Denryu Ira Ira Bou

a Reeeview item by J Nash (Thursday February 4th, 2010)

JN says...JN saysFor N64 Magazine. One of those cunningly solid little games right at home on the eccentric console and clearly knocked off by Hudson in the lunchtime between two meetings about what to ruin in the next Bomberman. (It’s a television programme adaptation they probably licensed by mistake.) Cut to today and there’s almost certainly a Fizzing Stick rip-off on Popcap or something that’s paid for somebody’s house.

Exasperatingly, I ought to be able to translate the name. (I’ve taken to calling it Fizzing Money Bang-Stick Go Go! Edition Super, which has a ring.) You see, readers, last year I signed up for an evening class in Japanese, but, when I recently moved house, ingeniously put the wrong box in storage, so what I thought were my textbooks and homework turned out to be 150 back progs of 2000AD and a copy of Win or Die! by Rolf Harris.

But anyway.

Fizzing Stick is, of course, the game of the bit in Father Ted with the £10,000 prize and the mobile phone. Navigate a maze without touching anything and that’s it. It looks terrible. It’s hurtfully enraging. You could write it. Apostles’ beards, I could write it. On the Speccy.

And yet. And yet, and yet, and yet.

It’s so simple. It’s entirely fair. You’re an intelligent, coordinated human being. There’s no reason not to win and no harm in another go. Suddenly your face is old and you’ve neglected to propagate the species.

This is why this game is good. All six levels are freely accessible. If you’re gruntingly stuck, you go back and better your time on an easier one. There is no inertia. Stop moving your ball and it stops exactly. Any crashes are thus your fault alone. Everything is dazzlingly clear and unfaultably precise. You cannot claim you ought to have slid through that gap, because that is a lie. The time limit is more than enough to reach the next checkpoint, you can speed up and between segments is a room in which you can wait recoveringly for as long as you please. You can choose a wand that gives you three lives. The fearsome later courses’ obstacles move in unwaveringly mechanical patterns. In the two-player game, your ball does not physically affect your opponent’s. A pre-game flypast shows the whole maze. There are shortcuts for adventurers. It has the deceptive cleanliness of those pocket puzzles where you roll the balls into the four shallow holes.

Of course, it is cripplingly upsetting. It will not relax you. Curiously, the authentic TV commentary is remarkably limited. (It appears, in fact, to be the same commentary every time. Bloke-san’s empathic panic endears, however.) The invisible restart points are annoying — to know would be a small but helpful incentive. Similarly, it would perhaps be more exciting to hear a warning buzz as you dangerously neared a wall. And of course it’s suspiciously character-building in its promotion of decisive action and improvement of dextrous steadiness.

A ludicrous, insulting, expensive novelty, then, but one I like a lot.

N64 VERDICT

ACCESSIBILITY
Move the stick! Don’t lose! Easy.

VISUALS 0
No. The Crown of Victory is acceptably mighty, though.

SOUNDS 1
Bang! “Oh, look out!” (In Japanese though, obviously.)

MASTERY 9
For the analogue stick. Truly the perfect tool.

LIFESPAN 6
Play it. Lose to it. Hate it. But still play it. Hatingly.

VERDICT
Impossibly simple, ruthlessly challenging fairground game. But on the N64. I respect it.
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