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Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE Review (Switch)

Dodgeball has never been more fun in the hit dodgeball gem; Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE. With the many chaotic and silly multiplayer modes, does this dodgeball deputy really stand out in the realm of local multiplayer?
Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE Review (Switch)

Introduction

Dodgeballs are everywhere in Gameswing's newest outing, Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE which recently bounced onto the Nintendo Switch this year and is alternatively available on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One. From the teamwork-based duo story mode to the up to 6 player chaos in versus mode, whether competitive or casual, portable or docked, there's a plethora of fun to be had in this deluxe package.

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

Story

The story of Stikbold is told through its campaign mode which is a goofy combination of lighthearted and silly cutscenes, as well as teamwork based missions where you work together as Björn and Jerome, either with a friend or a CPU. The premise starts out as you and your partner having to practice for the upcoming handball tournament which your boss really wants you to win, but once your opponents get kidnapped, the story turns into a crazy adventure with many witty twists and intriguing locales. This adventure will bring you all sorts of hilarious scenarios and will pit you against hippies, the devil himself, a rare species of whale, and so much more. Every character you meet almost always has some sort of quirk to them and something humorous to add to the story such as the hippies and their van which they fight you in. It's not realistic in any way but that doesn't matter as this is a Dodgeball Adventure after all. The cutscenes themselves show up between the missions and feature silly cartoon-like scenarios with outlandish visuals to compliment that. The hilarious character interaction through dialogue and voice acting were well done (though just in one language) and quite charming to boot.

While it wasn't groundbreaking in any regard, the story of Stikbold certainly matches its cartoon style and aided in encouraging players to push on with the story. The fact that they were able to make a story based on dodgeball this entertaining is a worthy feat in itself.

Following the Tracks - Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE Review (Switch)

Gameplay

The main gameplay of Stikbold involves racing to the dodgeball in an arena, getting a hold of it, and throwing it at your opponents to make them dizzy, following up with the finishing blow, until only one player remains. When you get eliminated you can even become apart of the environment to speed up the matches and help eliminate the competition. You can have up to 6 players on the field at the same time, either with real people or CPUs, and there are many different modes of play.

The controls are quite simple and perfectly playable with a singular Joy-Con but with some downsides. With just one Joy-Con you cannot do several techniques that require dual analogue sticks. You traverse with the control stick, throw projectiles or push with the Y or A buttons, dash/dodge and catch with the B button, and pass with the X button. If you are using a dual analogue stick layout on something other than one Joy-Con, you can even aim the ball easier by being able to freely aim the ball without moving and also use the curve technique which guides the ball in another direction in midair after the throw takes place. You can alternatively use the shoulder buttons and/or triggers for moves such as passing and throwing. Unfortunately, none of the controls are customizable. These simple controls made way for some creative, well-implemented mechanics and for the intense advanced play when the controls are mastered.

Playing multiplayer in this game is a blast, but not at first. Once everybody learns the ins and outs of the game, it is so rewarding and the intense battles that follow are very entertaining. While 6 player battles may sound daunting at first, as long as everybody knows what they're doing, the chaos is thankfully at a minimum. I found that three to four players is the sweet spot for balanced play. The accessibility of the Switch is a big key in the area of multiplayer, especially with how easy it is to connect some Joy-Cons wherever and have a quick session with anybody.

