Infobox VG|title = Psychonauts
Double Fine Productions Budcat Creations(PS2 version)
distributor = Majesco Entertainment (retail)
Tim Schafer(Creative director)
Scott Campbell (Art design)
version = 1.04 (
September 21 2005)
released = Xbox
April 19 2005
February 10 2006
April 26 2005
February 10 2006
June 21 2005
August 4 2005
February 10 2006 October 11 2006(Steam) December 4, 2007(Xbox Originals)
genre = Adventure, Platform
ratings = ESRB: T
Xbox, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2
media = CD,
DVD, Steam download
"Psychonauts" is a platform
video gamecreated by Tim Schafer(known for several LucasArtsadventure games such as " Grim Fandango" and the first two "Monkey Island" games), developed by Double Fine Productionsand published by Majesco. The game was first released on April 19, 2005for the Xbox, and has subsequently been ported to PlayStation 2and Microsoft Windows. It has also been released on Steam, as an "Xbox Original" through Xbox Live Marketplace, and as a free playable title on the GameTapbasic subscription service.
"Psychonauts" is based on the exploits of Raz, a young boy gifted with psychic abilities who escapes the circus to try to sneak into a summer camp for those with similar powers in order to become a "Psychonaut". He finds that there is a sinister plot occurring at the camp that only he can stop from happening. The game is centered on the widely strange and imaginative minds of various characters that Raz enters as a Psychonaut-in-training in order to help them overcome their fears or memories of their past in order to gain their help and progress in the game. Raz gains use of several psychic abilities during the game that are used for both attacking foes and solving puzzles.
While the game suffered from poor sales and publisher Majesco suffered financial difficulties relating to "Psychonauts" and other titles in its catalog, "Psychonauts" received strong praise and is considered one of the best platformers of the sixth console generation.
"Psychonauts" combines traditional console platformer elements with the kind of strong storytelling, humor and dialogue found in adventure games. The camp itself is fully explorable by the player to find hidden arrowheads that can be used to purchase items at the camp store and psi cards that help to improve Raz's Psi Ranking, to talk to other campers and camp advisers, and to make way to the various "levels" within the game. There are also areas in the "real world" of the camp, including a nearby insane asylum, that the player will explore during the course of the game. Throughout these areas are characters whose minds Raz can enter, either through their own actions, or by use of a small door that Raz uses on the character's forehead. Each of these character levels has its own unique visual design and set of challenges, related to the demons, nightmares and secret memories of the mind that Raz is exploring; for example, within the mind of the lungfish that terrorizes the camp lake, Raz is seen as a giant monster attacking a city filled with lungfish beings (in a level designed to parody most elements of the
kaijūgenre), while within the mind of Boyd, the security guard at the asylum, Raz encounters Boyd's alternate personality of "The Milkman" who sees everything as a conspiracy theory. Within the mind levels, the player can collect various "figments of imagination" which can also lead to increasing Raz's Psi Ranking, and can locate tags to match with various "emotional baggage" within the level to unlock a slideshow that helps to explain the background of that character and his or her mental problem. The player must also avoid taking damage from censors that attempt to remove Raz from the character's mind. Each mind level typically ends with a boss fight that represents the main cause of the character's mental problems.
Raz gains new psychic powers through the game through either instruction by the camp counselors, or by increasing his Psi Ranking. These powers include telekinesis,
levitation, invisibility, pyrokinesis, clairvoyance, PSI Shield, PSI Blast and confusion. Additional Rankings increase the range, duration or potency of these abilities. These powers are directly involved in the puzzle-solving aspects of the game as well as to defeat foes within the game, and allow the player to tailor the solutions to his or her own playing strengths. The player also gains items that can be used either for solving puzzles, to escape from a mind level if they become stuck, or to get advice for solving some of the puzzles.
