North American PlayStation 2 cover art
|Developer(s)||Treasure Co. Ltd|
Stretch Panic, known as Freak Out in Europe and Oceania and Hippa Linda (ひっぱリンダ Hippa Rinda) in Japan, is an action/platform video game designed by Treasure Co. Ltd. It was a landmark title for the developer as it was their first game to feature movement on a 3D plane; prior to Stretch Panic they had exclusively been a developer of 2D titles. The game revolves around a girl named Linda who has the power to pinch, stretch, and bend objects and enemies with a magic scarf as she battles her evil sisters. The game was released on July 27, 2001 in Europe, August 28, 2001 in North America and December 6, 2001 in Japan.
The story stars a girl named Linda who lives with her twelve vain sisters, who are obsessed with beauty and treat Linda as their errand girl, often making fun of her scarf. One day, a mysterious present appears on the family's doorstep which, upon being opened unleashes thirteen vanity demons. As twelve of the demons manage to kidnap and possess the other sisters, the thirteenth demon becomes stuck in Linda's scarf. With everyone sucked into a weird dimension, Linda, now having full command over her newly possessed scarf, sets out to save her twelve sisters and exorcise the twelves demons possessing them.
Stretch Panic sees players in the role of Linda, a girl who must use her newly possessed scarf to rescue her sisters that have been possessed by demons. Linda's scarf has the unique ability to grab onto its environment and stretch it as if it were elastic. Players can aim the scarf towards an object or enemy and, once it has grabbed something, pull it and then snap it back to damage it. Linda can also grab the ground, and then pull back and launch her across distances and heights. Linda can also grab onto an object or enemy and charge up the tension of the scarf to perform a charging head butt move. Damage is determined by three levels, weak blue attacks, medium yellow attacks and strong red attacks that are achieved by attacking an enemy's weak points. The health of Linda and the bosses are represented by a star shaped chart, which fills up as they take damage. If Linda takes too much damage and fills up her star chart, she will be returned to the main hub.
The game starts off in a main hub, where players can access the available levels, save their progress, and access a gallery where they can freely stretch the bosses they have exorcised. There are two sets of levels: EX levels, which are platforming levels, and boss fights. The EX levels are notable for having only one enemy type: women with comically enormous breasts. Points can be earned by attacking these enemies on their weak points, their heads, which are required to enter each of the boss levels. Each boss is unique, featuring its own strategies and weak points. Linda can defeat each boss by dealing enough damage to it, after which she can re-enter the stage at no extra cost. However, to truly defeat a boss and rescue the possessed sister, the player must successfully perform a Smart Bomb move, which requires five points to use, to exorcise the demon possessing the boss before defeating it. As bosses are defeated, more levels become available.
- Linda (リンダ Rinda) is the youngest sister in her family. She is unusual, cute and kind-hearted. When her father died, her 12 older sisters - Cinder, Spinner, Miss Mecca, Anne-Droid V2.1, Demonica, Spirit, Fay Soff, Cyan, Samantha, Mirage, Jelly-Chan and Siren - spent most of the money to buy mirrors, clothes, shoes and make up. Linda, who cares less for external appearances than her sisters do, wears a yellow and purple-striped shirt, green pants, and tall red sandals, also sporting red wristbands and a colorful "tomato monster" cap decorated with buttons. On top of it all, Linda continuously wears her favorite green scarf, given to her by her father at the age of six. Because of Linda's less-than-sophisticated fashion sense, she is often harassed by her older siblings, even though these are the only clothes that fit her perfectly. Before she started her adventure to save her sisters, Linda was sent out to purchase her sisters' "weekly cosmetics supply". Linda is the only sister in her family with pink and red hair.
