REVIEW: Sticky Bump

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 Bumpwhich 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.

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7 thoughts on “REVIEW: Sticky Bump”

  1. Same. I’m so busy myself that I have a hard time meeting up with friends at times. The game looks like it has clean flow though and I’d probably get addicted lol! I heard IndieCast will be releasing some sweet games soon, looking forward to that.

    1. As an arcade game, I’d agree it works in quick sessions. Don’t know if it has staying power. You’d have to do four players, though. One on one just didn’t cut it. 🙂

  2. Local multiplayer only is a serious issue for me. It’s the sole reason that I can’t play this game. Most of my Xbox-owning friends are some 80+ miles away, and the one solitary Xbox owner who is within easy reach often works nights, plus has a young (step)child, so it’s not easy to coordinate. Even if we did manage to get together for an evening of living room Xboxing, that would still only be one-on-one, which is hardly ideal.

    I can’t recriminate anyone for developing a game that’s best as a multiplayer experience, or for shying away from the quagmire of programming online play for an XBLIG, but it simply doesn’t work for me.

    1. I understand this completely and I think you’re not the only one.

      You might be interested in the Why;
      Well, the whole reason this game exists, is because I do play local multiplayer every now and then and always have an absolute great time. Either with friends, or colleagues, or people I don’t even know (on a fair or something). We play, drink a couple of beers and have a good laugh and that, for me, is a great way of gaming. Compared to online multiplayer, which I like, local multiplayer wins by far for me.
      Next thing is, I hear people complaining local multiplayer is fading away. It’s not that common as it used to be and people miss it, at least… some do 😉 I’m not saying I’m bringing it totally back with Sticky Bump, but at least I’m presenting another option for this audience.
      So, that’s the inspiration. I realized from the start many people can’t or won’t play it because of local multiplayer. But then again, there are enough good singleplayer games to choose from 😉

    2. I certainly understand the appeal. Some of my favourite gaming memories are playing local multiplayer (back when it was the only form of multiplayer) with my brother. I used to have weekly 3-4 player Goldeneye sessions at my friend’s house.

      Sadly it’s just not something I can do anymore.

    3. Ah, GoldenEye, so many memories there. I think that stands, and by far, as the game that should rightfully stay and only ever be local multiplayer. You couldn’t duplicate a game like that again if you tried. Perfect Dark was close, but GoldenEye remains the champ.

      That was literally the plan every day after high school. GoldenEye. We had a set map and game type for the first five or so matches too, to show how hardcore we were. If ever there was a game that you’d buy four controllers for, not just out of necessity, it was GoldenEye.

      That’s sort of the point I wanted to make; back then, this was the only option. Nowadays, we’re all spoiled with instant communication and online matchmaking. I miss that local atmosphere too, but its time has seemingly come and gone, and for younger gamers, who have never known anything but online gaming, I don’t know if the appeal is strong enough to drag them in.

      That said, Sticky Bump is light in its offerings. I’ve no doubt it would be fun with four players, but with limited settings, how long would it really entertain? The idea is a nice thought, but you really do have to include bots and additional modes, if just to extend your game’s lifespan.

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