Title: Stick it to the Man
Platform: Nintendo Switch eShop
Developer: Zoink Games
Publisher: Zoink Games
Release Date: November 23rd, 2017 (NA)
Review copy provided by Zoink Games
This game was by a company called Zoink Games, who’ve had a rocky time during the 2000’s. That’s because they were attempting to release a game called The Kore Gang. Initially being made for the original Xbox, the game ended up being cancelled. This changed upon the announcement that the game would be revived as a Wii game in collaboration with Snap Dragon Games. After numerous delays, it would finally come out at around 2012 in NA under Atari. The game got so-so reception, but one thing that shined was the talent behind the art, voice acting, and the like, which is credited to Zoink Games.
After that chapter was closed, Zoink Games attempted another Wii game called WeeWaa, that too got cancelled. Finally, they managed to create a new game and release it to the world all on their own on digital store fronts. This is that game. Initially released to a variety of platforms, including Wii U, it enjoyed positive reception and seemingly good sales with it. Today the developer is underway with a sequel/successor called Flipping Death, and another game called Fe (pronounced as “fee-uh”!), both of which are Switch-bound. But their first Switch game is indeed a port of Stick it to the Man. How did it turn out? Let’s find out!
Poor Ray thinks he has a spaghetti arm growing out of his head
I should note that this is my first time experiencing the game so I can’t make any comparisons between versions. But I certainly can talk about how it plays and if it’s any fun!
The game stars a young man named Ray, who upon returning home from his job, all of the sudden gets knocked unconscious by a strange object. During a tutorial level, you’re introduced to the magical purple spaghetti arm growing out of Ray’s head. With it, Ray can grab objects from the distance (but not with his own hands, oddly enough), and even more importantly, read other people’s minds. This is crucial to solving the game’s puzzles which are all about fixing the problems of mostly strangers around town.
Upon waking up, Ray is literally shoved out of the hospital and heads home. He tells his girlfriend about his spaghetti arm, but she doesn’t see it, so she insists that Ray goes sees her shrink to get some help with his possible delusion. As he travels around the city, he comes across a bunch of people with problems, one guy is about to hang himself (I’m not kidding) who reveals via mind-reading that he lost his girlfriend to some guy with shiny teeth. As you go around finding people and reading their minds, a key gameplay element is using the arm to pull out stickers from the environment. These stickers can only be placed on specific objects which get you closer to solving a problem.
The game is FULLY voice-acted and it’s outstanding not only how well acted it all is, but just the sheer amount of it there is. This is crucial because the things folks say through their mind provide clues and at times stickers via thought bubbles for Ray to take. Another thing is that the game has a handy checkpoint system where if you get killed (via falling into a pit or otherwise), you just literally print yourself out of these without any real loss, so no worries about a lives system here. Platforming is a common means of travel but it’s hardly the focus and backtracking is very common from my experience. Thankfully I’ve not seen any sort of time limit so you’re encouraged to take your time and figure things out. The game also appears to utilize HD Rumble during mind-reads but only for a “wobbly?” feel, nothing too amazing really.
Spaghetti arms are great for reading minds
Overall, I find the game’s best asset is its presentation by far. It’s got witty dialogue (and lots of it!), the music’s good, with a jazzy feel to it. The art-style is outstanding where the characters are flat drawings and the world feels like it uses this style to its fullest, like it’s a living cartoon. It runs at a smooth 60fps and I feel from pure observation that it runs in 1080p docked but as I’m no Digital Foundry, I could be totally wrong. The process of moving back and forth (literally) through the environment can be tiring if you’re unclear on what to do or where to go (I had to chance a jump to even find a pathway below I couldn’t tell was there).
It’s fun, but I’m not sure if it’s something to play in long periods. It auto-saves (you can just force a save by turning subtitles on and off also), so you can just quit and come back anytime really, so it might be ideal for short bursts in portable play, but make sure you’re in a quiet place so you can hear what the characters are saying, since you won’t get too far without knowing the details. Luckily you can just re-listen to what folks say in their minds as long as you don’t progress (since they’ll say something new afterwards), but that’s… kind of the point actually!
A cutscene, of which there are many!
I say grab it if you want a good humorous adventure, but I’m not sure Ray’s arm is enough to grab your attention for very long. I am not sorry for that pun. Maybe folks who enjoy these games will really love the gameplay (I’ve never really played one in this genre before… aside from Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures on the Genesis). I’m just here for the presentation!
+ It’s got a wonderful style, like a living cartoon.
+ The voice-acting is top-notch. Even better it’s by seemingly fresh folks I barely recognize, aka, not the same ones you hear in every second game!
+ Music is good and fits the style. Nothing memorable but I dig it.
+ Runs in 60fps and seemingly in 1080p.
+ It’s fun reading minds and finding out more about the world.
+ Ray’s a very likable character. He’s not a hotshot or a doofus, he’s just a guy trying to get by in life and has witty things to say. Very down to Earth.
+ It’s definitely a VERY creative world. Zoink and particularly the founder Klaus has a style all his own that I can’t really think of anywhere else I’ve seen it.
– Gameplay is a bit shallow, but it’s not trying to be an action game or anything, but it’s a very laid back game so shallow may not be the right word here.
– The wandering around back and forth can be repetitive if you don’t know where to go.
– Pathways aren’t obvious, like with the example I gave before where I only found where to go after a “risky” jump.
– I could be wrong but the game… stutters a bit? Maybe it’s a frame-pacing issue or something.
– HD Rumble is used but it’s nothing special. Certainly not a showcase of the tech. It doesn’t even simulate HD Ice Cube Stickers!