Psychonauts

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This article is about the video game. For other uses, see Psychonaut (disambiguation).
Psychonauts
Psychonautsbox.png
Developer(s) Double Fine Productions
Publisher(s)
Distributor(s)
Director(s) Tim Schafer
Designer(s) Erik Robson
Programmer(s)
  • David Dixon
  • Kee Chi
  • Anna Kipnis
  • Brad Muir
Artist(s)
Writer(s)
Composer(s) Peter McConnell
Series Psychonauts
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Xbox, PlayStation 2
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single-player

Psychonauts is a platform video game developed by Double Fine Productions. The game was initially published by Majesco Entertainment in 2005 and 2006 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox and PlayStation 2; Budcat Creations helped in the PlayStation 2 port. In 2011, Double Fine acquired the rights for the title, allowing the company to republish the title with updates for modern gaming systems and creating OS X and Linux ports.

Psychonauts follows the player-character Raz (voiced by Richard Horvitz), a young boy gifted with psychic abilities who runs away from the circus to try to sneak into a summer camp for those with similar powers to become a "Psychonaut", a spy with psychic abilities. He finds that there is a sinister plot occurring at the camp that only he can stop. The game is centered on exploring the strange and imaginative minds of various characters that Raz enters as a Psychonaut-in-training/"Psycadet" to help them overcome their fears or memories of their past, so as 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.

Psychonauts was based on an abandoned concept that Schafer had during the development of Full Throttle, which he expanded out into a full game through Double Fine. The game was initially backed by Microsoft's Ed Fries as a premiere title for the original Xbox console, but several internal and external issues led to difficulties for Double Fine in meeting various milestones and responding to testing feedback; following Fries' departure in 2004, Microsoft dropped the publishing rights. Double Fine was able to secure Majesco as a publisher a few months later allowing them to complete the game after four and a half years of development.

Despite strong critical praise, Psychonauts did not sell well with only about 100,000 retail units sold at the time of release, leading to severe financial loss for Majesco and their departure from the video game market; the title was considered a commercial failure. Psychonauts since has earned a number of industry awards and gained a cult following. Following the acquisition of the game, Double Fine's republishing capabilities and support for modern platforms has allowed them to offer the game through digital distribution, and the company has reported that their own sales of the game have far exceeded what was initially sold on its original release, with cumulative sales of nearly 1.7 million as of December 2015. A sequel, Psychonauts 2, was announced at The Game Awards in December 2015.

Gameplay[edit]

Psychonauts is a platform game that incorporates various adventure elements. The player controls the main character Raz in a third-person, three-dimensional view, helping Raz to undercover a mystery at the Psychonauts training camp. Raz begins with basic movement abilities such as running and jumping, but as the game progresses, Raz gains additional psychic powers such as telekinesis, levitation, invisibility, and pyrokinesis. These abilities allow the player to explore more of the camp as well as fight off enemies. These powers can either be awarded by completing certain story missions, gaining psi ranks during the game, or by purchasing them with hidden arrowheads scattered around the camp. Powers can be improved — such as more damaging pyrokinesis or longer periods of invisibility — through gaining additional psi ranks.[1] The player can assign three of these powers to their controller or keyboard for quick use, but all earned powers are available at any time through a selection screen.[2]

A screenshot of Raz (center) sliding across a power line within the twisted "Milkman Conspiracy" level. Raz's current quick-access Psychonaut powers are shown in the bottom-right.

The game includes both the "real world" of the camp and its surroundings, as well as a number of "mental worlds" which exist in the consciousness of the game's various characters. The mental worlds have wildly differing art and level design aesthetics, but generally have a specific goal that Raz must complete to help resolve a psychological issue a character may have, allowing the game's plot to progress. Within the mental worlds are censors that react negatively to Raz's presence and will attack him. There are also various collectibles within the mental worlds, including "figments" of the character's imagination which help increase Raz's psi ranking, and "emotional baggage" which can unlock a short series of slides providing extra information on that character's backstory.[3] Most of these worlds culminate in a boss battle that fully resolves the character's emotional distress and advance the story.[4] The player is able to revisit any of these worlds after completing them to locate any additional collectibles they may have missed. Raz is given some items early in the game, one that allows him to leave any mental world at any time, and another that can provide hints about what to do next or how to defeat certain enemies.

