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Shout-out to Double Fine in "Stick It To The Man!"

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I was playing Stick It To The Man! last week when I just barely noticed this in one of the cutscenes in the game:

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It's easy to miss while playing, but that's clearly 2-Headed Baby in a jar in the shop belonging to the taxidermist that is a recurring character in the game.

The game bares a few resemblances to some of Double Fine's games, so it's apparent that the Swedish developers Zoink! are fans of Double Fine, as I don't see them having any other relations to DF. To me the art style looks like a mix of Psychonauts and Ed, Edd n Eddy and the gameplay is sort of an adventure game with platforming elements, which might describe both The Cave and Psychonauts, even though the latter is more of a full-fledged 3D platformer. There's a strong emphasis on zany humor, your inventory works by picking up and using stickers that are real items in the game world and you can even interact with the thoughts of NPCs. In short I think it's a game that might appeal to fans of Double Fine.

This isn't meant as an ad for the game, as I have no connection to the developers, but I was curious to know if anyone else here has played the game and if so, what you think of the game as fans of Double Fine.

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I was playing Stick It To The Man! last week when I just barely noticed this in one of the cutscenes in the game:

1024x575.resizedimage

It's easy to miss while playing, but that's clearly 2-Headed Baby in a jar in the shop belonging to the taxidermist that is a recurring character in the game.

The game bares a few resemblances to some of Double Fine's games, so it's apparent that the Swedish developers Zoink! are fans of Double Fine, as I don't see them having any other relations to DF. To me the art style looks like a mix of Psychonauts and Ed, Edd n Eddy and the gameplay is sort of an adventure game with platforming elements, which might describe both The Cave and Psychonauts, even though the latter is more of a full-fledged 3D platformer. There's a strong emphasis on zany humor, your inventory works by picking up and using stickers that are real items in the game world and you can even interact with the thoughts of NPCs. In short I think it's a game that might appeal to fans of Double Fine.

This isn't meant as an ad for the game, as I have no connection to the developers, but I was curious to know if anyone else here has played the game and if so, what you think of the game as fans of Double Fine.

I really like the look of it, and I liked the small part I saw being played, but I'm a little worried it's trying a little TOO hard to be a Double Fine game. This from a review by Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker, who loves Psychonauts but wasn't keen at all on this:

"And as it progresses, the Psychonauts riffing gets more and more uncomfortable. A lunatic asylum, a giant fish, weird circus, a deranged opera singer… If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Schafer ought to be blushing scarlet red until his face catches on fire."

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I beat it, and it's okay, but I found that the dialogue really drags on sometimes. I found myself using the fast-forward key to get through all the dialogue quite often.

Still, I thought it was a fun little adventure/platformer-y thingy.

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I really like the look of it, and I liked the small part I saw being played, but I'm a little worried it's trying a little TOO hard to be a Double Fine game. This from a review by Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker, who loves Psychonauts but wasn't keen at all on this:

"And as it progresses, the Psychonauts riffing gets more and more uncomfortable. A lunatic asylum, a giant fish, weird circus, a deranged opera singer… If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Schafer ought to be blushing scarlet red until his face catches on fire."

I just read the review you're referring to and I can't say I agree with everything in it. First of all I think John Walker is trying too hard to compare it to Psychonauts and of course if that's your baseline, you're really setting yourself up for disappointment. Expecting writing on a Tim Schafer or Eric Wolpaw level in a debut console/PC game from an unknown indie developer is highly unrealistic, but I personally think it's on par, and more comparable to, the humor you find in popular cartoons like The Simpsons or Adventure Time. Sure it drags on a bit in places, and I do miss the ability to skip to the next line of dialog when I finish reading well ahead of the voice actor, but I think that's a minor issue in a game of its length.

Secondly, I have a hard time seeing those elements mentioned as imitation, as opposed to references. The giant "fish" (really a whale) is only used as a minor prop for solving one puzzle in SITTM!, where Linda in Psychonauts is an NPC/means of transportation and even has her own (awesome) brain level. The same goes for the opera singer in SITTM!, which actually IS a character with dialog, but is just one among at least 20-30 unique characters that don't have any equivalents in Psychonauts.

The circus is little more than a loose background for a few characters that include a medium, a human canon ball, a pole diver and a bearded lady and is part of a larger area. The lunatic asylum might be more comparable to that of Psychonauts, but it's nowhere near it in content. In SITTM! it's just another level, but in Psychonauts it also doubles as the hub for Gloria's Theater, Waterloo World, Black Velvetopia and the Meat Circus.

