SUPER DODGEBALL BRAWLERS / Aksys / Nintendo DS
Mmm ... rehashy! Not long after this was done for GBA, good ol' Super Dodgeball is remade yet again for the DS. What's the difference here? Greater team customization and two screens basically, and that the pace is a little slower and movement more sluggish than the other Nintendo dodgeball games for some reason.
To counterbalance that, there's a pretty robust team creation mode. You can have one custom team (which you name) made up of seven characters. You can simply clone players from the other teams - of which there are over twenty, covering most of the world's largest nations - or create all seven from scratch. Player appearance is a bit limited with only four skin tones and choice of face, hair and eye type, but there's something like 80 faces and 150 hair types. You also start with a pool of 150 points to assign to 16 different categories such as accuracy, throwing strength and stamina. As you play through tournament mode and multiplayer matches, the team earns EXP that eventually raises your statistics, and cash to spend at the store on equippable items (one per character) that also boost stats.
The problem is that the EXP and items are rendered irrelevant by the fact that the computer AI is dopey even on the hard setting, and they never really become necessary. A decently made starting team can win the game over and over and over again, and eventually you just become broken (there's only one tourney that continually repeats, the other teams never seem to improve.) There's a few "secret" teams to beat and unlock, but these are reached so easily that it really provides little long-term incentive to continue on.
Two new twists to the game are that random weapons/health refills can fall on either side of the playfield, and if you meet an opponent at the line you can punch/kick them while they try to pick the ball up. Either or both of these can be toggled on or off prior to each game, which is a good thing, because I didn't think they improved the gameplay at all. The weapons benefit the computer a lot more than you - they can "see" them fall and pick them up when the ball is on your side of the field, thus giving them a surprise attack against you, but you can't do the same when the ball is over in their side of the court. And, even in hard mode, you can exploit the dopey AI to just keep punching and kicking fools at the line when they run up to grab the ball at the beginning. Neither of these ideas seemed to be very well thought out, but they went and hammered them in anyway.
Multiplayer is a bit of a saving grace in that 8 linked players can play of off only one cartridge ... the downside is that there's no WiFi play. The game isn't bad on the whole, but they really needed to spend more time on the single-player experience, get the speed up a bit, and make the AI more competent on both sides of the ball. With all these years and releases behind them there's no excuse for these things not to be in place by this point.