Games aren’t ridiculous enough anymore. That’s the conclusion that I came to after chuckling my way throughout the entirety of Stick It To The Man, an effort that harkens back to graphic adventure games of yesteryear but tacitly modernises the genre for today’s audience.
Comedy is expectedly tricky to master in any form, let alone a six-hour adventure through a papercraft universe. Zoink!’s creation deftly strikes the right chord early on and runs with it, playfully rifting their way through a witty, observational script that runs riot in conjuring up amusingly zany encounters for the player to find themselves wandering straight into.
Stick It To The Man is a recounted tale narrated by the game’s dim-witted central character, Ouch Inc. hard hat tester Ray, who we initially discover holding his breath in space where he is left to contemplate the strange occurrences that he’s been through the past day.
Wandering home after his shift finishes, a U.S. Air Force plane is struck by lightning – the extraterrestrial cargo that it was carrying falling through the sky to strike Ray firmly on the head. Concussed, he dreams that he has been granted a giant pink spaghetti arm that sprouts from his head, allowing him to tear paper scraps away from the world that surrounds him and use stickers to solve puzzle dilemmas.
Waking up, and ironically being told by the hospital that his insurance doesn’t cover head injuries, he soon realises that the luminous arm wasn’t a figment of his imagination and that he can use it to read the minds of those around him. Still in denial Ray soon finds himself marked by ‘The Man,’ desperate to recover the alien providing the newfound powers for his own means.
The narrative is Stick It To The Man‘s crème de la crème, succeeding to make you chortle where mostly others have not. A wacky ensemble of characters are scattered throughout your journey across the game’s 10 chapters, each skilfully voiced by a handful of actors that seem to have had as much fun recording the script as the writers did penning it.
Reading peoples minds becomes a core part of the game’s design, revealing their innermost desires, wandering thoughts, and frustrations, that will help lead you toward addressing any problems that arise. Such skill revolves around directing the arm with the right thumbstick, to then hit the R Button to slap your squidgy hand around their cranium. Wii U GamePad integration lets you read minds by moving the controller to scan the brains around you. A novel touch beyond simply porting the game to Nintendo’s console, but one that doesn’t revolutionise the experience.
Discovering stickers to solve all inhabitants problems in each chapter is largely what’s required – semi-fetch quests that players will enjoy witnessing the resulting conclusion to. Chaining these items together is a necessity, seeing you gallop back and forth when you suddenly deduce exactly what’s required of you. Which can often be real ‘lightbulb’ moments.
Other than this, the game’s basic platforming segments are interrupted by agents sent by The Man to thwart your progress – zapping you with a taser that will see Ray reprinted at a nearby spawn point. These agents patrol their designated areas, with Ray being able to put them to sleep or slap a mask of himself over their moody faces to temporarily confuse other agents. Largely, these sections are an annoyance and one that Zoink! could have easily done without as they hinder progression unnecessarily rather than aiding the game in any way.
The game’s art direction is top notch, breathing life into a world constructed with paper cutouts even if a grainy detracts. Whereas incidental music sets the scene, with Kenny Rogers’ “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” strumming on the title and credit sequences to reflect the more psychedelic elements of the game’s structure.
Stick It To The Man is sheer brilliance in places, with a stormer of a script engaging players with hilarity from start to finish. It is a lack of gameplay variance and the game’s brevity that are the clear pitfalls, but this Nintendo eShop outing is one that most certainly stands out from the rest.