The story is set in Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp. The area was hit centuries ago by a meteor made of psitanium (an element that can grant psychic powers or strengthen existing powers), creating a huge crater. The psitanium affected the local wildlife, giving them limited psychic powers, such as bears with the ability to attack with telekinetic claws and
cougars with pyrokinesis. The native americans of the area called psitanium whispering rock, which they used to build arrowheads. When settlers began inhabiting the region, the psychoactive properties of the meteor slowly drove them insane. An asylum was built to house the afflicted, but within fifteen years the asylum had more residents than the town did. The government relocated the remaining inhabitants and flooded the crater to prevent further settlement, creating what is now Lake Oblongata. The asylum still stands but has fallen into disrepair.
The government took advantage of the psitanium deposit to set up a training ground the Psychonauts, a group of agents gifted with psychic abilities and used to help defeat evil-doers. The training ground is disguised as a
summer campfor young children, but in reality helps the children to hone their abilities and to train them to be Psychonauts themselves. Due to this, only those recruited by the Psychonauts are allowed into the camp.
The protagonist and playable character of the game is Raz (short for Razputin), the son of a family of
circusperformers, who runs away from the circus and become a Pyschonaut, despite his father's wishes. When at camp, Raz meets four of the Pyschonauts that run the camp: the cool and calculating Sasha Nein, the fun-loving Milla Vodello, the regimental Coach Morceau Oleander, and the aged Ford Cruller, one of the original Pyschonauts and Raz's hero. During his time at camp, Raz meets several of the other gifted children including Lili, the daughter of the Grand Pyschonaut, with whom he falls in love; and Dogen, a boy who goes around with a tin foilhat to prevent his abilities from causing anyone from exploding. Raz also meets ex-residents of the insane asylum including ex- dentistDr. Loboto.
Raz, fleeing from the circus, tries to sneak into Whispering Rock but is caught by the Pyschonauts agents. Though they contact his parents so that they may recover Raz, they allow Raz to stay at camp though not allowing him to participate in the camp activities. [cite video game |title=Psychonauts |developer=Double Fine Productions |publisher=Majesco |platform=Xbox |level=Opening sequence |quote=
Milla Vodello: Now darling, you can stay here for a few days until your parents come for you, but we can't let you participate in any paranormal training without your parents' consent. I'm sorry.] However, they recognize that Raz has strong psychic abilities, and Sasha invites Raz to test how strong his abilities are. [cite video game |title=Psychonauts |developer=Double Fine Productions |publisher=Majesco |platform=Xbox |level=Whispering Rock |quote=
Sasha Nein: Your performance, young cadet, was outstanding. I'd like you to report to my lab for some advanced training.] While exploring his own mind, Raz comes across a vision of Dr. Loboto attempting to pull Dogen's brain from his head, claiming it to be a "bad tooth", but Raz is unable to overcome a mental barrier to see more. [cite video game |title=Psychonauts |developer=Double Fine Productions |publisher=Majesco |platform=Xbox |level=Brain Tumbler Experiment |quote=
Doctor Loboto: Little boy, I am sorry to say that you have a very serious mental problem. The trouble originates in this area here. The area that we in the medical profession like to refer to as... the brain! You see, son... it's just no good! I hate to be so blunt, but... you have the insanity... of a manatee!
Dogen: I know. People are always saying that. What do you think's wrong with my brain, doctor?
Doctor Loboto: How should I know, I'm a dentist. But here's what I do know: if a tooth is bad, you pull it!] When Raz returns to the real world, he finds that Dogen's brain has gone missing; [cite video game |title=Psychonauts |developer=Double Fine Productions |publisher=Majesco |platform=Xbox |level=Whispering Rock |quote=
Razputin: Dogen! Are you okay? I had the strangest machine-induced dream about you.
