If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that nothing written on it should be believed (apart from quality journalism of course), you own opinion is far more important than anybody else’s and that animations of stick figures fighting each other (such as Xiao Xiao) are actually funny!
Taking that last point for a moment, I’d like to draw some attention to the latest installment to my regular feature, The IndieGarden, where I point the spotlight at some of the independently made video games floating around online.
This time on The IndieGarden, I look at Stick ‘Em Up 2: Paper Adventures on the Xbox Live Indie Arcade. Created by Never Don’t Play, this is the sequel to the 2010 stick figure Indie title Stick ‘Em Up
Keeping many of the features of the original, Stick ‘Em Up 2 Paper Adventures features some nicely improved graphics, bringing that ‘home-grown’ feeling right onto the screen. From the city sunsets that appear as if they are drawn on lined note paper to the Tree Tops level where the background appears to be assembled from a collage of brown card.
Obviously these simplistic graphics are more out of necessity rather than a deep desire to create a video game featuring stick figures but personally speaking if I were in the position where I was creating video games, it wouldn’t matter to me if I hadn’t gotten the greatest artists in the world on my team, I’d probably use stick figures too, just to show people my game.
Gameplay wise, this is not a difficult game to play, you pull the right trigger to fire (aiming with the right stick) and jump with the left trigger (moving through the levels with the left stick) occasionally chaging weapons with the ‘Y’ button.
Some extra additions to Stick ‘Em Up 2 come with the themed levels, ranging from pirate ships where your brave stick hero brandishes a sword, the previously mentioned Tree Tops level where you need to aim a throwing spear at your two dimensional enemies and even a Japanese zen garden where you have to hurl shrunkens at your ninja foes (who doesn’t love ninjas, right?)
With the promise of multiplayer chaos, quaint hand drawn graphics and insanely addictive music score, Stick ‘Em Up 2: Paper Adventures is clearly a step in the right direction for Never Don’t Play and it will be a joy to see what they come up with next!
As a continuing segment in The IndieGarden, I managed to track down the developers of Stick ‘Em Up 2: Paper Adventures and asked them a few questions:
– Firstly, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview, lets begin with where you guys are from, how many people are working for Never Don’t Play?
Hi there. You’re very welcome. The first Stick ‘Em Up game was made by me (Jon Colverson) and another guy (Jon Wingrove) who both live in the suburbs of London, England. After that game came out last year we both worked on Stick ‘Em Up 2 for a couple of months and then the other Jon split off to work on some other projects like his Adventure/Puzzle/Platformer opus Excruciating Guitar Voyage (http://www.wickedworx.net/games.php?id=4). Shortly after that Joel Martinez from southern California came along to grace Stick ‘Em Up 2 with his awesome artwork, and we finished the game up together.
– How did you discover that you wanted to make games? Was it a life long ambition, like most gamers, or did it happen by accident?
Yep, definitely a life long ambition for me. I think I was about 7 when I got a Game Boy for Christmas. My dad taught me how to program in BASIC after that and I haven’t seriously wanted to do anything other than make games since then.
– In your future titles, do you think that you will continue with the ‘stick man’ style of animation and pour more focus into the gameplay side?
The stick man style graphics were kinda born out of necessity, because the two of us working on the first game were really programmers with limited artistic skills so we just wanted something simple that would look okay. When Joel came on-board to work on Stick ‘Em Up 2 we could have done some more detailed characters but by then I was pretty attached to the little stick guy so we just gave him a helmet and a more realistic looking gun and that was that.
– Do you think there will be a Stick ‘Em Up 3?
Maaaaaaybe. I’ve still got some more ideas for this genre that we didn’t have time to get into Stick ‘Em Up 2, but I haven’t really decided what to do next.
– With some of the more frantic four player action in Stick ‘Em Up 2, it reminded me slightly of Castle Crashers, did you draw any inspiration from other Indie or Arcade games for the Stick ‘Em Up series?
Yep, Castle Crashers was an influence for the 4-player co-op (that and New Super Mario Bros. Wii). When I was doing design I played a bunch of platformers and run’n’gun games like Bionic Commando Rearmed, Contra, and Gunstar Heroes.
– What can we expect to see from you in the near future?
We’re doing an update for Stick ‘Em Up 2 with some extra levels that should hopefully be out around the end of August (that’s a Slim Gamer exclusive!) Then I guess we’ll dive back into another game, but I’m not sure what it’s gunna be yet.
– Finally, what types of games do you enjoy playing? Do you have a specific game or genre that you always turn to?
I’ll play anything with a fat Italian plumber in it, and I’ve put hundreds and hundreds of hours into Rock Band in recent years (Expert Pro Drums!) This year I profoundly loved Portal 2 (but who didn’t, I guess?)
Thank you very much for this interview and for being a part of The IndieGarden!
*Never Don’t Play provided SlimGamer.com with a promo code for a review copy.