STAFF REVIEW of Disco Dodgeball - REMIX (Xbox One)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018.
by Royce Dean

Disco Dodgeball - REMIX Box art Athletic displays weren’t my strongest suit in my youth. I ran, jumped, ducked and weaved with about as much proficiency as a garden snail. I never quite found the time to maintain my cardio routines between cans of Dr. Pepper and tubes Jalapeno Pringles. Unsurprisingly this led to my inevitable fate as the last pick for all sporting events in physical education class. Hockey? Last pick. Football? Last pick. Soccer? They’d be done the game before I made it to the field. Don’t feel bad for me though... I hated most sports. It didn’t bother me. Also I lie a little bit in these reviews for effect and laughter, but you didn’t hear it from me.

The only times when being picked last for a team truly got under my skin was on dodge ball day. I loved dodge ball on the sports scale of tolerability, though on the list of appreciation of all things, it still ranked lower than peeling the plastic layer off of a new electronic device. The thrill of throwing a ball into a crowd on the other side of the gym and having it land with high probability into the face of an unsuspecting victim was top-shelf. The hollow thud of rubber on their stupid face made me smile every time. I didn’t even have to be fast, I could just stand behind somebody else on my team and use them as a meat shield. Dodge ball truly was the best of the best. That is until the robots took over.

The only way you’ll ever catch me playing a sports game is if its chief cast doesn’t consist of real people. I don’t play games for reality, damnit. In Disco Dodgeball you play as exactly that; not humans. Instead you play as a robot with a singular wheel... unicycle style. These robots need not be feared. They are less concerned about taking away your freedom and independent thought as much as they just wanting to make you look really bad at everything you do with those soft, fleshy, meat sacks you call bodies. These robots take to bright and flashy neon arenas that they pulled the designs from by watching Tron. They watched the remake too for research purposes but got stuck complaining about it on forums for hours and never got any work done.

So how do you play Disco Dodgeball? To put it plainly, it’s dodge ball. Your objective is to beat the other team. Fortunately the game offers up a wide array of changeable settings and game modes that can keep you playing this relatively simple title a surprisingly long time. The basics of Disco Dodgeball include throwing the ball, catching a ball midair, dashing and jumping off of ramps, though the physics engine allows for more complicated maneuvers like bouncing balls off of walls for ricochet K.O.s.

There’s a wide array of different game modes to choose from when building the perfect game of dodge ball for you. The standard issue game mode is Deathmatch. You and another team go head-to-head in a competition to score the most K.O. points. Elimination mode plays similarly to Deathmatch only your life is finite. It’s a game to see who lasts the longest. Many other game modes like Score Battle and King Pin help to fill up the total number of ways to play, while only being one part of your overall options to choose from. When customizing the way you want to play, you can adjust how many computer players you’d like to see, how long matches should be, which arenas you’d like to play in and even whether or not you’d like to see power ups.

The first choice you have to make when playing Disco Dodgeball is whether you want to play online, or offline. While playing online you can join rooms created by other players set to the specific way they like to play, or you can create your own room using all of the tools and settings I outlined above. If all of that sounds like too much hassle for you, or you just want to play a match or two while your significant other decides what to wear to Olive Garden, there is a Quickplay option that throws you directly into the fray with no muss or fuss.

Playing offline offers up a few more options, but follows the same pattern of gameplay. For new players, or those that are coming back after a long break looking to shake off the rust, there is a Training Mode. Training Mode gives you the low down on the basics of playing the game. It’s quick and painless and barely qualifies as a game mode. Your other options are Arcade Mode, Challenge Mode, and Bot Match. Bot Match gives you the same ball throwing action we’ve been chatting about so far this time with AI. It isn’t particularly exciting, but the AI is surprisingly difficult to overcome which may be a good way for folks to practice up with before going online.

Challenge Mode offers a series of goals for the player to meet. In most of these cases you are simply seeking to break your own high score, but how that score is broken and points are earned is done differently by challenge to challenge. The most basic of these is the “Horde” challenge, which drops you into an arena with endless enemies and has you get as many kills as you can before biting the dust. In the “Juggernaut” challenge you become invincible and must rack up as many K.O. points as you can within a time limit. Arcade Mode is an 8 stage test of mettle that pits you against wave after wave of opponent AI. You’ll earn money to spend on power ups and bonuses between rounds, but the difficulty in Arcade Mode can become quite extreme if you are unpracticed or simply a bad shot. I personally only made it to the third stage before meeting my robotic maker.

As you play Disco Dodgeball, you’ll earn experience for your deeds. Upon leveling up you receive a care package that contains a new part for you to modify your robot with. Your player robot can be customized in every way, from its face, head and body, to its decals, color and even what clothes it wears. Each care package only contains one item, so collecting them all will take a dogs age, but, will ever keep you rewarded while playing. In addition to the care package, you get one “junk” item each time you level up. Junk items in certain combinations can be used to craft nicer and better looking custom parts for your robot than the ones you get out of the box.

Disco Dodgeball sports a simple and boxy look, but what it lacks in detail it makes up for with its wild and over the top lighting. Each map and the robots that rove around in them are so brightly neon and pulsating that you’d think you were at a rave. The music matches that theme by being primarily bass-filled trance and dub-step. The music of Disco Dodgeball kept me entertained long after I stopped playing because I kept it on in the background while I made my review notes. While playing, the beats set the tone of the matches perfectly and keep you in the competitive mode.

Fun would be a good word to describe Disco Dodgeball with. It’s not a GoTY contender, but it isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever touched either. It simply is what it is and does that thing well. It looks serviceably good while selling its theme perfectly, it sounds like a night on the town in your twenties and plays as well as a dodge ball game ever could. Disco Dodgeball is a great game for kids and grown-ups alike, and offers up enough content to keep the player busy for a long while. My personal take is that I wouldn’t play this game for an extended period of time, but I would absolutely pick it up for rounds between other games, or while I’ve got a few buddies over to hang out. Well done Zen Studios, you’ve made the first dodge ball game I’d recommend to others!

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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