The mode headlining the others is the already mentioned story mode, in which you mostly work with your partner and do missions which mostly consist of the regular dodgeball gameplay. Others include Wheel of Rumpus and Quick Match which have their own different play types.
Don't Get Run Over! - Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE Review (Switch)
The story mode was fairly short with only 12 missions in total but almost every one of them brought something fun to the table with the many unique bosses, extra challenges, and antics in general. It's fairly short and takes only a few hours to complete tops but it's a fun ride all the way through. Having it be a team-based campaign is a welcome choice, but the inability to switch from computer to player after you start the campaign is a strange design choice but nothing that gets in the way. This mode includes several difficulty settings and can also serve as a tutorial for getting to know the game's diverse mechanics and for getting a feel of the controls. Other than that, almost every stage has three challenges that you can complete which can mainly lead to character unlocks. The challenges add replayability and are something fun to shoot for in playthroughs.
The first competitive multiplayer mode known as Wheel of Rumpus is sort of the party mode of this game. It consists of the dodgeball gameplay with a random chance based twist. Think Wheel of Fortune meets Maro Party. It starts with players having to spin the wheel and getting one of the random options on the wheel which can be anything from gaining a point to choosing the next crazy minigame which you compete for points. It ends with an ultimate showdown where all of your points you've earned up to this point become lives in a final battle of dodgeball action. This mode is packed with all sorts of crazy and unique possibilities and it is definitely a creative use of resources.
Battle of the Boxes - Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE Review (Switch)

Lastly, there's the classic Quick Match mode. This is for those who just want to play those quick matches of straight up Stikbold specialty dodgeball. This was my most played mode and it's probably the meat of the package. There are team battles where you can set up anything from 1v3 matches to 2v2v2 matches. Then there's free for all, which is everyone being pitted against each other for dodgeball glory. In these play types, the feature that involves players becoming apart of the environment while out of the match is especially prominent and it's a very unique mechanic that sees a lot of attention here. To top it off, there are also four minigames that can be played here as well as in Wheel of Rumpus such as Handyball where there are nets set up (similar to European handball), Pop Pop which involves keeping a beach ball tethered to each player and attempting to keep them in perfect condition, Crate Escape where your team has to protect their crates, and Rainbow Rumpus where it's a chaotic rush for survival with many hazards in place. With all of these fun modes, I would have really dug an online mode but unfortunately, this isn't included in the package. Although not that bad, it will be a deal breaker for anyone that exclusively plays online.

The maps in this game were nothing short of decent. They serve their purpose but they are quite similar in shape and size and are based around a circular form. Still interesting in terms of dodgeball but overall it's slightly disappointing. The stages do have their own diverse designs as well as stage gimmicks and hazards such as cliffs and busses. What's more frustrating is that there are only 6 stages included in the package which is a shame because a few more would make the game feel much more expansive.

The character roster, on the other hand, is very expansive with 18 different choices. I couldn't notice anything different between the different participants but the voice, model, animations, and so on were unique to each. The lack of big character differences would be a big deal but this is not a fighting game or anything and the quirky gameplay is the main focus here. It's very diverse with characters ranging from average athletes to a skeleton and a captain of the seas, most of which are featured in the campaign.

Sound and Visuals

The charming visual style in Stikbold is one of the most memorable parts of the game. Its bright and colourful art style is nice on the eye and the silly and blocky graphics add to this. All of the characters, enemies, bosses and more are well designed and distinct from one another. The environments in the stages are very vibrant and colourful, and of course artistically designed well. To top it off, the menu design is very inviting with its bright yellow colour scheme and it gets you ready to have a joyous time.
Nice Shot! - Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE Review (Switch)
The soundtrack in this game really was indicative of the silly dodgeball feel of the game and a large chunk was very retro themed. The catchy and warm beats which came from the music selection complimented the themes well, but more songs would have been nice. There are only a select few that play in battles but they're at least catchy songs.

Conclusion

Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE is a worthwhile party game that is perfect on the platform of the Switch and compliments the catalogue of great and easy to pick up multiplayer Switch games. It may not be the deepest experience but it excels in bringing pure fun gameplay with friends in short bursts, it might even give you a good laugh now and then. This charming experience should not be ignored and if you're looking for something new to try out with your friends for a bit, this will surely entertain.

PROS  CONS
+ Unique multiplayer experience – Limited number of multiplayer maps
+ Supports up to 6 players – Occasional glitches
+ Charming presentation – Not much to incentivize players to play more matches
+ Satisfying co-op campaign – Lack of online play
+ Several amusing game modes
7.2
Good

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