Irritating Stick is based on a Japanese game show. On the show, contestants take a giant electrical rod and maneuver it through a metal maze within a time limit. Oh, and if you touch the walls of the maze, you lose in a blast of flying sparks and electricity. Sounds like Japanese TV at its finest, right?
The game, however, doesn't translate very well. Sure, you get all the maze action, and many of the mazes and challenges are taken directly from the show. Also, the analog control moves the stick reasonably well. But you'd have a better time merely watching tapes of the TV show. Irritating Stick is most definitely aptly named.
There is a large variety of courses, thanks to the artificial intelligence mode, which generates random courses (using various preset track configurations) that get increasingly difficult as you succeed. Eventually, you'll get to tracks that have giant moving robots in the middle of them. Here, you'll have to maneuver deftly past the bots' moving parts. On TV, the unveiling of the bots is done fairly well, complete with smoke machines and other appropriate oohs and aahs. Here, an attempt is made to mimic the unveiling, but it just comes across, as much of the game does, as incredibly silly.
The graphics are pretty terrible, but they do manage to convey accurately a stick (represented by a large dot) moving around the metal track (represented by a collection of lines, with some unsightly seams between sections of track). With the touch of a button you can alter the perspective, but you can't move while in this other mode. The other camera view gives you a pulled-back shot, showing the entire stick from the side. It's pretty much useless. The music is OK, but the announcer is really quite lame. He only pipes up to say things like "Watch out! You're too close to the edge" and other obvious observations.
Irritating Stick captures some of the essence of the TV show, but in the end, it just isn't any fun. It might be worth keeping around as a kitsch item, to show to friends as "quite possibly the most insanely bad game you've ever seen." But don't expect to get much fun out of it, beyond the humor of the game's concept.