Monday, 7 July 2014

Super Dodge Ball (NES)

Hello to you too.
It's rare that I'll like a sports game but with this adaptation of Super Dodge Ball, I can't help but find it charming while offering an interestingly tactical game. Depending upon where you're from and what you understand of dodge ball, the basic premise is that you have a ball and have to hit people with it while also avoid being hit by it. Hence, Dodge the Ball... Clever that part, is it not? (No... it's dumb). Aside from dumb and obvious naming conventions, the game itself in this case has two teams of six, balling each other to the point where people are trying to avoid being smacked in the face by balls.

Yep, it's going to be one of those reviews.

Odd shaped balls... It's not rugby.

The first team to get hit by the other's balls more times, is out. In this case, there's a health bar system in play too where each character in the centre of the court can survive until they take too much damage and then they're removed from play. Those on the outside of the court cannot be knocked out but don't count towards the winning conditions. So you can slap them in the face as much as you want with your balls, it won't end anything.

Another ice level.... Oh how much I hate these
Each character also has the incredible ability to adjust their balls depending upon how they handle their balls. If running for a short while before releasing their balls, they can turn their balls into different shapes and in some cases, multiply their balls as a sort of "special shot". Being hit by the players balls while in a special shot, can cause more damage or penetrate through multiple opponents if not caught. It all depends upon which character is unloading their balls at the opponent. Though it's hard to remember which character has which effect on the balls and this also changes depending upon running or jumping after running for differing attacks and special balls.

Balls balls balls, balls (ok sorry...).

You win, here's the mirror match in 1950's Russia... Odd location.
It's a 1-2player game with a world tour mode, a straight up versus mode and a more interesting Free For All mode where characters just go mad at each other. In the world tour you'll take on the rest of the world as USA (why?) competing against England (Houses of parliament in the background) Iceland (Slippery floor) India (Taj Mahal and the team has low HP but high Def stats), China (shades of ping-pong tournaments perhaps? And a chance to use Wang as a name) Kenya (playing on mud which drops your running speed stats like mad) Japan for the semi-finals (Not holding onto any war grudges here are we?) and finally Russia. (No surprise there...) followed by a bonus-boss team.

I'm going out on a limb here and guessing it's Mount Fuji in the background.

For controls, you've your ability to double-tap to run, you jump with both buttons (awkward as you're likely to either take a shot with your balls or lob your balls at your teammates rather than jump) shoot with B and pass with A. That's it really. Simplistic but gets the job done and does it fairly well even with another player playing at the same time. There is a slight delay at times because of the large amount of events happening on screen which can throw off your timing and force someone's balls into your face.

There IS a 6th person there, but flickering sprites...

The biggest issue here, is that it's got so much going on screen with so many large sprites, you end up missing most of them, or flickering as it's the game's way of showing which character has been selected (why not put a P1 or P2 over their head?) that you can quickly lose track of what's going on and the vanishing sprites through sprite overload, looks horrible and shows an over ambition here that failed to take into account the limitations of the NES. Maybe if it was just two characters on the court it might have avoided this issue.

Now it just needs Hollywood to make another bullshit film about it...

If you can look past the staggered frame rate and slightly unresponsive controls, you've a nice little game here that would otherwise be overlooked, but that said, there's better and more fun sports games out there than this on the NES with better graphics and controls. I could mention Double Dribble for a start by the synth-speech makes me laugh my balls off.  

Yep, now get lost and read something else.