Battle Dodgeball (SNES, 1993)

INFO: My “Retro Vault” reviews are not scored. Instead, I just talk about why I have fond memories of whichever game I’m writing about at the time. Generally, I won’t pick out any bad games for the Retro Vault feature, so scoring them is essentially useless anyway. Enjoy the read.

For my third Retro Vault article, I’m looking at a game called Battle Dodgeball for the Super Nintendo. It was only released in Japan and the teams were comprised of famous anime characters from the Gundam series. So why am I writing about a strange and obscure game such as this when I could have written about a Final Fantasy or Super Mario World? It is because over the years, this is the one of the SNES games that I have revisited the most. This is because, despite the odd concept of the game, it’s actually quite enjoyable and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. I’m not a Gundam fan by any means, but I certainly do love dodgeball. What’s better than giant robots and aliens engaging in friendly competition and throwing balls at each other? Nothing, that’s what.

In Battle Dodgeball, you control a team of six aliens or robots or whatever you’ve chosen. Your three main characters play on the opposing end of the court from the other team, and these are the characters you will use the most of as you rush at the opposing team with the ball in an attempt to eliminate them. Your other three team members play on outside edges of the opposing team’s side of the court, and these minor characters can retreive the ball when it lands near them, and it can then be thrown back to your main team, or the opposing team can be attacked from their own end. These three junior team members are often much weaker than your main team, and I find that it’s best to just throw the ball back so that your strongest attackers can have the ball instead.

What really seals the deal for me in Battle Dodgeball is the level up system. Whenever a match concludes, you will receive points. If you lost, you will only receive a small sum, but winning can net you huge quantities of points. How many points you get for winning depends on the condition of your team members at the end, as well as how much time is left on the clock. After each match, you can distribute your points to your characters who each have five statistics. It took me a long time to figure out what they are, but they are shot power, hit points, speed, jump power, defense.

By distributing points to each statistic, you can improve a character’s level in each. For example, dumping all points into the speed statistic will make a character zip across the court. I’ve always favoured jump and shot power, since this causes the ball to really richochet off of the opposing team members, sometimes bouncing back to my half of the court and giving me additional shots.

There are a few different game modes. On the main menu, from top to bottom, I believe it goes something like Championship, Versus, and Story. Of course, these are guesses because I can’t read Japanese, but I’m going off of what the modes appear to be.

In what I call Championship, you just endlessly fight teams over and over until you defeat them all. Once you do this, you can save and then fight them all over again, though they will be stronger this time. It’s basically like an RPG, you level up your stats to combat the constantly improving opponents. Versus is exactly what it sounds like. Two players can duke it out using their own teams. I’ve played versus with two people, but neither enjoyed the game as much as I did. Story seems to be, well, just that. You start off with one character and traverse across a city map that has dodgeball courts, shops, etc. There’s also a lot of dialogue which, of course, I cannot read.

I’d love to be able to say more about this game, but it’s difficult to. I mean, it’s not complicated. It’s just dodgeball! If you a fan of this highly abusive sport, then check out Battle Dodgeball.

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