ORIGNALLY POSTED ON PIXELCHEAT.CO.UK
I think that its pretty safe to say that the days of huddling up on a sofa or bed with a group of friends and playing video games all together in the same room are almost a thing of the past, with most game developers of now focusing their multiplayer experiences to fit an online audience, but there still remains a few developers that believe that local multiplayer is the correct way to experience games with friends.
Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure, more commonly referred to just as Stikbold, is a multiplayer focused dodgeball game that is a fond reminder of the most fun we ever had in our physical education classes and truly stands out when it comes to originality, developed by Danish indie team Game Swing.
The two main attributes that make up the Stikbold experience are the crazy and ridiculously silly single-player story mode and the equally as wacky multiplayer mode.
I say single-player mode, but to actually take part in the story mode you have to either be accompanied by a computer controlled partner or have another player to play alongside you.
The reason for the story mode requiring to have two characters controlled at the same time is due to the story following two protagonists, two ‘professional’ level dodgeball players that go by the names of Björn and Jerome. The story mode is set over a total of 12 levels and tells the ridiculous story of how the two dodgeball champions were training for the final of a dodgeball tournament against the opposing team, the team in which they came in 2nd place to in their last tournament. When the competitors show up they’re soon kidnapped and taken away by non-other than the devil. Our heroes then set off on an adventure to rescue the kidnapped players so they can bring them back to the gym and regain their champion title. Like I said, this mode can be played in co-op with a friend or solo but accompanied by an AI teammate, and this mode almost serves as the tutorial for Stikbold, with every level increasing in difficulty and the player needing to learn all the different mechanics of the game to tackle each task set.
Stikbold can be played with up to six players and can either be played as a free-for-all game or as a team game, three teams being the maximum allowed number of teams and the players can be dished out however they wish. The rules are pretty simple, meaning that it can be easy for new players to pick up quickly and, when playing in a group, nobody should feel at a strong disadvantage. It isn’t just about how skilled you are at the game, though. Every level in the game has a multitude of environmental hazards that can knock players out in ways other than getting hit multiple times by the ball. Ranging from hot dog carts in the gym to lava pools in hell, from crabs on the beach and lightning bolts on the oil rig, there’s plenty of things to knock out your opponents if you’ve got really poor aim, and don’t worry if you end up getting knocked out by the stage hazards, because even if you get knocked out you still have a chance to eliminate other players from the round through the use of items like the floor waxer in the gym that become available to you once you’ve been knocked out of the round, meaning that you’re never truly out of the game, and adds another level of non-stop recklessness to the already intense game of dodgeball. If you just wanted to play a somewhat regular game of dodgeball, the hazards and other distractions can be turned of before the start of any match.
Even though it might not look it, Stikbold requires incredible teamwork and needs you to be aware of where the ball is, where your teammates are, where your opponents are and what stage hazards are on the screen at all times, which only adds to the already hectic nature of the game as it is.
As I previously mentioned, Stikbold is a game that can only be played locally with no options to play online being available, which is something that I admire in a way as it makes the game feel somewhat retro, bringing me back to the days of not being able to play games with my friends unless we all gathered round one another’s houses and huddled round the PlayStation to play Crash Team Racing, or the Nintendo 64 to play Pokémon Stadium, but with that being said I feel that not having the ability to play online with other players is somewhat damaging to longevity of Stikbold, being that it’s a heavily multiplayer focused game being released in 2016. If you don’t have friends over to play with you and you’ve already finished the short story mode by yourself, you don’t really have much to do other than play against bots, or try to achieve all of the challenges within the story mode, which I must add is a far more enjoyable experience to do when accompanied by a second player.
At the heart of it, Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure is a great, nostalgic throwback to the good ol’ days great local multiplayer games, when gathering your friends round was the only way to play video games together, and only costing around £7.99, I think that it’s one that you should definitely have in your digital collection, even if you only have fun with it for a short while.