The Neverhood is a point-and-click adventure game released by DreamWorks in 1996, on the brink of the decline of the adventure game genre in the mid-'90s. Because of this unfortunate timing, it was never a mainstream hit (selling an estimated 41 000 copies before it was discontinued), but among aficionados it is nevertheless a cult classic due to a completely unique sense of quirky character that permeates every aspect of its presentation. It is particularly notable for being perhaps the only game ever to be created entirely in stop-motion claymation. The player takes control of the appropriately-named Klaymen as he wakes up in a surreal, almost entirely deserted environment and begins exploring to piece together the puzzle of what has happened there.
The Neverhood, along with its somewhat better-known PSOne-only sequel, Skullmonkeys, features an original soundtrack by composer Terry Scott Taylor. The award-winning OST, Imaginarium: Songs from the Neverhood, consists largely of hyperactive, jazzy tunes played on guitar, percussion and brass / wind instruments and featuring mostly nonsense vocals. It is still considered some of the most bizarre, exciting and unusual video game music ever.
The Neverhood was well received by critics, but on store shelves it was an immediate and irretrievable flop. Despite this failure, the sequel was developed and released in 1998 but faired scarcely better. The franchise was more popular in Japan, where the first game had been released on PSOne by Riverhill under the name Klaymen Klaymen. As a result, there was a Japan-only spinoff released, entitled Klaymen Gun Hockey. A budget release developed by KIDSMIND, it was little more than a jumped-up minigame; a first-person Air Hockey-type game using guns instead of paddles, presented in 3D polygonal graphics rather than the series' characteristic claymation.
A feature film based on The Neverhood is currently being created at Frederator Films, with franchise creator and cult video game auteur Doug TenNapel directing.
Klaymen is the silent protagonist of The Neverhood series. Created by Willie Trombone from a stray seed of powerful Klay in order to overthrow the villanous Klogg and save the slumbering and incapacitated Hoborg, creator and rightful ruler of the Neverhood.
Although he almost never speaks, Klaymen comes across as a curious, cheerful and even brave being. Upon successfully navigating, rebuilding and reuniting the torn-apart areas of the decimated Neverhood, he defeats Klogg with the help of Willie and Big Robot Bil. The player is faced with a choice at the very end - should Klaymen restore the crown to Hoborg, or take it for himself?
Klogg was the first being created by the powerful but lonely Hoborg, who longed for companionship. Unfortunately Klogg turned out to be a petulant and greedy creature, envious of Hoborg's power. Stealing Hoborg's crown, Klogg was entirely corrupted and tore apart the peaceful world Hoborg
had created, imprisoning Willie Trombone and deactivating Big Robot Bil in the process. In the final confrontation with Klaymen, Klogg's overconfidence causes him to accidentally shoot himself with a giant cannon, blasting him off of the Neverhood and into the cold reaches of space, never to be seen again... or is he? Klogg returns as the main antagonist in Skullmonkeys.
Hoborg is one of the seven sons of Quater, who is the only creation of 'Father', the God-like creator of the universe in which The Neverhood takes place. The following is from The Neverhood Chronicles:
' Quater wanted to see what would happen if he made a creative being with a big heart. Quater named him Hoborg, meaning "big heart".'
Hobrg set out to create his own world using the Klay of creation. With the help of Willie Trombone and Big Robot Bil, Hoborg went through a harsh journey lasting many years to reach the finest Klay in the universe, the everlasting Klay that would allow Hoborg to create beings of quality, who would not crumble away and die. From this Klay, Hoborg created the Neverhood, a beautiful world of peace and relaxation. Hoborg wanted to create life forms to populate his beautiful but lonely world, but he wanted to create beings with free will, who would enjoy his world and his company because they wanted to, not because they were created to. Unfortunately, his first creation, Klogg, turned out to be a selfish and envious creature who wanted to rule the Neverhood himself. He stole Hoborg's crown, sending the creator into a deep sleep, lifeless. Luckily, the last one of Hoborg's Klay life seeds escaped Klogg's attention. Willie took this seed, which grew into Klaymen, the hero who would save the Neverhood from Klogg's evil reign. When Klaymen gets the crown back from Klogg, if he chooses to return it to Hoborg, Hoborg is pleased and makes many more sons with the remaining life seeds.
