Local multiplayer is a hit or miss experience as of late, with many companies abandoning the traditional form of multiplayer in lieu of an online experience. Nintendo has seem to retain the passion and desire to keep local mulitplayer as an emphasis in their games, and now indie developers are joining in. Sportsball from TOO DX was a tough game for me to review, but not because of mechanics or anything like that. The difficulty was from how strong the emphasis is on local multiplayer. So how did it fare in the end?
Sportsball is an interesting game that takes inspiration from the classic arcade game Joust, and adds a sports flair to it. The basis of Sportsball is you control one of 16 different exotic birds spread across 4 teams, each with unique abilities, and put a ball into a net. It plays out similar to a game of lacrosse, with the speed dialed up. What appears to be a simple game on the surface, the game actually has a lot of depth. You can learn advanced tactics to control your bird to pivot and shoot at different distances, but at the same time anyone can pick up and enjoy the core gameplay with the simple objectives.
The game has a simple and clean art style that gets the job done. The birds look nice, the colors are vibrant, and the most important thing in the game is the blazing speed. Everything is very slick and well done, and even though it can look a little too simple at times, the graphics are very serviceable. The game is a little light in the audio department, but the main song of the game is nothing short of brilliant. It’s a campy song about Sportsball, and reminds me a lot of the fantastic Daytona USA \”Rolling Start\” song, which is forever burned in my head.
The gameplay is both the best and the worst part of Sportsball. While playing in single player, you only have the option of using a mode called Rallyball. Rallyball has you putting balls into a hoop while racing a timer, and you must continually put balls in the hoop to keep your time up. It’s a good way to learn the control your bird and master your scoring, but that’s the only single player mode available. At first I was really confused, and figured there had to be a way to play the standard modes against the computer, but there wasn\’t. I was a bit taken back by this, and honestly annoyed, and it left a little sour taste in my mouth.
The next day I had some friends over and I wanted to play the game so I could experience the other modes, and that is when it started to click for me. The game offers a lot of games modes based on how many players you have. The more players, the more modes are available. This opens up for the competitive game modes that make the game stunningly shine. Birds are flying across the screen at a brisk pace and the gameplay is frantic. Bashing other birds to get balls to put in your goal, and trying to avoid other competitors is the pinnacle of the game, and with 5 players there is even a mode where a friend can use the Gamepad microphone to be an announcer to the game, which plays through your television speakers. Since the game allows for use of every controller for both the Wii and Wii U, many gamers will have enough controllers to go around to have the most fun with the game possible.
Sportsball is a simple game that can be highly addictive, but it really boils down to how you like to play games. If you are a loner and plan on picking up this game for a single player experience, don\’t. This could have been slightly fixed by adding an online mode to the game, but that’s not what TOO DX intended with this game. Sportsball is a game for college dorm rooms, with beer flowing throughout the night, and competition at its peak. Sportsball is a game for the family to play around the Holiday season to help bring them together. As lackluster as it is as a single player experience, it’s that much more fantastic as a local multiplayer experience, and that simply cannot be denied. Gather some friends, family, neighbors, or even strangers, and give Sportsball a try.