- Linda's Demon Scarf used to be a regular, inanimate article of clothing. Linda's sisters often implored Linda to throw it away, though because of its sentimental value she refused. After becoming possessed by the same Demons of Vanity that transformed her sisters, it gained an eye and became as colorful as Linda, as well as acquiring the abilities to exorcise her sisters' demons and to grant any object it touches an amazing degree of elasticity, regardless of the object's original substance. Because Linda took good care of her scarf, it likes her and agrees to allow Linda to control it as long as she indulges its desire to stretch things, and together they set out to save the sisters.
- The Demons of Vanity are responsible for transforming Linda's sisters and her scarf into demons. They like to punish anyone who is obsessed with their own looks. They are formally known as Zakos. Different Zakos appear to assist the sisters when they were demons. The most common form for the Demons of Vanity are small demons with psychotic-looking smiles, noses that are sharp and longer than their own heads, wearing colorful robes. They create a glowing white circle with many symbols, play instruments and spin around in order to turn Linda's sisters into demons. When Linda's demon scarf exorcises one of her sisters, a pink Zako head with light green wings and bluish-black aura will appear and follow her for the whole boss battle. Once Linda's sisters become human again, a huge white light will surround them which prevents the pink demon Zako from coming back in, causing it to fade in its aura.
- Bonita Zakos are the most human looking demons in the game (despite their giant breasts.) They are minions of the Demons of Vanity and girls with ponytails who use their giant breasts as helicopters to fly out of danger, to punch Linda, and belly-flop Linda to the ground. They sometimes run and use their breasts to push Linda. Their weak points are their heads and backsides, but it is sometimes a little tricky due to them moving around in circles. They come in three colors: Red, blue and black. The blue and black ones only appear in the EX-Island and EX-Factory, while the red ones appear in the EX-Rooftop and share the EX-Ice world with the black and blue ones. The red ones also appear in the Gallery of Shame if you haven't exorcised and defeated the demon sisters yet. If the Bonita Zakos take enough damage, they explode. More points are earned if they are defeated without players touching their breasts.
- Cinder (ヒガデール Higadēru) is a pyromaniac and she loves to set things on fire. The Demons of Vanity turned her into a giant purple-headed girl with pink hair and a colorful dress. Cinder violently sucks up air and breathes fire. She has the ability to fly while breathing fire like a hot air balloon and will also occasionally spit out happy little bombs out of her very small nose. Her weak point is her uvula, which if stretched, will cause Cinder to have an explosion in her mouth and knocking her out for a few moments.
- Spinner (ササールカ Sasāruka) loves to spin around and play outside. She became a bird-like gyroscope with wings. She spins around everywhere on her stage. The only way to stop her is by stretching her head or tail, stopping her relentless spinning. Like Cinder, Spinner can summon happy little bombs.
- Miss Mecca (ノケゾール＆ノケゾンナーはかせ Nokezōru & Nokezon'nā Hakase) is Linda's inventive older sister who, thanks to the Demons of Vanity, became a mad scientist at the helm of a formidable but unstable robot. She makes the giant mech shoot missiles and use its arms to attack. Linda and her scarf need to stretch the head to get Miss Mecca and her robot shocked by the walls in order to give heavy damage.
- Siren (オイーデ Oīde) loves to sing and had a volatile temper. She became a demonic singer with two forms. The first is a pale apparition with a sweet voice, standing amidst blue skies and small but adoring fans. At the sound of her song, her audience flings themselves onto her dress. If Linda fails to pluck them all from her transformed sister before she finishes her song, Siren transforms into a demonic, lightning-throwing witch in a dark dress and her fans become flying, scythe-wielding minions. The skies turn menacing shades of purple when they are like this. However, if Linda plucks all of the fans off Siren in time, Siren will throw a fit and her sharp, chomper-like dress will close on her hands, making her take heavy damage.
- Anne-Droid V2.1 (スペーシー Supēshī) loved Sci-Fi, so she became a satellite with clothes and a face orbiting her very own - if very small - planet. Anne drops blue and yellow Zakos behind her as she drifts around the planet; the yellow are the source of an electric charge, and the blue conduct the charge between them, often creating a moving barrier of electricity. Besides using a simple stretch-and-snap attack, Linda can stretch the blue and gold Zakos to hurt Anne. Stretching Anne Droid V2.1 herself causes heavy damage, though it is tricky to accomplish as she is always moving.
