Sometimes I’ll catch a certain buddy on my friend’s list winding his way through odd Xbox Arcade titles. He introduced me to MeatBoy, Limbo, Monday Night Combat, and so many other WIN Arcade games. This past week he was playing Stacking. The gameplay gimmick centers around Russian Matryoshka, also called Nesting Dolls. My Mother is a long time collector of Nesting Dolls and as a child I spent some serious time with them. I lost “Little Lenin” from a set of Russian Leader Nesting Dolls once. Thankfully my Father was able to conjure up an evil looking mustached Lego Man as a replacement. Stacking played naturally to my love of Nesting, and I eagerly dropped the 1200 M$ points.
The backdrop story is quaint: The Blackmore's, a chimney sweep family, are separated by an evil Baron intent on using child labor to drive his Machiavellian machinations. Little Charlie is the only one that escapes being thrust into slave labor and begins our quest to save his family. Through puzzles and doll interactions the game moves through the Royal Train Station, the Zeppelin of Consequence, a Gilded Steam Ship and culminates on a Triple Decker Tank Engine with several boss battles.
The game mechanics are fun and surprisingly simple. There are different sizes of dolls, and they have different abilities. You must jump into dolls in the proper size order. Many dolls are generic, but the game includes unique dolls as well that are often used to complete puzzles and Hi-Jinks. Each puzzle has several solutions to it. So you can charge forward in the game, propelled by the intense dramatic story of Charlie’s family, then you can return and do the puzzles over again in several different ways. One of the first puzzles was to clear a lounge of dolls. The first way solution is to use a Mechanic doll to open a vent and crash the party. The second solution is to use a very Va-va-VOOM doll, named Widow Chastity, to lure the guard away from the door with her Seduce ability. The final solution was discovered by my son, using Meriwether Malodor’s rather upset stomach and Flatulence ability to fog the room with a terrible odor through the vent. The game uses a hint system as well as “intuition” to help a lost player navigate through each puzzle. I found my best source was my kids. They both happily spectated and offered hilarious suggestions that were more often than not actual puzzle solutions.
“Mom, I hear barfing. Grab the barfing guy and barf on the maps…”
/Grabs kid with “Toss Your Cookies” ability
The final Boss Battle was serious quick stacking in a contest involving Rock Attacks, Paper Wrapping, and Scissor Slashes!
The game took me two days to finish with all 17 achievements. It is very short, but thankfully so because otherwise the gameplay would probably get repetitive. The game is not difficult, and if you get the stuck the hint system is available. Twelve hundred M$ points seems a bit steep for such a short title, but the quality gameplay and amusement received make the purchase worth it. I’m hoping for DLC with more adventures with the Blackmore Family, and further hoping that I can acquire these awesome
Nesting Dolls (http://shop.doublefine.com/stackingnestingdolls.aspx). I highly recommend this title for a break from your FPS ranking marathon, or just a quick giggle.
Written by Claire "JeepChick" Hammett.
Follow her gaming adventures on twitter.