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Double Fine's Stacking Reviewed 27 Feb, 2011 / 18 comments

As part of our plan to review Double Fine's latest console game, Stacking, we have reviewed Double Fine's latest console game, Stacking.

The review contains many pleasant passages to be read or sung.

If you like what you read, you may buy the game on your Playstation Machine or X Box Contraption, for around $15 (American money).

According to one of the Face Books, the game will shortly be enhanced with Downloadable Content.

18 Comments

  • Avatar
    The Tingler on 06 Mar, 2011, 12:36…

    Jason

    I consider it, simply, a puzzle game, because puzzles are what the game's about. In my mind an adventure game is story driven.



    I'd agree, except you specifically omitted Puzzle Agent from that definition, and presumably would Professor Layton. I play both of those games for the story as much as the puzzles - more so in the case of Nelson Tethers.

    I classify an adventure is a game when you can explore a world where the primary way to progress is through puzzle-solving rather than combat. A puzzle game is just the puzzles.

    Except I think neither Costume Quest nor Stacking are story driven games. One is an Earthbound style adventure/RPG reminiscent of a 16-bit console game...



    I think you'll find most RPGs are story and character driven, including Earthbound.
  • Avatar
    Gabez on 03 Mar, 2011, 09:22…
    Genre definitions aren't useless at all, but a) they are often more complex and nuanced than people describe them as, and b) they are defined by structure and gameplay mechanics rather than intentions of the author or creator, or what the audience/gamer/reader deems as the 'focus'.
  • Avatar
    Jason on 03 Mar, 2011, 00:13…

    Ascovel


    Aren't genre definitions becoming a bit useless



    Yes.
  • Avatar
    Ascovel on 02 Mar, 2011, 21:34…

    Jason

    Ascovel


    While I agree the story is a huge draw in Grim Fandango, the last time I checked nobody complained GF is a game with puzzles instead of a movie. There can be more than one reason to play a game. And a good story is a powerful motive to finish a game in any genre.



    The quality or power of the story is irrelevant to classification, I'd say. I can think of an awful lot (most?) of what would be considered unambiguous adventure games where the story was thin, lame and unengaging, and otherwise the complete opposite of a powerful motive to finish the game. To me it comes down to what I feel the developer's focus was, which is open to interpretation.



    Aren't genre definitions becoming a bit useless if we postulate that a simple subjective feeling can make all the difference in genre classification? There's little chance even two people will feel exactly the same way about a specific game title.
  • Avatar
    Capn_Nacho on 02 Mar, 2011, 05:22…

    Jason

    Except I might call Psychonauts one...


    Ohh, you trickster! I also agree, though, that these kinds of classifications are practically irrelevant.
  • Avatar
    Jason on 02 Mar, 2011, 00:14…

    Ascovel


    While I agree the story is a huge draw in Grim Fandango, the last time I checked nobody complained GF is a game with puzzles instead of a movie. There can be more than one reason to play a game. And a good story is a powerful motive to finish a game in any genre.



    The quality or power of the story is irrelevant to classification, I'd say. I can think of an awful lot (most?) of what would be considered unambiguous adventure games where the story was thin, lame and unengaging, and otherwise the complete opposite of a powerful motive to finish the game. To me it comes down to what I feel the developer's focus was, which is open to interpretation.
  • Avatar
    Jason on 02 Mar, 2011, 00:08…

    Capn_Nacho


    I definitely agree with you; calling Stacking an adventure game makes about as much sense as calling Psychonauts one.



    Except I might call Psychonauts one, so we might not agree as thoroughly as you think. ; Your general sentiment is right in line with mine though, regarding how Double Fine freely borrows from various genres to make a unique experience.
  • Avatar
    Gabez on 01 Mar, 2011, 15:47…
    It's about the nature of the puzzles as well -- whether the solutions involve the manipulation of a game mechanic (time, in Braid; portals, in Portal; dolls in Stacking) or whether the solutions instead involve understanding the characters, what they want, what your character wants and needs, and how to progress the storyline through the use of objects and other characters. Adventure games are more like the 'real world' than puzzle games in that sense, apart from the rare moments when you have to solve a 'real life' puzzle, like fixing the plumbing or rearranging a box of items, Tetris style. The most 'real life' style adventure game I know is The Last Express, in which the puzzles are spread out over several hours, and involve very simple commands from the player that only have significance in the context of the storyline and characters.
  • Avatar
    Ascovel on 01 Mar, 2011, 11:44…

    Jason


    I consider it, simply, a puzzle game, because puzzles are what the game's about. In my mind an adventure game is story driven - so, although the way to progress in Grim Fandango is by solving puzzles, the game is really about seeing Manny's story through to the end. I see that as the reason most people play through that game, anyway.



    While I agree the story is a huge draw in Grim Fandango, the last time I checked nobody complained GF is a game with puzzles instead of a movie. There can be more than one reason to play a game. And a good story is a powerful motive to finish a game in any genre.
  • Avatar
    Capn_Nacho on 01 Mar, 2011, 08:48…
    Thanks for your reply, Jason! I wasn't trying to contest your opinion or anything, I really was just curious. I haven't finished the game yet, but have been pondering the game's "adventurey" elements myself and wanted to pick your brain about it since you brought it up.

