SHORT REVIEW: PC VERSION
Remember that film? Ya’ know, the one with pretty much the same name? Had that actor in it? You know the one, has a head shaped out of haunted Brie. This is a computer game, based on the sport dodgeball, which is a bit like that film. Got that? Good.
Stikbold looks rather silly doesn’t it, go on, go have a look at the pictures… I’ll wait. Makes sense when the sport’s based around throwing weighty objects at children’s heads. Excellent, we can all get behind that concept.
Let’s find ou- *SMACK* “Ooooofff! You bastard.”
Are you watching Kick Off Revival, with your dead-eyed menu screen? This is how it’s done, a lighthearted gag setting the tone in the first 2 seconds. Colourful, playful, hinting at the joy to come. Hey… It’s strange to think that no-one’s thought to create a dodgeball game before?
Best wait for a friend to show up before purchasing Stikbold. You can work through the short single player campaign with a CPU teammate, but you’d be very very wrong. Stikbold requires basic friendships, or a loving partner, to appreciate the tone of the game. To fully enjoy the screaming, the learning of lessons and teamwork, with the promise of mutual bitterness.
The single player mode is pretty much a grandiose tutorial with the odd boss battle thrown in. You can enjoy the flippant storyline, complete with possible gibberish non-dialogue or skip it completely, as at times, it waffles a bit. That’s fine, the campaign does the job perfectly and gives all the information required to batter friends in the excellent 4-player mode. It is fun to withhold important information, as you curve the ball around the arena breaking teeth and inspiring misery.
It’s not my fault. “They” should have played the (not quite as fun) single player campaign, right?
Like all good things, the controls are simple, the modes to select are simple. It’s a pretty simple game. Simple doesn’t mean nefarious tactics don’t come into play, as the “dodge” part in dodge ball becomes as important as you’d expect. The arenas have a lot going on, want to wield a hotdog as a deadly weapon? Sure thing, get throwing. Got knocked out but feel the need to take revenge from the sidelines? Go for it. Want to push your mate into an oncoming van? Do it, do it! In it’s best moments Stikbold has the same feel as classic bomberman. High praise indeed.
Saying that, it would be nice if we had a few more options. Why not introduce a few powerups to the mix? Then again, the arena might be a little too small for exploding dodgeballs. Further options to customise the experience, such as disabling sidelined teammates from affecting the game, wouldn’t go amiss. Hey, I’m a huge fan of being run over by an errant floor-waxer, but I’m sure not everyone would agree. It would be nice to have the choice. No matter, these are tiny quibbles as the base game doesn’t fail to inspire joy.
I’m pretty sure you could tart up Stikbold with the fanciest graphics in the land, but it wouldn’t benefit from it. The clean colourful aesthetic ensures you throw things at the correct people and it carries a certain degree of charm. I’m a fan of the stupid square heads. It’s always a pleasure to celebrate victory with your dancing avatars. Not that I would ever dance along, goading the defeated or anything.
No online play… erm… good. No loss here, I’m sure some miserable kid in Kansas would have a right good moan about this, but who cares about him? You know how I feel about the whole online gaming thing.
One of the worst things about a scoring system is someone can legitimately say “how comes that bigger, more technical game gets a lower score than this basic looking crap?”
Ha-ha-ha. Please take a seat and I shall explain, or skip this paragraph. In fact you could just skip to the score at the bottom, it’s your life. I don’t mind.
It’s about execution of vision. A simple idea with a clear goal is a tad easier to carry out. Whilst a AAA monster of a game with a system of pulleys and chickens ends up being about as clear as muddy waters (not the singer). This could be considered hugely unfair, but that’s life isn’t it. Stikbold executes its simple vision, which is to be a fun, but simple local multiplayer game. Mission success! You compare that to a fancy-pants game like a Mad Max which cost 1 billion pound per pixel and was a right pain in the arse to cobble together, with an incredibly complex vision. But in the end the question is, did it nail it’s intent? Was it fun or thought provoking? Was it worth your time? You’ve a game that takes a million people cramming together a million moving parts with an epic vision (muh’ game) or square headed blokes on a single screen (oohhh, lot’s of fun). Scoring systems… how terribly unfair. Excellent.
Stikbold could be a far better game than it currently is. I would love to see an 8 player mode, with a choice of how many balls you could use. Teams of 4 facing off against each other, the thrill, the screams, the hatred! Slightly bigger arena’s with an automatic camera zoom? Maybe an online mode could work if you’ve put together your own team of drunken lunatics, taking on all-comers (2 drink minimum required). I’d love to see a few extra interesting characters to choose from? A few more animations, or interesting rag-dolling to give the game a little extra graphical flourish? A replay when someone really gets smacked in the head? None of these ideas are beyond a few patches. Stikbold has the scope to grow and fulfil huge promise… or not.
Stikbold can last a lifetime of fun as long as you have friends. I’m pretty sure the experience would be a limited one if you only played this by yourself, in a basement with Patsy the human companion doll, ignoring you once again, why doesn’t she ever do the dishes?
Stikbold could easily be improved further and I can’t wait to see the words “downloading” next time I turn on.