After several successful and pioneering beat ‘em ups, the Kunio Kun franchise successfully ventured into the sports genre with several titles that make up many of the 18 titles included in the Nintendo Switch only Double Dragon & Kunio Kun collection. Xbox One owners didn’t get even the icing with only two sports titles included in the seven that were published individually for the console by Arc System Works. The hilariously chaotic Crash ‘n’ the Boys: Street Challenge was one of them, with Super Dodge Ball being the other.
Now, the choice of selecting Super Dodge Ball makes sense for North American gaming audiences, but in a perfect world it would have been great if European Xbox owners had the chance to experience the excellent Kunio Kun/River City football games. Those games were a riot, basically football without the pesky referee flashing red or yellow cards. Switch owners get to enjoy most of these brilliant ball-kicking (the analogy works both ways here) games, but Xbox One owners will only have to make do with the rather simple Super Dodge Ball.
No question, dodgeball is a fun sport that works quite well in a video game setting, but unfortunately Super Dodge Ball is a rather basic offering, even within the Kunio Kun chronology which saw better renditions of the ball-tossing and hurling sport. There’s not much to the package, and it is mostly designed for multiplayer antics.
The biggest issue with the experience is that it just doesn’t perform well enough to keep up with the gameplay. Sure, the 8-bit sprites are amusing, and the background art looks cool enough, but when the action gets underway there are just numerous graphical glitches and slowdown issues, worst of all being the disappearing character sprites which can make dodgeball matches confusing.
The gameplay is actually quite a bit of fun, with simple controls allowing you to pick up the ball, pass it between teammates and, best of all, land some hard-hitting spikes on foes. In these multi-character battles things get hectic fast, with the objective being that of knocking out opponents until there are none left. There are a few special moves too, and surprisingly the two button control scheme works well with the game mechanics.
The experience is rather basic and ordinary despite there being a few different modes of play, with some changing up the rules a bit; it is nothing too drastic. The main objective of beating down opponents to a pulp until they have to leave the match is usually a fun exercise, but things get repetitive and old rather quickly. As a sports game Super Dodge Ball certainly doesn’t have the same variety as the far more enjoyable Crash ‘n’ the Boys: Street Challenge.
There’s a bit of story here too, childishly playing on the Cold War antics that took over American pop culture during the ‘80s. It’s all wholesome and amusing in hindsight. It is funny to see how the various countries were depicted in such a comically stereotypical fashion, a fun little time capsule insight into past cultures for sure. The music has fun, campy moments too, with some of the chiptunes sampling well-known pop music tracks, because it was a lot easier for video games to get away with that sort of thing during the ‘80s.
Super Dodge Ball on Xbox One is a rather basic sports experience given that it was one of the earlier forays into the genre for the Kunio Kun series. Xbox One owners certainly could have gotten much stronger sports titles from the Kunio Kun franchise, especially some of the football ones. With distracting performance issues and limited gameplay content despite there being a few different game modes, Super Dodge Ball is a tough sell given that the far more entertaining Crash ‘n’ the Boys: Street Challenge is available as the superior unconventional sports option.