Welcome to another entry in our indie game spotlight series, where we talk about some of the most creative and endearing indie games and give you the reasons to check them out. Let’s skip the pretense, as I am sure we all know at this point what indie games are and why they are so awesome. The game in question today is an RPG, a short and sweet one, and is a game that, once you see and play for yourself, you won’t be able to get it out of your mind. Today’s game is “Dodgeball Academia.”
What Is ‘Dodgeball Academia’?
Let’s just get this out of the way immediately. I am sure that when developer Pocket Trap was coming up with the idea for this game, they simply took the words “RPG,” “dodgeball” and “anime” and, based on that, decided to mix them all together and produce a game out of it. “Dodgeball Academia” is just that—a sports RPG, if you will—a game about the sport of dodgeball, which is also an RPG and takes heavy inspiration from anime and shonen television.
You play as Otto here, a young student who wants nothing more than to be the best ever dodgeball player of all times, a typical anime trope of being the best at something. In order to fulfill his dreams, Otto joins Dodgeball Academia, a school known for having some of the best dodgeball players as alumni. Just like the classic anime tropes, Otto gets challenged pretty much immediately, showcases his skills, and not long after gets challenged by the best student from the school, loses (you can beat him, by the way, if you try hard enough) and moves forward to train even harder and become the best.
On his journey, Otto gets joined by many people who’ll become his allies and enemies all the same, and every character you come across is rich with personality and charm. The game tells its story fully through text, and the writing here is very clever and downright hilarious at times. The story doesn’t take itself too seriously and comes packed with a few twists and turns of its own, some of which are quite predictable. The best part about stories like these is how they hook and engage you throughout without pressuring you with unnecessary emotional punches or world-ending events. It knows what it is and delivers in spades, and that’s all a story needs to be good. How the story is told is what can make or break it, and “Dodgeball Academia” takes a simple approach and does a fine job in doing so. Check it out; it’s really fun.
With the story out of the way, let’s take a gander at the gameplay, and once again, it’s straightforward and very, very fun. You can freely roam the campus and the surrounding area in a sort of 2.5D perspective, and just like classic RPGs, like the old “Final Fantasy” and “Pokemon” games, you’ll come across random encounters that will take you to an arena to duke it out. Unlike those games, however, the combat here is real-time and not turn-based. You “fight” in dodgeball pitches (naturally), where you fight to pick the balls up and throw them at your foes in an attempt to knock them out (obviously). Enemies in every fight have their own sets of health bars, and it depends on the kind of balls you have and how much mustard you put on them, that determines whether you can knock them out in one hit or if it’ll take multiple.
Hitting your foes isn’t all you’ll be doing, as they’ll be trying to hit you at the same time, so you’ll have to be on your feet at all times and dodge incoming balls or time the impact perfectly and press a button to catch them. Enemy throws also come with some variety, as some are normal while others are super fast or slow, and in some cases, the ball will make its way toward you as it constantly spins. Timing is key, and understanding the kind of throw you’ll be dealing with will make all the difference. As you progress through the game, you’ll also come across different kinds of balls. Some will explode on impact, while others will shock or freeze your enemies.
Your allies also play a big part, as most of the fights you’ll come across won’t be mon-e-mon, so using them and their super abilities to your advantage is also something that you’ll have to get comfortable with. It’s a sport, and there’s no I in the team after all, am I right? Super abilities charge as your time and catch balls, or you can use the in-between time to hold a button and charge up your super meter like Goku from Dragon Ball Z charges his ki. The battle system here is top-notch and is very simple to learn, and has a surprising amount of depth behind it, which you’ll discover once you start mastering it.
One last thing I’d like to touch on is that since the game is an RPG, leveling up, finding better gear scattered throughout the campaign or buy them from the shop, and so on, should be expected. There are even fun boss fights, and I must say, the art style, presentation, and music in this game are some of the finest and most memorable I have seen in any indie game. Everything is charming and has a pop to it that cannot be explained; you have to see it for yourself.
So, “Dodgeball Academia,” in a nutshell, is a sports RPG that gives you control of Otto on his quest to become the best dodgeball player. The game features an amazing art style and fantastic music, while the presentation and story on offer here are self-aware, hilarious, and very memorable. The combat is fun, and the game is full of charm with endearing characters. All of this begs one simple question, then.
Should You Play ‘Dodgeball Academia’?
I am certain I have made myself clear, haven’t I? Absolutely, yes, you should play this game without a shadow of a doubt. I know I pretty much say that for every indie game, but how can you say no to something when it is this good? Developers put so much love and passion into their games that it’s hard to pass, and “Dodgeball Academia” is one such game. A memorable, sweet, and fantastic adventure
Completion of this game may vary a bit, but if you blaze through the story and read all the dialogues, then I’d say you are looking at roughly 6–8 hours to get it done. Achievement hunters! This is an easy completion but has a ton of missable achievements, so look up a guide, and you’ll have your 100% for this one in somewhere between 10 and 12 hours. Whether you’ll play this for the story, the gameplay, or both, I can assure you that you will have a blast.
“Dodgeball Academia” is available for $24.99 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Xbox One S, PlayStation 5 and 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. This game was a blast and was pure joy to get to go through. There is something about these kinds of games that remains timeless; maybe it’s their simple nature or their approach to game design; either way, “Dodgeball Academia” stands tall and proud right next to the other games that conquer this type of RPG genre.