Dodge Ball Advance
By: Jared Black
When Atlus announced that they would bring an
updated version of the classic Super Dodge Ball game to the GBA, old
school gamers everywhere rejoiced. Back in its heyday, it
practically defined the term "frantic gameplay". With itís
unique take on the sport of dodge ball (you literally kill your
opponents) it won over many fans during its initial run. If youíre
one of those fans of the original, than rejoice Ė Atlus has
delivered a sequel worthy of the name.
At the heart of Super Dodge Ball Advance is, of course,
the gameplay. Each team consists of seven players, three of which
surround the opponentís side of the court and four of which are
inside the court on your side. You control whichever player has the
ball, and you can choose to pass it to another one or your teammates
or throw it at an opposing player. The meat of the gameplay lies in
the variety of throws available to use. You can choose to make a
normal throw at an opposing player (you choose which one by pressing
the "R" button to toggle through them), or try to execute
a special throw. There are over 50 special throws that behave in a
variety of ways. Some special throws include one that circles your
opponent overhead before dropping on them, a wide shot that throws
the ball in five smaller pieces, or throwing it with such velocity
that itíll pound the opponent youíre aiming at plus any other
player in the line of fire. If the person being thrown at doesnít
either catch (using the "B" button) the ball or dodge it
(using the "A" button), it will hit them and do damage to
them. The amount of damage it does depends on the type of throw you
perform, with harder throws (naturally) doing more damage. Once a
player runs out of hit points, they die and float up into the sky as
an angel. The team with the last player standing wins the match.
That's basically all there is to the gameplay, and on a whole itís
fairly simplistic. There are a couple of factors that add variety to
the game however. Much like a soccer game, before the match you can
assign one of several preset formations your team will use to govern
their behavior throughout the match. Each member of each
computer-controlled team will also control differently depending on
their personality, resulting in some variety in throws and behavior
throughout the game.
Yet, despite these factors the gameplay itself remains fairly
bland. After a couple of matches gameplay becomes repetitive, and at
any difficulty itís fairly easy to master. The computer AI is
predictable, and often falls into the exact same patterns of offense
and defense throughout the match. The two-player mode helps to
alleviate this problem (since you play against an unpredictable
human and not the computer), but as a single-player experience itís
lacking the refinement found in other GBA launch titles. No doubt
old Dodge Ball fans will eat it up, but it doesnít really hold up
well in this day and age.
The graphics are pretty nice. Arenas are found throughout the
world, and do a good job of representing the stereotypical settings
one would think each would. Player models all look really sharp and
fairly detailed, although this time they now look much younger then
their predecessors, which may turn off fans of the series. On the
whole, the graphics do a good job of bringing a cartoon feel to the
action, even if they are a bit simplistic.
There really isnít a whole lot in the sound department to talk
about. Sound effects are sparse, with only a few different ones to
accompany various on-screen actions. The music is very good though,
with a nice upbeat feel that helps to set the mood for the frantic
gameplay. Atlus also did a good job of making it loud and crisp,
making it one of the better sounding GBA titles thus far.
Overall, Super Dodge Ball Advance is a decent GBA game
that a lot of gamers will enjoy more than I did. While the gameplay
tends to become repetitive during extended gameplay sessions, in
short bursts itís one of the better playing GBA launch titles.
- Graphics are sharp and colorful
- Good music
- Old-school gameplay will appeal to fans of the series
- Very few sound effects
- The gameplay feels too simplistic at times, lacking the
variety of most other GBA titles.
Although the core gameplay hasnít aged that well, Super
Dodge Ball Advance remains one of the better GBA launch titles.
Fans of previous Dodge Ball games are advised to purchase
immediately, other gamers may want to rent before they buy.
Overall Score: 7.2