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Review: Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure Deluxe (Nintendo Switch)By TJ At 11.04.2018 20:24

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Dodgeball, that iconic childhood game that inspires heroism, competition, and teamwork in children everywhere, is a game that many can fondly remember. While the rules can be altered to fit various levels of competition and age, the gist is: two teams attempt to eliminate the other by throwing dodgeballs, all while staying on their respective side of a court. Blocking with a ball in hand negates the hit, and catching a ball eliminates whoever threw it. Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure Deluxe changes many of these fundamentals.

When it really comes down to it, Stikbold! is an adaptation of dodgeball, due to how heavily modified it is. The court is a circle, with players vying for control of the single dodgeball in the centre. There are no team sides or boundaries between players, and, excluding the outer perimeter that hosts varying stage dangers, players can roam as they see fit.

This simple change creates a vastly different dynamic; rather than having carefully defined zones, everyone ends up everywhere. This leads to a cluttered and cumbersome match, especially during five or six player free-for-alls. To make this dilemma worse, players are able to perform a melee attack that both knocks players back and steals the ball. What ends up happening is that one person will gain control of the ball, and the rest will begin mercilessly smacking and stealing the ball repeatedly from each other. This is most prominent in the beginning of a match before stage hazards appear.

The major issue is not with the presence of this mechanic, but rather the execution. It is easy to land, and far too spammable. The recipient of this attack can't do much to avoid it, either, aside from stealing back the ball, creating a nasty cycle.

These two issues are born out of a much bigger problem: only having a single, permanent dodgeball on the field. If there were multiple dodgeballs that spawned at the perimeter of the court, then players would be given incentive to spread out right from the beginning. Not only this, but it would allow for more varied co-operation between teammates. As it stands now, once hit, players are in a vulnerable state, with floating stars signifying this. Being hit with a ball a second time results in match elimination. The vulnerable state feels like padding, to help create matches that aren't over in seconds. Unfortunately, this feels like it takes away the sense of speed and decisiveness that dodgeball inherently has.

Having multiple balls in play would mean that teams can work together better and in more interesting ways. Is your teammate defenceless? Protect them while they retrieve a new one. Is an enemy hiding behind an obstacle? Pincer-attack them from both sides. How about constantly fetching balls for a player with good aim? The options and strategies employed are what make dodgeball so much fun, and such a varied experience between teams. By limiting such an important facet of the game, Stikbold! limits the player.

Although it is a predominantly multiplayer title, Stikbold! offers a single-player mode. Players follow the nonsensical travels of Björn and Jerome as they are led by their coach, aptly named, Coach, on a journey to becoming the best dodgeball team. The story jumps around a lot, and has more than a handful of bizarre moments, such as battling a van full of homicidal hippies. The missions are unremarkable, effectively a retread of the multiplayer, but with context attached. The pacing is incredibly slow - something that is found throughout this title.

The loading screens are abundant, borderline absurd and, most annoyingly, appear between rounds. This should have been circumvented one way or another, because it slows down the match substantially, and makes up a lot of the time spent in single-player.

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Final Score
[i]Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure Deluxe[/i] is a title that is quirky, if nothing else, and seems to pride itself on being silly fun. For those who aren't looking for an authentic dodgeball experience, but would like to throw dodgeballs at friends and family, then this title has some merit and can be an enjoyable time. Those playing in a casual setting will find the most enjoyment out of [i]Stikbold![/i], but the balance and design overall will leave a lot of people frustrated, bored, or both.



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