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Capsule Review: Super Dodgeball Beats

A mediocre rhythm game that has nothing to do with dodgeball.

Super Dodgeball Beats's lone strength is its art and animation which are beautiful and full of personality. Unfortunately, nothing else in the game rises to that standard. The gameplay is basically fine and it’s possible to get into a good flow and enjoy it for a while, even if the songs aren’t particularly catchy or memorable. But the whole is less than the sum of its parts due to a lack of synergy between mechanics and themes.

Gameplay consists of tapping and holding buttons and directions in time with cues. The cues correspond to your four dodgeball players, but they don’t actually play dodgeball - they stand in place and psych themselves up, only throwing any balls after the song ends. Your accuracy influences a tug-of-war meter showing whether you or your opponent is in the lead, but it can swing quickly and only your performance at the end of the song determines the match’s results.

During a song, you and your opponent periodically receive “powerups” that allow you to attack each other in a variety of ways that also have nothing to do with dodgeball. These attacks mostly obscure the visual cues or require more precise timing for brief periods, but that’s pointless when you’re playing single-player because the opponent’s performance doesn’t actually matter. Powerups might be entertaining in multiplayer as long as the players don’t mind that the result is not fully skill-based, but in single-player they are just a way for your rhythm gameplay to be randomly disrupted.

The structure is apparently a dodgeball tournament - you play once each against nine other teams, and then go to three-round single-elimination playoffs - but no story, context, or characterization is provided aside from the art and a short dialog-free intro establishing that yes, you’re playing dodgeball.

It’s a slim package made of elements that aren’t terrible but also aren’t great (except for the art) and don’t fit well together.

I Stopped Playing When: I completed the tournament on the easiest difficulty (which is required to unlock the next higher difficulty). I had no desire to keep playing.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.