    I definitely agree with you; calling Stacking an adventure game makes about as much sense as calling Psychonauts one. I think one of the most valuable elements of the Double Fine Experience™ is the way their games traverse genres in order to provide a genuinely unique presentation.
  • Avatar
    Jason on 01 Mar, 2011, 01:23…

    Capn_Nacho

    Out of curiosity, Jason, would you care to enumerate why you don't consider Stacking an adventure game?



    I consider it, simply, a puzzle game, because puzzles are what the game's about. In my mind an adventure game is story driven - so, although the way to progress in Grim Fandango is by solving puzzles, the game is really about seeing Manny's story through to the end. I see that as the reason most people play through that game, anyway. I don't think people boot up Stacking because they're thinking, "I can't wait to see how Charlie Blackmore rescues his family from the Baron!" any more than they boot up Mario to say, "Oh boy! I can't wait to see how Mario narrowly manages to rescue Peach from being kidnapped in an airship piloted by Koopa offspring #7 to forward Bowser's grander scheme for domination over the Mushroom Kingdom!!" The story and the character stuff that Double Fine chooses to sprinkle on top is a big part of what makes Stacking memorable and awesome, but it's the icing, not the cake.

    But then, I'm one of those guys who says Myst isn't an adventure game. Everyone has their own definition. Hopefully what everyone can agree on is that whatever genre we decide a game occupies, that has zero to do with its quality. Literally, zero.

    MarioColbert


    I feel that both Costume Quest and Stacking are conflicted: the story-driven experiences that we're hungry for....



    Except I think neither Costume Quest nor Stacking are story driven games. One is an Earthbound style adventure/RPG reminiscent of a 16-bit console game, and one is a straight-up puzzle game. Double Fine makes both games better by infusing personality into them and otherwise having a stronger eye for the story/character stuff than your average studio, but at their core those games are what they are, and should be judged based on that, rather than by what you would have preferred them to be.

    If a person is disappointed that Double Fine is not making purely story-driven games then fair enough, but that shouldn't be held against a game that's clearly trying to be something else. Costume Quest is no more guilty of being a "compromised" adventure game than Monkey Island is of being a "compromised" rail shooter. I think from a purely genre standpoint, Stacking has more in common with Myst than it does with Monkey Island, but Stacking is a better game than Myst in my opinion precisely because of what it borrows from the adventure game playbook and applies like a seasoning. I think Telltale was trying something similar with Puzzle Agent - it's a pure, red-blooded puzzle game and not an adventure, but the compelling world and the tone and stuff, which I consider to be unmistakable graphic adventure influences, are employed to make it better/more unique. Other genres have a lot they can learn from adventure games, and all of Double Fine's post Psychonauts games are excellent examples. Adventures can learn from other genres too - I suggested in my review that the extra mile taken to make Stacking's puzzle accessible to a variety of skill levels could prove well adaptable to full-blown adventures.
  • Avatar
    Remi on 28 Feb, 2011, 19:14…

    MarioColbert

    Kind of a mediocre review...



    Geeze... What a butt.
  • Avatar
    Ascovel on 28 Feb, 2011, 19:00…

    Capn_Nacho

    Out of curiosity, Jason, would you care to enumerate why you don't consider Stacking an adventure game?

    Nice review, by the way.



    I second that call. In the mainstream there's a lot of discussion around defining adventure games lately and I hope it will lead to something constructive.
  • Avatar
    MarioColbert on 28 Feb, 2011, 18:42…
    Kind of a mediocre review... Not to say it's bad preview of the game, but I feel that it doesn't even begin to address the possibility of criticism of the game (and I don't mean complaining about the lack of a PC port version.

    I feel that both Costume Quest and Stacking are conflicted: the story-driven experiences that we're hungry for from the halcyon days of LucasArts adventure games neither transfers well nor integrates perfectly into gameplay. Several features that I felt were instrumental in making Stacking deeper and better (like getting unique conversation responses with the use of certain dolls - the hard-of-hearing old man comes to mind) are also omitted.

    But I have no idea how writing a critical essay is possible: everyone is looking for a "buy" or "don't buy" and I would assume with a certain fear of spoilers. In this community, it seems almost absurd: most people reading Mojo would should be buying this because there's stuff for us in this. So take my criticism of your review with a grain of salt.
  • Avatar
    Capn_Nacho on 28 Feb, 2011, 03:04…
    Out of curiosity, Jason, would you care to enumerate why you don't consider Stacking an adventure game?

    Nice review, by the way.
  • Avatar
    Kroms on 27 Feb, 2011, 17:31…

    clone2727

    No skull ranking? :(


    Dispensed with. I don't even know when Mojo last used them
  • Avatar
    clone2727 on 27 Feb, 2011, 17:04…
    No skull ranking? :(
  • Avatar
    Kroms on 27 Feb, 2011, 15:49…
    That was an excellent review. Wish I could play this.

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