Game Review: Stick it to the Man (PS Vita)

Stick It To The Man PS Vita

Stick it to the Man is an action platform game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita and PS3. Ray is not having just any normal day and you have to help him make it through a strange situation that even has himself questioning what is real and what is imaginary.

Stick it to the Man tells the story of Ray; a hard hat tester that has an unfortunate and rather bizarre accident that leaves him with a giant pink spaghetti arm lodged into his brain that provides Ray with special powers of mind reading and enabling Ray to significantly transform the world around him. Ray does not have much time to adapt to his new abilities before his being chased by a secretive organisation for a crime that Ray did not commit. To make matters worse Ray is constantly confused in regards to what he believes is real and what is caused by a dreamlike state from the concussion following his accident.

Tearing and folding layers of paper allows you to reveal new areas, puzzles and stickers, which is a positive design choice as it takes what could have just been a set of gimmicks and actually makes them important and an integral part of the experience.

You can mind read other characters including people and animals to see an insight into their current innermost thoughts and feelings, providing you with the knowledge of their mindset and personality that allows you to act appropriately to fix their problems. The mind reading capabilities are given a further purpose beyond comedy; as the puzzles are presented to you as you read the minds of other characters.

Stickers make another huge difference to your surrounding environments and to the mindset of the people around you as the stickers provide the answers to the puzzles. There is one character in the third chapter feeling deeply depressed that his girlfriend had left him; later you read the mind of his ex-girlfriend and discover that she has a thing for shiny teeth and that her decision was purely based upon her ex-boyfriend not having good dental hygiene; afterwards you are able to create a situation in which the old man she is now dating becomes so angry that he swallows his teeth, prompting her to help him spit them out; when he does spit his shiny teeth out they become a sticker that you can collect and take to her ex-boyfriend in an attempt to make them fall in love happily and ever after.

The humour of the game is very clear to see with exceptionally well written dialogue from a crazy bunch of characters that have been professionally written by Ryan North. The experienced Ryan North has written Dinosaur Comics for over a decade that provide a humorous take on the trials and tribulations of day to day life as a dinosaur and it is that level of experience that shines through in Stick it to the Man’s characters. Each and every chapter will have you smiling or laughing at entire lines of dialogue with puzzles that are refreshingly connected with the humour, rather than proving to be a road block for your progression in the game; therefore providing comedic scenarios that intertwine as much as an episode of Seinfeld with just as much as humour to them. You are guaranteed to have plenty of fun throughout the entire game from the first chapter to the last, ranging from talking pins asking for high fives; Ray’s analysis of his current surroundings and situation; a pirate that randomly appears in a dream sequence in the second chapter after Ray’s accident; and solving strange to everyday problems with some extremely funny results spread across every chapter.

Stick it to the Man supports cross-buy between the Vita and PS3, although it unfortunately does not support cross-save, so you will not be able to continue from your progression on the PS3 or Vita version. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing both the Vita and PS3 versions of the game with just a single purchase.

The controls are well mapped and use a lot of the Vita’s functionality to fuse together a great and rather fluent control scheme. The face button controls consist of pressing X to jump; pressing L to activate Ray’s mind reading abilities; pressing R to attach to the closest pin, tear a layer of paper or start reading minds; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move Ray; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move the pink arm; pressing select to view a map; and pressing start to display the pause menu. The touch screen controls consist of dragging back on the touch screen from an area of the screen were you can see a circle that allows you to tear paper; tapping on the touch screen to place a sticker; and tapping on the touch screen after pressing the L button to read minds.

Graphically, Stick it to the Man is stunning with an art style that is quite unique as it looks reminiscent of a cross between cel shading meets Tearaway and Paper Mario, but even when going up against such graphically diverse games; Stick it to the Man manages to pay homage, while remaining its own entity. The characters, alongside all of the foreground and background surrounding environments look nothing short of amazing and are certainly worthy of a retail game within the same genre.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and rear touch pad, although that is not an issue considering the other methods of navigation that are available. The background of the menu screens consists of a congested road with traffic heading back and forth in the foreground and buildings towering over the cityscape.

The audio consists of voice-overs, sound effects and music that collectively create a lot of charm. The voice-overs provide an incredible amount of humour throughout the narration and progression of the story, while the sound effects are mostly related to exploration, such as jumping and puzzle solving, alongside music that always manages to be appropriate in tone to the subject matter of that particular chapter with bluesy rock music from Kenny Rodgers and the First Edition with Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) in the main menu and a variety of genres throughout the gameplay.

The trophy list includes sixteen trophies with fifteen bronze trophies and one gold trophy. The majority of the trophies will be earned naturally as you progress through the game by mind reading every character you come across, which will unlock more than half of the trophies. There are trophies that depend upon your approach to the game, such as the Tower Offense bronze trophy for climbing the asylum tower in chapter six by using a stealthy approach to not alert any of the nurses, which is pretty much the same for The Bird in the Sky bronze trophy for not getting noticed by the helicopter in chapter seven by using a stealthy approach. There are some trophies that require a more aggressive approach, such as the Decoyception bronze trophy for having other enemies chasing the enemies that are chasing Ray and the Conga Line bronze trophy for having five enemies simultaneously chasing Ray. The hardest trophy in the game is the A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste gold trophy for reading everyone’s mind in the entire game, which is hard due to the size and scale of the task, although it is made somewhat easier due to a chapter select feature and the analysis of how many minds you have read in each chapter on the chapter select screen. I would estimate depending upon skill, your ability to perfectly time your jumps, puzzle solving and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take around five hours to 100% the trophy list.

There are no difficulty levels, so the only form of difficulty that you need to overcome is the puzzle solving and the timing of your jumps, although if you should mostly be able to overcome them without too much thought as Stick it to the Man is not exactly a difficult game, which is a positive design choice as it allows you to enjoy the adventure, rather than becoming frustrated at a stupendously difficult puzzle or jump.

There are no online leaderboards and online multiplayer features. Despite the potential of having a leaderboard for the quickest times for each level and the overall game and the possibility of playing the game in some form of co-operative online multiplayer; those features are not on offer here. However, a lack of online leaderboards and online multiplayer is no big loss as the main emphasis here is just simply to have fun, while exploring the unfolding adventure.

The replayability of Stick it to the Man is mostly provided by the sheer fun that you will have playing the game, which will certainly be enough to bring you back for at least a second playthrough. Even if you think you have mind read each of the characters throughout the entire game; it is really unlikely that you have as there are that many characters, so it is highly recommended that you visit the chapters menu to see how far you have really completed each of the levels, therefore providing further replayability.

Overall, Stick it to the Man is a humorous adventure that is so great; it actually delivers one of the best platform games for the Vita with hilarious characters and unique abilities that excel it to an exceptional level of quality. Stick it to the Man needs to be in your list of must purchases, especially considering how it represents such great value at a single purchase of £9.99 for the Vita and PS3 versions.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Stick it to the Man
  • Publisher: Ripstone/Zoink!
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: Yes
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 956Mb

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