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If you even count this as a game, it's probably the worst game I've ever seen in my life. And that's one hell' of an accomplishment.
—The Angry Video Game Nerds review of the game
Plumbers Don't Wear Ties is a rare Western example of the Visual Novel. Released for the 3DO, the game is a self-proclaimed full motion video but little more than a slide show of Random Events Plot, featuring "a plumber, a daddy's girl, chickens, crazed yuppies, evil bosses, pandas, shower scenes, race cars, a nun". That's everything you want in a game, right?
The game is supposedly erotic, as you take control of "an Interactive Romantic Comedy". In reality, it feels pretty much like a DVD scene-selection, with few options and little impact on the story no matter what you choose. Moreover, deciding an option that doesn't help the plot move along the desired ending it's considered a game-over, even when the option you choose is under no condition bad, leaving the player with no real control of what's going on.
The 'plot' involves John, a plumber who, to avoid his mother trying to hook him up with someone, falls madly in love with Jane, the first woman he meets in an office parking lot. She's there for a job interview with a boss whose idea of acceptable workplace behavior is clearly very, very far behind the times. He chases her, John steps in to save her, she resists the boss's indecent proposal, and they all live happily ever after.
Except that amid this plot, there's also a lot of Padding, nonsensical Imagine Spots, padding, some very improbable Suddenly Sexuality, padding, more Photoshop filters than you can shake a stick at, padding, inconsistent narration, even more padding, and a crowd of dogs applauding a man in a chicken suit for murdering the Straw Feminist narrator. Yeah...it's considered as one of the absolute worst games of all time, seeing as how it makes the E.T. game look like a masterpiece.
- Abhorrent Admirer: Amy, the woman John's mother tries to force on him.
- Abusive Parents: Of the verbal variety; both John's mother and Jane's father have no qualms with shouting and swearing to their offspring over the phone.
- Acting for Two: Jane's father and the first narrator are both played by the same guy.
- The Alcoholic: jane's father has the table in front of him covered in bottles of alcohol, and is having drinks disturbingly early in the day.
- Asian Speekee Engrish: The female voice who sometimes narrates decisions. The male one has an American accent, but is also rather bad.
- Bad Boss: Thresher.
- Banana Peel: The boss slips on one during the chase scene.
- Battle of the Still Frames: More like "Chase Of The Still Frames", but occasionally stretches into an entire game. Even in non-chase sequences.
- Black Bra and Panties/Opera Gloves: Jane strips herself down to these while wearing black opera gloves. And not only that, but she also takes out her Whip It Good and handcuffs!
- Black Comedy Rape: A bag lady rapes the boss, as "punishment". John (poorly) laughs as he and Jane walk off.
- Blatant Lies: The cover on the box claims "Plays like a Game... feels like a MOVIE!" Dead wrong on both counts (unless the games you play have as much interactivity as a DVD menu, and the movies you watch are badly Photoshopped slideshows).
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: While pressuring her into having kids, Jane's father acknowledges the previous scene where John's mother did the same thing to John.
- But Thou Must!: There's only one time you can make a choice that doesn't end the game instantly, and that's when you choose who makes the first move. Both of the narrators chews you out over all of the choices, as if you were writing the script...
- When John can choose to chase Jane or not is arguably an exception too. It might look like a different ending (the gay option), but you receive the sign to "give me other chance", meaning it's another game over.
- Camp Gay: If you end up with the gay option, the boss suddenly becomes this.
- Censor Box: Censor Giant Nose, even. There's a code that removes them...
- Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: During the scene where Jane is being chased by the guy doing the interview, she's wearing nothing but a bra and a skirt. When the chase goes outside, though, she's suddenly fully clothed. Then, later in the same scene, her shirt comes off again.
- Covers Always Lie Get it?
- Depraved Bisexual: If the gay ending is anything to go by, the boss is definitely this, as he's kinda aggressive when he flirts with John.
- Does Not Like Shoes: The 2nd narrator. Justified, in that she's in a karate get-up.
- The Dulcinea Effect: See Love At First Sight for John and Jane's almost instant and largely baseless mutual attraction.
- Freudian Slip: The boss. "They are the ones who give head... I mean, get ahead." Turns into a Freudian Slippery Slope if you pick the option where he represses himself.
- Gay Option: As it turns out, after seeing this scene, the boss and John both swing both ways.
- Which is funny, since it's the only non-violent option you are giving. This could lead to the conclusion that unless you are violent, you are gay.
- This is funnier when you remember John's mother asked if he was gay in the beginning, and said "Thank Heavens!" when he said no. Yet John still asks Thresher "Would you like to meet my mother?"