- Fay Soff (トッテツケーロ Tottetsukēro) was in love with each aspect of her own face, so The Demons of Vanity turned her into a monstrosity of a Mr. Potato Head whose every facial feature (Two purple and yellow ears, a blue nose, a red mouth and two multi-colored eyes) has a life - and an attacking power - of its own. Linda has to catapult into Fay Soff's face to knock these features from their position, and then must proceed to reattach them more haphazardly. Fay Soff will go red with embarrassment. Attacking her when during this time will cause heavy damage. If Fay Soff's facial features are off her face, they bounce around and they will try to come back to her face.
- Samantha (ゲローリィ Gerōryi) is the second youngest sister. Her most treasured possession is her plastic toy fish, who she believes is real. She was turned into a small flying witch who attacks with her fish, which has turned into a chomping weapon. When Linda and her scarf go against Samantha, Samantha will try to crush Linda using the spheres scattered around the stage. Linda must snap the fish as it is grabbing the spheres in order to get Samantha to vomit.
- Jelly-Chan (ラクライン Rakurain) is the chubby sister and she loves to eat. She became transformed into a demon that is actually a gigantic green blob of jelly with a face. She has an insatiable appetite and can engulf everything around her (including Linda if she's not careful), but her stage can be used against her. There are occasional red bolts of lightning that can hit her. Like Fay Soff, Jelly-Chan's eyes can come off her face.
- Demonica (ニコルソン Nikoruson) had a very unhealthy obsession with anything horror related. She became a demon so scary that a look at her will cause death. She has a bulky figure and an axe. She runs around behind the walls of the stage, invisible but noisy as she attempts to break into the room. Linda and the Demon Scarf, trapped, must stretch the doors that Demonica is behind to inflict damage and will inflict heavy damage if they are able to snap the stained glass window while Demonica is behind it.
- Cyan (カチコチーナ Kachikochīna) is short, and felt that because of her height, she was not taken seriously by her sisters. She was transformed into a very tall blue alien with multiple arms. She is reminiscent of Siren due to her immobility from the center of the stage and all her attacks cause heavy damage. Cyan has enemies of her own: Numerous jetpack-wearing shock troopers who are trying to stop her. Cyan cannot be stretched normally so Linda and her scarf have to aid the shock troopers, who Cyan will knock out of the air, and wait for them to freeze her. To cause heavy damage to Cyan, Linda has to have all of the shock troopers in the air when she stretches her.
- Mirage (ジーカタマール Jīkatamāru) is interested in Egyptian culture and became a mummy with a screw-like body. She sends torpedoes and shockwaves to attack Linda and her demon scarf. She has the ability to shoot missiles, dig, make fire and whip the sand around her into a dangerous tornado, but if she performs this attack near the oasis, the water solidifies the sand into a column of mud. She will take heavy damage if Linda stretches her in this form.
- Spirit (テガモエール Tegamoēru) is the oldest sister and she always wanted to be a ghost - so the Demons of Vanity turned her into one. She is dressed as a princess because, as the eldest of the siblings, Spirit believes that she should be allowed to tell everyone what to do. Representing her longing for children, she summons small, childlike statues from the ground. In addition, she has the ability to stretch objects like Linda's scarf can. Spirit's red gloves are the only tangible part of her body. They are incredibly dangerous to approach, but stretching them so that they turn red and dragging them into the fire inflicts heavy damage. If Linda destroys the child tombs, Spirit will try to attack Linda.
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Stretch Panic received mixed reviews. GameGo! magazine featured the game on the cover of its first issue, and gave it a rave review, while Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it 4.9/10. In Japan, Famitsu magazine scored the game a 30 out of 40.
- プレイステーション2 - ひっぱリンダ. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.90. 30 June 2006.