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Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure Review

by Dean James

Dodgeball has long been a staple of gym class while growing up, but very rarely has this sport been tackled by the gaming industry. The Super Dodge Ball series is the most prominent of them, but now the young developer Game Swing is trying to bring the sport back to gaming with the highly addictive and action packed Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure.

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure utilizes a very Minecraft-like approach with the character designs, which are block bodies that have specific features to set themselves apart from one another. This isn’t the most original design choice they could have gone with, but with the type of game Stikbold is, it works just fine. While the characters maintain this design, the arenas you play in are a little more orthodox in design, though they are still pretty basic.

Rather than just develop a straight up dodgeball simulation game, Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure takes the basics of dodgeball and mixes in both elements of a fighting game and even a top down shooter in some ways. The controls are very easy to use, with holding the right trigger and then aiming with the right analog stick being the method of throwing the ball while other mechanics like dodging, catching, and punching come in later.

The developer has split the game into two different game modes, with a 12 stage story mode and then a quick match mode where you can set up the stage and players just how you would like, with up to six players, including bots, that are spread across up to three teams. Story mode serves as a great entry point for players, as while you can just learn the various moves yourself with the control list, the story mode gradually implements moves that are helpful in those stages while also making the gameplay more complex. The controls themselves, even with the advanced curving techniques, should not be a problem to learn at all.

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The story itself is very basic, but it’s not like you would really expect too much from a game like this in that department. There is plenty of humor injected throughout, largely through the small cast of characters that you will come across, which makes the story at least somewhat entertaining. For those that could care less about the story in a game like this though, you can easily skip them at any time as well.

While the story isn’t all that captivating, the actual gameplay and setups within most of the stages in story mode are very unique and a ton of fun. They do start off with basic versus matches with some obstacles thrown into the mix, but very soon you will see the inclusion of very different style levels that continue to mix in a variety of unique boss battles as well.

Every few levels in the story mode will give you one of these boss battles, which differ in size and scope throughout. One of these involves you taking down a bus while another introduces a giant boss that has a number of phases. The variety is very welcome, though it may be kind of annoying for those that preferred the more straight up dodgeball arena matches found in the earlier levels, but luckily there is always the quick match option for those players.

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Beyond the basic objective of just defeating the opposing team or boss, each of the 12 story mode stages also have three objectives. Some of these are much harder to complete than others, with some tasking you to destroy all the objects on that particular stage while others require you to avoid being hit by an enemy. The single player experience is admittedly quite short in this game after completing story mode, but these objectives do add a little more longevity to the game.

Features a varying mix of objectives and bosses

Throughout story mode, you will see the different stages in the game, which include locations like a park, an oil rig, and even Hell. Overall, the number of stages is kind of limited and can get a little tiresome with friends, but the inclusion of exclusive obstacles in each helps in this area. While most of the static objects are only different in a superficial sense, the different special enemies within the various stages set them apart from one another.

Across the different themed stages, you will face enemies that are specific to that area, such as hippies in the park and activists on the oil rig. Some of these are actually helping the enemy to fight you, while some of them are just on the map to cause trouble for anybody. The activists in particular are a lot of fun, as they are constantly trying to knock anyone they can off of the oil rig. You can even unlock some of these characters to use in quick match later also.

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For a game that is largely built on multiplayer, the one standout flaw that Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure has is the lack of any sort of online multiplayer. The game definitely is built for the old school couch style of multiplayer with friends that modern gaming is sorely lacking. Runbow took a similar approach by focusing on the local multiplayer, but also included a simple online mode as well. However, considering the game is at a budget price, it is pretty understandable that this feature was left out.

The Verdict

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure takes a sport that few get the opportunity to play anymore and infuses it with a more action oriented approach that surprisingly works quite well. The game’s story mode features a varying mix of objectives and bosses, though it can be a short but sweet experience. While there is a disappointing lack of online, the local couch multiplayer really helps to extend the game’s longevity and makes Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure well worth the cost of entry.

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Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure

  • Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • Published By: Curve Digital
  • Developed By: Game Swing
  • Genre: Action
  • US Release Date: April 5th, 2016
  • Reviewed On: PS4
  • Quote: "Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure takes a sport that few get the opportunity to play anymore and infuses it with a more action oriented approach that surprisingly works quite well."
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The Good

  • Unique gameplay
  • Varying boss battles
  • Easy to learn controls

The Bad

  • No online play
  • Little replay value for single player
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