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Double D Dodgeball

Do you smell that fitness? I do.

  • Microsoft Points: 800 (GBP 6.80 / EUR 9.60)

My first thought was that this must be the latest offering from Tomonobu Itagaki - another of his tit-fixated sports games to sit alongside Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Downloading the game, ready for some enormo-breasted dodgeball action, I was left limp with disappointment at the discovery that the "Double D" part of the name refers not to hypnotic lady-orbs but, er, well it doesn't appear to refer to anything, actually.

Instead it's a self-consciously retro-styled arcade recreation of America's favourite form of institutionalised bullying. Two teams face off, and must pelt each other with balls as hard as they can. Get hit and you're out, and the last team standing is the winner. You can earn bonus points for ganging up on the fat kid, or the quiet one who no one sits next to in assembly.

But not really, since the arcade makeover replaces terrified and bruised children with weird space invadery things, while the musky high-school gym becomes a neon space arena. The gameplay remains much the same though - even if there are numerous rules you can alter and tweak to change the core experience. You can opt for "East" or "West" gameplay, which essentially dictates what you can do after you get knocked out. Play using "East" rules and you can pelt people from the sidelines, buying your way back in with a successful hit.

Another Live Arcade game, another flagrant abuse of the bloom lighting filter.

There are also different ball types, different character classes and different arena types, but none of it seems to make that much difference. Yuke's has cribbed the look of an old arcade game, but has only come up with gameplay that feels repetitive and shallow, rather than streamlined and addictive. Control is awkward, with the left stick moving you around while the right stick rotates you in clunky increments. Aiming is pot luck, and the game rapidly descends into incomprehensible chaos - a problem that only gets worse thanks to the now-obligatory Geometry Wars lighting effects.

The whole experience is clearly geared towards multiplayer, with games that can support up to eight players, plus four AI bots. Trouble is, nobody seems to be playing it, and as the entertainment relies on flesh and blood opponents, the more bots in play, the less interesting it all becomes. There's a mention in the help screens of the ability to set up tournaments, but this option doesn't appear to exist anywhere in the game. Instead, all you can do is play endless offline exhibition matches or try and get enough players together for an online game. I've been trying for over a week and the best I managed was two other players, one of which dropped out after about ten seconds.

This is the sort of thing that might have amused momentarily had it played over the loading screen of Yuke's next wrestling game, but as an 800-Point download it has very little to offer. Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball is due for release soon, and that's a far more instinctive and entertaining affair. Save your points for that, and send this one for an early shower. Then whip its bare bottom with a rolled-up towel and high five your buddies. Dude!

4 / 10

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