Raz can take damage from psychically empowered creatures around the camp at night, or by censors in the mental worlds; due to a curse placed on his family, Raz is also vulnerable to water. If Raz's health is drained, he is respawned at the most-recent checkpoint. However, this can only be done so many times while Raz is within a mental world, indicated by the number of remaining astral projections; if these are expended through respawning, the character's conscience ejects Raz, losing any progress the player has made and requiring the level to be restarted. Health and additional projections can be collected throughout the levels, or purchased at the camp store.

Plot[edit]

Setting[edit]

The story is set in fictional Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, a remote US government training facility under the guise of a children's summer camp. The area was hit centuries ago by a meteor made of psitanium (a fictional 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 camp for Psychonauts, a group of agents gifted with psychic abilities used to help defeat evil-doers. The training ground is disguised as a summer camp for 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.

Characters[edit]

Group photo of Whispering Rock camp alumni and Ford Cruller

The protagonist and playable character of the game is Razputin "Raz" Aquato, the son of a family of circus performers, who runs away from the circus to become a Psychonaut, despite his father's wishes. His family is cursed to die in water, and a large hand attempts to submerge Raz whenever he approaches any significantly deep water. When at camp, Raz meets four of the Psychonauts that run the camp: the cool and calculating Sasha Nein (voice actor Stephen Stanton), the fun-loving Milla Vodello, the regimental Agent/Coach Morceau Oleander, and the aged, Mark Twainesque Ford Cruller, said by Raz to have been the greatest leader the Psychonauts ever had, until a past psychic duel shattered Ford's psyche and left him with numerous quirky personalities and no memory of his real self (which explains why he is seen throughout the camp as a cook, ranger, admiral, etc.). Only when he is near the large concentration of Psitanium does his psyche come together enough to form his real personality. During his time at camp, Raz meets several of the other gifted children including Lili Zanotto, the daughter of the Grand Head of the Psychonauts, with whom he falls in love; and Dogen Boole, a boy who goes around with a tin foil hat to prevent his abilities from causing anyone's head to explode. Raz also meets ex-residents of the insane asylum including ex-dentist Dr. Loboto, as well as Boyd Cooper, a former milkman that holds a number of government conspiracy theories, Fred Bonaparte, an asylum inmate with dissociative identity disorder, also known as a split personality, and Linda, the gigantic lung fish that protects the asylum from campgoers.

Story[edit]

Raz, having fled from the circus, tries to sneak into Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, but is caught by the Psychonauts agents. Though they contact his parents so that they may recover Raz, they allow Raz to stay at camp, though they do not allow him to participate in the camp activities.[5] However, they recognize that Raz has strong psychic abilities. After Coach Oleander allows Raz to participate in "Basic Braining," Sasha, impressed by his performance, invites Raz to test how strong his abilities are.[6] While exploring his own mind, Raz comes across a vision of Dr. Loboto attempting to pull Dogen's brain from his head, claiming that it is a "bad tooth". Raz is unable to overcome a mental barrier to see more.[7] When Raz returns to the real world, he finds that Dogen's brain has gone missing;[8] the Agents pass it off as part of Dogen's personality. With Milla's training, 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 been lured away from camp on "official business", Coach Oleander has disappeared, and 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. Ford instructs Raz to find a way to the asylum, fearing the safety of the other children and his fellow psychonauts.

Raz frees the mutated lungfish Linda from Oleander's control, and is able to safety cross the lake. At the asylum, Raz helps three of the inmates to overcome their mental issues, and in turn, they help him to climb to Dr. Loboto's lab at the top of the asylum. There, Raz finds Lili, Sasha and Milla as Loboto's prisoners under Oleander's watchful eye; Raz is able to defeat Dr. Loboto to free them, and Sasha and Milla engage in a psychic battle with Oleander. During the fight, the asylum is burned down, rendering Sasha and Milla unconscious. Oleander uses the opportunity to place his mind in one of the death tanks and turns on Raz. Raz defeats the tank, but as a last resort, Oleander rigged the tank to release a cloud of super-strength sneezing powder. Raz sneezes his brain out, and with little choice, Raz puts his brain into the tank, where his psyche is fused with that of Oleander's.

In their combined mental world, Raz's childhood fears of his father and the circus are mixed with those of "Little Oly", Oleander's younger self, who was frighted of his father's butcher shop. Raz helps Oly to face his fears, eventually fighting against a fusion of their two fathers. Suddenly, an image of Raz's father appears, explaining that he is actually a powerful psychic himself, and had only dissuaded Raz from joining the camp to protect him, rather than discourage. Raz's father lends his help to defeat Oly's fears, allowing Raz's and Oly's brains to unfuse. Raz wakes up back at camp as Sasha and Milla help to restore the brains to the rest of the children, and is surprised to find his father there as well. The Psychonauts commend Raz for his outstanding work, and with his father's allowance, they name him as a fellow Psychonaut. Raz prepares to leave camp with his father, but word arrives that the Grand Head of the Psychonauts — Lili's father, Truman Zanotto — has been kidnapped. Raz, Lili, and the Psychonauts fly off to rescue him.