Gameplay wise I'd say it's much more similar to The Cave and Journey of a Roach as it's a game that's part adventure and part platformer, but neither gameplay element is particularly hard if you've got any sort of proficiency with either genre. I only got stuck once during my playthrough, and after quitting and loading I realized it was because of a glitch. As Syd said it's a fun little game, but I think that if you go in expecting Double Fine quality throughout you'll probably be disappointed. For what it is, I personally really enjoyed it though.

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The guys behind this game are friends of ours (or, more specifically, I know Klaus) and part of the reason we became friends is that while we were working on Psychonauts, we saw some early concept art for their game "The Kore Gang," and thought, hey these guys have the same taste as us, kinda! The early art had curly mountains and jagged crescent moons that looked a lot like our early concept art. But Psychonauts wasn't even announced yet so obviously they weren't biting our style. They just also loved Nightmare Before Christmas, City of Lost Children, etc.

So I don't think they riff off us. It's just that they have a lot of the same inspirations.

Klaus sent me a code for this game and I meant to play it but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Sorry Klaus! It looks good! :)

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I really like the look of it, and I liked the small part I saw being played, but I'm a little worried it's trying a little TOO hard to be a Double Fine game. This from a review by Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker, who loves Psychonauts but wasn't keen at all on this:

"And as it progresses, the Psychonauts riffing gets more and more uncomfortable. A lunatic asylum, a giant fish, weird circus, a deranged opera singer… If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Schafer ought to be blushing scarlet red until his face catches on fire."

I just read the review you're referring to and I can't say I agree with everything in it. First of all I think John Walker is trying to hard to compare it to Psychonauts and of course if that's your baseline, you're really setting yourself up for disappointment. Expecting writing on a Tim Schafer or Eric Wolpaw level in a debut console/PC game from an unknown indie developer is highly unrealistic, but I personally think it's on par, and more comparable to, the humor you find in popular cartoons like The Simpsons or Adventure Time. Sure it drags on a bit in places, and I do miss the ability to skip to the next line of dialog when I finish reading well ahead of the voice actor, but I think that's a minor issue in a game of its length.

Secondly, I have a hard time seeing those elements mentioned as imitation, as opposed to references. The giant "fish" (really a whale) is only used as a minor prop for solving one puzzle in SITTM!, where Linda in Psychonauts is an NPC/means of transportation and even has her own (awesome) brain level. The same goes for the opera singer in SITTM!, which actually IS a character with dialog, but is just one among at least 20-30 unique characters that don't have any equivalents in Psychonauts.

The circus is little more than a loose background for a few characters that include a medium, a human canon ball, a pole diver and a bearded lady and is part of a larger area. The lunatic asylum might be more comparable to that of Psychonauts, but it's nowhere near it in content. In SITTM! it's just another level, but in Psychonauts it also doubles as the hub for Gloria's Theater, Waterloo World, Black Velvetopia and the Meat Circus.

Gameplay wise I'd say it's much more similar to The Cave and Journey of a Roach as it's a game that's part adventure and part platformer, but neither gameplay element is particularly hard if you've got any sort of proficiency with either genre. I only got stuck once during my playthrough, and after quitting and loading I realized it was because of a glitch. As Syd said it's a fun little game, but I think that if you go in expecting Double Fine quality throughout you'll probably be disappointed. For what it is, I personally really enjoyed it though.

Well, I might give it a chance - I did like the little bit of it that I saw, after all!

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The guys behind this game are friends of ours (or, more specifically, I know Klaus) and part of the reason we became friends is that while we were working on Psychonauts, we saw some early concept art for their game "The Kore Gang," and thought, hey these guys have the same taste as us, kinda! The early art had curly mountains and jagged crescent moons that looked a lot like our early concept art. But Psychonauts wasn't even announced yet so obviously they weren't biting our style. They just also loved Nightmare Before Christmas, City of Lost Children, etc.

So I don't think they riff off us. It's just that they have a lot of the same inspirations.

Klaus sent me a code for this game and I meant to play it but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Sorry Klaus! It looks good! :)

That's cool. I didn't notice their older games when I last visited their site and didn't realize they went that far back. Just watched first the trailer for The Kore Gang there, and that location in the beginning looks a lot like Ford's sanctuary to me. Thanks for sharing this bit of history.

How did you happen to cross paths with a studio that from the looks of it seems to be based in Sweden? A convention or something?

