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Official Site: Double Fine Productions
Psychonauts is a platform video game created by Tim Schafer, developed by Double Fine Productions and published by Majesco. The game was released on April 19, 2005, for the Xbox, April 26 for Microsoft Windows and June 21st for PlayStation 2. It was released on Steam on Oct 11, 2006, as an "Xbox Original" through Xbox Live Marketplace, and on the GameTap subscription service. On November 5, 2009, Psychonauts also became available through the online distribution service Good Old Games through their partnership with Majesco.
Psychonauts is based on the exploits of Raz, 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 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, 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.
While the game suffered from poor sales and publisher Majesco suffered financial difficulties relating to Psychonauts and other titles in its catalogue, Psychonauts received strong critical praise and is widely considered to be one of the best platform games of its time.
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 kaijū genre), while within the mind of Boyd, the insane security guard at the asylum, Raz finds a town, twisted and askew, with cameras and eyes hidden everywhere, which tune in with Boyd's paranoia. Within the mind levels, the player can collect various "figments of imagination" which can also lead to increasing Raz's Psi Ranking, locate tags to match with various "emotional baggage" within the level to advance ranks and unlock concept art and destroy "mental vaults" 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 censor 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.
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