“Stress Baal” Lets Users Beat Up a Cartoon Character for Relief

Filmmaker and animator Arthur Metcalf (Fantaisie in Bubblewrap, It Took A While To Figure Shit Out) has taken a moment between short films to create Stress Baal, a new game app that is now available for iPhone and Android phones. The game, which features a high-strung imp ready to be tortured for the amusement of the player, is like an interactive Duck Amuck, in which the user chooses how often to inflict agony on their character. “You beat him up with your fingertip,” Metcalf told Cartoon Brew. “There’s no score, no goals. It’s meant to just be entertaining rather than addictive.”

His approach to creating the game is not unlike that of one of his films, and the small moments of personality are just as important as the big action scenes. “As a kid, I spent a lot of time just playing with Sonic on my Genesis,” said Metcalf. “Not playing the game, just playing with Sonic’s animation. If you left him alone for a few seconds, he’d cross his arms, kick the ground and so forth. It was this one simple animation, but it added a lot to the game – it made it feel like Sonic was more than just a sprite box sliding around.”

Rather than moving towards digital puppetry with simulated physics, Metcalf challenged himself by sticking to his traditional animation background while simultaneously pushing the number of reactions he could get out of the character. “Part of my decision to make Stress Baal was to try to figure out if this kind of animation would work at all in a game. I was told by a lot of tech guys that it would probably be impossible due to technical limitations, that there was a reason characters had to only have one animation for each action. I’m glad to find out it wasn’t so.”

As a result, the action in Stress Baal is a combination of repetition and surprises that makes the game charming, fun and comically sadistic. “It’s meant to be sort of an easter egg hunt. You will see animation repeated, but I can tell you from having done the game testing myself, that it can take an entire day of nonstop play to actually see it all.”

Stress Baal is available for 99 cents in the iTunes app store and Google Play.


  • rufus3698

    Animated movie pitch: “Baal’s Revenge”. Roger Rabbit meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

  • Todd

    I can’t stop playing this, it’s gorgeously animated. Love the personality in it.

  • zeke

    this is one of the most charming iphone toys yet made. SO much personality!