Mike Shadow: I Paid For It!
The age old struggle of man vs vending machine is about to get a whole lot more brutal thanks to Tanoku's ridiculously over-the-top arcade game of man-on-machine that just sits-there-and-takes-it violence, Mike Shadow: I Paid For It! After being stiffed out of a tasty beverage that was rightfully yours one too many times by the callous, uncaring vending machine, you (that is, Mike Shadow) have finally had enough and are going to unleash one heck of an unholy beatdown on its smug, plastic buttons. Your available skills and powers appear as buttons at the bottom of the screen, and all you need to do is click on one to activate it; using these uses patience, which also begins to tick down after your first strike, and when that runs out you'll have to quit, but if you can build up your stress level enough with each hit you'll be able to activate special moves that really bring the pain. Try to last as long as possible and you'll earn high scores and cash that you can spend on the extensive upgrade shop to unlock bigger, badder, and weirder abilities. Maybe there's even a special Anger Management Therapy mode you can unlock! Because, well... it's a vending machine.
I Paid For it is weird, no doubt about it, but it's that weirdness that helps it stand out from the pack. There's no real goal other than to get the biggest high score you can, and the game provides you with an impressive stable of upgrades to do it in the most spectacular fashion possible, with some top-notch animation to carry it all through. The downside is that it can be fairly repetitive and take a lot of grinding to unlock the most interesting stuff, especially since cash can be so infuriatingly random to appear even with the chance upgraded. It wouldn't be so bad if you could chain moves together, but since you have to wait for the attack animations to end before you can click a new skill, you'll be doing a lot of thumb twiddling that interrupts the flow of gameplay. (And if you played Final Fantasy 8, you're probably having Guardian Force flashbacks right about now. Look, we know you're the earthly manifestations of infinite, unknowable magical forces, but would it kill you to move with a bit of expediency?)
While Mike Shadow: I Paid For It! at times feels a bit more like a webtoy or spectacle than an actual game, as a means of catharsis for anyone whose Kit Kat has ever been withheld by the cruel machinations of the snack industry, it's virtually unmatched. It's also stylish, weird, silly, and entertaining, and chock-a-block with a staggering array of weapons and special abilities designed specifically to help you indulge your taste for vending machine carnage. Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming movie directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Kiefer Sutherland as a man on a mission and Gary Oldman as the vending machine who wronged him.