By Justin Guillou / November 24th, 2014
|Release Date||November 6, 2014|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Everyone|
What happens when you take a classic arcade game like Joust, and throw in some SPORTS? You get Sportsball, one of the latest indie games to come out on the Nintendo Wii U brought to you by Too DX. I have to say this is a weird one. After you start a new game, you immediately hear someone yelling “BIRDS WILL FLY HEARTS WILL SOAR…” I love it. More video games could benefit from having an over-the-top theme song to them. So, they have my attention, hopefully the gameplay keeps it.
What is the story to Sportsball? Well, ladies and gentleman, there once was a young lad who watched his parents get attacked and killed by birds. Ever since then, he developed a hatred towards them and wanted to kill them all, until, one day, he realized he had the power to communicate with them. He then met with more people who seemed to share that same power. They started the Gang of Green because they were all wearing green shirts when they met each other. If you have not already guessed, I am completely making the story up! This is what happens when there is no story! You start getting creative and making back stories for the characters. Though, to be fair, it is not like the game needed a story. Sportsball involves four teams: the Gang of Green, Red Hot , Sapphire Sky and Pink Pros who are out to compete against each other. Someone wins a round and game over!
Each of the teams has their own set of characters and playstyles. My favorite was Secretary from the Gang of Green since that character gave me less trouble to control than some of the others. Once you pick your character, you are given an option to pick a game mode, except there is only one available: RallyBall Basic. OK… pick that one and a stage and get to flying. When a round starts, you are placed somewhere on an arena and you can flap your wings with the A and B buttons on the GamePad, while X and Y dive. Alternatively, you can control the game with the Wii Remote sideways by using the 1 and 2 buttons. There is an additional “Flap Mode” where you can actually “flap” your hands like wings to play it. Before you ask, there is no video of me doing it in the review, because you all do not want to see me do that, or do you?… Perhaps, if you ask politely, I will consider it.
Throughout the level are little balls that can be knocked into the basket in the stage. The goal of the game is to get as many balls into the basket before running out of time. The faster you get them in the basket, the more time is added to the clock. When you run out of time, the game slows down as if to make it more dramatic, then you explode and are given an option to try again or go back to the character selection screen. I played a few more rounds and then something felt off. I was not unlocking any additional modes. Is that really all there is to the game? I mean, it is kind of fun to see myself improve with the bird, but something felt off…
The problem was, I was flying solo. As soon as you get another buddy involved, the game truly opens up. This brings me to my biggest complaint about the game. It is mainly multiplayer focused. There are about eight modes in multiplayer, including the ability to customize a game mode, yet single player is stuck with RallyBall Basic which, quite frankly, gets old real fast. One of the better game modes, in my opinion, is the Sportsbrawl Mode, because it reminds me of Joust, which is a good thing since that game was really fun. In this mode, you can duke it out in the arenas. I like how, when a character is defeated, they explode and the person just gets warped to the basket in the stage. The multiplayer is so much more fun and interesting than the single player. Unfortunately, there is no online, so those of you with no friends in the neighborhood are out of luck. Maybe you can get your pets to play with you! Now that would be an interesting addition to be added in a future update of the game. I highly encourage the developers to release an update to this game that adds more to the single player modes or, at the very least, attempt to add online play. This is very much a pick-up-and-play game, it will benefit greatly from online play. I have an idea for a game mode! How about a rallyball-like mode, but there is a boss in the middle of the stage that can not only destroy you, but prevent the ball from going into the basket. You can attack it by hitting various weakpoints on the sprite. The boss can take a long time to defeat however, and should you defeat it, you get a huge bonus. I think that could be one way to bring more life to the stages, which are, unfortunately, a bit disappointing.
Despite the stage select screen indicating that there are several stages located across the world, there are only about three distinct stages — one in space, one in a stadium and one in the skies during a sunset. This is so disappointing considering that the game is supposed to have stages from across the world. How does the stage Neo New Hampshire look exactly like the stage Tokyo Space Dome? This does not make any sense and is a huge missed opportunity to incorporate some of each country’s culture into the stage. Also, there is not much variety to the music. It is pretty much three songs spread across the stages, and they get old really fast. They sound very generic, and I would have much preferred some intense, fast-paced music to go along with the chaotic potential buried deep inside of this game. At least the sprites themselves look all right. While not too detailed, the birds themselves all look really unique enough to make me want to play with each of them at least once.
Perhaps I am being too hard on this game, but there are so many other indie titles available that really raise the bar and manage to compete against the big AAA titles. Overall, this one just comes off as unimpressive. I felt that there was something missing preventing it from being the really awesome game that it wants to be. For about $10, you have a title that has potential to be really good and can be genuinely fun at times, but probably will not keep your attention for more than an hour. If you watch the trailer below or see a few videos of the game and think this is something you and your friends might enjoy, by all means check it out. As for me, I am going to sit here and hope for Too DX to try again and release an expanded edition with 10 extra words in the title to make it: SportsBall Extended Super Jockey Hyper Drive Turbo CD32X Special Champion Edition. If they can add more to the single player, make the stages more interesting and add some online play, I would be sold!
Review copy provided by the publisher
Birds will flyeShopmultiplayer mayhemNintendoSportsballWiiWii U