Disco Dodgeball Remix Review

By Andrew Ogley, 1 year ago
I'd always thought that the origins of dodgeball were American, but apparently, its roots are to be found in Africa where it was a vicious, brutal and deadly game fought between rival tribesman using rocks. Fortunately, the new title from Zen Studios Disco Dodgeball Remix couldn't be further removed from this. Extremely bright and colourful, with a thumping electronic soundtrack and glittery discoballs replacing the rocks — and it's played with robots. But don't be fooled by the family-friendly facade, this is as fast and as frantic as any first-person shooter, and often just as challenging.

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The game is played in a number of compact neon-lit arenas, with a dodgeball for each player strategically placed to start the game with a rush. Once things are in motion, it's rarely safe to stop as balls start flying all around and you'll feel that you'll need eyes in the back of your head just to survive. Players, in the form of a mono-wheeled robot, hurtle around the arenas in first person mode, trying their best to locate errant dodgeballs and stay alive.

The fundamentals of dodgeball, regardless of the actual game mode, are simple: hit the other player with your dazzling glitterball before they hit you. Those disco dodgeballs are extremely lethal; it's one hit, one kill. It's straightforward enough, but with the trajectory being a realistic arc over a distance, you'll have to judge the shot well. However, the real skill is using ricochets to catch your opponent off guard and the more skillful the shot, the more experience points you will be awarded.

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Those experience points go towards unlocking new skills and cosmetic content. There's a whole plethora of changes you can make to your mono-wheeled robot, including heads, body, faces, wheels and decals. There are also cosmetic changes you can make to the ball or flame trails when you're on fire. Ironically, other than in the menus, you're not likely to see this as everything is played in the first-person view. Only your opponents will be able to see the amount of flair that you've added to your character.

Like most FPS games, you'll find yourself charging around trying your best to take out opponents without being taken out first. Given the cramped areas, and the number of players in the arena, this becomes extremely challenging. Fortunately, respawns are quick, although you will find yourself starting from a specific area in the arena. Unlike other first-person shooters, you have also the possibility of blocking shots or even catching an incoming throw with a well-timed button press, killing the unfortunate thrower and sending them back to the respawn area.

Despite the quirkiness of the title, you'll certainly need to be fast with your twitch responses. Factor into this that your wheeled robot is constantly rolling, you'll need to remember to brake occasionally to avoid travelling too far and missing targets. There are buttons which enable you to boost and jump when powers are charged, and another to catch incoming balls. In the heat of battle it can all become a little frantic and just a little confusing. Become proficient enough though and you'll start racking up killstreaks, with a loud monster-truck announcer hailing your achievements to all in the arena.

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To add a little more spice to the battles, there are randomized power-ups scattered around each arena. Power-ups can change your throwing skills, like laser balls which travel in a straight line, boomerangs where the ball helpfully returns after being thrown. The powerups can also reduce recharge time for boost and jump, or for those looking for an aerial advantage, there are also jetpacks available.

There are 15 different arenas in the title, all featuring various levels of geometry from simple open areas to more complex multi-level combat areas featuring jumps, tunnels, bridges and ramps. All of the areas, however, feature bright neon lights that constantly change colour throughout the duration of a match. Add to this, a loud thumping electronic soundtrack and it's clear where the disco comes into the title. The simplicity means that everything loads quickly so you won't be sitting too long between matches, although some may feel that the graphics are a little over-simplified.

In single player, you'll face off against relatively competent AI opponents. Players can configure the matches as they wish but there are only two teams ever available, featuring two to six players, but with the arenas being so compact, you wouldn't want more than that. It's hectic enough as it is. Multiplayer features split-screen PvP for a bit of couch competition along with online matches featuring the different game modes with bots making up the numbers if necessary.

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Whilst the majority of the time will probably be spent playing deathmatch mode, the title also includes seven different classical game modes including variations of last man standing and capture the flag. There are 11 expert game modes for the more adept, and a further eight challenge modes. There's even an arcade mode that mimics horde mode from other titles. All in all, there is a lot here. This is further enhanced by the players being able to set various modifiers for each game including low or high gravity, and the availability of power-ups. It almost feels infinitely variable if you care to tweak all of those different possibilities.

Without a doubt, there's a lot of variation here, and for short gaming sessions, it is an absolute blast. It's fast, frantic, intense and very good fun. It's only during the longer sessions where the various arenas start to blur into one and the soundtrack sounds very samey after a while. Additionally, diving into all of those modifiers just to set up a specific type of game could become a little tiresome too.

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There are 15 achievements, all of which can be unlocked in either offline or online play. None are particularly challenging but it may take a fair number of matches before you have unlocked all of them. From the 15, beating the Arcade Mode may well be the most challenging as this is the most dependent on the dodgeball skills of the player.

There are no paid loot crates in title, however, as players level up, crates of random cosmetic items are awarded, and during the course of matches, players will often be rewarded with random crafting items that can be used to create additional new cosmetic items for your robot. Whilst it doesn't add much to the actual gameplay, it's a nice little personalisation touch that will at least provide some level of individualism when playing online.

Check out our Best Xbox One Sports Games Available in 2019 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

In short bursts, Disco Dodgeball Remix is a real blast to play, the first hours of the review it was a fun and rather unique experience. There's plenty of variation and modifiers available to keep players on their toes. It's only in extended sessions that the arenas start to blur into one another and the gameplay starts feeling a little too similar. Whilst the geometry and layout of the arenas change, the neon lighting and thumping soundtrack sometimes make them all seem alike. Rapid twitch responses are needed along with eyes in the back of your head and planning and avoiding ricochet shots become essential skills in the game. Whilst it's not quite the next Rocket League it's still a rather good arena-based team game that's easy to drop into and play for short periods.
3.5 / 5
Disco Dodgeball Remix
Positives
  • Fast and frenetic gameplay
  • Unique title on the platform
  • Family-friendly title
  • Plenty of variations and game modes
Negatives
  • Controls can be fiddly at times
  • Can be repetitive in longer game sessions
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent around 10 hours rushing around the neon-lit arenas, grabbing, throwing and dodging balls. Nine of the 15 achievements were unlocked. The game was reviewed on a standard Xbox One and the download code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Andrew Ogley
Written by Andrew Ogley
Andrew has been writing for TA since 2011 covering news, reviews and the occasional editorials and features. One of the grumpy old men of the team, his mid-life crisis has currently manifested itself in the form of an addiction to sim-racing - not being able to afford the real life car of his dreams. When not spending hours burning simulated rubber, he still likes to run around, shoot stuff and blow things up - in the virtual world only of course.