Razputin: Well, first of all, Sasha Nein invited me down to his secret lab, and-
Razputin: ("looks through Dogen's head to find that his brain is missing") He's completely brainless! The dream was true!] the Agents pass it off as part of Dogen's personality. Raz is able to overcome the mental barrier in his mind to learn that Dr. Loboto is working with Coach Oleander to extract the brains of the children and put them in psychic death
tanks. Raz learns that Sasha and Milla have gone away from camp on official business, Coach Oleander is nowhere to be found, and learns that Lili has been chosen as the next victim, taken to the insane asylum for the process. Raz consults with Ford, who is unable to leave the camp but gives Raz a piece of bacon which he can use to contact Ford at any time.
Raz crosses the lake, and encounters the few remaining residents of the insane asylum. After Raz helps to resolve their mental issues, the residents help Raz to reach Dr. Loboto's laboratory at the top of the asylum. He finds that Oleander and Doctor Loboto have taken Lili, Sasha, and Milla hostage. Raz is able to free them, where they turn to fight Oleander and Loboto. As they fight, the insane asylum is burned down, and while the others escape safely, Oleander transfers his mind to one of the death tanks and attacks Raz. Raz nearly defeats the tank before Oleander is able to force Raz's brain out, but Raz acts quickly and moves his brain into the tank, where it merges with Oleander's.
Raz finds himself in a mental world that combines his own fears of the circus with Oleander's childhood features of his father, a butcher. Raz escorts "Little Oly", the child version of Oleander, safely through the world, and is able to defeat the gruesome visions of both of their fathers successfully. However, as their minds are still melded together, the two visions combine into a overall amalgam of the two that Raz is unable to defeat. Suddenly, Raz's real father shows up in the mental world, and explains to Raz that he too had psychic abilities, and did not mean to dissuade Raz from exploring them further. Together, the two are able to defeat the amalgam, and pull Raz' and Oleander's brains apart, restoring them to their proper bodies. As the rest of the children's brains are restored, Raz is congratulated for his outstanding work, and is allowed to become a Psychonaut by both the agents and his father. As he is leaving camp, news arrives that the Grand Head of the Psychonauts has been kidnapped. Raz and his fellow Psychonauts fly off to rescue him.
back-storyfor "Psychonauts" was originally conceived during the development of "Full Throttle", where Tim Schafer envisioned a sequence where the protagonist Ben Throttle goes under a peyote-induced psychedelic experience. While this was eventually ejected from the original game, Schafer kept the idea and eventually developed it into "Psychonauts".cite web|url=http://videogames.yahoo.com/news-1137436|author=Goldstein, Hilary|date= 2005-02-03|accessdate=2007-12-01|title=Tim Schafer: A Man and His Beard|publisher= Yahoo! Games]
Schafer's team was partly made up of several people he worked with on "
Grim Fandango" at LucasArts. Amongst the art design crew was background artist Peter Chan and cartoonist Scott Campbell. Voice actor Richard Steven Horvitz, best known for his portrayal of Zim in the cult favorite animated series" Invader Zim", provides the voice of Raz, the game's protagonist. Raz was originally conceived as an ostrichsuffering from mental imbalance and multiple personalities. Tim Schafer killed the idea because he strongly believes in games being "wish fulfillments," guessing that not many people fantasize about being an insane ostrich. [cite web
last = Kosak
first = Dave
title = Psychonaut Tim Schafer on Taking Risks
url = http://www.gamespy.com/articles/585/585524p3.html
date = 2005-02-04
accessdate = 2008-03-30]
Originally, "Psychonauts" was to be published by
