Dodgeball Academia Review

Introduction

Dodgeball Academia is a sports based RPG and was developed by indie studio Pocket Trap. It was released for PC and Consoles on August 5th, 2021.

Review

Otto has always wanted to be the best dodgeball player of all time! So he ran away from his old school to enter Dodgeball Academia, where the Heroes Dodgeball resides and let anyone who touches it, unlock their true potential! Will you be able to win the Dodgeball Tournament and get the coveted trophy? Or will you lose and have to go back to your old school?

The way the story plays out, kind of feels like a Saturday morning. With the look, the dialogue and all the quirky characters. As you play through Otto’s adventure you meet a fun cast of other students. Between a hall monitor, someone who isn’t sure that they can be a good player at all, the stereotypical macho man, they’re all here! It was honestly a fun story, but by the end of the game, it felt like it was really starting to get dragged out. It didn’t help that you had to backtrack a bunch of times to one area, and the Academia isn’t really that large. The most unique area of the game was easily the Ice Mountains though. It actually took advantage of all the mechanics in the game. You need to actually platform and use the rolling ability you have, to get over gaps, and not just zoom around the academy faster.

The gameplay was certainly not something I was expecting either. I mean, I knew that dodgeball would be involved, but I was not expecting a dodgeball RPG. You “battle” other students around the Academy, for the story, and as you pass them by in the environment. Kind of like passing by trainers in Pokemon. You then get put onto a dodgeball court, with whatever three teammates you choose, when you start unlocking them. You then have to try to hit the enemy players with the dodgeballs and reduce all of their HP to zero. This was great at first, but eventually it felt like it grew a bit stale outside of boss fights. Every player you use has their own way to throw the ball, and their own abilities when throwing the ball. Like with Otto, he throws the ball straight, and it has a fire effect to it. Or with Balloony, his balls would spin in circles when you throw them with a charge attack.

As you get through the fights, you build up your ultimate…sorry, “Ball-timate” skill. When you hit enemies, or counter balls by grabbing or hitting them back, the bar increases. Everyone has their own skills. Otto does what is basically a Kamehameha, Balloony heals himself, and other characters do heavy damage to an area or a single enemy on the field. The enemies also get ultimate skills as well. Most of the enemies have a simple generic attack. But it’s when you get into the bosses, that things get crazy and you have to actually try really hard to dodge the attacks. There were so many that made me so infuriated.

This is where the wonderful “difficulty” option comes into play. Say you suck at the game but wanna see the silly Saturday morning cartoon story. You can turn all damage off and make it so you can deliver 400% damage! Or if you want a challenge, you can increase the damage you take and lessen the damage you put out. I will be 100% honest, I used this feature twice. Once to finish a side quest that was wildly unbalanced, and second for the last boss. As I got him down to one last hit, and he used his ultimate skills that I knew I couldn’t dodge! So I set it to take no damage, just so I’d win.

With this being dodgeball, comes dodgeball rules. There are two rule sets that seem to be random in the game. One where you just knock everyone out, and another where every time you knock some out, they go behind you, to be able to hit you with balls. This is where it got annoying, as I never truly knew when a game mode was active. Or some enemies wouldn’t go behind me, but others would. I’d build up my ultimate skill and use them, only to hit one enemy, knock them out, then it would pause the match so they could run behind me, then it would restart the match. So my ultimate wouldn’t actually hit any of the other enemies, so it felt absolutely wasted!

Now what’s an RPG without equipment and side quests? Well luckily for you these are here! You unlock equipment either by finding it in chests, that you open by throwing balls at, or you buy them at the store. You also get them from completing side quests. They actually felt useful. I was always switching around my equipment. So I could start fights with an almost full ultimate bar. Or I could get 50% of my health back, so long as a player didn’t get downed! The side quests weren’t really anything special. Some of them felt like busy work that you can do, because you’re already in the area. Or because the school was so small, it made you go everywhere. But I always found myself back tracking for the “Inn” anyways, as it was free, so I didn’t have to use items. But the few times I did use items, it was interesting, as every character had items they liked and disliked. If you used an item on a character who “loved” it, the effects would be better than normal! It was quite a different system than normal.

Rating

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Pros:

  • Saturday Morning Cartoon Feel
  • Difficulty Options System
  • Item System

Cons:

  • Battle Become Dull Outside Bosses
  • A Lot Of Backtracking To One Area
  • Felt A Tad Dragged out

Summary

I really enjoyed the characters and the setting of the game. The story felt very cartoony, as I’ve said, but eventually felt a bit dragged out. The battle system was certainly unique and I really enjoyed it, but it did grow dull outside of boss fights, so I would kind of huff when I had to do a bunch. It’s definitely worth a play if you have the opportunity. Maybe even do it on a Saturday for full effects!

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Game & Developer Information

Developer Website: Pocket Trap
Developer Socials: Twitter
Publisher Website: Humble Games
Publisher Socials: Twitter
PSN Store Links: £19.99/€24.99 Europe / $24.99 North America
Trophy Information: 38. 40-platinum 1 / Gold 2 / Silver 21 / Bronze 14

Images curtesy of https://pocket-trap.com/

Dodgeball Academia – Announcement Trailer | PS4

Published by oniwalker

Co-owner of NodeGamers(dot)com. Reviewer and Guide Writer. I'll play just about anything as I cry about my backlog!

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