Willie Trombone may have a few screws loose, but he is a relentlessly good-natured person, and Klaymen's cousin. He was one of the seven sons of Ottoborg, who is one of Quater's seven sons and brother to Hoborg. Ottoborg also created Big Robot Bil and two other robots to help him build his world, but he forgot to bind his world together with gravity, so each of his seven sons and their homes drifted off into space. Willie Trombone and Bil drifted off through the most dangerous part of space, only to bump into Hoborg, who was on his way to acquire the highest-quality, everlasting Klay. WIth the help of his two new friends, Hoborg got his Klay and created the Neverhood. When Klogg took over, Willie Trombone stole a Klay seed and created Klaymen, who would become the saviour of the Neverhood. Willie also presumably created the video that Klaymen needs to collect all the parts of and watch in order to understand the immediate backstory of the Neverhood and the nature of his mission.
Big Robot Bil
Big Robot Bil is Willie's robot pal. He is humongous, metal, very creaky, and just wants to hold his teddy bear. He was one of the three robots created by Ottoborg to build houses for his seven sons. Of those robots - Appie and Togor being the other two - Bil was the one who was best at building. When Ottoborg's world broke apart, Bil drifted over onto Willie Trombone's floating island, and saved Willie from being devoured by a group of nasty Victoids. They went on to meet Hoborg, and helped him to find the finest Klay in the universe. In gratitude, Hoborg gave Bil a blue teddy bear, which Bil loved and would not be separated from. When Klogg took over the Neverhood, he trapped Bil in a sort of prison and took away Bil's bear, turning him bad by pushing a lever from 'good' to 'bad' inside his body. When Klaymen comes across Bil in the destroyed Neverhood, he restores Bil's good nature and helps him get his Teddy back. Klogg, noticing the developments of Klaymen's meddling, sends the Cl
ockwork Beast to stop the heroes. In a spectacular giant robot battle, Bil defeats the beast with Klaymen's help. In the process, though, the beast sends out its nefarious Bear Retrieval Unit, destroying Teddy and sending Bil into a rage. Klogg, not satisfied with breaking Bil's spirit in such a way, fired the giant cannon and blew a big hole in Bil's body. Bil fell off of the Neverhood along with Willie, but remained there to protect the world while Klaymen goes off to continue the fight against Klogg in Skullmonkeys.
Bear Retrieval Unit
The Bear Retrieval Unit is a strange buggy-like vehicle armed with a harpoon gun that is piloted by two babbling, chaotic pterodactyl-looking creatures. The Bear Retrieval Unit is part of the Clockwork Beast's arsenal, apparently specifically for the purpose of distracting and demoralising Big Robot Bil.
The Clockwork Beast is a Godzilla-like mechanical beast created by Klogg to protect his castle, presumably from Big Robot Bil, should Bil ever be reactivated. It's about the same size as Bil, and has pterodactyl-like head similar to the crew of the Bear Retrieval Unit. It was released once to try and stop Big Robot Bil from entering Klogg's castle, knocked Bil down and ripped off his blue bear's head. Bil got angry and defeated the beast by knocking it off of the Neverhood with his built-in springs.
A species of carnivorous creature native to the Neverhood, resembling a cross between a crab and a praying mantis. With twin pincers, four legs, and mandibles covered in razor sharp teeth, the Weasel is fearsome predator which devours anything it comes across. Both green and purple varieties are seen throughout the course of the game:
- Early in the game, Klaymen discovers a music box which plays "Pop goes the Weasel". Turning the handle, he unwittingly releases a green Weasel from its cave and narrowly escapes being eaten before retreating to a safe room. The player must construct a dummy from sticks of dynamite and feed it to the creature, violently blowing it up from within. The explosion has the side effect of providing Willie Trombone with an unexpected meal.