Microsoftfor release exclusively on their Xboxconsole, but in March 2004, Microsoft pulled out of this deal. It emerged in August 2004that Double Fine had negotiated a new publishing deal with Majescoto release the game on Windows as well as the Xbox. Tim Schafer was quoted as saying "Together we are going to make what could conservatively be called the greatest game of all time ever, and I think that's awesome." [cite pressrelease
title = Majesco Acquires Publishing Rights To Double Fine’s ‘PSYCHONAUTS’
publisher = Majesco
url = http://www.majescoentertainment.com/news/display_news.php?id=90
accessdate = 2008-03-30 ] In
October 2004, it was revealed that "Psychonauts" would be released on yet another platform, the PlayStation 2, ported by Budcat Creations. The final US release date for the game on Xbox and Windows was April 19 2005, with the PlayStation 2 port following on June 21, 2005. "Psychonauts" was re-released via Valve Corporation's Steam content delivery system on October 11 2006. [cite web
last = Sinclair
first = Brendan
title = Majesco Steams up Psychonauts
publisher = gamespot.co.uk
url = http://www.gamespot.com/news/6157681.html
accessdate = 2006-10-19 ] It is also available on
Although initially unplayable on the
Xbox 360, Tim Schafer spearheaded a successful e-mail campaign by fans which led to "Psychonauts" being added to the Xbox 360 backwards compatible list on December 12 2006, [cite web
last = Sinclair
first = Brendan
title = Dozens added to 360 backwards-compatibility list
publisher = gamespot.co.uk
url = http://www.gamespot.com/news/6163225.html?tag=latestnews;title;0
accessdate = 2006-12-14 ] and on
December 4 2007, Microsoft finally acknowledged the importance of "Psychonauts" by making it one of the initial launch titles made available for direct download on the Xbox 360 through their Xbox Originalsprogram.
Music for the game was made by
Peter McConnell. A soundtrack featuring all the music was also released. [ [http://shop.doublefine.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=9] ]
title = Psychonauts
compilation = yes|
MC = 88/100 (Xbox) [cite web | url = http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/xbx/psychonauts?q=psychonauts | title = Psychonauts (xbox: 2005) | publisher = Metacritic | accessdate = 2008-02-29] 86/100 (PS2) [cite web | url =http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps2/psychonauts?q=psychonauts | title = Psychonauts (ps2: 2005) | publisher = Metacritic | accessdate = 2008-02-29] 87/100 (PC) [cite web | url =http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/pc/psychonauts?q=psychonauts| title = Psychonauts (pc: 2005) | publisher = Metacritic | accessdate = 2008-02-29]
GR =90% (Xbox) [cite web | url = http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/561517.asp?q=psychonauts | title = Psychonauts Reviews | publisher = Game Rankings | accessdate = 2008-02-29] 86% (PS2) [cite web | url = http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/924711.asp?q=psychonauts | title = Psychonauts Reviews | publisher = Game Rankings | accessdate = 2008-02-29] 90% (PC) [cite web | url = http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/922157.asp?q=psychonauts | title = Psychonauts Reviews | publisher = Game Rankings | accessdate = 2008-02-29]
"Psychonauts" received generally positive reviews, with many reviewers citing its originality and sense of humour as particular good points.
Metacriticscore of [http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/xbx/psychonauts 88]
GameSpot: "The whole look of the game feels like the unholy love child of Tim Burton and a Pixar animation team, and it's just wonderful stuff...anyone looking for a fun and whimsical adventure with a brilliant presentation and a fantastic story will find just that in "Psychonauts"." [cite web
last = Navarro
first = Alex
title = GameSpot Game Review for Psychonauts
publisher = GameSpot
url = http://www.gamespot.com/xbox/action/psychonauts/review.html
IGN: "The first half of this game is easily one of the most enjoyable I've had in the past year. But as is the case with many humorous games, the laughs begin to fade in the home stretch and in the end "Psychonauts" started to wear on me." [cite web
last = Goldstein
first = Hilary
title = Psychonauts: Tim Schafer's ready to blow your mind.
