Dodgeball is life
Take the hyperactive protagonist of a sports anime like Haikyuu!!, some bold colours, cartoony character design and add some seriously engaging real-time dodgeball combat and you’ve got yourself Dodgeball Academia, a funky little gem of a game. Here, protagonist Otto finds the place of his dreams – a world where everything can be settled with a dodgeball match.
But he isn’t alone. On Dodgeball Academia’s big, brightly coloured campus a host of friends and foes await, students who love dodgeball just as much as he does and are always up for a match. We weren’t exaggerating when we said almost everything gets settled by a match, but fortunately the dodgeball matches are genuinely fun. In real-time battles, you have to pick up balls and, well, throw them at your opponent, and time your catches right to avoid damage. With multiple balls in play, different throwing styles and eliminated opponents throwing from the back of the court, this takes an astounding amount of concentration. Main characters can also unleash powerful special attacks, because while Dodgeball Academia may look like a Sunday-morning cartoon, it’s all anime inside.
You can play a quick match with friends in local co-op, but the game’s campaign is its real strength. There isn’t much of a narrative per se other than Otto enjoying everyday school life (and boy, does he enjoy it), but a large cast of lovingly designed and animated characters and some enjoyable writing are great motivators to become the very best (like no-one ever was), which is arguably missing if you just throw some balls around in a versus match, especially since characters unlock in versus mode after you’ve met them in the story, eliminating the surprise of what new moves you’ll face. From great accessibility options to a combat that’s easy to pick up but takes some finessing to learn, Dodgeball Academia is a well-designed game that delivers the simple joy of a good cartoon – it isn’t deep, but it sure feels good.
From great art to fun combat and a truly unique idea for something that isn’t a sports game, Dodgeball Academia scores a lot of goals. Get on this court. Malindy Hetfeld
A host of friends and foes await, students who love dodgeball just as much as Otto does.