," is actually the mind of Boots' secretary downloaded into a little flying apparatus that acts as a sort of a combination of futuristic PDA and your game cursor. She appears to Boots as a hologram since she doesn't actually have a body.
- Also deconstructed in a way, as you see the emotional gauntlet this has run her through as she is essentially now alive until said LifeCursor finally stops working. Happily subverts the trope that would most likely be the result if not for Rule of Funny.
- Fatima: "Day 5? Bust out the violins, try day 300!"
- Welcome to Corneria: Played straight and lampshaded. Every character in the game is nothing but a stock set of phrases. One particular fellow in the Anachronox train station, however, is aware of this fact and preaches it to the masses. They don't believe him, of course. Near the end of the game, speaking to him will reward you with a harmonic mystech, his way of making sure you remember who he is.
- You All Look Familiar: Lampshaded via the character Multidude, who can create copies of himself.