Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure Review

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure

Score: 3 out of 5I can’t help but think of Nintendo while playing Game Swing and Curve Digital’s wacky twin-stick arcade dodgeball game, Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure. If this surprisingly fun couch co-op title starred Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Bowser and the gang, and perhaps threw in a couple of additional game modes, I feel like excited gamers would line up to throw money at a new reason to crowd around their Wii U and get boisterous with their friends.

But Stikbold! is not a Nintendo game, it’s the product of the 2013 Nordic Game Jam, finally making its way to Steam, PS4, and Xbox One this week from a small indie developer based in Denmark. And it’s a trip. It’s bright, colorful, silly, funny, and built on a simple yet solid set of mechanics that will keep you playing match after match.

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure

Stikbold! may be disguised as a “sports” game with voxel-inspired character design and a 70s theme, but it feels more like a marriage of a twin-stick shooter and a single-screen action combat game, à la TowerFall, than it does any sports game. It’s another entry in a series of mostly independent titles released over the past few years that put the emphasis back on playing with friends by your side rather than via a network connection.

A short but entertaining Story Mode, playable either solo or cooperatively, sees our heroes Björn and Jerome on the brink of winning the stikbold (that’s Danish for dodgeball) championship by default after the Devil abducts the opposing finalists. The two instead opt to rescue their nemeses and travel as far as the ocean and as deep as the pits of Hell before returning to the old gym.

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure

Along the way they compete in a number of somewhat standard dodgeball matches that take place on a small selection of themed courts (traffic circle, beach, oil rig, etc.), each with its own brand of outside interferences to make things just that little bit more crazy. Punctuating the experiences in these diverse locales are a handful of interesting boss battles that use the game’s usual mechanics to challenge players in new ways; one such adversary being a belly-flopping, detritus-spewing whale that can only be defeated by pushing TNT into its gaping, vacuum-like mouth at key moments throughout the match.

So how do you actually stikbold, bro? It’s simple. Move around with the left analog stick while using the right analog stick to change the direction in which your dodgeballer is aiming, then pull and hold the right trigger to charge a shot and release to throw. Without a ball, this input punches/shoves and strips the ball from an opponent’s clutches. The right bumper or R1 button passes and the left trigger performs a dodge, which doubles as a catching mechanic when timed just right. This ability to catch incoming projectiles was one of my favorite parts of TowerFall, and fans of either game will undoubtedly love it once they’ve mastered the technique. And curving shots? The pinnacle of dodgeball satisfaction!

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure

As in other competitive action games and popular brawlers, Stikbold! will primarily be played in multiplayer mode. Up to four local players can participate in team or free-for-all matches on any of the game’s courts, with full control over the win conditions, rules, and environmental hazards affecting play. Bots can be added to max matches out at six, and things get incredibly hectic with six characters on screen at one time. Teams don’t even have to be equal, so mismatching can be either a challenge or a massacre for “friends” to partake in.

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure is great fun. I would love to see more levels and options, or even special powers or variable attributes among the cast of dodgeballers, but at $10 (on sale for $8 for the next 48 hours at the time of this review) it’s got a huge fun-to-expense ratio, and is worth picking up if you’ve got a friend or three who will come over and re-live the glory days of couch co-op with you, laughing, shouting, and trash-talking through match after match.

Buy on Amazon


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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