Swedish game developers Zoink! and publisher Ripstone have released one weird adventure. Stick it to the Man! follows the zany story of hardhat tester Ray Doewood. On his way home from work, Ray falls victim to a freak accident. When he wakes up from being unconscious in a hospital, he finds that he not only has a giant pink spaghetti arm sticking out of his head, but he also can hear people’s thoughts. Additionally, his giant pink spaghetti arm allows him to change the paper world around him in order to solve puzzles and evade ‘The Man’. This game retails for $9.99 on the Nintendo eShop.
My initial impressions of this game were not as positive as my end feelings towards the game. In the beginning, I disliked the paper-craft art style and weird, even sometimes disgusting, world that Ray lives in. The game felt simple and I was able to clear chapters within thirty minutes or less. The characters had strange dialogue or inner monologues that left me scratching my head in bewilderment. It was only after progressing to the end of the game that I truly felt connected and engrossed in this unique platforming experience.
The concept of Stick it to the Man! is a combination of generic platforming and unique, new game mechanics. The fact that this game often pokes fun at the standard tropes of nearly every platformer creates a sense that this game is very aware of it’s genre. The main protagonist, Ray, is dropped into a series of crazy events after his brain is made host by a small tentacled creature. As he struggles to understand why he can suddenly read minds and why he has sprouted a large tentacle hand out of his head, Ray must solve unique and goofy puzzles and interact with a plethora of zany characters.
The graphics are different and the visuals take time to appreciate. As a fan of other papercraft games such as Paper Mario, I felt accustomed to certain aspects of the art style. The characters were the combination of quirky and disturbing. I would compare the character design to that of Ren & Stimpy. I eventually got past the weirdness and fell in love with the strange collection of characters with varying personality. One thing that I could not get past or accept was the constant screen static. The static overlays the background and it present during gameplay. At first, I thought something was wrong with my input device, but after witnessing a chapter screen appear on-screen crystal-clear, I was left to assume that this was a chosen aesthetic. This is a shame, because the grainy filter detracts from the interesting world and characters.
The music in the game is charming and effective. As I played through Stick it to the Man!, I felt engrossed in the varying environments and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. During intense moments, I felt my heart pounding too. These are characteristics of a game that has a soundtrack that flows well with the overall experience.
The playability and overall control-scheme of Stick it to the Man! are probably the most memorable experiences within the game. I enjoyed listening to the inner-most thoughts of the characters in the game in order to collect stickers or find clues. Swinging from platform to platform using Ray’s giant pink brain-arm felt smooth for the most part, but would occasionally be the death of me. When enemies were close to both a sticker and a platform, I would find myself warping right in front of the enemy instead of picking up the sticker. This was frustrating, but very forgivable. I played the game on the TV and also on the Wii U gamepad screen while laying in bed. Both experiences were equally enjoyable and I would consider each to be a valid way to play Stick it to the Man!.
Overall, I had a pretty fun time playing this game. The puzzles increased in difficulty over time, crushing the preconceived notion that this would be a simple platformer. I often found myself stuck on puzzles in the later portions of the game, leaving me to backtrack on clues and think a bit harder to move on. The visuals and characters grew on me, but the grainy filter never did. I decided to give Stick it to the Man! a score of 8 out of 10 for these reasons.
I find that after playing the game with the impression that it would be a child’s game, I changed my perception drastically. This game features content pertaining to suicide, murder, cannibalism, and other content inappropriate for young audiences. Please do not let the charming demeanor of this game spark a spontaneous purchase for a young child. This is a game for a somewhat mature audience.