|Hamster continues their budget releases of old arcade games with this port of Technos Japan's seminal "Super Dodge Ball." Finally, a real port of the arcade version.|
As I suspected, the closest console version (as far as I know) is the PC Engine one (see entry 447). There are some significant differences here, though. For one thing, not only is there a match clock, which causes you to lose the match if time expires, but there's also a shot clock, so you only have twenty or thirty some seconds to make an attack throw before the ref will call a turnover on you.
You always play as Japan, and face the other teams in the same order. As far as I can tell, only the one big guy on your team can use super throws, as usual done by throwing just at the apex of your jump, or by some voodoo while running on the ground. They're pretty tough to get off in this version, too. The CPU doesn't seem to have much trouble with it, especially the later teams, who can do super throws from standing in place, right down to the linemen. But the big guy on your team is so vital that if he's on the court, your other on-court guys can only back-pass it to him. Oh, that's another thing: you can only back-pass as far as your on-court guys go, and your big guy will automatically run back to get open for a back-pass if one of your other guys picks up the ball.
Another thing to watch for: you can't catch super throws. Nope. Better get used to running and/or ducking. I'm still not so good at that, so even just the second team, England, tends to paste me good with their "Compressors."
The PC Engine version has health meters for each on-court player, but not so here. You have one four-pip meter, with each pip representing one of your four on-court players. This isn't so useful for your team, but the other teams actually get subs, so by looking at the meter and subtracting four, you can see how many subs they have left. The subs come on after one of the on-court dudes is killed, and they come on at the lower part of the screen, near the midline, so if you're there waiting for them you can nail them, although it's tough to time right (the super play does it repeatedly).
Matches tend to go fast, because not only can't super throws be caught, but nobody can take many hits. Most smaller guys croak after one super throw hit, and even the larger guys usually bite it after two. The CPU is really tough on normal difficulty, too. If they get one of your guys down on the ground (oh, and down/breathless time is pretty long), they will just peg him incessantly until he's dead.
There are some interesting ball physics. The coolest thing is that if you can get a super throw on someone near the front or middle of the court, the ball will tend to rebound off their forehead, back to you across the midline. Sweet! The ball also tends to skip pretty far if a jump-attack misses everyone and just hits the ground.
Nice color depth and art style to the graphics--that old super-deformed Technos thing, you know--but not much in the way of pizazz--super thrown balls don't flash bright colors or make big huge whooshing noises or anything. Sound effects are solid, as you'd expect, but pretty minimal, although the classic old music is there. Mild slowdown is fairly frequent.
Oh, unlike the console ports, there are no special ground effects: no sliding when coming to a stop in Iceland, and no slow speedup to run in Africa.
Like the other Oretachi Game Center release I have (see entry 1014), OGC:NKDBB comes with a bunch of little extras: a mini-DVD, a mini-CD, a collector's card, a play tip book, and a reference card. The mini-CD has the game sounds/music, and one annoying remixed track; the mini-DVD has ads for the Oretachi series, a video with that annoying remixed track, some other useless fluff I can't remember right now, and a super-play of the game, except I think they time out against USA (all big guys, with lots of subs).
Also like the other Game Center, you can bring up a menu with L1+R1, and this allows you to toggle widescreen (on by default, blech), and scale the graphics. Some scaling is constantly applied to the graphics, so there's no way to get them pixel-sharp, which is a shame.
Haven't tried the two-player yet, I think it's Vs.
The back of the manual shows photos of the arcade motherboard, along with an ad for G-Front, which a shop--I think in Tokyo--that retails arcade motherboards.
Super Dodge Ball is a classic, and it's quite interesting to see the differences between the original, and the early console ports. I like the hardcore quality of this one, although I'm not sure I'm ever going to get very good at it.