Development[edit]

Psychonauts was the debut title for Double Fine Productions, a development studio that Tim Schafer founded after leaving LucasArts following their decision to exit the point-and-click adventure game market. Schafer's initial studio hires included several others that worked alongside him on Grim Fandango.[9]

The backstory for Psychonauts was originally conceived during the development of Full Throttle, where Tim Schafer envisioned a sequence where the protagonist Ben goes under a peyote-induced psychedelic experience. While this was eventually ejected from the original game (for not being family friendly enough), Schafer kept the idea and eventually developed it into Psychonauts.[10] While still working at LucasArts, Tim Schafer decided to use the name "Raz" for a main character because he liked the nickname of the LucasArts animator, Razmig "Raz" Mavlian. When Mavlian joined Double Fine, there was increased confusion between the character and the animator. The game's associate producer, Camilla Fossen, suggested the name "Rasputin". As a compromise, Double Fine's lawyer suggested the trademarkable name "Razputin", which was used for the game.[11]

Most of the game's dialog and script was written by Schafer and Erik Wolpaw, who at the time was a columnist for the website Old Man Murray.[12] After establishing the game's main characters, Schafer undertook his own exercise to write out how the characters would see themselves and the other characters' on a social media site similar to Friendster, which Schafer was a fan of at the time and from where he met his wife-to-be.[13] This helped him to solidify the characters in his own head prior to writing the game's dialog, as well as providing a means of introducing the characters to the rest of the development team.[14] To help flesh out character dialog outside of cut scenes, Schafer developed an approach that used dozens of spoken lines by a character that could be stitched together in a random manner by the game as to reduce apparent repetition; such stitching included elements like vocal pauses and coughs that made the dialog sound more natural.[15] Schafer used the camp and woods setting as a natural place that children would want to wander and explore.[13]

The art design crew included background artist Peter Chan and cartoonist Scott Campbell.[12] 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. Initially the team tried to bring in children to provide the voices for the main cast, similar to Peanuts cartoons, but struggled with their lack of acting experience. Schafer had selected Horvitz based on his audition tapes and ability to provide a wide range of vocal intonations on the spot, providing them with numerous takes to work with.[13] Raz was originally conceived as an ostrich suffering 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.[14]

Double Fine created a number of internal tools and processes to help with the development of the game, as outlined by executive producer Caroline Esmurdoc.[16] With the focus of the game on Raz as the playable character within a platformer game, the team created the "Raz Action Status Meeting" (RASM). These were held bi-weekly with each meeting focusing on one specific movement or action that Raz had, reviewing how the character controlled and the visual feedback from that so that the overall combination of moves felt appropriate. With extensive use of the Lua scripting language, they created their own internal Lua Debugger nicknamed Dougie, after a homeless man near their offices they had befriended, that helped to normalize their debugging processes and enable third-party tools to interact with the name.[16] With a large number of planned cutscenes, Double Fine took the time to create a cutscene editor so that the scriptwriters could work directly with the models and environments already created by the programmers without requiring the programmer's direct participation. For level design, though they had initially relied on the idea of simply placing various triggers throughout a level to create event, the resulting Lua code was large and bulky with potential for future error. They assigned eight of the game programmers to assist the level developers to trim this code, and instituted an internal testing department to overlook the stability of the whole game which had grown beyond what they could do internally. Initially this was formed from unpaid volunteers they solicited on Double Fine's web site, but following the signing of the Majesco publication deal in 2004, they were able to commit full-time staff to this team.[16]

Development and publishing difficulties[edit]

Esmurdoc described the development of Psychonauts as difficult due to various setbacks, compounded by the new studio's lack of experience in how to manage those setbacks.[16] The game's initial development began in 2001 during the Dot-com boom. Due to the cost of office space at that time, Double Fine had established an office in an inexpensive warehouse in San Francisco that initially fit their development needs. By 2003, they had come to realize the area they were in was not safe or readily accommodating, slowing down their development. With the collapse of the dot-com bubble, they were able to secure better office space, though this further delayed production.[16] Schafer was also handling many of the duties for both the studio and the development of the game. Though some of the routine business tasks were offloaded to other studio heads, Schafer brought Esmurdoc onto the project in 2004 to help produce the game while he could focus on the creative side.[16]