publisher = IGN
url = http://xbox.ign.com/articles/606/606977p2.html
GameSpy: "It's one of the best platformers the system has seen, mostly thanks to its amazing visuals and downright hilarious dialogue." [cite web
last = Tuttle
first = Will
title = GameSpy: Psychonauts Review
publisher = GameSpy
url = http://xbox.gamespy.com/xbox/psychonauts/606972p1.html
GameShark: "The best platform game ever to grace the Xbox." [cite web
last = Hill
first = Will
title = Psychonauts Review
publisher = GameShark
url = http://www.gameshark.com/index.asp?s=311_9bba5022-a7a5-4709-92b1-45517d70a6d1&a=reviews&id=2069
Electronic Gaming Monthly: "Anyone who doesn't fall for the unique characters, hilarious dialogue, and brilliantly conceived environments of "Psychonauts" has no soul. The James Brown of games, "Psychonauts"' personality overcomes its flaws." [cite news
title = Psychonauts Review
pages = 136
publisher = Electronic Gaming Monthly
date = May 2005
accessdate = ]
New York Times": "Insanity is what makes "Psychonauts" entertaining and unusual, so it is a shame you have to spend several hours in the mildly eccentric minds of instructors before getting to the cool part of the game." [cite web
last = Herold
first = Charles
title = Off the Couch, Deeper Into the Psyche
publisher = New York Times
url = http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/06/arts/06game.html?ex=1176091200&en=d85829e74398d690&ei=5070
Sydney Morning Herald": "A wildly imaginative, frequently hilarious and hugely entertaining platforming romp through the subconscious." [cite web
last = Hill
first = Jason
title = Psychonauts
publisher = Sydney Morning Herald
url = http://www.smh.com.au/news/games/psychonauts/2006/02/07/1139074232843.html
PC Gamer": "A refreshingly funny Escape From Twitch Mountain." (90/100)
*"Total Gamer": "The greatest game of all time." (A+)
Ben Croshaw": "I'm just going to list out of context some of the things that occur in Psychonauts: A telekinetic bear, a dentist who harvests brains, a sequence wherein you become a giant Godzilla style monster and terrorize a society of talking fish, and a shadowy trench coated government agent who disguises himself as a housewife by brandishing a rolling pin and talking disjointedly about pies. A game that features all of these thing simply cannot be criticized... it's against the law or something."
E32002 Game Critics Awards: Best Original Game
GameSpotBest and Worst of 2005: Best Voice Acting, Best Graphics (Artistic), Funniest Game, Best Game No One Played, Best Platformer. Nominated for Best Story and Best Original Music. Razputin was nominated for Best New Character.
IGN2005 Awards: Best Platformer, Best Game No One Played
*Razputin was placed #2 on the
Game Informer"Top 10 Heroes of 2005" list.
*EuroGamer: Overall Game of the Year 2005
*PSM: Buy or Die award in issue #100, #5 on Top 10 Games of 2005 list, Best Characters
Electronic Gaming Monthly2005 Awards: Best Game No One Played
PC Powerplay: First full 10/10 score after the magazine's switch from the 100-point scoring system to its current 10-point scoring system
*PC Gamer magazine 2005 Awards: Best Game You Didn't Play, Editor's Choice Award
GameShadowInnovation in Games Awards nominee (Best Game, Innovative Visual Effects, Best Narrative)
X-Playdeemed "Psychonauts" the funniest game ever in their "Funniest @#%& Ever" episode and was voted #6 in the top ten games on the Xbox in the "Best of the Xbox" episode.
