With Octodad: Dadliest Catch having hit the digital distribution platform Steam, on Jan. 30, 2014 – with the PlayStation 4 version expected to be released sometime in March – we thought we would take a look at some of the easter eggs and references littered throughout the eight-legged protagonist’s colorful game. We will also reveal the method required for reaching the secret level, hidden away in the game.
The Dadliest Catch is actually a sequel to Octodad. Originally produced by a group of university students, Octodad landed on Windows as a freeware game for the masses. Developed by indie game developers Young Horses, Octodad: Dadliest Catch was spurred from the success of its predecessor. A Kickstarter campaign was launched back in 2011, and quickly generated considerable public interest. By Aug. 10, 2011, Octodad 2 – as it was then named – surpassed its $20,000 financial pledge.
The premise of the video game is simple. You star as Octodad, a suburban father who is desperately trying to convince his wife and children that he is just an ordinary human… and certainly not an octopus, masquerading as a human, in a suit and tie.
Throughout the game the, less than nimble, cephalopod is tasked with performing a series of mundane objectives, all the while, trying to keep his identity under wraps. The player must switch between controlling two sets of tentacles, which are used to impersonate the arms and legs of a human being. The father of two must employ his unwieldy limbs to navigate a world of perils, ranging from inconsiderately placed banana peels to a raving mad sushi chef.
The game’s developers have included a wealth of nods to other indie video games and their associated development teams. During the supermarket level, the isles are stuffed to the rafters with a number of, not-so-subtle, easter eggs and references.
First up is a homage to Minecraft. When perusing through the supermarket, you will stumble across “Gervason’s Deli” and “Gervason’s Dairy Center.” To the right of the Dairy Center is a “Mintcraft: Build a World of Flavor” stand, featuring an array of Minecraft-related paraphernalia. A green Creeper can be seen at the center of the table, which begins ominously hissing when picked up; however, rather than exploding, it simply releases a harmless puff of smoke. Alongside the Creeper are the characteristic, pixelated pick-axes, which adorn the wall in the background.
Television and Movie References Link to Development Team
Adjacent the “Frozen Delights” section of the grocery store lies a video rental machine that provides a list of movies and television series that are available for purchase. First off, it’s worth noting that the rental machine is called “Commander Video Rental” – where Commander Video is the name of the protagonist from the 2D, side-scrolling platformer Bit.Trip Runner.
Scrolling through the list, the player will observe a series of familiar sounding and looking titles, ranging from Two and a Half Kevins to Murphy’s Laww.
In addition, many of the names that appear in the selection appear to link to members of the game’s development team. For example, “All The Young Horses” is a parody of the 2000 film All the Pretty Horses, starring Matt Damon and Penélope Cruz, and is also a playful reference to the Young Horses development team. The DVD cover for “Billy,” meanwhile, has the same art-style as Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. The following is a list of the titles, along with some of the tentative connections associated with the developers:
- All the Young Horses – All the Pretty Horses
- Shirtless Chefs of Maryland
- Sports Johnson
- Billy – Jaws DVD cover (Billy Basso – an intern, supporting the lead game designers)
- Brain Suckers From Neptune: The Vacuum of Space Never Sucked This Much
- Sole Creator – Sole Survivor
- Two and a Half Kevins – Two and a Half Men (Project Lead Kevin Zuhn and Gameplay/Audio/Visual Programmer Kevin Geisler)
- Who the Heck is Chris? – Everybody Hates Chris (Artist Chris Stallman)
- Murphy’s Laww – Judge Dredd (Producer John Murphy)
- The Color of Sheep, by Esparza and Parker – The Color of Money (Lead Artist Nick Esparza and Lead Sound Designer/Composer Seth Parker)
In addition, a number of the fictional products reference Majdo Badro, a likely reference to Majdi Badri – the game and level designer.
Stanley Parable, VGCW and QWOP Easter Eggs
Next up is a number of additional indie game references. In the kid’s play area of the supermarket level – which is replete with a giant, floor-bound piano and child’s space rocket – is a series of posters that reference renowned indie game titles.
One poster, VGCW (Virtuous Gentleman Championship Wrestling) is an easter egg for Video Game Championship Wrestling; the show is a live-streamed broadcast that pits famous characters – from video games, comics and anime titles – against one another. The Octodad developers have even fashioned the VGCW logo so that it fits the same style.
In the center of the wall, a “Stanley’s Pair O’ Bowls” poster is clearly displayed, obviously deriving its inspiration from The Stanley Parable – a story-orientated indie game, featuring the musings of an eccentric narrator.
The third and final poster, which displays the acronym QWOP, is an easter egg for the ragdoll-based flash game of the same name. QWOP requires the player to use the Q, W, O and P keys on the keyboard to control the actions of an athlete, named Qwop. Using just these four keys, the player must ensure the athlete successfully partakes in a 100-meter Hurdles race. The reason for QWOP‘s inclusion as an easter egg is, no doubt, in response to the media drawing comparisons between QWOP and the original Octodad, with many finding parallels between the awkward control mechanics.
Super Meat Boy, Pac-Man and thatgamecompany
Venturing back into Gervason’s Deli, behind the counter is a steel table that is equipped with a large, circular saw and huge blocks of meat. The style of the saw, along with the bandages found on some of the meat chunks, suggests this is a reference to the tough as nails platformer Super Meat Boy. Created by indie developers Team Meat, Super Meat Boy – rather inexplicably – stars a block of meat, who sets out on a perilous journey to rescue Bandage Girl. As a bonus, once the meat chunks are placed into the circular saw, a collectable tie reveals itself.
