Dodge Ball hasn’t ever taken off as either an adult or children’s sport here in the UK which does seem a little surprising when many other American sports such as; Baseball, American Football and Basketball are more popular here than ever before.
If you didn’t already know, Dodge Ball is primarily a school game for children (also played by adults) in which one team throw a red ball towards their opponents in an attempt to hit them. If a player gets hit he or she is out of the game but if they catch the ball, then it’s the thrower who is goes out instead. Hard throwing and good dodging skills are very important in Dodge Ball and typically this is one of those games that sort the Jocks from the Nerds; long before kids get off to high school and college when American Football takes over as the coolness decider and sport of choice. Now I don’t know about you but the thought of mixing a brutal kids sport with the awesomeness of Pirates and Ninja’s get’s me pretty excited. This is where my review of Pirates vs Ninja’s for Wii comes in.
The first thing I noticed upon getting stuck into the menu system for Pirates versus Ninjas for Wii is that there are a whole host of other characters in the game besides the expected Pirates and Ninjas. So whilst they don’t get their name on the front of the box it’s nice to know that the game also features six more ‘races’ to play as; Monsters, Aliens, Mushroom Men, Zombies and of course Robots. Every individual race has four characters each with their own personalities. They don’t really play any differently but the more the merrier eh?
Now as you’d expect there are a nice selection of game modes to choose from; Multiplayer for up to four players (2 on 2) and of course Single Player. Here you have one off Exhibition games as well as special achievement style Challenges. Story Mode is where you’ll find the main action with seven individual actual story modes to play through and this is what I’ll concentrate on here.
Now that story mode I mentioned features a whole story for each of the races featured in Pirates vs. Ninjas. The Pirate story is the only one that can be chosen from the very start and when you complete that, the Ninja storyline is unlocked and so on. Having so many storylines seems like good value but to be honest all of them are very similar and when you’ve played through one I doubt you’ll feel like playing the next but I should explain how they play before I cloud your own judgement.
Pirates vs Ninja’s isn’t a Dodge Ball simulator and as such takes many liberties on the official rules. Your standard Dodge Ball match with three on three standing on opposite sides of the court is the easiest mode where you simply fling the ball towards your opponents with a flick of the Wii Remote, the cpu takes care of your aiming which leaves you to get your timing just right for the more advanced throws such as; Power, Advanced and Homing. As it turns out the CPU are pretty good at aiming so you’ll need to use the dodge button quite a lot, but there’s a catch. Performing dodges uses up your stamina meter which could leave you open to attack if you use too much before it regenerates. If you stamina runs empty your character will go dizzy and literally see stars until they feel better again, the worst bit is they just stay fixed to the spot waiting to get a Dodge Ball in the face.
This brings me onto the special Dodge Brawl mode which oddly enough you’ll end up playing much more of than standard Dodge Ball. If you were wondering what was going to make Pirates vs Ninja’s stand out from the crowd then it’s Dodge Brawl you were waiting for. Instead of your typical half court game Dodge Brawl let’s you run around everywhere in the whole court and best of all let’s you attack your opponents. You can hit them both offensively to drain their stamina ready for one of your team mates to throw a ball at them, or you can attack them defensively while they are preparing to throw a ball at you making them drop it to the ground. This obviously gives you the chance to pick the ball up yourself and either throw it at them or pass it to a team mate. Another reason why Dodge Brawl mode is better than Dodge Ball is that you can also counter attacking player’s throws by successfully timing a Wii Remote swing just before a ball hits you, this will send the ball flying backwards towards the person who threw it at you, hopefully knocking some of their precious health off.
Playing through just a couple of story modes get’s quite repetitive when all you really do is take part in the same set of 5 or 6 matches in the same few arena’s, having a different team to control doesn’t really vary the proceedings that much. I must praise the story writers though who somehow managed to write many ridiculous reasons why these weird cast of races would want to play eachother at Dodge Ball.
So far it’s all sounding not too bad? I thought so too up until I actually sat down for a few days to play through the game and came across the standout flaws which spoil a pretty good game concept. What I didn’t know originally was that Pirates VS Ninjas appeared on the Xbox Live Marketplace a few months ago and is an extremely better version of the game (you can download the demo yourself and see). It appears Wii owners have been dealt a cruel blow and forced to put up with a very poor conversion with radically reduced graphic quality and horrid framerate issues when more than four characters are running about at once. Whilst I admit the Wii couldn’t pump out the same HD resolution of the 360 I can say for sure that Nintendo’s tiny console can do much better than what is on display here. I suspect that the developers (Blazing Lizards) merely chucked the game code through an old GameCube (or even PS2) dev kit that was lying in a cupboard and did nothing to actually optimize the game further.
What saddens me most is that you can tell a lot of care was taken in making the underlying game (for the 360) and that the written dialogue is quite funny and Dodge Ball itself is a nice little niche sports series. I would have forgiven some of the issues if the multiplayer mode was more fun and if like the 360 version, online play was included. Sadly just four local players get to duke it out in Dodge Ball or Dodge Brawl but the same technical flaws are evident which make it almost unplayable for any gamer worth his or her salt. I’m sure younger gamers who are content with Mario Party or Carnival Games could have fun with Pirates vs Ninja’s but once they grow a little older and learn to see the flaws themselves I can’t see the game being anything other than one passed on to younger nieces, nephews or the charity shop.
Apart from some well written text (no voice acting, what is this 1992?) which made me chuckle I can’t really recommend Pirates vs Ninjas for Wii to anyone other than those with children between four and eight. The trouble is the game is rates 12+ and I’d be very surprised that any twelve year old will put up with this for more than thirty minutes. Pirates vs Ninja’s for Wii scores a disappointing 4 out of 10.
Get Pirates vs Ninjas Dodge Ball now
New: Buy Pirates vs Ninjas Dodge Ball from Amazon.com