Irritating Stick Review

By: John Doe

The Japanese are known for their bizarre game shows and this game just happens to be based on one of the more "normal" ones. Its name is Uchan Nanchan's Blazing Challenger. Irritating Stick involves moving a stick through an electrified maze. If you blow it, which you will repeatedly, sparks fly and you go back to the beginning. Oh and you also bring shame to your entire ancestry, but of course that's just for the Japanese because Lord knows, nobody in North America is willing to take responsibility for their own actions...Enough social commentary, on to the review.


Irritating Stick lives up to its name. It's frighteningly frustrating. Let's just say you won't be playing this game to relax, unless of course you happen to be completely insane. If getting controller-biting mad is your way of unwinding after a hard day, then by all means, sit back, put on your "Fingernails on Chalkboard, Blood-Curdling Screams and Tonque-Twisters by Stutterers" relaxation tape, throw IS into the PlayStation and get ready for a calming euphoria this side of Heaven.

The one thing you have to give Irritating Stick is that it is addicting. As pissed off as you are even playing the Elementary level, you just can't believe you could be this bad at something that looks so darn simple. That immense feeling of shame, drives you to keep going, until inevitably your jaw is wrapped around the dual-shock, your clothes are ripped, you are sobbing and drooling and your wife walks in and...I've said too much. Let's just say that this game is freakin' hard!

In the one player mode, you'll have to make your way through over 100 levels, each of course, progressively harder than the last. Rumor has it that if you actually get to the last level, Jaleco will send a psychotherapist trained in severe anger-management to live with you for the rest of your life. Trust me, you'll need it. Your stick, which becomes a simple white dot while moving has 5 speed modes, which you can increase or decrease during gameplay. You will need to choose your speeds wisely, because not only will you need to speed through some sections very quickly, but you'll also have to beat the timer. You can also stop and look at your stick in a 3D mode, which borders on completely useless since you can't move in this mode and it really doesn't help you get your bearings in the maze. Two-player mode is for the severely masochistic. Playing against a friend allows you to select "Irritants" which are as bad as they sound: Hallucinations (try to pick your stick out of the 4 that appear), Spot Light (turn out the lights), Inertia (that darn stick just wants to move) and Crazy Camera (nuff said). Experience has taught me that actually inflicting these "Irritants" on your opponent would be less damaging on your physical well-being if you weren't in the same city as them. Flying controllers, punching, swearing and attempted manslaughter (is there such a thing?) are the order of the day. Play against a friend at your own risk.

Visually Irritating Stick is pretty lackluster but remember that this game isn't about eye candy. You can see your stick (dot) and the maze, so that's all you need. Anything too fancy would have been utterly distracting, and that you don't need! The announcer will get on your nerves, even the manual predicts this, so shut him off. He's a complete alarmist who will shriek "You're too close to the edge!" constantly, even though you aren't even near it. Musically this game is quirky and eclectic. You'll hear everything from sugar-induced clown music to rap (!?). Bizarre. Due to the Japanese background of this game I was half-expecting to hear some highly compressed guitar work so prevalent in anime. What is here will also eventually erode your sanity as well. Think funhouse-ghetto and you'd be pretty close.

Complaint Dept. My biggest gripe with Irritating Stick is with the camera angles that appear when the maze moves from a 2D plane into a 3D plane. The sudden change from 2D to 3D will completely throw you off and make you die over and over again. Thankfully if you make it far enough through a maze, the game allows you to start from certain select points. I personally feel that IS works better as a 2D game and the 3D aspects of certain levels should have been shelved.

You have to admire a game that's sole purpose is to piss you right off. From start to violent finish, this game will chew on every exposed nerve in your spastic, uncoordinated feeble body. Remember when you told your parents that the reason you spend 20 hours a day in front of the TV playing vids, was because you were improving your eye-hand coordination? All lies!! If your parents catch you playing Irritating Stick as bad as me, then the gigs up. This game humbled my game playing skills faster than my first few minutes playing Unreal Tournament on-line. Ultimately this game will appeal to those looking for something completely different in a puzzle game. I personally think it is one of the hardest games I've ever played, due in part to the control and to the execution of the game itself.






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