Developer: Pocket Trap Publisher: Humble Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation and Xbox
Dodgeball Academia was a game that I had never heard of over 2 weeks ago, slipping through my radar unnoticed, not a peep about this game anywhere. What an absolute crime! I heard about this game through the playstation based Podcast I listen to each week known as Sacred Symbols, hosted by Colin Moriarty – if you have never listened, I would highly recommend it! Dodgeball academia has an excellent art style, quirky writing and fun-fill faced smashing dodgeball.
Since this is a game all about dodgeball, I feel it is only fitting to start this review about that! The game holds simple controls, introducing elements and new characters gradually. The gameplay boils down to regular dodgeball rules that you will most likely be familiar about already. You snatch the balls up, throw them at your opponent and try to catch any coming towards you. To allow this game to flourish within the RPG genre, instead of being out as soon as a player is hit, each character has an amount of hp. Different characters hold a variety of skills such as being able to dodge, some can float around and other can rebound the balls back to sender with a swift kick. Variety is key within the characters you have on your team, allowing you to select your favourite. You can have three players on your field at a time (although the enemy can have huge numbers) and all three players move as a squad. This aspect was the only part that I didn’t enjoy – it was annoying sometimes to have my teammates stuck to my hip like glue instead of them roaming freely around the court. But this is a minor complaint – once the craziness begins within a match, it is soon forgotten. As you progress through the game, other features are introduced, such as new balls – fire, ice, poison…..ghost…..baby…..I will let you find out about the baby balls yourselves! (On reflection that is a strange sentence but I promise it is purely innocent.)
Charm, quirkiness and humour are the glue that truly binds this game. Pocket trap have spent their time wisely on the cartoon-ish art style, the crazy yet original character design and the humorous story. The world created in Dodgeball Academia is light-hearted and fun, holding the kids cartoon concept, that everyone is friends and to always be kind, at its heart. This is what makes the game so love-able. Playing through the game just made me happy! Within the script are humorous one-loners or quick-witted references to other media. And as annoying as the constant random battles could be on occasion; the idea that all problems could be solved by throwing dodgeballs at each other, never failed to make me chuckle. Each character within the game is unique, some certainly more than others – my favourite being the arrogant jerk whose head is a cardboard, tastefully known as Cubo. I loved every interaction and never choosing to skip dialogue, just in case I missed something juicy. The best part of this game however, is the little details. Such as, travelling faster around the game involves rolling yourself up as a ball and darting around the school or the quirky items you are equip holding relevance to dodgeball playing children. It is clear Pocket Trap have made a real effort.
One thing I would like to mention in my review, and this is part of the game I loved, since it involved reminiscing on a certain older title – which I don’t want to name because I would prefer others to make the link themselves. But Dodgeball academia, from its awesome battle soundtrack to the noise made when you get yourself healed to the way experience and team management work; are all features that made me think of a famous franchise that began back in 1995 on the Gameboy. I am sure once you play this amazing game, you will also make the same like.
Overall, I fully enjoyed my 9 hour playful. My greatest sadness being that once the game is done, there isn’t really a reason to replay the game. And yes there are some flaws, such as the lack of indoor map, too many random battles and no reason really to ever buy items. Other than that, Dodgeball Academia is a brilliant title and a must pick for any indie gamer.