Dodgeball Academia tells a standard sports storyline: the boy Otto suddenly receives an invitation to the Academy of Bouncers, where the best dodgeball players from all over the world are trained. On the same day, the annual tournament begins, the hero gathers his own team, faces the strongest opponent and tries to achieve mastery that would allow him to defeat even an invincible opponent. However, clichés do not interfere with the game in any way – all gameplay mechanics and narrative are so successfully combined in it.
Ball in the face
The territory of the academy is not very large, but an open location, where more and more entertainment appears over time. There are side tasks, there are students who want to play with you as a bouncer (there are obvious parallels with the games of the Pokemon series – teenagers also stop a hero passing by), a store and a first-aid post open. The plot is divided into several episodes, and in each of them the list of available “side effects” and fighters is updated. In the end, everything that happens here is related to the game of bouncers – such a monotony can be a little tiring, but it would be difficult to come up with something different in this genre.
The main thing that the developers managed to do was to make the game world very comfortable. 2D characters look great in 3D sets, the visual style is charming, and the ability to curl up and roll fast around the grounds is especially great. As you progress, you gain access to a couple of neighboring locations, so you won’t have to spend time in the same places.
Even if the character is rolling, it will not save him from fights.
The academy in the game is not quite ordinary – students touching the sacred artifact in the central square receive unprecedented strength and can further open up new opportunities in themselves. However, they still need to play dodgeball according to the standard rules: there is a field divided equally, and two teams that throw balls. Your opponent has been wounded several times, his health has run out, and he either drops out of the game or goes to your side – so he can catch the balls you missed and throw them at you from the back.
Team members who lose in battle can be of great help.
According to the plot, the characters become more and more experienced and dexterous: they learn a charged throw, catch flying balls or hit them off, and soon they will learn what a “soft blow” is. When the corresponding scale is filled, you can perform a special move with one click. Someone releases electrical discharges at the places at which you aimed the crosshair, and someone creates an aura that heals allies. Unfortunately, the abilities of your opponents are often much better than yours – the attack is especially strong, sending a whirlwind of balls in your direction, which is difficult to dodge. Even such opponents can be defeated, but questions arise about the balance.
“Pokemon” without Pokemon
To prevent fights from becoming a routine, the authors added pumping – upon reaching certain levels, all heroes improve their skills. At first, the protagonist sets fire to enemies only if you hit them with a charged throw, and over time, a normal attack will begin to inflict fire damage. And a notorious guy named Bubble will be able to punch through opponents with his charged ball.
Gameplay characters also differ – if Otto catches balls (for this you need to press the button a split second before the ball hits the hero), then some of his companions prefer to hit the shells. Moreover, while one character kicks them off, the other beats them off with a bat, and for this it is advisable to swing a swing a second earlier. Plus, instead of jumping, someone might have a dash. The composition of the team is determined only by the player, and in most cases it is possible to switch between the three selected heroes at any time of the fight.
It turns out an exciting adventure that resembles either Pokemon or Golf Story , but remains original. There is good character design, good humor with regular destruction of the “fourth wall” (the banality of some plot points is also ridiculed) and pleasant gameplay – everything you need.
In the translation, as in the original, the subtitles increase, decrease and shake depending on the emotions of the character.
At the same time, there are elements that have not received proper development. For example, “first aid kits” – the more the character likes this or that food, the more health it will restore. You get food both for winning matches and in hidden chests. However, these “first aid kits” are practically useless – the inner miser is constantly pushing to go to the free first aid post (fortunately, it is always close), and not to spend things from the inventory. So it turns out that a funny system with the love of heroes for food passes by the player.
But in Dodgeball Academia there was a place for a “chip” that I would like to see in all games. One of the options in the settings is called “Learning Mode” – if you enable it, then by pressing one button you will display the translation of dialogues into another language. And with two taps, you can switch between languages, including English, Russian, French, Japanese and a few others.
It is strange that there is no translation into Italian – usually it is included in the list of standard European localizations.
Of course, the solution cannot be called ideal, since localizers use literary translation, not literal translation. But it’s still a great opportunity to strengthen your knowledge of a foreign language without resorting to an online translator or a paper dictionary. You play in English, meet an unfamiliar word, press one button and see the translation of the phrase into Russian. If there were such an option in the Mass Effect trilogy and other huge RPGs, users would probably actively use it – so far, from examples, one can recall only the complete edition of Disco Elysium .
Switching between languages is very fast.
While Dodgeball Academia is n’t the best bouncer game in 2021 (I would keep that title for Knockout City ), it’s still a very fun and addicting RPG adventure. Its authors had great sources of inspiration, and they did not just copy their ideas, but created something of their own.
Pros: a fascinating story with good humor; charming visual style; deep enough mechanics so that the matches don’t get bored; “Training mode”.
Cons: repetitive tasks, especially side ones; “Healers” are not very useful, but they are given out in tons.