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What Is the Thunderbird and Why Is the Darkside Detective Centering a Case on It?

I’m Buddy, the Community Manager for Akupara Games and today, we’re releasing a new case for The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark! And I wanted to take a second to peel back the curtain on The Darkside Detective to give you a sneak peek into the mythological inspiration for the new case, the thunderbird.

One Flew into the Cuckoo’s Nest” (this is the name of the case, the cuckoo is the thunderbird, do you get it?) takes place at Twin Lakes’ botanical garden. If you watched the trailer above, you’d be able to see that a thunderous egg and bird caw hint pretty strongly that there’s a problem that only McQueen and Dooley can sort out. That problem is a thunderbird, a giant, electrified bird threatening to zap and sizzle anyone getting too close.


In the folklore of indigenous tribes of North America, the thunderbird is a massive avian whose wingbeats create thunder and whose eyes spark with lightning. And in the same way that the mythological traits of dragons or unicorns vary from kingdom to kingdom in Europe, the different legends from different indigenous peoples afforded the thunderbird a wide variety of traits and abilities depending on that legend’s individual source. Whether the thunderbird was a force of nature, bringing storms, wind and rain; a shapeshifter, looking to blend in among the humans; or a spiritual guardian, protecting humanity from the dark creatures of the underworld depends highly on whom you’re hearing the story from. While the thunderbird shows up in folk tales from all across North America, it’s particularly associated with the Algonquian tribe of north-eastern Canada and the United States as well as a number of different cultures in the Pacific Northwest, where the thunderbird is commonly carved into tall totem poles.

Thunderbirds are a little bit off the beaten path for mythological creatures. Ghosts? Vampires? Zombies? These are kinds of creatures that jump to the front of your mind when we start talking about the kind of magical world the Darkside Detective takes place in. And true to form, The Darkside Detective has featured protesting ghosts, emotionally drained vampires and gangster zombies in the cases of the first two games. Creatures so common you’ll immediately recognize them (and the specific riffs on them that we do in our games for comedy.)


The thunderbirds, on the other hand, are a little less common, which makes them a unique subject for a Darkside Detective case. Outside of their presence in the folklore of indigenous tribes of North America, the thunderbird has popped up here and there in different pieces of popular culture. The recent film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, for instance, features a thunderbird being released to its native habitat of Arizona. The legendary bird, Zapdos, in the first generation of Pokemon games was also inspired by the thunderbird. Thunderbird is the codename for the first indigenous X-men character introduced alongside fan favorites (like Storm, Wolverine and Colossus.)

Without going into too many details for the case itself, since I promised myself I wouldn’t spoil this for any of you, the thunderbird’s size and power make it perfect for the Darkside Detective games. If the beating heart of the Darkside Detective is the bromance between Dooley and McQueen, then the arteries and blood vessels of this metaphorical circulatory system are the inherent comedy of fantastical creatures popping up in mundane places. Watching a completely normal security guard report on a massive thunderbird nesting on the roof of a building is precisely the right sort of humor that makes Darkside the kind of game that we all want to spend an hour hanging out with.

If any of the above really tickles your fancy, then feel free to download the new Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark case “One Flew Into the Cuckoo’s Nest” today, available now on Xbox.

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The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark

Akupara Games

Twin Lakes is a cursed city. Less cursed than say, “Demons are tearing it apart” but more cursed than “always loses its keys” or “often steps in puddles”. It’s roughly in the middle of the cursed scale, is what we’re trying to say. Cursed enough that it’s a nuisance. Cursed enough that somebody has to deal with it… That’s where The Darkside Detective comes in. Whenever you hear a bump in the night, feel a tingle up your spine, or smell something fishy, Detective Francis McQueen isn’t far behind. No, he doesn’t smell of fish – it’s a phrase, come on… Picking up after the events of The Darkside Detective [link], McQueen has to save his usually-present (in body, if not mind) sidekick Officer Dooley from the Darkside, so the two can get back to what they do best – investigating the city’s many strange, often paranormal, always paradoxical goings-on. Join them in this frighteningly funny point-and-click adventure as they investigate six more standalone cases bringing them to a carnival, the local retirement home, an amateur wrestling circuit and even as far away as Ireland as they do what they can to keep the Darkside at bay.