Virtually Overlooked: Irritating Stick

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Virtually Overlooked: Irritating Stick
This is pretty out-there for a Virtual Console request, for plenty of reasons. Okay, so Irritating Stick is a PlayStation game, which is more likely to show up on the PS3 than the Wii. And okay, there'd be no point in doing it without Wiimote integration -- more on that later -- meaning it should be WiiWare or something rather than an emulated VC game. Also it's kind of annoying (the name is accurate).

But none of that matters, because it's a game called Irritating Stick, and that's hilarious, and I want to talk about it. And if it would be good anywhere, it would be good on the Wii.

Irritating Stick was released on the PlayStation by Jaleco in 1999. It's based on the Japanese game show (and the arcade machine) Dengeki Iraira Bou (Electric Irritating Stick). The goal is the same as in both of those: to guide a baton through a winding course made of parallel metal bars without touching the sides -- or, to think about it in a more disgusting way, you examine the Operation guy's intestines. The idea is that you're given an electric shock when you contact the sides. Of course, there was no peripheral included with the game to issue electric shocks, so as a substitution, the controller rumbles when you fail.

Of course the game was intended to take advantage of the excitement surrounding the release of the new Dual Shock controller, which combined the analog sticks from Sony's Dual Analog controller with two rumble motors. Irritating Stick was, in theory, a good showcase for the features of this controller, making use of both the extremely (extremely) fine movement capable with an analog stick and the alarming nature of the buzzing rumble motors.

But it's an even better showcase for the Wiimote, isn't it? In fact, the existence of the Wiimote makes the use of the Dual Shock -- once the whole point of making the game -- now seem like a laughable hack. The Wii Remote just happens to be an actual stick that senses movement and also rumbles. It's a perfect match! Or it would be if Irritating Stick weren't so ... well, irritating. The graphics manage to be ugly even for a game that has nothing to display but two lines and a dot. The background is a tiled image of some lights or something. The sounds consist of some boring music and an announcer who cheerfully exclaims "Whoooa, what's going on!" (not a question!) when you touch the side wall and explode.

This concept definitely has merit as a potential WiiWare game, even without the game-show trappings and the banal commentary, and under a different name (perhaps one which would encourage, rather than warn against, sales). But then it would just be a hard puzzle game. It wouldn't be Irritating Stick.
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