I have to admit to never remember seeing a dodgeball game appear on recent video game consoles. Whilst the top sports in the world are covered by numerous titles, everyone’s favourite school yard ball thrower has been left by the wayside. All that is set to change however with the release of Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, as developers Game Swing and their publisher Curve Digital hope that they can grab even a tiny slice of that huge sports market!
A 1970’s inspired dodgeball ‘adventure’, Stikbold! allows for you and a friend to harness the skills of dodgeball, all whilst traipsing off on an adventure in which you must battle mega bosses, throw plenty of balls and eventually save a busty babe.
Björn and Jerome are the two square stars of Stikbold! and after a quick initial tutorial find that the love of Björn’s life, Heidi Starbrow has been kidnapped by an evil demon. It is up to them to track down the devil, save Heidi and live happily ever after. Or at least something like that.
Split over 12 rather distinct levels, Björn and Jerome will need to win three rounds of Dodgeball in each so they can safely progress to the next match up. They’ll meet hippie gangs, skeletons, activists and more as they aim to prove their dodgeball skills throughout. If you’re not savvy with the dodgeball way of life then the rules are quite simple – grab a ball, chuck it at your opponent and win the match, all whilst trying to dodge the balls they are throwing your way!
Pitching the ball between the two guys is simple enough whilst lining up a killer ‘Stinger’ shot on the opponents can be done by all, from the very best to the very worst gamer. With the AI team picking up in skills the further the 70’s styled blocky duo progress, the vast majority of gamers will find that they are reaching the end of the campaign only an hour or so after starting…especially if you play through on the easier difficulty levels. Thankfully different challenges for each of the stages ensures that there is a least a reason to go back and check them out on a few occasions.
The main story can be completed alone, with you controlling both Björn and Jerome in tandem, but the option to bring one local friend along for the ride is obviously much appreciated and ensures that there is always space to make the pass. There is no jump in, jump out multiplayer though and you’ll be left needing to start a whole new game should you wish to continue your adventure with a friend.
Away from the tear jerking, rather humorous, Sims-speak campaign, are two multiplayer modes that cater for a larger party. Free-for-all and Team-vs-Team are both pretty damn explanatory but work well as something to fill the time away from the main event. With the option of bringing in no less than six players on screen at once (four human, two AI), the well paced game can get a little frantic to say the least, especially when you start playing around with the multitude of gameplay options.
Stikbold! is a simple concept with straightforward but effective visuals and gameplay mechanics. You’ll be able to pick it up as a digital download in April and we will of course keep you filled in with our thoughts via a full review nearer its release date.