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Stretch Panic (PlayStation 2) artwork

Stretch Panic (PlayStation 2) review

"Konami, Axelay, Gunstar Heroes, yada yada yada. Now that I’ve exhaustively covered the complete game development history of Treasure, the review can begin. "

Konami, Axelay, Gunstar Heroes, yada yada yada. Now that I’ve exhaustively covered the complete game development history of Treasure, the review can begin.

Stretch Panic is an innovative game. That’s its genre and its weakness. Relying on originality at the expense of depth, it fails to make its mark as an enjoyable, fulfilling game. Delivering a slew of original concepts at the expense of length, it fails to establish a definable, memorable experience. In short, viewed as anything other than a demo disc, Stretch Panic is a failure.

Linda is a prepubescent girl with an elephantine head and a trunk-like scarf. This scarf can grasp nearly any part of her surroundings, even the earth itself, and s t r e t c h that object to amusing lengths. When released, whatever she stretched whips back to its original form with a satisfying whap! Linda’s snappy escapades begin in a 3D world hub, but this is no standard 3D world hub; rendered solely in black, white and gray, the screen is streaked by uneven pencil lines. This maelstrom of coarse marks lend the room the appearance of a living sketchbook. Love it while you can.

Through all but four of the exits resides one of Linda’s demonically possessed sisters. The other four doors lead to ‘levels’, and I use that word in the loosest sense. Each of these ‘levels’ are populated by obscenely-endowed, rotund women (named Bonitas or Zako) whose breasts function as helicopter rotors. Yank these ladies from the sky with Linda’s scarf and sling yourself into their ample backsides. Points are earned for beating up these obese women. This is not the female representation I had hoped for in modern video games.

After earning enough points for self-satisfaction, Linda leaves the ‘level’ through the door by which she entered. There is no goal and no purpose to these ‘levels’ other than to clobber plump women and earn points for doing so. Linda’s actions within each stage are severely limited. It would have tickled my fancy to pull a tree to the ground, releasing it and pelting the Bonitas with coconuts. But there are no coconuts. It would have stimulated my mind to stretch an outcrop of land, forming a bridge across shark-infested waters. But there are no bridges and there are no sharks. Obese women are literally the only enemies in these ‘levels’, and they stumble around (or fly using their rotor-breasts) in a non-threatening daze.

After accumulating points, various ‘sister’ doors unlock inside the 3D world hub. Linda fights the sister and defeats her. Linda then overcomes the next sister. After 12 boss battles, with no proper levels to separate them, the game ends. A whiny brat, defeated by pulling out her tonsils with your magical scarf – fun! Original! Easy and quick to defeat! Containing little else but simple bosses (easily dispatched once their gimmick has been discovered), Stretch Panic doesn’t give you time to become enveloped in its creative world or to care about its wacky personality.

For a fan of innovation, I find myself bagging on a lot of innovative games. Extended to its logical limits, the ‘stretch’ concept could have worked wonders, yet the potential of the scarf is barely touched. The world is imaginative, but the experience is over before it’s begun. In the end, this is an ostentatious but futile display of ingenuity. When it next comes time for a Treasure game review, I don't think the obligatory litany of their accomplishments will include Stretch Panic. The ‘stretch’ idea is another excellent concept that needs to be stolen by a more devoted creative team.

lilica's avatar
Community review by lilica (February 04, 2005)

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