- While piloting the robot Bill, Klaymen find Willie Trombone cornered by a purple Weasel. Using the giant mechanical fists of the robot he quickly turns the tables, reducing the Weasel to a large pile of entrails.
The Neverhood Chronicles
One of the game's more unusual and infamous features is that it contains a room called the 'Hall of Records', a 38-screen-long area containing a single long wall upon which is written 'The Neverhood Chronicles', the continuing history of the entire universe created by Father and his only child, Quater. While the player does not have to read the entire continuous Chronicle (it contains no gameplay-relevant information), Klaymen does have to walk all the way through the entire 38 screens of the hall in order to acquire a section of the video that Willie Trombone has made in order to explain to Klaymen what has happened in the Neverhood and what he needs to do to save it.
The actual text of The Neverhood Chronicles was written by Doug TenNapel, Mark Lorenzen and Dale Lawrence, and tells the story of the creation of the universe in which the Neverhood exists in a humorous, pseudo-Biblical style including long, incomprehensible lineages and parable-like stories about ancient denizens of the universe, many of whom have direct parallels with actual Biblical characters. It is composed of eight "books": a short preamble with an introduction written by Quater, and short descriptions of Father and Quater. Thereafter, "books" containing the story of each of Quater's seven sons: Ogdilla, Bertbert, Numeron, Ottoborg, Homen, Hoborg and Arven.
According to the preamble written by Quater, he gave each of his seven sons a wall such as the one found in the Neverhood, each of which automatically records upon itself the history of the goings-on on each of the worlds created by the seven sons of Quater. The one in the Neverhood, however, appears to have stopped recording at the point of Klogg's rebellion.
Upcoming feature film
Doug TenNapel wrote in March 2007 to his official forum that he is in talks with a producer about making a movie based on the Neverhood world. Frederator Films, a company formed for the purpose of creating animated feature films budgeted under $20 million, later confirmed that they would be working with Doug TenNapel on the film.
Not much is known about the ongoing development of the movie, but at the time of writing (Spring 2010) it is assumed that the movie may be headed for release in 2011.
PC System Requirements
- 8MB RAM (16 recommended).
- 640x480 Super VGA 256-color monitor with 1 MB VRAM.
- 75 MHZ Pentium processor.
- 10 MB Hard disk space.
- 4x CD-ROM drive.
- 8 Bit Windows Compatible Sound Card (16 recommended).
- Windows 95.
Album: Neverhood Songs
- Klaymen Shuffle
- Olley Oxen Free
- Everybody Way Oh!
- Rock n' Roll Dixie
- Cough Drops
- Skat Radio
- Lowdee Huh
- Klaymen's Theme
- Operator Plays A Little Pongpong
- Jose Feliciano
- Homina Homina
- Potatoes, Tomatoes, Gravy, and Peas
- Triangle Square
- Dum Da Dum Doi Doi
- Southern Front Porch Whistler
- Confused and Upset
- The Neverhood Theme
- The Weasel Chase
- Pulling of the Pin
- The battle of Robot Bil
- Klogg's Castle
- Time to Goof Off
Bonus Radio Tracks
- Klaymen Takes the A Train
- Low Down Doe
- Gargling Drummer
- Resolution #8
- An Elf Sings His ABCs
- Thumb Nail Sketch
- I'm Thirsty, I need Wahwah
- Sound Effects Record #32
- The Laughing, Crying, Screaming Masses
- Sound Effects #33
- B3, B.C.
- Coffee and Other Just Desserts
- Spring Has Sprung
- Chiming In
- Scary Robot Man
- Playing Pool In Outer Space
- Down In The Mines
- Official website (Archived)
- The Neverhood Chronicles - full text as found in the game's Hall of Records