As the Nintendo Switch eShop continues to grow with a variety of fun games, let me direct your attention to a game that was a surprising hit with me from beginning to end, and one that you as a Switch owner need to “seriously” consider. The game is the hilarious Stick It to The Man. This is a genre of game that I may need to reconsider, as someone who has always been somewhat tepid on point and click adventures. But Stick It to The Man adds more than what I recall about the genre, with some basic platforming to turn up the fun dial. A port brought over to the Switch, this game is an experience that should not be missed by anyone this time around.
Stick It to The Man is a story-driven game played in levels laid out as episodes. Written by Adventure Time writer Ryan North, I found myself interested from the very first scene and kept wanting to proceed through each episode. Characters had me laughing throughout and pulling my wife over to listen to different characters I encountered. Hard hat tester Ray is the protagonist with the pink arm protruding from his head. This spaghetti arm is how Ray gets around the levels, and is also how he reads minds of other citizens. Reading minds of others around town is not just essential to the game, it allows you to enjoy the story even more. So much voice acting went in to this game! Those that lent their skills to this game spiked the writing bowl, of what would have been fun to read but are a sheer joy to hear. There’s 4th wall references, some adult innuendo, and cultural jokes that bring fun to a level that I wish I could see brought beyond the game after the story ended. The actors seemed to have genuinely enjoyed playing the various characters, as is evident from what is heard. I want the actor that voices the henchmen to narrate my GPS, voicemail, and smart speaker.
Let me take a moment to expand on what you hear in the game before I even get to what you see. The intro song is excellent, and something I’ve listened to before starting just for the sake of listening to it. Wear headphones if playing in handheld mode, because it makes the experience all the more enjoyable. The yanking of stickers and other other sounds throughout the game, along with this intro song and voice acting, certainly make the game feel like you are playing a goofy interactive miniseries on TV.
But what’s with the visuals? They remind me of MTV’s Liquid Television from the ’90’s and I love ’em for that. The people have heads that don’t connect to their necks. They have a cute yet repulsive look about them that fits the entire package. The setting where the people reside has the same feel in that there’s something dark about it all but also bright at the same time. That asylum would ordinarily seem rather grim if not in the context of this game. Likewise, there’s a slight eery look to the cuter parts of episodes.
Venturing throughout the episodes couldn’t be easier. Jumping around is simple for anyone that has played a platformer, but it’s not really a platformer. It’s a point and click game where you use this stretchy arm coming out of your head to grab stickers. Those stickers are used to solve puzzles that sometimes involve interactions between characters. Yes, those humorous characters, that are all over the levels. But since you are playing in a story, there is a conflict, and Ray has to contend with the occasional enemy. The controls feel especially tight for using two joysticks when using your mind-reading spaghetti arm to evade a couple goons. There’s nothing too challenging in terms of platforming, though. Even the puzzle solving isn’t that tough. Because really, to me, anyway, it was about enjoying the ride. Ray and the others of the game, and where they exist, and the whole thing that just feels like the creators have a penchant for weird. Slap stickers all over the place. Solve puzzles as you jump around locations made of cardboard, where everyone is flat yet fully fleshed out.
This being considered parts puzzle, platformer, and adventure, Stick It to The Man really should include the category “admission”. You might look at the game and wonder if it is worth the cost of admission. Is there much replay value? Maybe not, if you are looking at how long it takes to complete. But for the cost of admission as an indie game, the actual gaming takes a seat farther back in the audience to the enjoyment of playing through it. Seeking out every character to read their minds and have fun hearing their thoughts. Reading it again after something happened to find out they have new thoughts that have been written and voiced. And you can revisit the episodes when seeing a fraction of how many citizens’ minds you read to attempt to find everyone in each. That adds replay to the game where it is really shines.
Something unique to the Switch experience is the HD Rumble. This game uses it in an appropriate and immersive way, with each controller pulsing as you read the minds of others. It really adds to the experience in the way that the feature is intended to do.
If you’ve not played Stick It to The Man on other platforms and have a Switch, pick up a copy of this strange and humorous game. It’s an entertaining time through and through, much like watching a fun show on television with impeccable writing, acting, and set pieces. It feels as if it ends too soon partly because of how good the ride was each episode. I wish I had a spaghetti arm sticking out of my head so I could read the minds of the development team to hear some more jokes and see Ray and the others in this unusual place that was such fun to visit.