The intent to allow all developers to have artistic freedom with the game created some internal strife in the team, particularly in the level design; they had initially scoped that level designers would create the basic parts of a level - main paths, scripted events, and the level's general design, while the artists would build out the world from that. As development progressed, they determined that the artists should be the ones constructing the level geometry, which the level designers resented. Subsequently, levels that were generated were not to the expected standards due to conflicts in the toolsets they used and Schafer's inability to oversee the process while handling the other duties of the studio. In 2003, the decision was made to dismiss all but one of the level design team, and unify the level design and art into a World Building team overseen by Erik Robson, the remaining level designer and who would go on to become the game's lead designer; the change, which Esmurdoc stated was for the better, disrupted the other departments at Double Fine.[12][16]

Psychonauts was to be published by Microsoft for release exclusively on their Xbox console; Schafer attributes this to Microsoft's Ed Fries, who at the time of Psychonauts's initial development in 2001, was looking to develop a portfolio of games for the new console system.[17] Schafer believes that Fries was a proponent of "pushing games as art", which helped to solidify Double Fine's concept of Psychonauts as an appropriate title for the console after the team's collected experience of developing for personal computers.[17] However, according to Esmurdoc, Microsoft had also created some milestones that were unclear or difficult to meet, which delayed the development process.[16] She also believes that their own lack of a clear vision of the ultimate product made it difficult to solidify a development and release schedule for the game as well as created confusion with the publisher.[16] Schafer stated that Microsoft also found some of their gameplay decisions to be confusing based on play-testing and requested them to include more instructional information, a common approach for games during the early 2000s, while Schafer and his team felt such confusion was simply the nature of the adventure-based platform that they were developing.[18] Double Fine was also resistant to make changes that Microsoft had suggested from play-testing, such as making the humor secondary to the story, removing the summer camp theme, and drastically altering the story.[19] Fries departed Microsoft in January 2004; shortly thereafter, the company soon pulled the publishing deal for Psychonauts.[17] Esmurdoc said that Microsoft's management considered Double Fine to be "expensive and late", which she agreed had been true but did not reflect on the progress they had been making at this point.[16] Schafer also noted that at the time of Microsoft's cancellation that they were planning on transitioning to the Xbox 360 and were not funding any further development of games that would not be released after 2004; even though Schafer had set an approximate release date in the first quarter of 2005 by this point, Microsoft still opted to cancel.[13] Following this, Schafer and Esmurdoc worked to secure a new publishing deal while using internal funds and careful management to keep the project going.[16]

By August 2004, Double Fine had negotiated a new publishing deal with Majesco to 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."[20] Though the publishing deal ensured they would be able to continue the development, Esmurdoc stated they had to forgo plans for hiring new developers to meet the scope of the game as agreed to with Majesco. Subsequently, the studio entered, as described by Esmurdoc, "the most insane crunch I have ever witnessed" in order to complete the game.[16] This was compounded when Majesco announced a PlayStation 2 port to be developed by Budcat Creations in October 2004, which further stretched the availability of Double Fine's staff resources.[16] The game went gold in March 2005; Esmurdoc attributes much of the success of this on the solidarity of the development team that kept working towards this point.[16]

Esmurdoc stated that Psychonauts took about 4.5 years to complete — though that without all the complications the real development time was closer to 2 years — with a team of 42 full-time developers and additional contractors, with a final budget of $11.5 million.[16]

Music[edit]

The soundtrack to Psychonauts was composed by Peter McConnell, known for his work on LucasArts titles such as Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle. Schafer's familiarity with McConnell, having worked with him on numerous projects in the past, led Schafer to select him for the soundtrack composition.[13] The Psychonauts Original Soundtrack, featuring all the in-game music, was released in 2005.[21][22] The following year, in late 2006, Double Fine released a second soundtrack, Psychonauts Original Cinematic Score, containing music from the game's cutscenes as well as a remix of the main theme and credits.[23]

Release history[edit]

The final U.S. 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 digital distribution platform on October 11, 2006.[24]

Acquisition of rights[edit]

