Pain is a much misunderstood game from Idol Minds that encourages sadism! Alright, it doesn’t really encourage sadism, but that was a hell of an opening line, right? Pain is unique in the way that there is nothing else that’s really like it. And we mean that in a good way.

It could be compared to Stair Dismount and Truck Dismount, the two freeware games on the PC that involve hurting the unlucky person by throwing them down stairs or putting them on a truck and driving it into a wall respectively. Pain, however, is much more developed than these, with it being a commercial game. It was released 3 months ago in the US on PSN, and Europe has been waiting to launch people into explosive crates ever since: because that’s what you do in Pain, you mount your player into a man-sized catapult and fire him at things.

Except that there’s so much more to it than that. You get points for how much destruction you cause, how many things you blow up, and, indeed, how much pain you cause to your character. You’re given an environment full of destructible objects that can either blow up, be dislodged from whatever it’s connected to, be thrown at other destructible things or shatter into tiny little pieces, and your job is to destroy everyone of them. Unfortunately, there is only one environment at the time of writing, and only one launch position, but there’s so much capacity for destruction, so many challenges, and enough modes to keep you interested for a pretty long time. Not only that, but you can unlock ‘Aftermath’, which is the same location two weeks after you originally hit it, so things are being reconstructed and such, so there’s a different layout and enough difference to make it seem fresh.


There are a few things your character can do after you launch him (or her). You can do a trick, which is essentially a pose that you activate by holding either L1 or L2 and one of the face buttons, hold this pose for 3 seconds and you get a small score bonus. You can also grab anything, from walls to floors to huge bowling balls to explosive crates, you can grab anything at all to change your direction or throw something. You can also use the analogue stick for some modicum of control over your character’s movement after you launch him, which is useful for fine tuning your aim on the fly (literally). Every time your character hits an object, your combo goes up by 1, which multiplies your score, which is obviously the key to huge scores.

After you hit an object (or wall, or floor), you can use the ‘ooch’ system to move your character around. The ooch system has a few rules, you must hit something before you use it, you use the d-pad to give yourself a small push in the direction your press, you must keep moving for the ooch to reappear and be used again, and you can shake the sixaxis to give you one super-ooch, which is a particularly powerful ooch that you can use once per launch. You use the ooch to push yourself towards explosive crates and other objects to keep things moving, which you need to do, because if your character stops moving, you’ll lose your ooch and you’ll have 15 seconds to wait before the game forces you to return to the catapult, which, if lots of things are falling and cranking up your score, can be a real bitch, so you really need to keep your score increasing (and to cause more explosions – and who doesn’t love explosions?).

There are 3 singleplayer modes that come with the game and one other that can be downloaded via PSN for free. The three that come with the game are PAINdemonium, Mime Toss and Spank the Monkey. Now you could mistake the last two for sexual acts, but don’t, because they’re not and that would be weird.

PAINdemonium is the sandbox mode, essentially. You just launch your character at things to cause as much damage and rack up as much points as you can. Once you get 1.5 million in one launch, you’ll unlock aftermath, which is the same thing in the same location with a few layout differences among the objects, and it also has an online leader boards (which have hundreds of millions in the top ten, so good luck with that).

Mime toss, which has absolutely nothing to do with masturbating a mime, requires you to launch yourself towards a magically floating mime, grab him and throw him through panes of glass. It’s very challenging, and a lot of fun, the mime is French, and, as a result, has a strong stereotypical French accent and says things like ‘please don’t hurt mwah!’, and ‘I surrender!’, which gets annoying and gives you even more incentive to throw him through glass. There is a timer running whilst you try to do this, and you must do it in under 1 minutes on normal mode for a gold medal which will unlock Hard mode, which has more panes of glass. When you get a gold on hard mode you unlock PAINful mode, which is much harder and has online leaderboards. Note that you can’t just launch yourself into the panes of glass because you get a 20 second penalty for each pane you hit – you have to grab the mime first.

Spank the Monkey sees you launching yourself at monkeys that spawn around the city. This has the same kind of medal format as mime toss, do it under a certain amount of time and you unlock hard mode, get a gold on that and you unlock PAINful mode which has online leaderboards. This mode can get challenging, as there are ‘Double Monkey Rounds’, where two monkeys spawn instead of one, you can get them separately or you can get them in the same launch, which is obviously quicker.

The downloadable mode is a single player version of a multiplayer mode called Fun With Explosives. It gives you the usual environment, but crams it full of explosive crates (even more than normal). You must blow up as many crates as you can in 3 separate launches – a certain amount for a gold medal unlocks the harder modes and PAINful mode has online leaderboards.

There are trophies spread out across all the modes (including multiplayer) which give more reason to continue playing the game. All of these modes are very entertaining, it’s great fun shooting people at things. Who would’ve thought?

There is a multiplayer mode, but only local at the moment, though word on the community (which is accessible from the main menu and launches the PS3 web browser) says that there will be a patch in a couple of months, along with a new level (amusement park), which is supposed to be amazing. The multiplayer mode is hugely enjoyable. There are 3 modes, HORSE, Bowling and Fun With Explosives. Horse is similar to the version that was first seen in Tony Hawks Pro Skater, just remove the skateboard and add a huge catapult. The first player launches into the environment and hits an object – the second player must then hit the same object and get more points. If the first player somehow manages to miss all the objects on the map (not an easy thing), the second player sets the object. If the second player beats the first’s score, the first must beat theirs. The person who fails to beat the score gets a letter, everytime you lose you get the next letter until you spell the word. You can choose whatever word you want to spell – the default is horse, but it doesn’t have to be.

Bowling is exactly what the name suggests, with a few creative differences. One player must launch their character at the pins, whilst the other player must press either square triangle or circle to throw any of three obstacles at the player to knock him off course. Also, there’s a few rounds when some (or all) of the pins are invaded by mines, which are harder to hit, because the sneaky buggers jump over you or crouch so you go over them, and you can get tangled in them pretty easily. You can still use your ooch to knock as many pins down if you can reach them.

Fun With Explosives gives you the environment with a huge increase in the number of explosive crates. You have two launches to hit as many as you possibly can with anything you
can, then your friend has to try and hit more in his. Whoever gets the least loses.

You can download additional characters to the two already in the game (one is unlockable and the other has 3 different outfits, two of which must be unlocked) for 69p each. There are 6 characters you can download at the time of writing; Santa, Cookie (Santa’s Helper – complete with kinky outfit), Hung Lo the midget ninja, Scurv Dogg the midget pirate rapper, Ginger the masochistic naughty nurse (complete with kinky outfit) and Muffy the cheerleader (complete with kinky outfit). Each character in the game has their own special poses and dialogue to add humour (for example, Santa says things like ‘I’d better get a cookie for this’ and ‘where are my reindeer when I need them?’.

Overall, Pain is a hugely entertaining game that can lead to a lot of entertainment and side-splitting laughter, especially if you play it with friends. As soon as the patch with online play and the new level are released, I’ll revise this review, as it could be one of the best games on the PSN with those improvements. Right now, it’s still very good, and a lot of fun if you want some quick, light hearted entertainment.