Dodgeball Academia is a love letter to the sports RPG genre. It feels like playing a Pokémon game (and we'll talk about all the references later), yet we can't ignore it also feels like a homage to Kunio-kun's classic Nekketsu High School Dodgeball Club (aka Super Dodge Ball in the West). So, you still haven't played this fantastic video game? Read our impressions, and you might feel the urge to go play it!
Finding a Team
Dodgeball Academia's protagonist is a kid named Otto, who dreams of becoming the best dodgeball player. Sadly, his parents are not so fond of the idea—they want Otto to follow the family tradition and become a referee, so they enrolled him in Refereengton High. After skipping his first day at school...or attending a totally different institution without his parents' consent, actually, Otto is finally on track. Dodgeball Academy is the perfect place for him, and he even seems to have potential. However, there's still one problem to solve: Otto needs to form a team, and most people already have one!
Otto's first friend here is Balloony, a blue guy with a balloon for a head. The third team member is Mina, a tomboy girl known for sending people—mostly boys—to the infirmary. With his new inseparable friends, Otto is closer to become a dodgeball star, but how is this misfit trio going to beat the school's legend, Boris?
All characters in Dodgeball Academia come with their own skills and playstyles. For example, Balloony is a support character who can heal the whole team, while Mina is a defensive character who, instead of grabbing balls coming at her, just deflects them with a kick. As you progress, more characters will join Otto's team, and they all have cool special attacks ("Balltimate moves") and different movesets.
Even though the gameplay is simple, and you only need a few buttons, having different characters with unique play styles, paired up with all the equipable items (all players come with 2 slots) encourages you to try new combos. Leaving Otto with 1HP makes him vulnerable, but if he can activate his Balltimate every few seconds and is high on strength, he becomes a killing machine. On the other hand, equipping Balloony with objects that steal HP every time you hit a rival player transforms this soft-hitting guy into an essential healing tank.
Of Course There Are Tournaments, Too!
This game is basically an RPG, so there are some quests and sidequests here and there. Most of them involve dodgeball matches, of course, but you can also fight random people for some extra exp and money. Some of them will fight you as soon as you make eye contact as if it were a pokemon game! Thankfully, you can go to the infirmary and heal your team as many times as you need to, and for free! Ah, there may not be a nurse Joy waiting for you, but the healing animation and music track make it hard to ignore the reference. In fact, the whole game is full of references to classic video games, the anime and manga culture, and other dodgeball-centric adventures.
As cliche as it sounds, your main objective is to defeat all your classmates and become the new school champion, but there's way more than this official tournament. Becoming an underground legend is equally hard when rules are bent!
It’s Full of Cliches and References, and It All Works!
We love Dodgeball Academia's spirit, and we had a blast playing it. In fact, we weren't expecting the matches to be so engaging and challenging! It's a rather short game, but it still allows for some experimental builds. Once you finish the story and unlock all characters, balls, and courts, you can play against your friends and compete to see who's the real dodgeball master.
In all honesty, it's a lovely game that really surprised us. A more than recommended adventure for those who like indie RPGs and sports-based gameplay!
The best thing about Dodgeball Academia is that it's available on all modern platforms. With a colorful and eye-catching cartoony art style, lots of jokes, and a bunch of cool skills to try, give this crazy dodgeball adventure a try and you'll be surprised!