Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Stretch Panic

Platform: PS2

Rating: T for Teen, Mild Animated Violence, Suggestive Themes

Publisher: Treasure

Genre: None of the Above

Price: $1.49 at Gamestop, AmazonEbay

Now, this is a game that I find is impossible to classify.  It's bizarre, it leaves you questioning your sanity, and it's a riot to play.  Beating up the seven deadly sins has never been this politically incorrect...or this fun!

Treasure has a knack for developing campy titles that don't enjoy widespread sales.  It's in this vein that Stretch Panic comes along to mess with gamers' heads.

Stretch Panic takes advantage of the two analog sticks on the PS2, using them to their full advantage.  The game involves a young girl who uses a possessed scarf to distort the world around her, and defeat each of her 7 siblings.  Siblings who, oddly enough, are based around the seven deadly sins.  You'll use the right analog stick to grab a hold of people, crates, walls, whatever you can find.  Then warp it, throw it, even launch headfirst at it, and attack your enemies head-on!  It follows a really simple progression, though the overall application it downright hilarious.

In order to unlock battles with your sisters, you need to defeat these "normal" enemies in one of two planes first.  I say "normal" because these enemies have knockers bigger than their whole bodies!  Their jugs are invincible, so you have to latch on to their anorexic bodies from behind, and whip 'em back and forth. Just like I do with my hair.

Now that we've got the bad jokes out of the way, we can continue.  The game utilizes this mechanic quite a bit, and it does start to get a bit stale after a while.  So why do I keep coming back?  Because each of the bosses is so radically different, it makes the game worthwhile.  Every boss has a different weak spot, which you need to exploit before your sisters squish you like the mosquito that they perceive you to be.

This game has a really unique visual style.  Graphics are simplistic, yet it creates an atmosphere that is engaging and sets the mood of the game really well.  The other nifty claim this game has is the distortion of character models.  As you grab on to an object, it will stretch and deform in whatever direction you pull it.  For a game that came out in 2002, that's a pretty huge feat!  This is the sort of stuff that the computer scientist in me just loves to see.  For the general masses, there's something to be enjoyed in here, too.  It's rather entertaining to grab someone by the nose, stretch it out, then rocket head first into it.

So yeah, that's why I cannot give this game a genre.  It's so unique that it became a genre in and of itself.

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