Stick It to the Man
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Stick it to the Man is a cartoonish game with mild language and occasional references to alcohol and tobacco. Characters sometimes get zapped with tasers, and one is accidentally shot and killed with a shotgun. The narrative is equipped with an eccentric sense of humor that tackles complex ideas ranging from mental health to the humanity's squandering of Earth's limited supply of helium, and often looks for laughs in dark places -- such as the thoughts of dead animals that have undergone taxidermy. Most of the concepts and comedy are clearly targeted at older players.
What kids can learn
- cultural understanding
Thinking & Reasoning
- problem solving
- thinking critically
Engagement, Approach, Support
Older kids' interest will directly correspond with whether they "get" the game's decidedly offbeat sense of humor. If they do, they won't want to stop playing.
Subversive themes encourage players to think critically about a variety of subjects ranging from self image to mental health. Players are also required to parse witty dialogue in order to figure out solutions to contextual conundrums.
In-game instructions exist, but are far from comprehensive. The only hints come in the form of question marks on a map. Some players may need to turn to unofficial sources -- probably player-authored walkthroughs online -- for help.
What's it about?
STICK IT TO THE MAN puts players in the shoes of Ray, a paper person who lives in a two-dimensional world. One day he gets hit on the head by a canister that falls from the sky and suddenly finds himself with a psychic pink sticky hand sprouting from his head (that only he can see, of course). Ray soon discovers he can use this weird appendage to grab pushpins protruding from his paper world, pulling himself between platforms and around walls. Even more curious, he can reach into other people's minds and massage their brains, allowing him to read their thoughts and learn about their problems and desires. Ray generally uses this knowledge to help people. For example, early on in the game he finds and provides a set of sparkly teeth to a man about to hang himself over his ugly smile. But he also uses his psychic power against people when he needs to, cleverly distracting and anesthetizing the thugs of a shadowy organization trying to capture him.
Is it any good?
If there's another game to which Stick it to the Man can be properly compared, we haven't seen it. Its two-dimensional paper world is reminiscent of games like LittleBigPlanet, and its peculiar contextual puzzles requiring unusual solutions to bizarre problems bring to mind Scribblenauts. But its primary mechanic -- rubbing people's brains like magic lamps to make them reveal their secrets -- is all its own and gives the game a thoroughly unique vibe.
Since much of the game is spent listening to the spoken dialogue of the characters' whose minds Ray reads, this curious concept would have collapsed without good writing and some legitimately funny jokes. Happily, Stick it to the Man delivers on both counts, offering up a steady stream of laugh-out-loud lines. The humor probably won't be not be to all tastes (expect quirky quips about the proper usage of irregular verbs and electroshock therapy), but if you can find the funny in reading the thoughts of Jim Henson's preserved brain, you'll probably have a lot of fun playing this obstinately uncategorizable little game.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about interactive humor. Passive media like books and movies make audiences laugh simply by presenting jokes, but games require players take an active role in humor. Do you think this makes it harder for games to be really funny? What sort of advantages might games have in making people laugh?
Families can also discuss Stick it to the Man's tendency toward cynicism. Under what circumstances in real life is it appropriate to be cynical? Are there any situations in which its best to check your cynicism at the door?
|Platforms:||Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows|
|Available online?||Available online|
|Release date:||May 7, 2014|
|ESRB rating:||T for Violence (Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows) |