This review was written using a code provided to me by the PR company for Super Dodgeball Beats. This is explained for the purpose of transparency and does not affect my judgement of the game in any way.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into the review of Super Dodgeball Beats. I knew that it was a rhythm-based game, but I was very interested in the game’s description. The game’s Steam page proudly boasts that the game is “the world’s first ever rhythm-sports game”. How much would the dodgeball elements interact with the rhythm side of the gameplay?
Story-wise there isn’t very much to the plot of Super Dodgeball Beats. The game follows a group of school students, as they compete in dodgeball tournaments in a bid to become the best team out there. Starting in amateur leagues, you play and progress up with each league becoming progressively harder. The story follows the group as they progress through the league, however, the story is somewhat redundant. You’re there for the gameplay, the story is just a backdrop.
In terms of gameplay Super Dodgeball Beats delivers a good experience all around. It was recommended that I play with a gamepad. I seem to have misplaced the cable to connect my Xbox One pad to my PC, so mouse and keyboard it was! The game starts off with a nice tutorial explaining the mechanics of the game to you.
There are 3 different types of beats which the player will encounter. The first type of beat is simple, and requires the player to tap the correct button; left, right, up or down. The second beat (which we’ll refer to as bar beats) requires the player to press and hold the button while a blue bar fills, and then release the button once the bar is full. The third and final type of beat (which we’ll call slider beats) involves a direction using WASD, and releasing the button at the correct time. If the slider runs from top to bottom, you hold S and release when the circle is in the correct place.
A bar sits at the top of the screen, with a dodgeball perfectly located in the middle. The better you do, the more the ball moves to your side of the bar. The worse you do, the ball moves towards the opponent’s side. Whoever has the ball in their side of the bar once the song is over, wins. Simple as.
This all sounds fairly easy, and it is to a certain extent. The only issue I had with this system is that at different points of the song. Depending on the tempo at that time, the bars for both the bar and slider beats fill faster or slower. This may seem obvious in a rhythm game, but it was something that threw me off. You would get yourself into the groove, and get used to things. All of a sudden the bar fills faster, or slower than expected and boom! You just lost your combo total. It’s very disheartening to lose a long streak to a random bar beat filling faster than expected. It doesn’t entirely ruin Super Dodgeball Beats, but it does take away from the enjoyment somewhat.
The other component to the gameplay is the power-ups. As you hit beats in time, you fill a bar in the top right corner of the screen. This bar also tells you how many beats until your next power-up which is nice I guess. Personally I was too focused on the beats to pay attention to the numbers. Luckily for me shouts “POWER-UP” at you when the bar fills, which is handy.
Power-ups come in many shapes and sizes. To begin with, you have access to power-ups which covers the opponent’s screen, making it so they can’t see where the beats are. There is also a floating head that bops around like that old DVD icon from back in the day. Again the idea is to cover up the beats, so your opponent misses them. Other power-ups include setting your opponent in stone, meaning they can only hit a perfect beat, as well as a mime power-up which inflicts whichever power-up you’ve been hit with onto your opponent.
The power-ups are very helpful to you, and can definitely turn a match in your favour. The same can also be said for your opponent’s power-ups though. You can also choose your mascot, with some mascots more likely to give you certain power-ups over others so it all depends on what style of game you want to play.
In terms of graphics and audio, the game does well. Graphically it looks nice. The story section of the game is explained via manga strips, which made the weeb in me very happy. Audio-wise the game sounds very good, and the songs sound very nice and are fun to listen to. I found myself bopping along and tapping my foot while playing. However, I would’ve liked some more songs.
It felt as if each team you face had their own song. Facing them in a harder league just meant that the difficulty was harder. It would have been nice to have each team have their own song for each league. The songs are fun to listen to but can become very repetitive and tedious to listen to again and again. I understand there must have been a reason for this, these are original songs so maybe it was a funding issue? Original songs do cost money after all. It isn’t the end of the world, but you may find yourself leaving this game for a while and coming back. Just so you don’t have to hear the song for the Neko-Chin Gang again. Must’ve heard that damn song 7 or 8 times back to back.
I feel my other big issue is regarding the lack of dodgeball in the game. Now full disclosure, I’m not entirely sure how dodgeball elements would have been incorporated into Super Dodgeball Beats. Truth be told I wouldn’t have had an issue with it if it wasn’t for the game’s description. “The world’s first ever rhythm-sports game”. It’s not though is it? The story being set on a backdrop of dodgeball tournament, that’s fine. That is a-okay, but you shouldn’t describe your game as something it isn’t. No mechanics of this game use any element of dodgeball, so it isn’t “the world’s first ever rhythm-sports game”. It is merely a rhythm game, with a dodgeball storyline. And that’s fine, but I worry people will buy this game expecting something the game won’t deliver. And that isn’t fine.
Overall Super Dodgeball Beats is a lot of fun. It gets your foot tapping, frustrates you with enemy power-ups but leaves you feeling good when you clear that level finally. Like I said I do worry about the description of the game misleading some gamers, and the songs can be a tad repetitive. Nonetheless, Super Dodgeball Beats is a blast to play, and a game you should definitely grab if you’re looking for a rhythm-based fix. It also has local multiplayer, so you can get your friends in on the fun! I would suggest maybe on Switch, just to have a game to play while out and about. It will also break up the repetitive tunes. If you can look past this though any platform is fine to play this on.
Super Dodgeball Beats is a lot of fun to play however, it does have issues. Repetitive songs and a misleading description do take away something from the game. That being said, the game is a tonne of fun and is worth grabbing if you’re looking for something to get into in short bursts.