Easter Eggs in Hazmat Hijinks

February 16, 2019

• I autographed Chemical Plains 8. The name Tod appears in an inaccessible part of the map. The T is made of teleporter tiles, the O is made of oil tiles, and the D is made of dirt tiles.

• The muffin kid is an obscure Seinfeld reference. In the episode The Muffin Tops, Elaine has trouble getting rid of some muffin stumps and requests the help of a “cleaner” (Newman). In the Bacteria Lab, the kid is continually being fed muffins the The Cleaners.

• On the date of a total solar or lunar eclipse, the sky in Nuclear Hills will display that celestial phenomenon.

• The main character Hanford is named after the famous Hanford Site in Southeast Washington state, the most polluted Superfund site in America.

• The phase of the moon in Nuclear Hills always shows the current phase in real life, and the brightness level of the landscape increases and decreases with the phase of the moon. In the Southern hemisphere, the moon phase will be the same as in the northern hemisphere but roughly reversed, just like in real life.

• There are several Kubrick references in Hazmat Hijinks. The map music in the Special World is from Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. Kubrick always planned to use this music in A.I. While John Williams composed an original score for A.I., he included a cue from Der Rosenkavalier as the characters cross the bridge to enter Rouge City.

• Another Kubrick reference is the background music in the even numbered Special levels: the scherzo from Midsummer Night’s Dream by Felix Mendelssohn. According to composer Alex North, this was one of Kubrick’s working tracks for the Orion docking scene in 2001, and one which North used to influence his own score for that part of the film.

• The music played during the end credits is The Kaiser Waltz by Johann Strauss II. Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey uses a different waltz by the same Strauss.

• The bright lights you have to smash and replace with full cutoff fixtures in Special 5 are actual outdoor lights from the library in my hometown, which are so bright you can read under them on the darkest nights. I wish I could go around the country and either destroy or fix all the outdoor lighting that washes out the night sky. And confuses wildlife.

• When Hanford falls into a black hole in Special 4, rather than shrinking down and “falling in” dramatically, he remains the same size but becomes redshifted. This is closer to what would actually happen.

• Special 11 requires the player to go on a real-life scavenger hunt to complete the puzzle.

• The Special World is laid out in the shape of the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.

• If you type the characters 40E118 anywhere in the game, a copyright notice will appear. This is patterned after the Mac Plus.

• The fonts used are bitmapped Chicago 12 and Geneva 12, more references to the world of the classic Mac. Apparently, Chip’s Challenge 2 also uses Chicago. I didn’t know that when I chose it though. I happen to admire the font quite a bit, it’s appropriately pixellated, and I wanted to reference the original Macintosh.

• There are 96 goals in the game, which is a reference to the 96 goals in Super Mario World. Not that quantity is important, but I wanted to have a length comparable to Mario 3 or Mario World so that it would feel like a full, complete game.

• In Special 7, the honeybee level, a subtle pattern in the grass spells out “SAVE THE BEES”.

• Fox mania: the main theme and the factory theme were composed by Robert Fuchs. Fuchs is German for fox. Tod is an old English word for fox, and of course Hanford must rescue his pet fox. And the cubist painting hanging in Hanford’s house is The Fox by Franz Marc.

• The shape of Chemical Plains 9 resembles an elephant, and the golden barrel can be found by exiting the conveyor belts in the same place that waste would exit an elephant.

• If you take the iridescent suit out of the Nuclear Plant and complete the Chemical Factory or Fire Factory while wearing it, the people you rescue will make randomly chosen comments about your suit. This is similar to beating an airship in Mario 3 while wearing the Frog Suit, Tanooki Suit, or Hammer Bros. Suit.

• In Special 10, the solution is to use suits in the right amounts to go through corridors 2, 3, and 9, in that order. It is a reference to Plutonium 239, a fissile isotope used in nuclear weapons.