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Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball Review

David_Supina By:
GENRE Sports 
DEVELOPER Blazing Lizard 
E10+ Contains Animated Blood, Cartoon Violence, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco

What do these ratings mean?

Less fun than a Uwe Boll festival.

Pirates Vs. Ninjas Dodgeball is worse than its title. Let that sink in.

click to enlargeYes, despite being doomed to incompetence and inanity, Pirates Vs. Ninjas Dodgeball is worse than you could have expected and fails in surprising ways. Let's count the ways: There's a storyline that leaps so far over the line into annoying irrelevance that a thirty second text-based cut-scene drags on for hours. The character designs are as ugly as sin. Multiplayer actually makes the game worse by making it less likely that matches will end sooner than later. The camera is broken when a stationary one would have served perfectly. And the gameplay, which probably sounded fine on paper in the design document, somehow manages to be sleep-inducing and too chaotic for any chance at strategy.

On the positive side, the shape of the dodgeball is round. Yeah, commendable accuracy there.

At this point, you are not likely in no rush to play this... this “game”. But there are two good reasons for me to keep writing. One is that a verbal thrashing of a bad game is fun. Feel free to don war paint and chant some phrase with the word “Kill!" in it. The other reason is that I want to keep my job. My Overlords here at Game Revolution might have a problem with a review under a hundred words. So in the spirit of destruction and self-preservation, I write on!

When you analyze the gameplay of Pirates Vs. Ninjas Dodgeball, you'll find that its main feature is not being fun. It's not fun to slowly lob a ball at an enemy. It's not fun when you start catching the balls at will. It's not fun when you realize that the super powerful throw that cannot be caught or countered, by virtue of the triggered slow motion, gives you plenty of time to hit the dodge button. And it is certainly not fun when you realize that it would probably take you fifteen hours or less to master the gameplay. But don't play that long. For your sake.

And the problems don't stop there. The camera is bad. It zooms in enough to cut off the edges of the play area, and when you run outside of it to chase a ball, the camera doesn't always move to show where you are. Ironically, the simplest solution, a stationary camera, would have fixed all of this.

click to enlargeIt's also a little difficult to navigate the arenas; it's immeasurably frustrating to think you've picked up a ball, only to find you have to move your character further upwards to grab it. There's also the issue of melee attacks, and why on earth anyone thought they were a good idea for a dodgeball game. It's frustrating enough going about the business of slowly tossing all these balls. It gets worse when you can stun and be stunned by opponents with a little button mashing. Pirates Vs. Ninjas is slow to begin with, so they added something that makes it slower. Special attacks do the same thing, only moreso.

There are multiplayer modes as you might expect. Amazingly, these modes make the game worse. If  you play against an A.I. with even a modicum of skill and intelligence, you run the risk of an extended match of this... dodgeball; all the plodding action of two-minute matches against the A.I. stretched to a five-minute showdown (I say "showdown", because it will not be repeated). There are simply so many ways you can avoid the ball, defensive stalemates occur often.

Now, you might expect the story mode based on a self-consciously dumb-running internet gag to be somewhat short of Hamlet. But would it really be so much to ask for something forgettably okay? It employs the same text box with character portrait style of storytelling that a lot of games have already used to a perfectly indifferent effect, except here, looking at the character designs is painful. Fortunately, this pain will be numbed by the excruciating agony of reading what these characters are saying. It's the least competent storytelling this side of Ed Wood, only without all the unintentional comedy. The characters are a single dimension of irritation, and every cliché, every lazy feat of writing, every dumb plot twist they could think of, were all thrown in.

But what would a truly awful game be without some awful window dressing? In short, it's bland in a plaid sort of way. There isn't anything here that, with some slight modifications, couldn't be represented on an N64. The soundtrack is equally plain. You have a musical track that sounds vaguely pirate-y, vaguely ninja-y, and so on. But it adds nothing.

click to enlargeThis game is not getting the lowest score possible for only one reason - a game could be conceivably worse. The controls are not broken beyond repair; there don't seem to be a huge number of bugs, and the music is not going to motivate you to tear yours ears off. Yet I am at a loss for something truly positive to say. As much as I want to present something, anything, positive about a product people put time into developing, I cannot. Pirates Vs. Ninjas is just a dumb idea, badly executed.

Besides, this game is unnecessary; we all know, deep in our hearts, that pirates would totally win. FACT. 
D- Revolution report card
  • Ummm. . .let me get back to you
  • No strategy, no speed, no fun
  • Broken camera
  • Multiplayer drags out the awful gameplay
  • Tear-your-ears-out dialogue
  • Tear-your-eyes-out dialogue
  • +/- It could be worse. . .theoretically.
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.

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