Dan-Ball, creators of the Powder Game sandbox games, as well as many other simple, cute Java games, are appealing to the traditional RPG fan with their recent offering Stick Ranger. If you recall Irritation Stickman, the controls are roughly the same, although the pacing is drastically different.
Create your four-character party by assigning a class to each member—there are the Boxer, the Gladiator, the Sniper, the Magician, and the Priest—and send them on their way through stages with austere backdrops, fighting stick figure monsters for gold, items, weaponry and experience, not forgetting to grab little rice balls to restore HP, of course. You may interfere as you see fit by dragging them around the screen and managing equipment. Note that to exit an area, you have to drag (or, as I like to do, fling) a stickman to (at) the exit.
The in-game option menu allows you to turn off the autopilot on any character, leaving it to stand slack-jawed as the rest of the party marches on. And you can access the World Map at any time to run away, crying, to the nearest town (although this nullifies your progress through the area you left).
The town is what you'd expect in a game of this nature: a store with stuff that's inferior to what you find in the field, an inn that heals all wounds, and… citizens? Nope, but there's a Book o' Information you must pay an exorbitant fee to read from. And leveling up is accomplished by clicking the plus sign next to one of four stats (HP, strength, dexterity and magic) you wish to upgrade. All the makings of a fun, if standard, RPG.
Analysis: Stickman Ranger is certainly physically accessible; the controls are simple, and things move slowly enough that even the most impaired of hands can operate it with minimal risk of total party kills.
Score one point for Dan-Ball there, but, to be blunt, I don't feel like it delivers on the fun. Stick Ranger feels an awful lot like an ant farm with the trappings of an RPG. Sure, you get to do all the RPG work, but you barely figure into the combat—maybe you drag a guy over to food or smack them into some gold, but it's mostly their game. It's hard to feel involved in a game that runs on autopilot, especially one so abstract.
The stripped-down look of Dan-Ball games usually lends to their simple charm, especially in the more toy-like games, Powder Game being a perfect example. It also works well in silly, action-oriented games, where you hardly even notice your character. But it unfortunately alienates the player in an RPG, a type of game in which your rapport with the characters is vital.
Still, as you invest more time in it, the item system is detailed, the combat is more or less balanced, and the world map is quite large. These are merits not to be overlooked.
Whether you like Stickman Ranger depends on what you're looking for. If you like RPG item management, or exploration, but you can take or leave the hack'n'slash action, Stickman Ranger will suit you fine. If you really need to feel involved with your characters, you will find it less than satisfying.
Funnyman - Most RPGs work by meticulously balancing the three S's: Story, Skill, and Statistics. The Story involves you emotionally, mastering the required Skill keeps you busy, and the Statistics give you a sense of accomplishment as they grow. If any of the three fail, it can be fatal to the game.
Stick Ranger takes this finely-tuned technique and throws it out the window. This is a game about Statistics, with only the thinnest veneer of Story and Skill. The game becomes an upwards spiral, with nothing to distract you from the sense of accomplishment when you gain a level or pick up a new item. Like mySQLgame, Stick Ranger strips the genre down to its bare essentials, and it works. If you're looking for a game that pulls at your heartstrings, this isn't it. But if level grinding is one of your guilty pleasures, give it a try.