Inside Pulse 12

Review: Stop Stress: A Day of Fury (Nintendo Wii)

Stop Stress: A Day of Fury
Publisher: Abylight
Developer: Abylight
Genre: Action
Release Date: 12/07/2009

Ever have one of those days where you wake up just wanting to break everything and everyone in sight? If so, I suggest you find help, as you are a disturbed individual. Okay, so maybe that’s being a bit harsh. After all, we are a society that consistently throws ourselves into a stressful environment day in and day out. So what do we do with all of this pent up frustration? Well, put down your stress ball and pick up your Wii remote, as Abylight hopes to relieve your anger with Stop Stress: A Day of Fury. Does this WiiWare title succeed in lowering your blood pressure, or is it a game that stresses you out just playing it?

Let’s Review

Story/Modes
You are Jack. And as Jack, you are the most stressed person in the entire world. So much so, that the mere beeping of an alarm clock is enough to send you into a maniacal rage. As the game opens, you as the player get an opportunity to live out a day in the life of Jack as he carries out his rage on the unsuspecting world.

While the storyline won’t win any awards for a captivating narrative, it is a suitable premise for this game. In fact, each stage of the game is preceded by short animated bits that illustrate how Jack moves from point A to point B during his angry episode. There isn’t much to these cutscenes besides comic strip style pictures and sound effects, but they are extremely humorous and are effective at moving the flow of the game.

It’s unfortunate that there’s really only one true mode to the game, although some added difficulty settings help pad the already short four stages in the game. The game really could have used a multiplayer component, as shared destruction would’ve added to the value of this title.

Story/Modes Rating: Below Average

Graphics
This is actually a decent looking game for a downloadable title. The animation on some of the enemy characters is a little stiff, but otherwise it could stand up to some of the retail Wii games out there. The various stages and rooms that you will be navigating are a bit of a mixed bag. Jack’s apartment and office look believable with several details such as books and staplers and other miscellaneous things littering the scenery. The highway and airport areas on the other hand, seem rather bland and could’ve used a little something extra in the detail department.

Graphics Rating: Decent

Sounds
The music and sound effects are easily the best feature in the entire game. There’s a pounding soundtrack that goes on in the background as you go around breaking stuff that perfectly fits the mood. If you listen carefully, you can hear Jack’s heightened breathing when he takes damage and his blood pressure rises. Sometimes after you smash something, he will giggle and laugh in a very psychotic manner that is funny every single time you hear it. The laughs that come from the floating clown faces that attack you are extremely irritating, but it doesn’t detract from the game at all. It’s just another reason to swing a bat at them!

Sound Rating: Good


Control/Gameplay

Stop Stress is a game that can’t seem to decide what it wants to be. At first glance, one expects it to be a free roaming sandbox game that you play from a first person viewpoint. In fact, that’s the impression I got when I looked at all the screenshots to this game. Instead, it behaves more like a rail shooter, where you can only move in straight lines on a fixed path and are limited in your movement.

If all that sounds like a turnoff to you at this point, you are justified in your concerns. After all, what’s the point of a game that supposedly prides itself in running amok in its environments and breaking everything in your path if you can’t even move where you want? Well, this is the least of this game’s worries.

The controls take some getting used to. You play the game with a Wii remote/nunchuk setup, though the only important thing the nunchuk is used for is to aim with the joystick. The directional pad on the remote is what you will use to guide your character around, but you can only do so if there’s an arrow pointing in the direction that you want to move. You swing the remote when you want to attack, but it doesn’t really matter how you swing it. Since you’re using the joystick to dictate whether you’re aiming high or low, you can swing however you want to attack. The game just requires that you do. Think Red Steel.

While the decision to use the motion control as a means to attack makes perfect sense, it really could’ve benefited from the Wii Motion Plus. The impact of your virtual reign of destruction seems very limited by the lack of control that you have over how you attack. That, and your arm and/or shoulder are going to revolt after one session with this game. Luckily for your body, the game isn’t lengthy enough to do some serious damage.

Like I mentioned before, the game is divided up into four stages and each one has a particular goal that usually involves breaking something specific. Along the way, you’ll be assaulted by flies, spiders, and zombie policemen while on your path of destruction. When you encounter an enemy or set of enemies, you’ll be forced to combat them until either you or them have been defeated. There is no running away; once you’ve been engaged by the enemy, you are there until the fight is finished. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the enemy encounters weren’t so frequent. It seems like you’ll be attacked every few steps and there’s no permanent defeat to these enemies; they respawn indefinately.