*British Academy Video Games Awards 2006: Best Screenplay [cite web
title= BAFTA Video Game Awards winners 2006
*Games magazine: 2006 Electronic Game of the Year
Game Developers Choice Awards: Best Writing, with Tim Schafer and Erik Wolpaw accepting
Despite the game's critical success, its sales have been lackluster. Although the game was cited as the primary contributing factor to a strong quarter immediately following the game's release, [cite pressrelease
title = MAJESCO REPORTS RECORD SECOND QUARTER 2005 FINANCIAL RESULTS
publisher = Majesco
url = http://www.majescoentertainment.com/news/display_news.php?id=148
accessdate = 2008-03-30
quote = Our record second quarter net revenues were driven by the introduction of Psychonauts for the Xbox and PC, double game packs (2 games in 1) value games, and continued strong sales of TV Arcade.] a month later Majesco revised their fiscal year projections from a net profit of $18 million to a net loss of $18 million, [cite pressrelease
title = MAJESCO ENTERTAINMENT REDUCES FISCAL 2005 FINANCIAL OUTLOOK
publisher = Majesco
url = http://www.majescoentertainment.com/news/display_news.php?id=150
accessdate = 2008-03-30] and at the same time its CEO, Carl Yankowski, announced his immediate resignation. [cite pressrelease
title = MAJESCO ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY ANNOUNCES KEY MANAGEMENT CHANGES
publisher = Majesco
url = http://www.majescoentertainment.com/news/display_news.php?id=151
accessdate = 2008-03-30] By the end of the year, the title had shipped fewer than 100,000 copies, and Majesco announced its plans to withdraw from the "big budget console game marketplace". [cite web
title = An experiment failed: Majesco learns a hard lesson about the video game industry.
url = http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/23/commentary/game_over/column_gaming/
accessANDdate =] However, this figure predated the game's European release, its release on Steam, and its inclusion on the Xbox 360's backward-compatible list.
According to Schafer, as of
June 14 2007"Psychonauts" had sold 400,000 copies (not counting digital distribution, or the Double Fine company store). Also, "Psychonauts" is now officially 'out of print'. [cite web | title = JUST BUY A FEW MORE AND THEN WE’LL BE DONE | publisher = Double Fine Productions, Inc. | url = http://www.doublefine.com/news.php/site/just_buy_a_few_more_and_then_well_be_done/ | date = 2007-06-14 | accessdate = 2008-03-30]
June 14, 2007, GameTapadded "Psychonauts" to its subscription service game library, and will be free until December 31st, 2008. [ [http://www.joystiq.com/2007/06/14/gametap-expanding-free-play-to-40-titles-by-months-end/ GameTap expanding free play to 40 titles by month's end - Joystiq ] ]
December 4, 2007, the game was amongst the first games to be added to the Xbox Live Marketplacefor the Xbox Originals download service on the Xbox 360. The European marketplace download is not compatible with the VGA cable because the game runs at 50Hz.Fact|date=April 2008
*Examining the tree stumps used as part of a system for traveling around the campsite gives a reference to a joke used in "
The Secret of Monkey Island", a game Tim Schafer also worked on. This line was also included in " Grim Fandango". [ [http://v2.razputin.net/index.html@page=psychonauts%252Freferences%252Fstumpjoke.html Psychonauts - Covered by Razputin's Domain ] ]
*In some of the campground levels there is background music that is reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," a song with references to "mind expanding" drugs.
Erik Wolpaw, a member of the original Old Man Murrayteam, worked as a writer on "Psychonauts" contributing story and dialog. [ [http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/?p=518#more-518 Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Wit Truncated By Bloglines » Blog Archive » RPS Interview: Valve’s Erik Wolpaw ] ]
*While once suffering from
writer's block, Tim Schafer came up with the idea to develop many of the supporting characters of "Psychonauts" by giving them fictional online identities on the Friendstersocial network service and posting messages in-character. [ [http://www.gamespy.com/articles/585/585524p4.html GameSpy: Psychonaut Tim Schafer on Taking Risks ] ]
psychonautliterally means a " sailorof the psyche," and is often used to describe users of psychedelic drugs. [Liddell, H.G. and R. Scott (1843), "A Greek-English Lexicon", Oxford, s.v. ψυχή and ναύτης.]
* [http://www.psychonauts.com/ Official "Psychonauts" website]
* [http://www.doublefine.com/ Official Double Fine Productions website]
* [http://www.razputin.net/ Razputin's Domain website]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20060909062828/http://tim.grimfandango.net/psy/info/clairvoy.php] - A complete collection of the clairvoyance views from the game
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