Stick ‘Em Up 2: Paper Adventures Review (XBLA)

Game Review: Stick ‘Em Up 2: Paper Adventures
Release: June 30, 2011
Genre: 2D Side Scrolling Retro Platformer
Developer: Never Don’t Play
Available Platforms: Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Players: 1-4 Local Vs. and Co-op
MSRP: 240 MS Points ($3.00 US)
ESRB Rating: N/A

A few times a year I get an urge to go Indie game shopping in the Xbox Live Marketplace.  I’ll take ten or fifteen dollars and pick up a bunch of games ranging in price from a few bucks down to a dollar each.  Many of the games are poorly done, but there are some gems to be had, and I enjoy panning for gold in the Indie game store while supporting some up and coming developers.  Stick ‘Em Up 2: Paper Adventures has turned out to be the latest sparkle in my pan.

Never Don’t Play, the game’s creator, has very little to says about the game on their website.

“Stick ‘Em Up 2: Paper Adventures
 is a run’n’gun / platform game of stick figure characters fighting through beautiful paper and card levels using everything from spears to a rocket launcher equipped helicopter.  4 players can play through the campaign together, or go against each other in VS and team VS modes.”

Actually, that about covers it.  There’s no story-line to speak of; just stick-men running and gunning though a variety of environments.  Sometimes, that’s all you need.

If you played the original Stick ‘Em Up, you will notice the look for the sequel has been revamped.  All of the environments look like they have been constructed from paper and card stock.  It’s a welcome change that gives the environments a bit of that “South Park” charm.

The controls are a combination of common platform controls and those of a two stick shooter.  The left stick controls movement combined with the left trigger used for jumping.  Aiming the various weapons is accomplished with the right stick and firing or throwing is done with the right trigger.

Even though the controls are slightly different from level to level (for example, the longer the trigger is held, the further the spears are thrown) Stick ‘Em Up 2 remains a simple, pick-it-up-and-play game that can be enjoyed even in short bursts.  It’s a game that you can play for five minutes at a time, or for several hours.

There are six included levels – with a promise of more coming in an update later in Summer 2011.  When is the last time you purchased an Indie game – or any game – for three bucks, knowing there would be more content added to it for free in the future?  The wide variety in level themes makes me wonder what the update will include – because it could be just about anything.

Here is an overview of the included campaign levels.

Shred bad guys in Japan with your Stick-Ninja's throwing stars.

Skyline (Tutorial) – Armed with both a machine gun and a rocket launcher, your stick-man leaps from rooftop to rooftop taking out bad guys.  Once reaching the helicopter, you fly to the finish, clearing the way with the chopper’s rocket launcher.

Japan – This level focuses on platforming.  Use trees and clouds to make your way to the bad guys and whack them with an onslaught on throwing stars.  Watch out behind you though; some baddies don’t come out until you have passed the edge of a building.

Apollo – Falling stars are not so beautiful when there are hundreds of them trying to crush you.  This foot race puts you on the surface of the moon where you must avoid, or shoot hundreds of falling stars.  If you move fast you may be able to stay ahead of the avalanche.

Leap from ship to ship as a Stick-Pirate, manning the canons along the way. Arrr!

Pirates – Armed with only your trusty sword, you must make your way from ship to ship while taking out the crew of each ship. Make sure you do not pass up the opportunity to use the cannons to attack nearby ships.

Space Race – Jump in and go!  Here you race over the surface of the moon in Apollo era moon buggies.  With the light gravity, it’s easy to end up with your vehicle overturned.

Treetops – This level has more vertical platforming than the others, but the use of spears for weapons sets this apart from the others.  To throw a spear you pull the right trigger which displays a trajectory path on the screen.  The longer the trigger is pulled, the more powerful the throw and releasing the trigger launches the spear.

In addition to the campaign levels, which all can be played coop with up to four players locally, there is also a Player Vs. Player mode with overly simple maze-like levels that lack the charm of the campaign.  The highlight is the marriage of stick-men and cartoonish physics that make for many laugh-out-loud moments during the campaign multi-player races.

Driving the moon-cars is a multi-player hoot in Space Race.

The game is not completely without problems though.  During the campaign levels, the reminders that pop up telling you how to use the controls get annoying – especially since after the first run-through, the controls are easy to remember. (Trust me, you will be replaying the levels over and over!)  I just want a way to turn them off.  There are also some jumpy camera movement issues in the Treetops, but word is that the update will take care of that – they are noticeable, but not a game stopper by any measure.

The most challenging level is Treetops due to the choice of weapon: spears.

In the end, I am left looking forward to the update; not for the bug fixes, but for more levels.  Stick ‘Em Up 2: Paper Adventures leaves me wanting more – and that’s a good thing.  Go grab the demo (click here to add it to your Xbox 360 Download Queue) and check it out.  I think you’re going to like it.  Also – if you would like to be notified of updates for this game, just follow Never Don’t Play on Twitter, like them on Facebook or subscribe to their newsletter.

  • Great variety in level design
  • Fun and easy to play
  • More levels coming soon
  • Only costs 240 MS Points
  • Pesky control assist messages

Final Score: 8 out of 10

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