If there's one sport that's underrepresented in gaming, it's dodgeball. Stikbold may not aim to reinvent the genre, but its wacky and simple gameplay is definitely worth taking a few balls to the face for.
Playing Stikbold is incredibly easy to learn due to its intuitive controls. If you've ever played a twin-stick shooter then you're already halfway there. You basically use one stick to run around, the other to aim, and two shoulder buttons do everything else. One of them charges your throw and another is used to both dodge and catch. You can also use the right stick to curve your throws but save that for when you're comfortable with the basics. Anyway, matches are played within circular arenas but these aren't your ordinary locations as you'll come across hazards such as bees, vans, crabs, and even lava. One of my favourite is a streaker who latches onto you thus slowing your movement substantially. It all adds up to one crazy arcade-style game with a simple premise and many complexities that help keep it fresh.
As you can tell, Stikbold is absolutely hilarious. Everything from the blocky cast of lively characters who all speak Danish to the off-the-wall story is dripping with charm. Throughout your Dodgeball Adventure, you'll meet hippies, lifeguards, bikers, environmentalists, skeletons, and the devil himself. Everyone pops off the screen with their goofy facial expressions and cool dance moves. The environments are just as brilliant with bright colours and cute objects scattered around. On the audio side, the music is lighthearted and sounds like it's coming from a live band while effects match every onscreen occurrence perfectly. Overall, this is one quirky package that'll surely keep a smile on your face if you're up for having some carefree fun without taking it too seriously.
Stikbold consists of a story mode and local multiplayer for up to four friends. You can play the story mode with a buddy, too. Anyway, the campaign stars chums Bjorn and Jerome who are on a quest to be the best ballers around. In all, there are 11 stages and a bonus one where you play as Bjorn who tries to prove himself in a match against Jerome. Each stage presents you with three optional quests that award you with trophies once you manage to accomplish all of them. You'll encounter a few enjoyable boss fights along the way as well. When it comes to multiplayer, you select from a cast of 18 unlockable characters who duke it out either in teams or free-for-all matches. There are plenty of options to mix up these bouts such as specifying win conditions, bots, a handful of rules, and which hazards will show up or not. It's fun to experiment with various combinations of match setups to get the most out of every battle.
Although Stikbold can be a ton of fun, a few shortcomings take away from its lasting appeal. The story mode can be completed in one sitting which is much too short for most gamers. You could try to complete all of the quests but there's nothing to do besides that. With local multiplayer being your only other option, it's safe to say that Stikbold would have been a far better experience if it had more modes. Also, there are only five arenas to play around in. This means that you can play all of them within a half hour of multiplayer matches and that's simply not enough. Speaking of which, I found the story mode to be exciting throughout but the multiplayer gets old rather quickly. It could be due to the lack of content, but one thing's for sure; you won't be playing for much longer than a few rounds.
Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure is a delightful downloadable that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun time. It may not last for hours, but the time that you spend dodging, catching, and whipping balls at folks is nothing short of entertaining.
- + Unique and enjoyable gameplay with many twists that keep it fresh throughout
- + Hilariously quirky presentation
- + Plenty of multiplayer options
- - Lack of content with only a brief story mode and local multiplayer battles available
- - Could use more than just five arenas
- - Playing multiplayer gets old quickly