In June 2011, the original publishing deal with Majesco expired, and full publication rights for the game reverted to Double Fine.[25] In September 2011, Double Fine released an updated version for Microsoft Windows and a port to Mac OS X and Linux through Steam. The new version provided support for Steam features including achievements and cloud saving. The Mac OS X port was developed in partnership with Steven Dengler's Dracogen. In conjunction with this release, an iOS application, Psychonauts Vault Viewer!, was released at the same time, featuring the memory vaults from the game with commentary by Tim Schafer and Scott Campbell.[26]

With control of the game's rights, Double Fine was able to offer Psychonauts as part of a Humble Bundle in June 2012.[27][28] As a result, the game sold well, with Schafer stating that they sold more copies of Psychonauts in the first few hours of the Bundle's start than they had since the release of the retail copy of the game.[29] Later in 2012, Schafer commented that their ability to use digital venues such as Steam that "[Double Fine] made more on Psychonauts this year than we ever have before".[17]

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,[30] and on December 4, 2007, Microsoft made Psychonauts one of the initial launch titles made available for direct download on the Xbox 360 through their Xbox Originals program. With Majesco's rights expired, the game was temporarily removed from the service in August 2011 as Microsoft does not allow unpublished content on its Xbox Live Marketplace. Schafer worked with Microsoft to gain their help in publishing the title under the Microsoft Studios name, allowing the game to be returned in February 2012.[31] The game was added to the PlayStation Network store as a "PS2 Classic" for the PlayStation 3 in August 2012.[32]

As part of a deal with Nordic Games, who gained the rights to Costume Quest and Stacking after THQ's bankruptcy, Double Fine will take over publishing rights for both games, while Nordic will help to publish and distribute retail copies of Psychonauts and these two games for Windows and Mac OS X systems in early 2014.[33]

Double Fine is also working to prepare the PlayStation 2 version of the game to work with the PlayStation 4's emulation software, and is expected to be released in 2016.[34]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic (Xbox) 88/100[35]
(PC) 87/100[36]
(PS2) 86/100[37]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 8/10[38]
GameSpot 8.4/10[39]
GameSpy 4.5/5 stars[2]
IGN 8.7/10[4]
The Sydney Morning Herald 4.5/5[1]

Psychonauts received critical acclaim, with aggregation site Metacritic declaring reviews on all three release platforms as "generally favorable", scoring from 86 to 88 out of 100.[35][36][37]

Schafer and Wolpaw's comedic writing was highly praised by reviewers, as well as the uniqueness and quirks that the individual characters were given.[2][3][4][39][40] Alex Navarro of Gamespot commented favorably on the "bizarre" cast of characters, their conversations that the player can overhear while exploring the camp, and how these conversations will change as the story progresses, eliminating repetition that is typical of such non-player characters in platform games.[39] Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer found that he was incentivized to go back and explore or experiment in the game's level to find more of the comedic dialog that others had observed.[3] The game was also noted for its innovations, such as the use of a second-person perspective during a boss battle.

The game's art and level design was well-received, particularly the various mental worlds that Raz visits.[4][40] Jason Hill of the Sydney Morning Herald stated that each of the dream worlds "is a memorable journey through the bizarre inner psyche" of the associated character.[1] Two particular levels have been considered iconic of the game's humor and style. In one level, Raz enters the mind of a lungfish monster that lives near camp; in the lungfish's mind Raz is portrayed as a giant monster akin to Godzilla that is attacking the tiny lungfish citizens of Lungfishopolis, effectively creating an absurd role reversal of the typical giant monster formula.[4][41] Another noted level is the "Milkman Conspiracy", where Raz enters the mind of one of the mental patients at the asylum, a former milkman that became overly paranoid about a government conspiracy. The level presents a 1950s suburbia design aesthetic, which twists and loops upon itself, filled with poorly disguised secret agents attempting to hide in plain sight.[40][42]

The overall game structure has been a point of criticism. Some reviewers identified that the first several hours of gameplay is based around the instructional aspects of the game as Raz explores the minds of the camp counselors, which were considered less interesting than the later dream worlds of the other characters.[40] The game's final level, the "Meat Circus", was also considered rather difficult given the prior parts of the game as it involves many precisely-timed jumps and other actions, made more difficult by time constraints placed on the player.[4][38] On its re-release in 2011, Double Fine adjusted the difficulty of this level to address these complaints.[43] Some found that the game's humor started to wane or become predictable in the latter part of the game.[4]

GamingOnLinux reviewer Hamish Paul Wilson gave the game 8/10, praising the game's creativity and presentation but also criticizing some gameplay elements and the over presence of bugs, concluding that "Psychonauts has to be viewed as a flawed masterpiece".[44] In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[45]

Awards[edit]

