Title: Super Dodgeball Beats
Developer: Final Boss Games
Genre: Sports, Music, Party
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 12/09/2019
Price: £12.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Trying to Find the Groove
I have never played a rhythm game before and for a very good reason. I have the grace and coordination of a house brick. However, when Super Dodgeball Beat crossed my path, I knew it was time to give the genre a real try.
There is no shortage of rhythm infused games on the Switch, but this spoke to me. The question is, did it help me find my groove or was I left flat-footed? Keep reading this Rapid Review to find out.
Banging Soundtrack Sweeps You Along
Having never reviewed a game of this sort before, it makes sense for me to start by talking about the music. I will admit that I am the sort of person who appreciates a good soundtrack but rarely remembers any for too long.
Don’t hate me, I have just never had a huge association with music unless there’s a game out there with a Motorhead only soundtrack. I would be all over that!
However, Super Dodgeball Beats has a fantastic soundtrack and is a game that made me appreciate game music in a way I had never done before.
Of course, for a music-based rhythm game, you would expect the music to be on point, but I was not expecting the thumping tunes that this game delivered.
There were plenty of tracks and while you could not select a track (when playing in the league), even I found myself picking up on the rhythm. Which was a good thing too because there was plenty going on on-screen to distract you from the task at hand.
If picking up and following along with a rocking beat wasn’t going to give you challenge enough, each battle is a crazy whirlwind of action and distractions that are just gagging to make you stumble.
Powerful Visuals Add to the Fun and the Challenge
With bright coloured sets and vibrant animations, the game goes all out in every department.
The graphics may be cartoonish, but they are well suited to the nature of the game. Everything from your gang of school misfits to the range of crazy and imaginative opponents you will face off again is a blast on the senses.
While the game offers both single-player and multiplayer modes this review will focus on the single-player campaign. Why? Because I have no friends to multiplay with. I did give it a look through though and it is just a much fun as you would expect, with the core difference being you can assemble your own team rather than running with the default crew from the solo mode.
Here’s a little tip for anybody looking at it right now. Don’t go to the training option first. Instead, start a solo campaign, as the first thing you get there is a short tutorial that explains how to play the game.
Then you can head over to the training grounds if you want but doing so without doing the tutorial puts you at a disadvantage.
There are three different difficulties in the game. Rookie, Pro, and Legend. Each one is unlocked by winning the previous league.
I was a little disappointed that the three leagues were essentially the same. The same opponents, but with increased difficulty. While it makes sense and doesn’t damage the gameplay it made everything a little bit of a slog, especially once you reached the Legend league.
Keep Your Eye on the Beats
As I said there is a lot to keep you distracted in this game. From the dancing referee who indicates which side is currently winning, the ball possession indicator, your opponents and their clever designs not to mention the super moves both you and your opponents can fire at regular intervals.
These moves are there to make life difficult for you and range from covering your beat time indicator to a giant animal head bouncing around your half of the court and even a poison for which the only counter is to not follow the beat – a task easier said than done even for a rhythmless savage such as myself.
Despite all these distractions, the game does offer you more than just the music beat to time your shots. Each character on your team has a beat indicator that tells you when to hit the beat and what sort of beat it is. It’s certainly not a guaranteed win to just watch these indicators, but they can certainly help you out.
A Frantic Pace that Never Lets Up
While there is a training option in the game, the only difference is that win or lose there is no impact on your progression. For the rest, the game offers a single style of play.
You begin in the rookie league and play through twelve different matches to proclaim yourself dodgeball champion. The first nine rounds see you play different opponents in a league format. Wins and tie games give you points, losses do not. The final eight go through into the playoffs where you compete in knockout style until one team remains.
It’s very simple, and straight forward. While fun, I can’t help but think there is space here for more creativity and some diverse game mode options.
Nimble Fingers Required
You play the game with a team of four players, each one conveniently positioned in line with the buttons on your controller. Each button controls one player and you need to hit the right button for the right player at the right time.
This includes short beats, long beats which see you hold the button for different periods of time and a transition beat where you need to use the analogue stick to pass the beat from one character to another.
The latter two beats add to the complexity because you need to press and release at the right time. As if controlling four characters wasn’t difficult enough, and the added threat of super moves being performed against you wasn’t a big enough challenge, then what about the fact that as you get into the higher levels you will have instances where multiple characters have beats different beat types hitting at the same time.
Alright, I’m a novice at this sort of game, but there were times where I had to intentionally miss some beats in order to catch others.
Try Not to Panic When Things Get Tough
The game goes straight into the league, and while you can afford to lose or draw the odd game early on, you will soon find yourself dropping out of the playoff positions before you know it.
Now, I will be honest, I breezed through the Rookie league undefeated, but it wasn’t all easy sailing. The pro and legend leagues were a different story, with the pace of things picking up in quite steep fashion.
The trick I learned was not to panic. All too often I was winning a game only to miss a couple of beats and find myself trying to catch up on the following beats. Impossible of course, but somehow my mind was telling me I could hit the next beats quicker to make up for it.
This was a big mental block for me to overcome but never was I frustrated at the game for this, only at myself.
Glutton for the Groove
Given that there is only one real style of playing the game, you would think that the replayability factor would be low. However, the game tracks your performance against each different set of characters in each league, meaning you have very clear PBs to try and best. Every match gets a grade, so the desire for top-level grades can be strong. Not to mention how a playoff defeat will see you have to start again.
The more you play the game the better feel you will get for the different tunes, and that is where the practice options come into play.
A Fun Rhythm Game for Your Nintendo Switch
Overall, Super Dodgeball Beats is a decent game. The gameplay it offers works well and gives no performance issues in either handheld or docked mode. However, I can’t help but think it is lacking that something that makes it a memorable game.
It’s a very good effort and if updates were to come for it, I could see several possible modes that would be fun. A combo style game of HORSE (or maybe BEATS to be on theme) would work well. Just an idea.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Super Dodgeball Beats from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Super-Dodgeball-Beats-1635855.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.