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Nintendo DS Video Game Review: SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS (熱血高校ドッジボール部)

“Kunio makes a return to the US as with the whole Nekketsu and Hanazono gang for the latest installment of ‘Super Dodgeball’ for the Nintendo DS”

TITLE: SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS (熱血高校ドッジボール部)

DEVELOPER: MILLION

COMPANY: ARKSYS GAMES/ARK SYSTEM WORKS

CONSOLE: Nintendo DS

RATING: E for EVERYONE – Cartoon Violence

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

The Perfect Game for Multi-Player Mayhem! Compete in a traditional game of dodgeball against a friend or take part in a multiplayer street brawl with up to 8 players with a single game card.

Over 100 Ball-Busting Special Attacks! Dish out a variety of pain with over 100 special attacks with their own special animations and effects, like the Cactus Attack and Panda Shot.

If there is one video game series that I have always been fond of, it’s the Nekketsu series which has had over 20 or so games in Japan.

The Nekketsu series has its ties to the arcade machines but many more people who were playing video games back in the NES days will remember Technos fighting classics such as “Renegade”, “River City Ransom” and “Crash n’ the Boys” and “Nintendo World Cup” (of course, of all the Technos games released in the arcade and consoles the most remembered is “Double Dragon”) , games that were localized heavily in the US and never really carried the Nekketsu name but fans new by the superdeformed brawlers that it was a Nekketsu game with its hero Kunio of Nekketsu High School.

From various sports games such as soccer and basketball, the most popular was the Dodgeball series. “Super Dodgeball” was one of those games that sucked a lot of quarters from gamers at the arcade and those with an NES back in the day, this game was just one of the most enjoyable sports games to own on the system.

The object of the game is a four vs. four battle in dodgeball which you have two buttons, throw and pass. Press both buttons and you can jump (and then jump and throw). By using the directional pad, you move your character around and then by stepping back, dashing and using a specialized attack.

Of course, part of the excitement of a Nekketsu game is fighting. And with crates, bananas, bombs and missles, you can use those weapons to your advantage against high power teams.

The releases of Super Dodgeball has not changed since Technos has gone out of business. Fortunately, former employees of the company formed “MILLION” and Million has since released two Dodgeball games. One for the GameBoy Advance and for the Nintendo DS with “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS”

GAMEPLAY:

“SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS” features several modes:

  • Tournament
  • Vs. Match
  • Brawl
  • Locker Room
  • Options

In “Tournament mode”, you can choose one among two dozen or so on the country list or play Kunio’s Nekketsu High School team or Riki’s Hanazono High School team. And similar to the original NES version, the USA is the team to beat with an S rating while Kunio’s team has a B-rating and Riki’s team with a C-rating.

Where the arcade version allowed for controlling up to six players and the NES with three, fortunately the DS allows for the control of all four players. Each player has its strength and weaknesses (you have seven people in your team but four can play. You can switch teammates if you want) and when you play, you see a bar on top of the screen for each player.

If one of your players gets hit by the opponent with the ball, they lose a bar and when they lose all their bars, they are eliminated from the game.

With each win, you get money and the money can be used to shop for various items which can boost power, agility, stamina, catching, defense, etc. and can be equipped for that character.

You compete in seven matches, get to the semi-finals and then to the finals and win the tournament.

In “Vs. Match”, this allows you to use your team and go against other countries.

In “Brawl”, this is pretty much an all out brawl where only the best survives. People in your team/school vs. other rivals. Grab chains, bottles, baseball bats, trash cans or the dodgeball in a fight. Last one standing is the winner. And this feature allows 8-players to compete in multiplayer action with one DS card.

In “Locker Room”, you can create your own original team and characters.

For “Options”, mainly just audio changes.

CONTROLS:

With “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS” for the Nintendo DS, there is really no use for the stylus. This is all about fingerwork. The only use for the touchscreen is to activate a major attack. Although, for those who are newbies may be looking towards a site like GameFaqs to learn how to activate a move because the manual, despite being a bit thick (because it’s in multiple languages), really doesn’t go into how moves are done.

I’m not really disappointed that there is no stylus usage because really, this game is all button-work.

GRAPHICS:

Well, “Super Dodgeball” is not a grame that you are looking for great graphics. Especially when the characters are super-deformed. In fact, people might think its comparable with what was released on an SNES console. But all in all, the game doesn’t look outdated or pixely.

I will say that for some reason, I felt that backgrounds were being reused a lot during the matches. Part of the fun of the NES games if I can recall was that each country had its own special background and I felt that some countries competing areas were just redundant.

MUSIC:

Like the original game, you do hear music specifically made from that country and I have to admit, I recall the original NES version, the music sticking in my head. But really, for the Nintendo DS version, I don’t think I really listened (nor did I really pay attention) to the music all that much.

OVERALL:

So, all in all, “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS” is an enjoyable game that will help pass the time for a short time.

I emphasize “short” because I literally have breezed through the game in probably a half hour’s time. Fortunately, you can select easy, normal or hard difficulties and to add to the gameplay, you can create your team for hours of fun (note: you have three saving blocks).

As for multi-player, this is one of the major positive aspects of the game. The ability to go against others via DS wireless or DS Download Play. The game is not wi-fi in the sense that you can compete against people all over the country though. So, you can compete against friends in a match or via brawl.

A lot of the reviews have been average at most for “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS”. For me, there are several positive aspects that made me enjoy this game.

  1. Kunio/Nekketsu fans will be stoked to finally play the guy and fellow high school mates and rivals in this game and hopefully this will be a beginning to possibly more “Nekketsu” releases in the US.
  2. Back in the 80’s, especially with sports games on the NES, one of the games I loved to play were Jaleco’s “Bases Loaded” baseball games, Tecmo Football, SNK’s “Little League Baseball” and Technos “SUPER DODGEBALL”. Mainly because you played teams that are not “official licensed teams” and you sort of feel a bond with the team, noticing their strengths and weaknesses and take them to the tournament and just winning.
  3. “SUPER DODGEBALL” is just an overall fun game.

With that being said, as much as I enjoyed the game, I wish there was more planning that goes into the tournament mode. That would be wonderful if in a later installment, we actually see somewhat of a season play. More than eight games.

There have been exciting sports games from Japan such as “Tennis no Oujisama: Crystal Drive” which has you going against various schools but as you progress, they get harder and harder.

I really do believe there is potential for this game for some innovating gameplay because its more or less almost the same game twenty years later. I would like to see MILLION really spruce up the tournament mode.

And of course, the possibility to go Wi-Fi against others around the country would be awesome.

But of course, that all comes down to the company and what MILLION can afford to do.

Last but not least, I’m not sure if this game had a low print run but there have been reports of people around the country having difficulty finding this game. Hmm…

If anything, I hope MILLION continues to release more Nekketsu games. There have been Nekketsu collections released for the Game Boy Advance and I would be curious if they followed CAPCOM’s “Ace Attorney” direction and tweaked those collections for the Nintendo DS because I’m actually up for that.

All in all “SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS” is an fun game, a bit short but for what I was expecting to get, that’s what I got. Wished there was a bit more innovation in game play since the 1988 original’s NES release but take what you can get and I’m stoked to have a Nekketsu game stateside.

+ Nekketsu/Kunio is back!

+ Enjoyable and very fun to play

+ Multiplayer with a single card

+ Great game for busy people! Matches can last less than ten minutes.

– You will probably beat tournament mode in a half hour or less and locker room/create your own team mode a few hours.

– Not much innovation since the original 1988 NES release

– The manual is not going to help newbies all that much

– Would be great to have wi-fi competition with people nationwide

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