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Trombone Champ: What's The True Meaning Behind The Baboons?

It seems like one of the fastest ways for an indie game to go viral on Twitter is to be as absurd as possible. Just over a month after the internet went wild for "Squirrel with a Gun," "Trombone Champ" has taken the Twittersphere by storm (via Washington Post). While it may look like a garden-variety rhythm game at first glance, the unique premise of "Trombone Champ" is that players have to move a cursor up and down the screen in an attempt to hit notes — much like a real-life trombone player might manipulate their hands while playing the actual instrument. The result? Auditory travesty and absolute hilarity, as demonstrated by PCGamer and many other Twitter accounts that have jumped to join the trombone train. Moreover, "Trombone Champ" works with the Steam Deck gyro controls, allowing even more slapstick renditions of Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony."

But it's not just the sheer potential for awful brasswind tomfoolery that makes the game as absurd. The gameplay is bolstered by a Soulsborne-inspired opening menu, a cartoonish character swinging a trombone around in the background of every song, unique note scores like "meh" and "nasty," and — strangely enough — an overabundance of baboons and accompanying poop jokes. The Steam page description proudly boasts the unbelievable number of baboons in the game and cryptically claims, "only a true Trombone Champ will uncover their full meaning." Now some players are wondering just what kind of baboon buffoonery the game is hiding.

A hidden storyline of the primordial baboon

The monkey business in "Trombone Champ" actually leads to a hidden quest containing a secret ending. Players can reach the final showdown after completing multiple steps that involve repeatedly tapping on seemingly innocuous objects to prompt hidden encounters, then paying lots of in-game currency to progress said discreet meetings (per Gameplay.tips). This storyline takes the player through an increasingly absurd venture involving — as advertised — a copious amount of baboons. It even leads up to a climactic battle with the baboon trombone master.

But this still doesn't explain why the game uses baboons, of all creatures, as mascots and arbiters of the secret ending. As it turns out, this nonsensical design choice was a relic from early parts of development. In an interview with PCGamer, "Trombone Champ" creator Dan Vecchitto revealed that the original song difficulties ranged from "baby" to "bonkers." Vecchitto needed a name for the medium difficulty that started with "b" and eventually settled on "baboon." While ultimately scrapping the "b" theme entirely, Vecchitto found himself adding baboons to the game anywhere and everywhere he could and even self-admittedly became a little obsessed with the concept. Considering that there are baboons somewhere on nearly every screen of "Trombone Champ," it would seem that Vecchitto did succeed in his bizarre goal of creating a music game absolutely filled with primates.