Slapped with the local multiplayer-only tag, it was an all-too familiar feeling sitting down with Sticky Bump (80 MSP), which sounds like a sexual act but is not (that I’m aware of). The deal is bumper cars, with scoring and cat-and-mouse tactics. Purely arcade. The Stickies (bordered in white) collect traffic cones and drop them off in the scoring zone, while the black-outlined Bullies attempt to thwart their drive, either by ramming them, turning them into Bullies and reversing the roles, or by moving the score marker across the map. The objective is to get the highest score by the end of a timed round. With a sort of muted fun in mind, I sat down with a friend to smash some cars.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say we had a laugh, mostly at the expense of the game’s ridiculous and accented voice overs (Attention! Ooo la la!… see trailer for context). And that was about it. A one-on-one fight didn’t engineer much tension, and the novelty of it wore off in fifteen minutes. The game doesn’t offer A.I. allies / enemies, or any additional modes or options (there is a toggle for rockets, which shoots the traffic cones at other cars to stun them, bizarrely). The maps, what few there are, lack visual variety and instead just reassign boundaries.
I don’t recommend a lot of local-multiplayer-only XBLIGs. Taking an already tiny market in XBLIG and cutting it down even further is not the best move. By requiring a player to have friends over, which is easier said than done for a lot of gamers (conflicting schedules, proximity, etc.), you severely limit your reach. I’ve made my peace with other offline MP-only games like leaderboard-contender Hidden in Plain Sight, not just because it’s a surprising amount of fun, but because it contains enough variety that it doesn’t feel stale after a few battles. You only get so much time with it when friends are available, and that limited experience almost works to its advantage.
For something like Sticky Bump, which relies on a single concept over a quartet of same-ish maps and layouts, the multiplayer-only option is a serious handicap. Again, I managed only one-on-one for a handful of rounds, yet even with four players (the game’s ideal setup), I don’t think the canned voice overs and repetitive environments can carry the game as much as developer KeeWeed hopes it will. To have A.I. cars here would at least give you something more to do.
I’m not about to force anyone to alter designs or the way they craft their art to fit my definition of fun, but with the sizable investment in four controllers and the headache of organizing a meetup of willing participants, it may be time for indie developers to take a longer look at their initial ideas.