Super Dodgeball Brawlers

Super Dodgeball is one of the sleeper series from the early days of the 8-bit video game era. It is also a part of the popular Kunio-kun series from Japan. Dodge ball is a traditional American game played by children since the 19th century. It isn’t hard to explain. Two teams hurl a ball at one another and attempt to dodge it. Any player who is struck with the ball is ‘out’ and the team with the last player or players standing wins. What makes this game SUPER is that the strength at which the ball is thrown is so exaggerated, that players are hurled wildly into the air. This is an affectation to the game that only the video game can simulate. There have been films made about this sport, largely comedies, because of its slapstick nature. They can’t replicate the satisfaction of launching an opponent into the air with an absurdly powerful throw.

Alex ‘Crash’ Cooney

The Kunio-kun series follows the misadventures of a high school student named Kunio (named for the president of Technos, the characters now-defunct father company.) This game continues that saga. Most of these games were never published in the United States and have almost never been marketed as part of a contiguous series. Many of the games packaging have been changed to replace Kunio with a more western looking character. This latest game doesn’t do that.  In many of those titles, he was renamed ‘Alex,’ or ‘Crash Cooney.’ The latter name was intended to communicate the wild nature of the character.

This game actually has two separate stories at work. The first is the variable narrative that takes place when the player selects any of a random assortment of teams and takes them through a tournament. They can select nations like Russia, China, India, Mexico, Japan, and the United States. There are many numerous countries, and every nation and individual character have differing abilities and strengths.

The secondary storyline follows Kunio. It follows the rivalry the game Renegade, between Nekketsu High School and Hanazono High School, both in Tokyo. That game followed Kunio and his friends through brawls with their rivals as well as biker gangs, gangsters, and cheer leaders. This game follows suit, with both high school teams as playable groups. You can also select a brawl mode which lets you replicate a schoolyard melee complete with bottles to hit people with and other objects to bean people with.

This game holds up to its roots, though its controls are stiff by comparison to its NES progenitor. It might not push the Kunio-kun series forward, but it is a good visit to a classic series.

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