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Stick ‘Em Up VS Arena VVG Indie Verse #XBLIG Review

VVG Indie Verse Review

“Stick ‘Em Up VS Arena”

By: Mr. Deeke

Today on VVGtv’s Indie Verse Reviews we’ll be focusing on an original stick-man shooter title called Stick ‘Em Up VS Arena from the independent XNA team Wicked Worx Games. This release is actually a sequel to the original shooter Stick ‘Em Up, developed by the same team. This title is best described as a classic side-scrolling deathmatch shooter with a few ups and downs, but altogether it’s a decent game for players to enjoy.

Stick ‘Em Up VS Arena 80 MSP

This shooter provides frenetic and crazy action that comes with firefights and deathmatches against NPC bots. Players take the role of a simple stickman thrown in the ultimate arena, fighting other stickmen who want nothing more than to see you dismembered and bent out of shape. Preserve your survival by utilizing a wide array of weaponry and evasive maneuvers, using a combination of tactic and offensive measures to eliminate foes in this fast-paced, side-scrolling platformer shooter Indie mashup.

Stick 'Em Up: VS Arena
  • Developer – Wicked Worx Games
  • Genre – Shooter
  • XBL Marketplace URLStick ‘Em Up VS Arena
  • Release Date – 5/7/2011
  • Try or Buy? –  Try Before You Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP ($1)
  • Rating – 3.5/5

Compete in an awesome stickman deathmatch against your friends or computer controlled bots. Play free-for-all or 2v2 teams through 8 different arenas, 3 featuring spaceships which can be piloted to gain an aerial advantage!

–Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace Description

I. Game Mechanics

Stick Em Up VS Arena is much like the first title, Sticm Em Up, yet there are subtle changes like the overall level design, yet the signature stick-men deathmatch action is still the same. The title has more of a platformer feel with elements of side-scrolling shooter. Players must use their wits and their aim to take out enemies before they’re shot down themselves.

The controls are pretty easy to use–Right Trigger is fire, Left Trigger jumps, Y changes weapons, A enters and exits vehicles, and the Left stick moves while the Right analog stick aims the currently equipped weapon.

One of the most unique and original aspects of this game is how players can enter vehicles such as jets to fly in the skies and rain death down upon enemies. Although using vehicles may seem like a gigantic advantage, players can still be destroyed in them like any other character. Using rockets against vehicles is also very effective.

Using evasive measures such as dodging shots with jumps or avoiding enemy fire is also advised, as players will sometimes find themselves overwhelmed with two enemies–or sometimes three–attacking them at once. This can be advantageous, however, especially when a player has a power weapon that can easily dispose of multiple enemies. Also it’s great to stumble upon a firefight between two players only to wipe out one of them and mop up the survivors, taking all their credit and using it for your own personal gain.

Image from Stick 'Em Up: VS Arena

II. Weapons/Items

There are many different weapon types to make use of in Stick Em Up VS Arena: rapid-fire rifles and short-range shotguns as well as devastatingly powerful rocket launchers. Each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses in battle, yet it usually comes down to chance and random chaos in these deathmatch-type games.

Health powerups are also found quite often throughout levels, and are often essential for survival. These powerwups are extremely useful when accomplishing multiple kills without dying, and often can be the difference between life and death in combat.

Image from Stick 'Em Up: VS Arena

III. Unique Features

In this Xbox Indie deathmatch shooter there are a few unique elements to focus on: eight different levels each with their own unique design and style, a variety of weaponry to annihilate enemies with, four-player local multiplayer, and using vehicles to attack other players in frenetic and chaotic firefights.

With eight different levels to choose from in this title, each having their own combat strategic placement of weapons and spawn points, this game becomes replay-able many times over. Players can challenge their friends or play against bots in deathmatch shooter action.

The variety of weaponry found amongst the smorgasboard of multiplayer maps is another unique feature. Each weapon is designed for a certain purpose, yet all of them do the same thing–effectively kill enemies. Shotguns and rocket launchers are quite useful, yet the main starting rifle is resilient and quite handy, especially in tight spots. When overwhelmed, though, nothing saves your sticks like a rocket shot into a group of multiple enemies.

Four player splitscreen multiplayer locally over the same Xbox 360 allows gamers to play competitively against their friends in this crazy stick-man platform shooter. Take on your friends and watch them explode in a frenzy of sticks as you mow them down with rifle fire. Avenge your deaths with well-placed rocket shots that ensure a vehicle-using player’s destruction.

Vehicles are a nice surprise for a game like this, and when used correctly, players can be almost invincible in these versatile flying crafts. It’s possible to easily evade enemy fire–even rockets–in these vessels, flying gracefully in the skies and then raining hell down below on unfortunate enemies. The vehicles are somewhat weak at times so it’s imperative to know how to dodge and avoid enemy fire–running right into firefights is a sure way to get overwhelmed.

Image from Stick 'Em Up: VS Arena

IV. Critique

The Good

Original Deathmatch Action. Out of all the original XBLIG content out there on the marketplace, there are hardly any platformer deathmatch shooters that stand as this title’s genre. This game brings a whole new mashup genre to Xbox Indies, all while providing enjoyable and satisfying gameplay that is impressively chaotic and intense. Wicked Worx Games has created a great concept in this game, providing almost infinite replay-ability that is different with each play.

Humorous Gameplay Elements. Using rocket launchers to blow up stick-men is pretty hilarious, at least to me. While playing this game it’s not unusual to crack up, especially when the poor stick-men are dismembered upon death. Anything can happen in a game like this, and random, crazy things are sure to take place–especially when there are four players in splitscreen competitive play.

Fighting Enemies in Vehicles. It’s pretty satisfying taking down enemy after enemy in a jet, gracefully dodging all their fire and racking up kills. Of course it takes a bit to get used to vehicle controls, but once players are acclimated, they can effectively use them to their advantage and take down scores of enemy stick-men. Don’t get too close, though–vehicles are weak and can’t take that much gunfire.

Enjoyable for Gamers of All Ages. This game can be played by little kids and adults alike, age doesn’t matter in an Xbox Indie release like this one. Stick Em Up VS Arena can be enjoyed by all gamers, and since there is no real violence taking place, it’s not

The Bad

Bots are Quite Difficult and Challenging. Bots are unforgiving and don’t give any mercy in this game–they’re rough, and they won’t hesitate to wipe the floor with newbs. New players are urged to just keep playing and try not to let the game frustrate you, yet it’s quite easy when you’re getting blasted away by power weapons at every turn.

Frenetic Action can Overwhelm Players. Sometimes the action is too action-y and can overwhelm players–especially when the merciless bots aren’t letting up and are re-spawn killing players every time.

Image from Stick 'Em Up: VS Arena

V. Wrap-Up

Overall Stick Em Up VS Arena is an improvement on the first game and provides an enjoyable gameplay experience. It’s recommended to players who like deathmatch-based action, and this title incorporates a few genres and styles into one frenetic and chaotic shoot-em-up arena survival game. Use your wits and evasive maneuvering skills to avoid enemy fire, fly above enemies in vehicles and fire down on them from the skies, and take on your friends in four-player splitscreen competitive action.

For more information on Stick ‘Em Up VS Arena and the independent XNA team that developed it, WickedWorx Games, please visit their official website.

Check out the first original iteration of Stick ‘Em Up also developed by Wicked Worx Games:

Stick 'Em Up

One response

  1. Samuel McBee

    I normally buy indie games for my young kids, I cannot tell if there is any blood. My wife is a stickler for anything representing blood, is there any in the game, if not, then I am sold.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm

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