Stick It to the Man

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Funny, bizarre adventure appeals to teen cynics and beyond.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

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. 

Sex

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.

Language

The words "hell" and "damn" appear occasionally in spoken dialogue.

Consumerism

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."

Privacy & safety

No privacy or safety concerns.

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

Subjects

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • deduction
  • problem solving
  • thinking critically

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

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.

Learning Approach

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.

Support

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 kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • deduction
  • problem solving
  • thinking critically

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. 

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Kids say

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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?

QUALITY
 

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?

Game details

Platforms:Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows
Price:$9.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Available online
Developer:Ripstone
Release date:May 7, 2014
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Robots
ESRB rating:T for Violence (Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows)

This review of Stick It to the Man was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bythe cynic al June 10, 2014
 
LEARNING

i give it a 5 out of 5 the game is sweet and is good for what you or paying for .

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