Dodgeball Academia is a game set in a world that revolves around – you guessed it, dodgeballs. The game features a single-player story mode wherein you will join Otto and train to become the ultimate dodgeball champion. Then there’s a versus mode, where you can sit back and play locally with your friends (or by yourself, no judging). This RPG game is giving me a lot of classic Pokémon vibes, from the transition music, the menu UI, some gameplay mechanics and more. And I am here for all of it!
Since there isn’t that much to go on about the versus mode, this review will specifically focus on the single-player story mode.
You will play as Otto, a transfer student in the academy, who aspires to be the best dodgeball player out there. The story unfolds like it’s some sort of a Saturday morning cartoon. Its cartoonish art style and the same time, combining a 2.5D world and 2D sprite sets this game apart distinctively. The story progresses somewhat linearly, having a main quest each day and a few optional quests in between. Its main quest dubbed as an ‘episode’ really makes this game feel like you’re watching a cartoon series.
The gameplay of dodgeball is very simple. Two teams are matched and the first team that gets wiped out, loses. If you are familiar with the game, then you had a nice childhood. But if not, don’t fret because the game did a nice job of introducing the rules to you. Your team may compose from one to three members, while the enemy team will range from one to six. You control one character or switch up to another on the fly during the matches.
Throughout the story mode, you will come across unique characters that will contribute to your story progression. With each character having different characteristics, they also come with different set of abilities; from counters, whether to dodge or jump, and balltimates (ultimate moves). As you progress through the story, you will be unlocking characters that will join your team. You can freely customize your party in the main menu.
There are two types of obtainable items in the game; (1) consumables that can heal/revive your party members or give a permanent stat boost, (2) equipment that will give you additional boosts in your stats if your characters have them equipped. Each character can only equip up to two items, so plan strategically. While for the consumables, it is worth taking note that each character also has preference. Meaning to say, some consumables will have a better effect to those who loves or likes the food as opposed to dislikes and allergic to it. Aside from using consumable items, you may also get your team healed up in an infirmary.
The core gameplay of dodgeball can get repetitive quite fast if you’re burning through this game quickly. Since all the main quests and optional quests will revert to you playing dodgeball. I highly suggest that play this game in short bursts to avoid the feeling of it becoming a chore. The game is fairly short, ranging from 10 to 15 hours of playtime to finish the story mode. So, there is no point of rushing this one, just take your time and let the game come to you.
With the positive notes out of the way, now it’s time to tackle some negative ones. First off, your other team members are pretty much useless. All their movements and actions will depend on the character that you’re using. It’s crazy seeing your enemy moving so independently and contributing to win the match. Your teammates will shadow you, mimicking your movements. It’s already hard enough to dodge volley of balls thrown at you, imagine having to that while minding your teammates position. And they are not contributing at all. I often feel like my other team members are only there just so I have a backup life just in case my character’s health depletes to zero.
Next is that rolling ball mode (sprinting). Since by default, your moving animation is already running, going from point A to point B can be hassle especially if it’s on the other side of the campus. Thus, they are introducing this rolling ball to somewhat kind of sprint. On paper, this shouldn’t be something negative, right? Wrong. Going into a roll feels like you don’t have any real directional control. You will bang keep banging into something and this will eventually annoy the hell out of you.
Overall, I do recommend this game to anyone who has an itch for a sports RPG. Its visuals and soundtrack make this game really stand out. Story-wise, it’s not that heavy and that’s fine for me. The core gameplay of dodgeball is solid especially with how they’ve added a cartoonish twist to it. The ability effects are amazing and satisfying to execute. And besides, there isn’t that many dodgeball games out there. So, grab a copy and start playing!