Sunday, December 31, 2017

Review: Stikbold [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While not so much in more recent generations older people like myself probably grew up playing a fair amount of dodgeball. There’s something about it that I’ve always enjoyed, probably most to do with its chaotic nature, fast action, and that the tide can sometimes turn unexpectedly depending on the rules. Stikbold is a somewhat unusual game that takes dodgeball and super-charges it, creating something a bit weird and wacky but quite a lot of fun in the process.

To start you have a pretty challenging and utterly strange Story mode, which you can play through alone or with a friend. Through the weird and often silly tale of friends and Stikbold teammates Bjorn and Jerome you’ll try to get them on the road to becoming the Stikbold champions after a second-place finish the previous year. The road to get there I don’t want to ruin but suffice it to say you can’t possibly know what you’re in for. This mode is pretty challenging in spots but even when backed up by the CPU it shouldn’t take more than a few hours to get through. The reward is some laughs, a chance to refine your skills, and a bunch of unlockable characters for multiplayer mode.

While there’s a pretty straight-forward Quick Match mode to get you and your friends playing it is the absolutely bonkers Wheel of Rumpus mode that is likely to keep you coming back or more. Structured like a game show a player will spin the wheel that will typically determine the location of the match. While a point goes to the player who first wins 2 rounds there’s often a secondary objective that will win a point as well for people to fight over. To get that added point you’ll often need to be “out” and manage to effectively grief one of the other players with one of the methods of attack available on that screen. These range from more simple to outright weird and it helps to keep the match as much of a free-for-all as possible.

In terms of faults it’s a double-edged sword how simple the majority of the gameplay is. You’ll be able to throw, dive and bump people. There’s added opportunity for technique (and a bit of luck) if you’re ambitious and want to make a diving catch or curve your shot but for the most part you’ll likely be too busy avoiding being hit or trying to bump the ball out of someone’s hands to get a chance to put those skills to use. This is part of the reason the Wheel of Rumpus mode works so well, it effectively piles on more chaos to keep the game fresh and dynamic, but perhaps people hoping for more depth could be disappointed.

Overall, Stikbold is an engaging multiplayer game that has some wild action and distinguishes itself with a great idea in the form of the Wheel of Rumpus mode. While the Story Mode isn’t terribly long it is quite a lot of fun and it’s great that you have the option to either tackle it alone or with a friend. Results will vary depending on your group but if you like chaotic and raucous fun to get people laughing it sets the table for a good time.

Score: 7.5

  • The Wheel of Rumpus mode keeps things unpredictable and a bit crazy
  • Easy to pick up and play
  • The Story Mode is varied, silly, and works as a single-player or co-op experience

  • If you and your friends don’t enjoy the Wheel of Rumpus’s format you’ve drastically cut back the worthwhile content in the game
  • Simplicity can cut both ways and some may find the gameplay too shallow after a while