- Good Morning, Crono: Twice, near the beginning. First, John is woken up by a call from his mother. After that conversation ends, Jane is woken by a call from her father!
- Hilarious Outtakes: Inverted every way from Sunday. The actor playing John botches his line, and he and the crew laugh about the lame mistake - but they kept it in the game, not as an outtake. They just kept rolling! GAAAAAH!
- This may have been an intentional Breaking the Fourth Wall joke, but that still certainly doesn't make it funny.
- Hostile Show Takeover: Another narrator randomly shows up, and beats up the first. He then comes back later with an Uzi.
- Interactive Narrator: The narrator can shout at you, other narrators... it's an interactive treat.
- I Want Grandkids: John's mom pressures him into marrying because she wants grandchildren. Jane's dad does the same thing.
- It's a Wonderful Failure/Multiple Endings: Most videos lead to this. As well as the "Hollywood ending", you can get the asexual ending, the hired ending, the fired ending, the S&M ending, the gay ending, the indecent proposal ending, the celibate ending... there's far more bad endings than good.
- The Law of Conservation of Detail: Broken. Broken into millions of tiny, tiny pieces.
- Logic Bomb: The game is 17-rated, but one part is 18-rated. But you need to play this part to finish the game. So... how can a 17 year old possibly play the game and complete it?
- The 18-rated scene? Nothing in there to have it deserve that rating. It's not the least bit pornographic. THE GAME LIES!!
- Love At First Sight: Deciding you want to marry a woman you've never talked to that you just bumped into in a car park is not generally a recipe for fun.
- Mind Screw: Seriously, what the fuck? Is... is that man in a chicken mask yelling at me? And why is he hanging upside down? Pandas? Driving race cars? Over a guy's bed? In negative colours? This couldn't be weirder if David Lynch wrote it. (Note: It was supposed to be John's dream.)
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: "I'm about to marry a virgin! In the 90's! Impossible!"
- Naughty Nuns: Averted by the "other" ending, where Jane - who spent the entire intro telling us how many guys she's had sex with - reveals suddenly that she's a virgin and wants to be a nun. The game doesn't even show her wearing nun attire.
- Although in the intro, she says "Imagine that, me a NUN? HA! I don't think so!...I'm not that kind of girl!"
- Never Trust a Title: HE WEARS A TIE, DAMMIT.
- Title Dropped halfway through.
- The Nineties: The hideous fashions and dreadful attempts at early Photoshopping let this game be dated very, very accurately to the early '90s. Plus, the horribly pixelated pictures and compressed sound will easily remind people of the time when "CD quality" picture and sound was actually a pejorative term.
- No Fourth Wall: That's for sure.
"That bitch of a mother from the last scene just told her son to get married!"
- The game even keeps in an audio outtake of the actor flubbing his lines, and the cast and crew commenting on it.
- Photoshop Filter of Evil: Almost like MS Paint filter of evil.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: People may complain that Mario doesn't do enough plumbing. Compared to John, he's a plumbing machine.
- Scoring Points: Their meaninglessness is exemplified in the Violation of Common Sense trope, below. In fact, the highest possible score in the game is -170,000 according to GameFAQs.
- Shirtless Scene: John in the intro.
- Shower Scene: Completely gratuitously with both John and Jane.
- Split-Screen Phone Call: John and his mother, Jane and her father.
- Spoiler Opening: In the only FMV in the entire game, Jane spoils several plot points, including the nun ending.
- Straw Feminist: A female narrator takes over the game to defeat the patriarchy?
- Title Drop: Right at the very end, where John finally admits that he's a plumber (even though just looking at the giant 'Plumber On A Bike' logo on his motorcycle could already have tipped Jane off), but Jane insists he's lying because, as she puts it, Plumbers Don't Wear Ties.
- Done much earlier on.
John: Ma, I'm a plumber, and plumbers don't wear ties!
- Violation of Common Sense: You have to go through the choice of the boss forcing Jane to take her clothes off, which gives you a negative score.
- What the Hell, Player?: The narrator will not always agree with what you're doing.
- Sometimes he will say that even if you pick a different route.
- You Bastard: After Railroading you into "the hairball takes advantage of the situation" option and serving up a healthy dose of Moral Event Horizon and Mood Whiplash the game has the naked chutzpah to call you a "perverted monster". And it happens elsewhere, too.
- If you choose any the other options the game calls you a loser for doing such a lousy script, including the boss acting very generously and giving Jane an extremely well paying job with many bonuses.