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It's very satisfying to methodically "thin the herd" of the opposing team, and beaming a dork in the back of his head is always a good time! Weapons appear at random, including rocks, sticks, and vending machines. The controls are okay, but I wish you didn't need to press two buttons to jump. The single-player mode offers options galore as you configure your team, purchase useful power-ups, and enter tournaments. It's almost too much though, as the customization screens can be awfully confusing. Once the action begins however, anything goes and there's much fun to be had.
My only true disappointment with the game's jump to the DS is in the overall character movement speed. Characters move just too darn slow in this game, and with the knowledge that the U.S. release of Super Dodgeball Brawlers had said movement speed increased over the Japanese version, I can't even imagine what it was like before. Does this break the game, or make it tedious to play? Not at all. It is, however, a very regrettable flaw in what otherwise is such a great release.
The action in SDB is slower than I would have expected from a sequel over a decade in the making. Still, the expansive character creation, crazy Supershots, and the nods to River City Ransom make all the flaws seem like the needless nitpicking of an obsessed fanboy. Even if you have never played a Nekketsu game before, Super Dodgeball Brawlers deserves a place on your shelf. Considering the history of the series, this might be your last chance to live out those fantasies of dodgeball stardom.
Overall, it’s not the most sophisticated title on the block, but it’s worth it for the nostalgia value alone. Add to the fact that you can engage seven other people in a pick-up match on one cartridge, and it quickly becomes a very useful title for long lines at conventions or game releases or other boring places. Consider adding it to your repertoire of time-killing games, and you probably won’t be disappointed.
Super Dodgeball Brawlers is a good amount of fun for a short amount of time. It’s too complex for casual gamers, but too shallow for anyone looking to really dive into a dodgeball game. The core mechanics are tight, but sadly, there just isn’t that much to do with them. Not everyone will enjoy it, but fans of the original will find worthwhile experience that does justice to its forebear.
In conclusion, Super Dodgeball Brawlers is ultimately a disappointment. Instead of being a sharply delivered hard rubber ball to the face, it ends up being a limp-wristed, easily dodged throw towards the ankles.
Players are much better off putting the DS's backwards compatibility to good use this time around, as both Super Dodge Ball Advance and River City Random on GBA are a much better use of your gaming dollars. Brawlers is a decent choice for those that know and love the Kunio series, but it's a pretty shallow, uninspired, "get it out the door" design from a series that can – and usually does – offer so much more to its fan base. Pick it up for its eight player single card multiplayer, or pass this one up for a few of the better Kunio titles out there.
Still, this one addition isn't enough to overcome the fact that Brawlers just isn't as fun as the original. It's certainly entertaining enough, and it offers plenty of detail for dedicated gamers to sink their teeth into. But will fans still be playing it two decades from now? Probably not. It's an acceptable rendition of a time-tested classic -- a little too complex to stand beside its classic inspiration, a little too primitive to stand up to contemporary releases, but still decent.
Brawlers offers incredible customization, but the front end looks like, well, an NES game. For that matter, the action hasn't really evolved much over the years, either...and, unfortunately, not always in the "timeless action" sense.
Super Dodgeball Brawlers is little more than a nostalgia trip, but it's a short trip, so there's no reason to pack your bags.