Well, I might give it a chance - I did like the little bit of it that I saw, after all!

I think that if the previously mentioned draws aren't deal breakers for you, there's a good chance you might like it. It's no game of the year, but it had me entertained throughout.

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It's a great game and has often been referred to as a "Lucasarts adventure gone platforming". I really recommend it.

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The guys behind this game are friends of ours (or, more specifically, I know Klaus) and part of the reason we became friends is that while we were working on Psychonauts, we saw some early concept art for their game "The Kore Gang," and thought, hey these guys have the same taste as us, kinda! The early art had curly mountains and jagged crescent moons that looked a lot like our early concept art. But Psychonauts wasn't even announced yet so obviously they weren't biting our style. They just also loved Nightmare Before Christmas, City of Lost Children, etc.

So I don't think they riff off us. It's just that they have a lot of the same inspirations.

Klaus sent me a code for this game and I meant to play it but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Sorry Klaus! It looks good! :)

Hi Tim, didn't notice this post until now. I just played Broken Age, amazing! Love it!

Now go play my game! ;) You will love Ryan Norths dialogue writing(Dinosaur Comic and Adventure Time writer).

Cheers

Klaus

Zoink

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Oh man, I didn't notice that double fine baby in the game? Or....did I? Seems familiar somehow. My memory is terrible. Anyway...

Stick it to the Man is excellent. I cheer for Zoink Games and hope they keep on making such unique games as this.

@KestrelPi: Man, that's what I hate about game reviewers these days. They keep forcing ways to depreciate games, when the games being reviewed often deserves some more appreciation. I don't agree on the Psychonauts ripp off thing, while I was playing the game didn't remind me of Psychonauts at all, even thouhg it definitely had a Double-Fine-esque feel, which is a GOOD thing in my book. Besides, Psychonauts was released in freaking 2005!! Even if there is any intentional nod to that game, I'd say it's about time. If anything, it might bring some more attention to the old and often overlooked classic.

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Wow, I missed the DF reference when I played it. I really liked the game, and it had me laughing out loud like an idiot several times. Which is a good thing.

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The similarities are definitely striking. I didn't immediately think that Double Fine was "being ripped off", but as soon as I saw the very first screenshot of the game, I instantly thought, "Holy sh*t it's a 2D Psychonauts!"

If anything, it makes me feel a little bad for Zoink, who are just doing their own thing, but now kinda having to live in Psychonauts shadow for it?

But on the flipside, if your game is going to be compared in a positive way to another game, PSYCHONAUTS IS A REALLY GOOD ONE TO HAVE. YER DOIN IT RIGHT.

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The Wii U version is coming out May 1st. Looks like they're utilizing the gamepad well (point at the npc to read their mind, the gamepad speaker plays their thoughts). I'm looking forward to it. If there was a Linux version, I would have bought it on Steam already.

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I really love the artistic style and voice acting is pretty good, too. The puzzles aren't too hard, but it's fun to peer into the minds of all the characters before and after solving their problems. Here's a mini-Easter Egg I found with the developers (Zoink is in the box upper box, Ripstone in the other (obv)).

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The Wii U version is coming out May 1st. Looks like they're utilizing the gamepad well (point at the npc to read their mind, the gamepad speaker plays their thoughts). I'm looking forward to it. If there was a Linux version, I would have bought it on Steam already.

Pretty sweet that it's out on Wii U now. Makes me wish I'd had the self restraint to wait instead of playing the Windows version. I'm considering picking it up again for the Wii U since it's only 65 NOK, which is about $10. That feels just about right considering the length.

I'm not sure I understand from that video how the gamepad controls are supposed to work though. Do you get the same output as on the TV with only the point and click elements available on the touch screen or do you have to actively point the gamepad towards the TV screen to choose which elements to interact with?

I'm a big fan of trailers that shows off the gameplay as much as possible. Like the Pikmin 3 trailer, which is basically just a video tutorial. I haven't tried any of the previous Pikmin games and wasn't really interested in it, but that trailer actually made me want to get it.

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On the Wii U version, the gamepad displays a map by default. To go into mind reading mode you simply tilt the gamepad vertically. The gamepad will then display readable minds within a close proximity relative to where they are on the TV. Point the gamepad itself to focus on a specific mind. Voices from mind reading come through the speaker on the gamepad. Alternatively, there are button controls for mind reading as well. Otherwise, it's left analog moves, B jumps, right analog points the psychic hand and RT selects stuff with the p. hand.

BTW, there's a small Monkey Island reference as well:

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