  • E3 2005 Game Critics Awards: Best Original Game[46]
  • GameSpot Best 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.
  • IGN 2005 Awards: Best Platformer, Best Game No One Played
  • Razputin was placed #2 on the Game Informer "Top 10 Heroes of 2005" list, as well as #22 on the "Top 30 Characters Who Defined a Decade" list in the December 2010 issue.
  • 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 Monthly 2005 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
  • GameShadow Innovation in Games Awards nominee (Best Game, Innovative Visual Effects, Best Narrative)
  • G4's X-Play deemed 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. Psychonauts later came 79th in G4s "greatest games of all time"
  • British Academy Video Games Awards 2006: Best Screenplay[47]
  • Games magazine: 2006 Electronic Game of the Year
  • 6th annual Game Developers Choice Awards: Best Writing, with Tim Schafer and Erik Wolpaw accepting

Sales[edit]

Despite Psychonauts earning high critical praise and a number of awards, it was a commercial failure upon its initial release.[48] Although the game was first cited as the primary contributing factor to a strong quarter immediately following its launch,[49] a month later Majesco revised their fiscal year projections from a net profit of $18 million to a net loss of $18 million,[50] and at the same time its CEO, Carl Yankowski, announced his immediate resignation.[51] By the end of the year, the title had shipped fewer than 100,000 copies in North America, and Majesco announced its plans to withdraw from the "big budget console game marketplace".[52] Schafer stated that by March 2012 the retail version Psychonauts had sold 400,000 copies.[53]

Following Double Fine's acquisition of the rights, they were able to offer the game on more digital storefronts and expand to other platforms; as previously described, this allowed the company to achieve sales in a short term far in excess of what they had been prior to obtaining the rights. In August 2015, Steam Spy assumes approx. 1,157,000 owners of the game on the digital distributor Steam alone.[54] In the announcement for Psychonauts 2 in December 2015, Schafer indicated that Psychonauts sold nearly 1.7 million copies, with more than 1.2 million occurring after Double Fine's acquisition of the rights. Double Fine lists 736,119 sold copies via the Humble Bundle (including a Steam key), 430,141 copies via the Steam storefront, 32,000 gog.com copies, and 23,368 Humble Store copies.[55][56][57]

Legacy[edit]

Sequels[edit]

A sequel to Psychonauts has been of great detail of interest to Schafer, as well as to fans of the game and the gaming press.[58][59][60][61] Schafer had pitched the idea to publishers but most felt the game too strange to take up.[60][62] During the Kickstarter campaign for Double Fine's Broken Age in February 2012, Schafer commented on the development costs of a sequel over social media, leading to a potential interest in backing by Markus Persson, at the time the owner of Mojang.[63] Though Pearson ultimately did not fund this, interactions between him and Double Fine revealed the possibility of several interested investors to help.[64]

In mid-2015, Schafer along with other industry leaders launched Fig, a crowd-sourced platform for video games that included the option for accredited investors to invest in the offered campaigns. Later, at the 2015 Game Awards in December, Schafer announced their plans to work on Psychonauts 2, using Fig to raise the $3.3 million needed to complete the game, with an anticipated release in 2018. The campaign succeeded on January 6, 2016.[65] The sequel will see the return of Richard Horvitz and Nikki Rapp as the voices of Raz and Lili respectively, along with Wolpaw for writing, Chan and Campbell for art, and McConnell for music.[66]

Additionally, Double Fine is developing Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, a PlayStation VR title that will serve as a standalone chapter to tie the original game and its sequel, based on Raz and the other Psychonauts rescuing Truman Zanotto.[67]

Appearance in other media[edit]

The character Raz has made appearances in other Double Fine games, including as a massive Mount Rushmore-like mountain sculpture in Brütal Legend, and on a cardboard cutout within Costume Quest 2. Raz also appeared in a downloadable content package as a playable character for Bit.Trip Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien.[68]

In Chapter 4 of American McGee's Alice: Madness Returns, a secret area can be found in which a skeleton is seen wearing Raz's signature helmet and goggles.[69]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Hill, Jason (February 9, 2006). "Psychonauts Review". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Tuttle, Will (April 22, 2005). "Psychonauts Review". GameSpy. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Bramwell, Tom (June 23, 2005). "Psychonauts". Eurogamer. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Goldstein, Hilary (May 2, 2005). "Psychonauts Review". IGN. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  5. ^ Double Fine Productions. Psychonauts Xbox. Majesco. Level/area: Opening sequence. 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. 
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