A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn problem solving and critical thinking skills in this comedic puzzle game. Players need to carefully listen to in-game dialogue to figure out what characters need, then look for solutions to those problems by listening to even more characters. As they do this, they'll take in the game's comic, cynical narrative, which pokes fun of subjects and ideas ranging from self-centeredness to psychic readings and encourages the audience to think critically. It's made to entertain, but Stick it to the Man's smart writing and unusual puzzles also makes players think in a variety of ways.
A peculiar and lightly subversive narrative takes shots at consumerism, egotism, and quack psychiatry, among plenty of other subjects. It even pokes fun at its own tropes. The general vibe is one of comic cynicism.
Positive Role Models
Ray, the game's protagonist, isn't particularly smart (his job involves having hammers dropped on his head), but he seems to genuinely care about people. After he develops the power to read minds he spends a lot of time helping others with their problems.
Ease of Play
Running and jumping is simple, but using the right stick or touch pad to target characters in order to read their minds and grab things is more difficult than it should be. Plus, some players may get frustrated trying to figure out where to go and what to do next.
Violence & Scariness
Guards frequently taser the player's character, making him light up with electricity. Some characters appear dead, their ghosts floating above their bodies. A scientist accidentally gets shot with a shotgun and dies (red blood appears on her chest), then comes back as a zombie.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One scene involves chatter between two women and one man with light references to previous sexual activity. It's revealed that one of the women and the man are pregnant. This prompts comic discussion of how the man will deliver his baby.
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The words "hell" and "damn" appear occasionally in spoken dialogue.
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Products & Purchases
Billboard ads are prominent throughout the game world, but they're all for fake products and services and poke fun of common advertising slogans and strategies.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some non-player characters smoke, including the main villain who always has a cigarette in his hand. One character appears extremely drunk in a bar that serves a beverage called "Gear Beer."
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.