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Ain't no mess we can't address!—Blackmore family's Badass Creed
Stacking takes place in a 1930's inspired world. That happens to be populated entirely by Russian matryoshka dolls. The game has you taking on the role of young chimney sweep Charlie Blackmore as he attempts to rescue his family from the clutches of an evil industrialist, The Baron, forcing them to work against their will. Charlie's tiny size proves very helpful in that it allows him to inhabit the body of any stacking doll bigger than himself and use that new form's skills to aid him in his quest.
As long as his target is larger (and not facing him) the youngster can stack several dolls upon each other, however only the skills of the outside doll can be utilised. This means Charlie has to unstack and stack accordingly in order to use the desired skill to overcome the games obstacles. The games puzzles have several means of being solved and as such rewards using different methods.
The lead director of this game is Lee Petty, the lead Art Director of Brutal Legend. He was inspired by watching his daughter playing with real matryoshka dolls and decided to make a game around it. Like Costume Quest, Tim Schafer took a back seat to allow Lee Petty to lead the project.
It was released February 9th for Xbox Live and PSN, and March 6th for Steam. PSN Plus subscribers got the game for free.
Tropes found in this game:
Charlie: Can't adults do anything by themselves?!
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Completing a set of Hi-Jinks will result in either getting a doll's accesory turn to gold, or gain a golden accessory. The only exception is the "Artful Dodger" Hi-Jinks, which has The Baron's guards gain a "Kick Me" sign on thier back.
- Aristocrats Are Evil
- Badass Creed: See the page quote.
- Big Bad: "The Baron." The largest doll.
- Big Damn Heroes: Levi and "Hobo Team Bravo" during the final battle.
- Black Widow: Chastity. Lampshaded in her bio.
- Body Snatcher / Body Surf
- Brought Down to Normal: The Baron is beaten by repeatedly unstacking him into smaller versions.
- Butt Monkey: Hans Allendorf, who appears in every level and is always suffering in one way or another.
- Child-Hater: The Baron and his wealthy friends.
- Companion Cube: One of the children has a teddy bear he calls Mr. Ruffles and treats as if it's alive. It is.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The train level is filled with Obviously Evil industrialists, looking to make use of child labor offshore.
- Did Not Do the Research: IGN's review admitted they jokingly assumed the game had socialist undertones because of themes about child labor.
- Doing It for the Art: Lee Petty.
- Downloadable Content: The Lost Hobo King package, with new puzzles and a short stand-alone plot.
- Dressing as the Enemy
- Distracted by the Sexy: You can use Chastity (the attractive female doll) to lure guards away from their posts or to distract them as you take control of them.
- Dronejam: A common recurring puzzle. What changes is the character doing the jamming and the environment, and therefore, the way to get around them.
- Dumb Muscle: Simpleton the Strong.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Parodied. The name of the ending fight is called "RoShamBo Rumble" and consists of fighting the final doll of The Baron, who can stack into dolls with a rock, a stack of paper, or pair of scissors their head. The strategy is to stack into a doll with the opposing "element" of The Baron's current doll and attack him.
- Everyone Hates Mimes: You can get a hi-jink by smacking mimes around.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: One of the puzzles involves derailing a monkey-driven carriage.
- Eye Take: Scaring dolls with the Kodiak bear or Peck the Clown causes this.
- Face on a Milk Carton: The "wanted" posters on the zeppelin are these.
- False Camera Effects: a good amount of the in-game cutscenes, most notably the one that play when you enter an are for the first time, do quite a a bit to replicate movies made on reels of film, including the film being slightly out of place.
- Fake Longevity: Averted; despite the presence of Hi-jinx and unique doll collection quests, this game is relatively short.
- Family Theme Naming: All the members of the Blackmore family except Charlie have names beginning with A.
- Fartillery: Meriwether Malador's ability. Felicity Fowler has a nicer version; she can "Pass Potpourri".
- Free-Range Children
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Lost Hobo King DLC takes place in the town of Hamel Roe, which is the legendary city of Camelfoot. Yow.
- Glove Slap: An ability performed when controlling a small, nameless "rich-guy" doll.
- Gold Digger: Chastity.
Chastity: "Do you happen to know your net worth? I'm not after your wealth, I'm just fascinated with math and numbers!"
- Grand Theft Me: The Game
- The Great Depression: The setting was inspired by this and elements of the late Victorian era. Child Labor is a major theme.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Lots of Oliver Twist-esque child labor jokes.
