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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Mushihime-sama (Review)

“Definitely not your grandmother’s shoot ’em up.”

Today I’m looking at, well, the wild game you see the logo of above, Mushihime-sama for the Playstation 2. This game has become very infamous online as the game with the “hardest video game boss ever.” Search it up on YouTube, it’s very easy to find.

Mushihime-sama is, as you can tell, a fast paced shoot ’em up that was only released in Japan. Now, I know what you’re thinking, that it can’t be that fast. The game truthfully is quite fast, even being challenging at five frames per second. The game makes it very clear to the player who it’s target audience is, and that would be the hardcore fans of the genre who love to have their screens filled with projectiles and explosions at least 97% of the time.

Gameplay is fast and hectic. I found the higher difficulties to be too extreme, and I didn’t want to show myself dying constantly to you guys, so I opted to play on the easiest difficulty setting so that I could see more of the game in a shorter period of time. it was still quite a handful at normal difficulty, and I found myself dying left and right, particularly on the third stage.

Since I know no Japanese at all, I’m not familiar with how the power-ups or weapon settings really work in this game, but I can tell that the more flashing orbs you collect, the more potent your weapons seem to become. You are also equipped with several devastating bombs that destroy everything in their path, unless you happen to be firing them at a boss, in which case the bomb will have little to no effect. Bosses are very exciting and fun to fight in this game as they throw wave after wave of projectiles at you, each one looking more intimidating and impossible to dodge than the last. Since I was playing the Playstation 2 version of this game, I had the luxury of having unlimited continues, which I can safely say you will most certainly need.

Graphics are not easy to comment on, because everything happens so fast and the things I wanted to look at were usually obscured by explosions and projectiles flying all around. I can say that the stage backgrounds look quite good for a PS2 game, and bosses look very well done with lots of detail. Menus are very straight forward and thankfully the main menu itself is in English so it is very easy to navigate.

It’s difficult to review a game like this. The gameplay is simple, and we all know what it’s about. There are no major innovations to be found, the game is just a straight up bullet hell shoot ’em up that will proudly beat you into oblivion. Overall, it stands above most games of it’s kind and is certainly above average. The gameplay is fast and mesmerizing, and the intoxicating music sucks you into the experience even more. If you are a fan of shoot ’em ups and are able to get your hands on Mushihime-sama, do yourself a favour and seize the opportunity. Try this game out, because it’s good fun and a great way to pass time on those rainy days.

Final Score

7/10