Jerome, we have to beat these guys. Coach said if we don't win gold this year the gym is done!
Stikbold! - A Dodgeball Adventure is a quirky and humorous experience for everyone. Created by the five-man team Game-Swing from Copenhagen, Stikbold is an action adventure that will keep you laughing and playing along as the protagonists win each dodgeball match. Jerome and Bjorn take on bikers, lifeguards, and other interesting teams in the exciting sport of dodgeball. Inspiration came from the Scandinavian folk game called Stikbold. Similar to dodgeball, it is played during physical education or recess. Stikbold is reminiscent to older titles like PoyPoy and the Powerstone series, since both involve arena battling. Strap on your short shorts, sweatbands, and flip flops because a hail of dodgeballs is heading your way. Are you ready for them, loser?
For years, the gym that Bjorn and Jerome go to has won gold in the town's local dodgeball tournament. The tournament is held yearly and is highly regarded by the local community, both young and old. Last year they took silver, and Coach will never let it go. He immediately gets on the main duo’s case about training, lifting, and practicing all the abilities required for dodgeball. This spurs something inside the protagonists, as they summon up their courage to face and fight the ruffians who are wreaking havoc in town. After defeating the deadly van, Bjorn and Jerome start to gain the skills required to win gold and put their gym back on the dodgeball map. The victory puts them on an adventure across town. They engage against different teams to practice for the final tournament.
The battles in Stikbold are unique and fun.
Bjorn and Jerome work as a cohesive team. They pass the ball, shove enemies, revive teammates, and slam dodgeballs into people's faces. Stages are round. Moving and stationary obstacles make the environment challenging for all players. The opposing teams come with their own tactics and characters. Challenges that range from farthest throw to shortest match can be completed to unlock these tactics and characters. Completing all three challenges for each stage will unlock more characters to play in multiplayer mode. Bosses are multifarious and difficult, because they have their own movement and attack patterns. Learning the boss patterns take time and patience, but the victories are worth the effort. Busses, giant heads, and champions will do anything to stop Bjorn and Jerome from earning gold. However, each one defeated makes the duo stronger and stronger!
Stikbold had me hooked from the first stage. Characters and music are distinctive and entertaining. The design style used for the protagonists, enemies, and NPCs reminds me of the blocky and square pixels of Minecraft characters. Bjorn and Jerome will argue and dance with each other as the story advances. Each conversation is pure gold. It's packed with one liners and jokes geared toward the 70s. Each time a round is won, Bjorn and Jerome will do a victory dance just to cement the idea that you are winning. The balance of music, dancing, and gameplay made Stikbold a great experience. I tend to see titles like this taking too much of the light-hearted side of development instead of action and accessibility. This leads to players turning away from the action genre half the time with a bad taste in their mouths. The peculiar funky songs had me tapping my foot along with each new tune that played. The soundtrack adds a pleasurable backing to pounding the crap out of the opposing team and going for gold!
I can not find any gripes with Stikbold. I think it makes use of several great elements the action genre has to offer along with superb local multiplayer. Local 4-player provides hours of fun as you sit back on your couch with your friends and enjoy hours of play. There have been less and less local multiplayer titles being released lately and the option instantly makes it a better title. Arena battle and dodgeball blend well together, as they should. The unusual characters that comprise the town are funny and made the experience better. Everyone should give Stikbold a try, especially if you have an extra controller and a friend who is willing to come over to play. You will laugh, clap, dance, and yell with enjoyment as you control the losers, Bjorn and Jerome, on their slow rise to become champions. The ball is in your court, time to go pick it up as fast as you can and throw!