STAFF REVIEW of Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure (Xbox One)

Thursday, April 21, 2016.
by Cole Jackson

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure Box art I am sure we all remember those days in elementary school. The bell rings, you get changed, and run down to the gym for your P.E. block. You wonder what you'll get to play or do, and the teacher says "It's time for some Dodgeball". It was simple time, a time when when you could throw a red rubber ball at a friend, as hard as you could, hoping to hit them and knock them out of the game. Developer GameSwing remembers those days too, as their most recently released title harkens back to those days. Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure is a quirky little game. From its square graphics to its catchy little soundtrack, it definitely has a lot of heart, but a game can’t survive on heart alone.

In Stikbold! the gameplay is quite simple: you play dodgeball. You grab a ball, run around a circular arena and throw the ball to hit people. The controls work very well, as you pick up the ball automatically when you run over it and you hold down the right trigger to throw. The left trigger dodges and the two sticks are for running and aiming. Learning the controls is simple, but mastering them is a technique. You can dodge into a ball thrown at you to catch it, you can curve the balls in the air using the right stick, you can run and throw in two different directions, and even hit people hard enough to make them drop the ball.

The different courts (levels) included in the game all have their own obstacles as well; there’s a beach with waves that will temporarily incapacitate you and a court with a van that circles the outside that will knock you out if you get hit by it. These are only two examples of all the other interesting stages to be found in the game. The different obstacles don’t really change your strategy too much, they’re just more things to look out for during the game.

Stikbold! has two modes: Story Mode and Quick Match. In story mode you follow the Stikbold! team, comprised of Bjorn and Jerome, who are about to play in the final match of the year. Before the match can start however the devil kidnaps the opposing team and you set off to try to save them. It’s weird, but it’s quite funny.

The story mode is essentially just a series of cutscenes that break up the individual games of dodgeball, but there are some very fun levels scattered throughout. In one level you have to beat some hippies while trying not to get run over by their van. In another you must defend an inflatable whale from a horde of lifeguards trying to destroy it. Each game of dodgeball has its own unique moments. Each level also has three challenges you can complete, which include things like “don’t take damage” or “knock a hippie so he gets hit by the bus”. The length of the story mode is probably under two hours if you ignore these challenges, maybe three if you try to get them all. The story mode can be played alone or co-op with another person.

In quick match you can jump in and play some dodgeball by yourself or with some friends. There’s the standard team vs. team gameplay or a free-for-all. The matches all have a good degree of customization to them. You can do two teams, three teams, and even a 6-man free-for-all. You can even edit the team sizes. My favourite was the 6-man free-for-all, as it was pure chaos. This mode is fun with a few people but not for long. The gameplay is fairly repetitive and it can get old, but it is certainly a decent party game for maybe an hour at a time.

One problem with this game is that most of the matches of dodgeball go up to three points (You earn a point when you take out the entire opposing team, usually two or three people), but this just feels like too much. Each round is already repetitive enough without making me play each level 3+ times to continue, whether in story mode or quick match. I would prefer a best 2 out of 3 system instead of a first to 3 wins.

The music and sound effects in the game are quite enjoyable. The “voice acting” is silly and entertaining at the same time. Victory music is catchy and the sound effects of a good ol' dodgeball hit are oh-so satisfying. Graphically the game is quite simple yet stylisitic. The simple character models have a good range of emotion and can be funny at times, which shows through the graphical choice. Each dodgeball arena is well designed and colourful and the graphics are never a hindrance to the gameplay.

In the end, Stikbold! is a fun game. The short story mode is goofy and entertaining, and the multiplayer is fun with a group. Unfortunately, the game feels like it would almost be at home as a mini game in Mario Party instead of its own game. It can get old rather quickly, and no matter how fun it is, the repetitiveness won’t keep you coming back to it that often. In the end the game is worth playing for an hour or two, and then it’s over, unless you have a party and you want some silly fun for a bit of time.

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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