Stickbound in review – Not overly spellbound with the gimmicky stick

Platform games have always been a staple of my gaming diet. I much prefer playing a Super Mario Bros. or a Mega Man than a Call Of Duty or Resident Evil. I was quite intrigued when I read somewhere that Stickbound was a “casual platformer”, and suddenly I wanted to give it a try. Guess I should have read the iTunes description instead. Stickbound is not a bad game, but it’s really just a “go for as long as you can” game with stick propulsion as a gimmick. Once the gimmick wears off, unfortunately, there are much more engaging entries in this genre to play.

You play a little astronaut that’s trying to see the galaxy, and you do so by propelling yourself from object to object via a long stick. You only have so many lives to sight see with, though, so be sure not to fall off of anything. You can earn an extra life each time you collect 50 stars, and you get stars simply by colliding with them. Different colored stars are worth different amounts. There are also wing and rocket pack power ups that you can get which will propel you a little ways in a bit safer of a fashion than using the stick. I find these power ups quite difficult to get, however, because they are always on the move and I have enough trouble propelling myself forward, let alone towards a specific moving target.

Therein lay the crux of the problem I have with this Stickbound. The control scheme may be novel, but I find it unfriendly and sometimes rather annoying. To propel yourself you just click the spot where you want the stick to make contact with an object. The thing is, the stick will always project relative to your current position. In other words, if you click directly to the left of you, the stick will most likely protrude horizontally instead of vertically. At times that might be okay, but it doesn’t take much for an ill placed move to be detrimental. This can especially be an issue in timed mode, because any wrong move can take away too many precious seconds.

The game does have global leader boards and OpenFeint achievements (18 in current version) , so if you like that sort of thing you’re set. You can also unlock different characters in the game by reaching certain milestones. It’s neat from a visual perspective, but at the moment I can’t tell the difference in game play between characters. If a game is going to have multiple characters, there really should be a reason for it other than just looks.

Speaking of visuals, that’s the one place where Stickbound excels. Thankfully the characters aren’t actually stick figures, as one might be lead to believe by the title. Instead, they are ragdoll type creations which seem like a bit of an odd fit, but actually work well for the most part. What I really like, however, is the variety of platforms you bounce between. There’s everything from a piece of cheesecake to a stone statue that looks like something from Easter Island. Everything is nicely detailed and it all blends together because it all feels out of place.

The sound effects aren’t bad, but they’re a bit blah given the goofy world you’re bounding around in. The music, on the other hand, is very upbeat and charming and compliments the atmosphere quite nicely.

This is a tough call for me. It didn’t wow me, but I see the potential in Stickbound. My biggest problem is that I can’t really get the hang of the controls, simple as it is. I think if you can master that, then the game will become really addictive. The overall atmosphere is charming, and it looks like there might be some decent characters to unlock if I can ever last long enough. I’d say if you’re leaning anywhere on the side of “that might be cool”, I’d take the plunge and get it.

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App Summary
Title: StickboundDeveloper: Gamenauts
Reviewed Ver:1.1.0Min OS Req:2.2.1
Price:$0.99App Size:7.6 MB
  • Interesting concept
  • Cool visuals
  • Fun music
  • Controlling the character is awkward
  • Nothing new beyond stick gimmick

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