- Hobos: Levi.
- I Am Legion: The Baron is storing many smaller versions of himself.
- Interface Screw: Some dolls will distort the screen in some way when stacked into. For instance, stacking into a dog will make everything appear in near-monochrome, while stacking into a hazard suit dulls out the sound and adds a rounded glass filter.
- Large and In Charge: Invoked Trope, according to Tim Schafer. Larger dolls tend to have more authority and status, while smaller dolls are insignificant in both physical size and social status, fitting in with Social Classes being a recurring theme of the game. The Big Bad is the largest, wealthiest, evilest doll. And of course, the hero is the smallest doll.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: One large gentlemanly doll has a boxing glove for the "Proper Uppercut" ability.
- Living Bodysuit
- Man Child: Simpleton the Strong. One of the largest dolls, he dresses in stereotypical boys clothes (beanie on head and lollipop in hand.) He also hates clowns..
- Matryoshka Object: Pretty much all of the characters.
- Monster Clown: Peck the Clown, a massive and creepy-looking clown unlike the other Non Ironic Clowns in the game.
Peck: "Never look a clown straight in the eyes."
- My Name Is Not Durwood: The kids from the beginning of the zeppelin level can never remember Charlie's name.
- Not So Different: The final boss is The tiniest version of The Baron, who gains the ability to stack.
- Odd Name Out: The Blackmore children are Albert, Abigail, Agatha, Archibald ... and Charlie.
- Charlie's middle name, however, is Alister.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: The cutscene right before the final battle seems is very Hollywood blockbuster feeling, in a stark contrast with the silent movie feeling of the game. Stuff Blowing Up, Indy Hat Roll, Outrun the Fireball, Slo-Mo Big Air, the works.
- Parental Bonus: Invoked Trope.
- Personal Space Invader
- Plot Tailored to the Party: The end of every chapter involves using a set of dolls' unique abilities to pass a series of gates. The Blackmore Family goes through this twice.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: Works of Frederic Chopin are used in the soundtrack.
- Red Baron
- Rich Bitch: Several females on the train stage.
- Serial Escalation: The piano-playing doll set has a performance that must be seen to be believed. Each doll has their own piano, in which the next smallest doll stands on to play their smaller piano. This happens recursively for six dolls. They ALL play at the same time, with different tracks from the game soundtrack all playing at the same time.
- Scenery Porn: Cut-scenes are told in acting stages
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: The Baron and his entourage of wealthy friends.
- Sexy Walk: Chastity's wooden lower half has a little swing to it when walking.
- Shout-Out: One achievement is called A Mass Effect.
- Show Runner: Tim Schafer, taking a backseat to Lee Petty, like he did with Costume Quest.
- Spiritual Successor: To Messiah by Shiny.
- Starving Artist: Levi the Hobo. As you gather collectibles he decorates the subway with brilliant dioramas.
- Take Your Time: Lampshaded during the cruise. The newspaper article reads "Guilded Ship goes on never-ending cruise."
- Special mention for the end of the zeppelin level.
- Toilet Humor: Meriwether Molodor's Flatulate ability, and the Go Potty ability. Felicity Fowler has the Pass Potpourri ability, where she lets out a rather pleasant waft.
- If you possess a Kodiak Bear (or Peck the Clown), you can use the Growl ability to scare others. They run away and drop sawdust.
- Took a Level In Badass: Hans appears in every level in the game, each time having a more useful ability than before. He starts out with the entirely useless "Go Potty" ability. In the Hobo King DLC, he has one of the most powerful abilities in the game which allows him to take down hoards of zombies with ease.
- The Vamp: Chastity.
- Violent Glaswegian: One large, nameless doll in plaid talks with a stereotypical Glaswegian accent, and has the ability "The Northern Kiss," a headbutt so strong it temporarily knocks the head of the doll you hit.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Loads and loads. Some of it is required for Hi-jinx awards. Beat people up. Set them on fire. Terrify them with horrible roars or make them faint. Many, many dolls allow you to do terrible things to other dolls.
- Where Are They Now: After beating the game, the newspaper loading screens display information regarding various unique dolls found throughout the game and what becomes of them.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Simpleton the Strong hates ghosts and clowns.
- X Meets Y: Hitman meets Monkey Island.
- You Have Failed Me: "No, Baron! Not the wood-chipper!"