By Phil Schipper / March 11th, 2015
|Title||Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball|
|Release Date||February 19, 2015|
What can I say about Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball? While I’m not too inclined to repeat myself, I will cover many of the same things I wrote about in my impressions of the Early Access version. It’s only been about a month since then, and, while there are a few changes worth mentioning, they’re still relatively minor.
Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball is kind of like the laser tag of first-person shooters. For the most part, its design is lighthearted with a noticeable competitive side, but it definitely isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. This tone starts right where the famously well-fitting name starts: with the robots. You can now choose from a surprisingly diverse selection of mustaches and glasses for your robot, along with the eye and eyebrow positions. This allows your robot to range from amusingly classy to outright silly. You can even change how they look when you win or lose a match!
Moving right along, the second part of our title is Roller-Derby. This is a half truth — if you know much about roller derbies, they typically involve a lot of pushing, and that’s not really part of the game unless you pick up the Bulldozer powerup (which allows you to boost into opponents to get them out). While the developer seems to be about to implement a mechanic like that for modes like Hoops, we can at least take solace in the fact that there is rolling. It takes some getting used to, sort of like the sliding of Super Mario Bros. 3, but you can always slam on the brakes if you really need to stop quickly. You also have boosters that charge pretty quickly, and can even be used in midair to affect your jumps.
I’d say the weakest part of all this is Disco. It’s not that the music and graphics aren’t good. If it was my job to name it, though, I’d probably use the word Rave. Sure, it wouldn’t sound quite as catchy, but it would describe what’s actually going on. You won’t see a mirror ball spinning to forgotten tunes of the 70s. Instead, the robots play in dark rooms by the light of color-changing neon lines and visualizers, which is part of the reason I made the comparison to laser tag. As you might have guessed by now, the music follows, with dubstep and electronic tracks fueling the fun. However, just before this writing, the developers added the ability to swap in your own music, with the lights automatically changing in time with it.
Of course, despite the logic I’ve used so far in organizing this review, it is no doubt the Dodgeball that interests you the most. Strictly speaking, only Team Elimination matches emulate the rules of actual dodgeball, though the arenas are not flat and don’t have restricting lines. Regardless of the mode, you’ll want to get your opponents out, either by hitting them with a ball or by catching theirs. Both are much easier said than done, and I personally fare better when I focus only on evading my enemies.
There are a couple of match types that are geared toward that, actually. One is the Grand Prix, which simply puts a series of checkpoints around the normal map. Players are given different routes around these checkpoints, trying to get through them efficiently while hitting their competitors to buy time. Another is Super Ball, in which you just try to grab the golden ball and hang onto it to rack up points. Finally, you have two modes that are surprisingly similar: Hoops and Capture the Cube. Hoops is basically a game of basketball, with the players trying to get the special ball through their team’s scoring boxes. Capture the Cube, unlike normal capture-the-flag modes, allows both teams to have each other’s cubes at the same time, and they can even be passed to teammates by throwing.
Deathmatch, like in other games, gives you a point each time you kill an opponent to decide the match. The Score matches, though, are more interesting. While normal kills are still worth points, you get more for “trick shots.” These can be determined to anything from the distance of the shot, whether one or both robots are in the air, whether it was a catch, and even what the target was doing. The highest distinction is for catching an opponent’s ball midair and then hitting another with it before you land.
That basically covers the multiplayer modes. In single player, you also have the options of the Arcade and Challenge modes. In Arcade, you essentially play Elimination matches against an increasing number of computer opponents, with five lives to get you through. After a few waves, you’ll be able to redeem your points for power-ups (earned with the trick shots mentioned above) and move on to a different stage. There are even some boss robots with special abilities, for the rare few that can get that far.
The four Challenge modes are all about shooting for the high score leaderboards. Horde is pretty much one endless survival match against as many normal robots as you can handle. Juggernaut is time limited, but you’re invincible and must get as many trick shots as possible with the two minutes you have. It’s a similar setup in Air Raid, but you can be hit, taking away precious seconds. However, you have a jet pack and teammates that will pass balls to you. Finally there’s Fugitive, which gives you the golden ball and tasks you with simply keeping away from your opponents for as long as possible.
With so many game modes to try, both online and offline, Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball is a crazy fun new take on the mechanics of multiplayer first-person shooters. It strips away all the baggage that we associate with such games and shows us a fresh dimension of entertainment. If I wasn’t so inclined to analyze the games I play, I may never have noticed that it’s technically an FPS at all. Whatever it is, though, it makes for an amazing game. Grab your own copy on Steam for $15 USD — or, if you’re feeling really generous, you can get a four-copy pack to share with your friends for $40 USD. Either way, I very much recommend it.
Review copy supplied by the publisher.
82appsdisco dodgeballFPSPCrobot roller-derby disco dodgeball