Pirates VS Ninjas Dodgeball (Wii) Review

By Shane Jury 25.06.2009

Review for Pirates VS Ninjas Dodgeball on Wii

On paper, it sounds like the most brilliant concept since sliced bread. A sport that is ideally suited yet horribly under-represented in videogame-dom, and one of the most popular (and ultimately undecided) internet memes, mashed onto one budget-priced disc for the best selling console on the market. Question is, how does this one-time Xbox Live Arcade title fare in the big bad world of retail?

Given its download origins, and the image of basic cutesy characters that seem to invade every shelf-hogging coughed-out game, first impressions of anyone seeing this one in action would be understandably negative, despite the premise. Yet, Pirates Vs Ninjas manages to cover the basics, without taking any major steps to entertain and innovate.

PvN's presentation is rather basic. No FMV cutscenes or amazing graphical touches here - just a standard start-up loading screen and the menus beyond it. The main menu presents the choices of single player, multiplayer and options. Clicking single player brings you to the real meat of the game, with modes including exhibition, where you can face off against the computer in two distinct match types; story, allowing you to play through the plotlines of the seven main teams in the game; challenges, 10 succinct and diverse situations for you to conquer; and finally, a basic but helpful tutorial mode.

In all modes, you can choose to play a game with regular dodgeball rules, or the slightly different dodgebrawl mode. Dodgeball merely involves you on a team of up to three characters battling against another team. Unlike the real deal, one hit with a ball does not equal elimination, as each individual team member has their own health meter, and a stamina bar that drops with powerful throws, slowing characters down when it has reached a sufficiently low level. Dodgebrawl is largely the same, although when not in possession of a dodgeball characters can attack their opponents with a melee 3-hit combo, stunning them if they are successful. Similarly, they can also deflect balls thrown at them. Both modes work really well, although things can get rather hectic and confusing with more than one ball on the field; it's more akin to Smash Bros.' craziness than something like Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble's headache, so it's adaptable. Thankfully, the button and action layout are rarely a hindrance either.

Screenshot for Pirates VS Ninjas Dodgeball on Wii

Developer Blazing Lizard has managed a respectable mapping of controls to the Wii remote and nunchuk. Your main action would be to shake the remote to throw the ball, which never feels like mindless waggling in all but the most chaotic of situations; it feels more like the spin in Super Mario Galaxy than anything else. