Anna Leah Karasik
- Developer: FinalBoss Games
- Publisher: PlayStack
- Release Date: 12/09/2019
- Price: £11.99 / $12.99
- Review code provided by PlayStack
Joining the Fray
Super Dodgeball Beats wastes no time in showing off what makes it a unique rhythm game. Jumping into the campaign mode, you’re met with a brief setup presented through a charming, hand-drawn comic book sequence: a mascot corralls three bored nerds into joining an epic dodgeball tournament. Now, they’re fired up!
The tutorial is short and sweet: your four players represent the four buttons on your controller, and there are three different types of beat commands that will pop up. That may sound a little too simple, but the combination of pressing, holding, and sliding becomes plenty to handle as you dip into more difficult levels.
As you hit the beats on time, you’ll earn power-ups, which will either throw the enemy off or give you a little boost. For example, one power-up sends a giant mascot head to the enemy side – obscuring their view. Another will stop an enemy power-up in its tracks. You earn new types of power-ups as you continue through the game, but remember: your enemies have the same arsenal at their disposal to use against you! Power-ups throw a wrench into things when you’re on a roll with the rhythm – which is a welcome challenge in a genre that can easily become repetitive.
Your fourth player is a support mascot. Their role is to boost the odds of getting certain power-ups… and to be your hype man when you win. There are three support characters to unlock, and you can choose a new one before each round.
Becoming Top Baller
After the tutorial, you’re thrown right into the rookie tournament, where your team of nerds competes to be the dodgeball champions. Once you take home the rookie trophy, you’ll get to participate in two increasingly harder tournaments that will push your sense of rhythm to its limit. The third and final tournament is so difficult, that I’ve conceded to needing some major thumb workouts before I’m ready to take it on.
For genre veterans who can zip through these campaigns with ease, you’ll find that you can beat the game in a few short hours. Not to worry, though: Training mode allows you to revisit your favorite songs as many times as you please. Plus, Super Dodgeball Beats really shines in multiplayer mode – more on that later.
Dodging in Style
In the tournaments, you’ll face off against several quirky dodgeballers, from an alien to a dapper old dinosaur. My personal favorite is the Senile Squad. (I can only hope I’m that rock n’ roll when I’m elderly!) Each character has unique animations for every action, as well as for winning and losing. Meanwhile, the tournament host dances away in the center of the court, indicating the team that’s currently in the lead.
That brings me to the art in Super Dodgeball Beats – a major high point. The characters and stages are all hand-drawn in a bold anime style. As you win each tournament, you’re treated to brief, fun comic book sequences like the one in the introduction. It’s apparent that a lot of love went into these visuals.
This game doesn’t drop the dodgeball when it comes to fun tunes. Each song is a high-octane, original piece. The beat commands occur at moments that make sense, so as long as you’re listening to the music, you’ll be able to feel the rhythm. Hitting beats perfectly on time yields a little cheering sound and a light vibration on the controller, while missing the beats gives you a slightly harsher buzz. That gentle feedback is satisfying rather than distracting, so whether you’re on a roll or flubbing it up, you can focus on the music.
Once you’ve exhausted the campaign mode, it’s time to rope a friend into playing with you. In multiplayer mode, you and a companion can go head-to-head as many times as you please.
You can choose from any stages, teams, songs, and support characters you’ve encountered through campaign mode. This “free play” aspect makes it both accessible and addicting. It certainly is more satisfying to see your power-ups confuddling your real-life opponent, rather than RNG doing the work on NPCs. Sadly, there is no online multiplayer option.
Fresh and Funky
I’m a sucker for quirky, colorful games, so Super Dodgeball Beats had me at “Hello.” The music and art in this game are a real treat to the senses, and it plays smoothly to boot. Although the single-player campaign can be knocked out relatively quickly, the multiplayer mode ensures that it can remain a faithful part of your Switch library, ready to whip out when your friends or children are looking for a fun and competitive way to pass the time.
- Power-ups provide ample challenge
- Colorful art and animation
- Addicting local multiplayer mode
- Single-player campaign is short
- No online multiplayer option
Super Dodgeball Beats is a joy to play, look at, and listen to, with local multiplayer mode offering plenty of longevity.