Stick to It: StickBo Free

The iPhone's obsession with stick figures has gone far beyond a passing fixation.  The number of similarly designed "stick figure" iPhone games is on an incline, and the most basic gaming design is supposedly spruced up by making the main characters stick figures.  This does not, however, lend itself to actual gameplay in many cases.  Often times the stick figures are small, hard to see, and impossible to deal with on a practical level.  StickBo Free is one of these free iPhone games and it lives up to all of the failures of the rest.

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StickBo Free starts you out by forcing you to either watch a video tutorial of the game or read instructions.  This is an annoying way to start any game, but in this case it is actually necessary to figure out what is going on.  If your game requires one of these boring interludes just to give a sense of basic controls then something is really wrong from the get go.

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Once you get in there StickBo Free positions you as a small stick figure mercenary that must defend against other stick figure combatants.  You do so with limited weapons that are difficult to find out if you are even using.  You have a long line protruding from your character that, I suppose, is used to see where your direction of attack is.  It is difficult to use this in any practical way, but it would be impossible without it to have even the vaguest notion of where you are in relation to your enemies.  It is hard to hit them if you are not right up next to them, but somehow they always have a tactical advantage against you.

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Throughout this your controls are based in two joysticks at the bottom that are unresponsive and based off a retired modeled to begin with.  There is nothing intuitive to this set up that would make gameplay seem natural, and it is actually counter progressive to the internal features of the iPhone.  Why not use the motion sensors at some point to help with controls?  If you are going to have to include a primitive controller, why not actually make is have some semblance of usability?

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The graphics are bad, but that is part of the novelty of the stick figure genre.  StickBo hides behind this ironic aesthetic principle as an excuse for what is really just poor visuals.  They make it hard to see and navigate, not to mention that you will lose interests after just a couple minutes. 

The real discussion about StickBo is not about whether or not is has any enjoyment.  Those who stick through these early stages of disappointment may be able to get past the minimalist cartoons that occupy the imaginary space in your touch screen and the shoddy controls.  If you have the patience you will probably find a mild amount of entertainment value, but why would you?  There are over a 140,00 applications at the App Store, and free iPhone games are being released in hordes.  Not only can you find better free iPhone games than StickBo Free, but you could also likely find ones that meet every one of your genre specifications.  Over all StickBo Free is just sub par in every way, but that does not mean you cannot find some smiles in it.  The real war in StickBo Free is finding the courage to fight your desire to throw down your iPhone and to continue squinting your eyes to see the desaturated images of actions.  You are going to have fight hard. 

One out of five stars.

StickBo Free at the iTunes' App Store

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