by Chris Brown
Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball goes where no Facebook app has gone before by setting these two anti-social groups against one another in a sporting environment. Rounding out the cast of delightful characters are the addition of Zombies and Robots, giving the players a well-rounded motley crue. This Xbox Live Arcade title has been in the works for some time from Gamecock Media Group’s Blazing Lizard and has recently hit the Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points. Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball supports up to 4 local players and 8 online multiplayer.
The game features a story mode which was quite vapid and felt a little tacked on for our tastes. Thankfully the script can be clicked-through by pressing the A button to dive into the action. Each group has their own storyline which typically acts as the impetus to make the different groups battle it out on several different Dodgeball maps. The maps are quite good and beautifully rendered. On a couple maps the environment can be a detriment to the gameplay when dodgeballs sometimes are obscured by the map environment.
Each group in Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball has their own specialized powers they can deploy during the game. These powers can be used to stun anybody in the vicinity including opponents and teammates. Characters start with a limited supply of health which is reduced everytime they are tagged by the red dodgeballs. The controls are very easy to learn and picking up the basics to gameplay happens very quickly. Playing locally was a lot of fun, especially when players would deprive the opposing team of a hit by dodging or catching their opponent’s ball. This could be a real fun game to play with a party. However there is a major defect in the game that spoils the mood and excitement for the game. The camera for the game is a fixed 3rd person view as if it was in the stands looking down upon the players. Some of the time this isn’t an issue with the game play. However there were significant moments when a ball of character when further to the left or right making the characters harder to see, and especially the dodgeball real hard to find and pick up. To help the players find the ball the dodgeball will pop up with an icon indicating where it is, but maneuvering the player to the ball can sometimes be a difficult task. Another enjoyment killer is some of the maps also make it hard to move to or find the dodgeball.
Just playing matches sans storyline, players can choose three different modes of dodgeball, including one dubbed Combat Mode which has no dividing line. In addition, players can choose to either one, two or multiple dodgeballs to "make things interesting." The different modes do add a distinct flavor to the game. One nice part to Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball is that players can also choose to play versus each other or together co-operatively versus the A.I. The game offers ranked, social, or private matches online. The achievements look relatively well thought out and does encourage diving back into the game.
That being said Pirate versus Ninjas Dodgeball is a game that can only be taken in small doses. The fixed camera flat-out kills what could have been a major Arcade time-waster.
Married Gamers Report Card: B-