Boss encounters are slightly more interesting. There will be a few of these throughout the game and although it is easy to figure out their strategy and counter it, they provide some much needed variety to the various stages.

There will be several weapons that you will run across while raising hell across the city. These include baseball bats, sledgehammers, axes, and… your slipper. Aside from a boost in power that comes the later weapons, you will also need to use them in order to advance in each level. For example, you may need to use the axe to chop down a door or the sledgehammer to smash crates. Why it doesn’t allow me to chop those same crates with the axe and save me the hassle of having to swap my inventory, I’ll never understand. I’m guessing they didn’t want to make the old weapons in my inventory obsolete, but then, I never did find an alternate use for my slipper.

Control/Gameplay Rating: Below Average

Replayability

To put it simply, this game is short. So short in fact that if you manage to get through all four stages unscathed you are looking at approximately one solid hour of gameplay. Normally I would recommend a game with such pitiful replay value as a rental only. But since it is a downloadable game, once you fork over the $8 for it, you are stuck with it. There are three different difficulty settings that extend its life slightly, though the enemies are so cheap that you will likely not want to play it on anything higher than easy. Which brings me to my next point…

Replayability Rating: Dreadful

Balance
This game is tough, but not in a good way. I like a good challenge as much as the next guy, but due to the way the game is designed, it really feels like you are set up for failure. Adding the ability to run from your enemies would’ve added an extra layer of much needed strategy to which you could ask yourself, “do I fight or flee?” Instead, you will sometimes be stuck fighting duels against three or more creatures at a time that will on occasion send multiple attacks your way that are impossible to dodge. In what way is it fair to have two spider webs shot at me with the possibility of only deflecting one?

Even the items in this game can be dangerous. Breaking things restores your “health”, although this seemed to have gotten less and less effective as the game progressed. There’s also items you can smack that will lower your stress level such as money or Buddha statues (you heard me right). Sometimes though, you will uncover TNT or rotten food that will deal damage or summon enemy flies respectively. You will learn quickly not to hit everything you see, which is slightly contrary to the point of the game.

Balance Rating: Bad

Originality
For what it’s worth, this is a very unique game. In fact, it’s a brilliant idea on paper: Design a few playgrounds for the player to wreck havoc in and then turn them loose. The problem is that Stop Stress is a victim of its own concept. With such a novel idea, people expect much more than what this game can rightfully offer, and that’s a shame. A shame not only for the player that was anticipating more, but for the design team that had a fantastic idea on their hands. I think a little more polish and development time would’ve gone a long way towards improving this title.

Originality Rating: Good

Addictiveness
The game is entertaining enough the first time you try it for you to see it through to the end. Whether it be from sheer curiousity of what’s to come, or for the entertaining story bits that occur in between stages, you will finish this game once. After that, all bets are off. But likely you will have one solid hour with this title before it rests untouched forever on your Wii’s SD card.

Addictiveness Rating: Poor

Appeal Factor
As I mentioned above, the concept of this game is something that anybody could go for. Whether it be introverted children with a lot of rage, retail clerks that have had to deal with a long onslaught of negativity, or drunken frat boys that want to raise some hell… there’s something in the game that would interest anyone. It’s holding that interest that the game struggles with.

Appeal Rating: Decent

Miscellaneous

I thought it was clever that they made it seem like the main character, Jack, was hallucinating throughout the duration of the game. This is made apparent by scenes of people and things that appear normal and suddenly transform when Jack approaches them. That, and when you lose, they show Jack being hauled away in a strait jacket by a couple of mental institution employees.

Some of the enemies and bosses you’ll face also are very random and extremely humorous. I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve ever had to do battle with a tentacle infested toilet wielding nothing but a slipper. Be prepared to face off against the likes of a copy machine, a diaper wearing monkey, and the dust in your sofa. Bonus points for being imaginative!

Miscellaneous Rating: Good

The Scores
Story/Modes: Below Average
Graphics: Decent
Sounds: Good
Controls/Gameplay: Below Average
Replayability: Dreadful
Balance: Bad
Originality: Good
Addictiveness: Poor
Appeal Factor: Decent
Miscellaneous: Good

Final Score: Mediocre Game!

Short Attention Span Summary
Stop Stress: A Day of Fury is a great game idea that just couldn’t realize its full potential. Clunky controls, unbalanced gameplay, and a pitiful length plague this unfortunate title. For $8 you can download Wiiware and Virtual Console games that are not only more fun, but are lengthier as well. So if you want to release some aggression, go buy MadWorld instead. And don’t stress yourself with Stop Stress.

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