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For: iPhone

Sticks and stones can break bones, but words never hurt me

Product: StickWars | Developer: John Hartzog | Format: iPhone | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
StickWars iPhone, thumbnail 1
Stick figures are funny. They just are. Kind of like when someone runs into a screen door or falls off a bicycle. It’s a comedy concept that doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, but remains consistently, inexplicably funny.

So right from the outset StickWars has got you by the jaffers as the first wee stick fella sprints his way across the screen and beats his stick fists against your castle wall. This is the kind of opener that does any game a lot of favours, and it carries StickWars through its difficulties in style.

The game bestows upon you a castle, but it’s under siege. A barbarian horde has launched an assault to take your fortress and once the outer wall is breached, all is lost. Fortunately, you’ve got the hand of God to do your bidding, and defending your castle keep is as simple as flicking the tiny stick figures away.

As the matchstick men run toward your castle's outer wall, flicking them takes them out of the picture. Any feeble attempts to take down your walls are quickly halted with a touch and fling of the finger, gravity doing the dirty work of eliminating them for you.

As more and more flood onto the screen the whole affair becomes quite rabid, as you furiously flick, tap and shake in an effort to keep the castle wall clear and, most importantly, standing.

But this is quickly revealed as a very limited gameplay mechanic. It rather resembles a test program, designed to show off how a touchscreen might work, but doesn’t promise a great deal of lasting entertainment.

That said, StickWars does gradually begin to earn its keep as one or two small additions are granted. Once you can afford a couple of upgrades, the game takes on a more entertaining lilt, though it requires a fair amount of perseverance to get there.

A jail can be built, into which you drop enemies. These captured foes can then be armed with bombs and sent walking back out into the attacking horde, to be detonated by shaking the handset a second time.

Repair squads can be employed to rebuild the wall on-the-fly, as battering rams are brought in by the stick men to generate a rubble pile more efficiently.

Archers and wizards also come into play as the stick horde becomes more numerous and better equipped. What at first glance appeared to be nothing more than a shallow touchscreen showcase begins to sprout a small seed of strategy.

Even when you inevitably begin to tire of its repetitive gameplay, StickWars remains buoyant enough thanks to the delicious undercurrent of stick figure humour.

Without this presumably inadvertent comedic element, StickWars might be a lot harder to glean much purpose from, but as it is this is a fun way to pass a couple of minutes at regular intervals. It’s shallow fun, but fun nonetheless.
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 30 April 2009
While the inklings of deeper gameplay can be seen, StickWars is simple, silly fun that trades long-lasting appeal for quick appeal.
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