Super Dodgeball Beats is an exciting, fast paced Rhythm game with an anime aesthetic and competitive sports tournament style gameplay. The goal is to take on opposing teams in a dance off style battle by tapping the buttons in time with the music and keeping the dodgeball meter on the right hand side to knock the competitors out.
There are 3 types of beat and the characters are positioned identically to the buttons on the controller making it very easy to pick up and play. The most commonly used move requires the player to simply tap the buttons in time with a circle which closes around each character. With the addition of tilting the left stick and holding occasional beats to fill the meter, it adds some nice variety to the gameplay. At the end of each round there is a screen showing Perfect, Good and Failed beat statistics and although this scoring system does not define the winner of the round, it does give the player an incentive to replay and try to beat their previous scores.
As the game progresses, different mascots are unlocked each possessing unique abilities. These can be used when the power up meter has been filled with enough consistently timed beats. The attacks can obstruct or hinder the opponent, so the effects of using power ups can make the odds of winning somewhat unpredictable particularly towards the end of a song.
The anime dodgeball theming is light-hearted and fun, but the game itself does not actually require any knowledge of the sport and is entirely focussed upon rhythm and timing. This is not so clear from the title of the game, so those who do not enjoy sports games might inadvertently miss out. There is also no way to calibrate the game so unfortunately the visuals were not perfectly in time with the music. For those who are less focussed on the music and more reliant on following the action on screen it may not be much trouble but it could quickly drive any musician insane! This did add a very unique level of difficulty to the gameplay because intentionally playing out of time is not something people usually need to practise. But, after settling into this newly aquired technique, it was quite a satisfying challenge to overcome. The real difficulty was trying to tap the very quick and syncopated rhythms when playing through a song for the first time, which could have been much more enjoyable and rewarding if it was possible to do without constantly thinking it would be easier to actually mute the music!
In single player mode, the player must battle against the other teams and place in the top 8 to avoid elimination and make it through to the finals. There are many uniquely themed opposing teams and a choice of mascots which adds some variation but there does seem to come a point when the initial enthusiasm wears off and the allurement of completing the game in all levels starts to disappear. Perhaps the lack of calibration might contribute to this feeling but mainly it seems down to the lack of story development and unlockable items or abilities later in the game. Also, once the championship has been completed it cannot be replayed unless you start from the very beginning again which is a shame if someone who hasn’t played before wants to try it out on the easier level.
In multiplayer mode there are a selection of teams, songs, levels and mascots to choose from which are unlocked as the game progresses. Multiplayer mode is more exciting because the outcome is less predictable and there is more choice regarding the level setup. It is also much more enjoyable to play with other people so this is where Super Dodgeball Beats makes up for what it lacks in single player mode. Even though the songs are not particularly memorable, they all have fast tempos and combined with the theming it could bring ample entertainment to a social gathering.
Unfortunately, and unlike other comparable games, gaining perfect hits doesn’t necessarily guarantee a win. This can lead to some frustration if the end of a song is particularly difficult as the meter can suddenly drop in the last few seconds resulting in a loss even if the rest of the song was perfect. This does, however, make the multiplayer mode more exciting, but in single player it can be especially off putting in the semi-final or final matches when it forces a restart from the quarter finals which feels like a huge defeat and almost doesn’t seem worth retrying. The only benefit is that it is possible to practise the songs in training if the game is inspiring enough to want to learn some of the songs, but perhaps this method might not appeal to all. It would be very interesting to be able to play it with no lag as this would definitely create a new level of appreciation for the music and the overall gameplay.
Overall, Super Dodgeball Beats is a rather fun and unique game that will bring out the friendly competitive nature in everyone, despite some criticisms regarding calibration and the diminishing entertainment value once the championship has been completed. This game creatively brings together all the essential elements in this genre to form a relatively distinctive and memorable gaming experience.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.