Moving along into the Dairy isle, obvious service is shown to the classic 1980s video game Pac-Man, with the cheese wheels having been calved up into the shape of the pac-dot gobbling icon.
In addition, after searching for the chocolate milk in the same isle, the player will eventually come across a labeled carton. The brand printed on the label is “ThatMilkCompany,” which is a reference to “thatgamecompany” – the Los Angeles-based video game development studio that was responsible for the critically acclaimed Journey, along with Flow and Flower.
Phosphiend Systems, Robomodo, TotalBiscuit and Vlambeer
Gaze through all of the store’s central isles and a dizzying array of indie game references spring from the shelves. Indie game references can be seen when viewing the range of food dispensers, situated at the end of one of the isles. “Phosphiend’s Fractal Jacks” cereals is a reference to Phosphiend Systems’ upcoming game, entitled FRACT, which is due for release in 2014 on Windows and Linux.
“Robomo Donuts” refers to Robomodo. Formed in 2008, Robomodo is best known for its work on several Tony Hawk games, as well as In Time and Big League Sports: Kinect. Next along is the “Total Biscuits” dispenser, which relates to PC Gaming YouTube critic Cynical Brit (a.k.a. TotalBiscuit). The gaming commentary/critic channel is hosted by John Bain, who has gained a cult following for his dissection of indie video games.
The last dispenser contains “Vlambeerios” cereals – a nice thumbs up for Dutch indie studio Vlambeer, which consists of Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman. Vlambeer created a number of well-known titles, including Serious Sam: The Random Encounter, Radical Fishing and Ridiculous Fishing.
PewDiePie, SeaNanners, Northernlion & Freelance Astronauts YouTuber References
TotalBiscuit is not the only famous YouTube personality to have been referenced; products that relate to PewDiePie, SeaNanners, Northernlion and The Freelance Astronauts are also scattered around the various corners of the store. PewDiePie, of course, is the alias of the world-renowned video game commentator Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg. PewDiePie specialized in Let’s Play videos – typically horror themed – and has generated an unprecedented Internet following. With over 21 million subscribers, as of January 2014, Pewdie’s channel has gone from strength to strength.
In the “Fresh Produce” section, the Octodad inceptors make reference to another gaming figure, scribing “Seananners” along the crate that houses the bananas. SeaNanners (a.k.a Nanners) is another highly popular YouTuber, who has achieved close to four million subscribers. Nanners – whose real name is Adam Montoya – primarily focuses on PC gaming and has previously been involved in Let’s Play episodes for a plethora of indie games and mods.
Next up, the large jar of “Freelance Astro-Nuts” appears to relate to The Freelance Astronauts. The self-proclaimed “… team of stupendously nerdy man-children…” convene every Saturday to share their passion for playing video games. Having played a diverse genre of titles, ranging from Crysis to Lemmings, The Freelance Astronauts have been credited with helping boost the original Octodad’s popularity.
Finally, the name and likeness of YouTuber Northernlion is used – perhaps a little unflatteringly – on a brand of super ply, quilted toilet paper, named Northern Lion. Northernlion (a.k.a. Ryan Letourneau) is a Canadian indie game lover who also collaborates with Machinima. As of writing, Ryan has over 270,000 YouTube subscribers.
Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers, Organ Trail and Surgeon Simulator
Following the general trend of referencing independent games, Young Horses have also added nods to Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers, Organ Trail and Surgeon Simulator.
The unfortunately named Tiny & Big diapers: Grandpa’s Leftovers refers to the 3D platformer that was developed by Black Pants Game Studio, and released in 2012. To the right of the diapers is the board game “Nigel’s Sturgeon Simulator,” relating to the darkly humorous surgical simulation game, Surgeon Simulator 2013. Released on Steam, back in April of last year, Surgeon Simulator’s mechanics are – quite possibly – even more demanding than those of Octodad: Dadliest Catch.
The bags of “Organ Trail Mix” references Organ Trail. Set in a post-apocalyptic America, the game was recently re-released as Organ Trail: Director’s Cut, with a number of additional features bundled in.
Derpy Plushy Easter Egg
Lastly, as shown in the next YouTube clip, a strange My Little Pony easter egg also crops up during the supermarket level. A plushy of the cross-eyed Pegasus Derpy (a.k.a. Ditzy Doo) can be found on one of the shelves of the center isles.
“Toilet and Trouble” Secret Level
The Dadliest Catch contains a secret level during the aquarium level, situated at the Aquatic Fun Center, which shortly follows the graceless super-sleuth’s adventures around the supermarket. Still in incognito, Octodad must avoid the wandering marine biologists to navigate his way to the secret level, called “Toilet and Trouble.”
The player must avoid the first group of marine biologists, impeding Octodad’s access to the premises, by detouring through the gift shop. Located just before the turnstiles is the men’s bathroom; enter through this door and move towards the row of cubicles on the left-hand side. Find the center cubicle and position Octodad’s tentacles inside the toilet, before flushing it.
This will then prompt an entirely new level to begin, based upon a different style of gameplay. The 3D world is substituted for a 2D sidescrolling platformer, through which Octodad must wobble, swing and bound using his uncoordinated, suction cup-laden tentacles. Once complete, however, three collectable ties will become unlocked.
We hope you have enjoyed our easter eggs and indie references guide for Octodad: Dadliest Catch. However, with the developers having placed great emphasis on paying tribute to so many indie games, developer studios and YouTube personalities, we expect the gaming community will discover more easter eggs and references, in the future. Please feel free to keep us updated in the comments section, below. In the meantime, we leave you with the game’s amazing theme tune.
By James Fenner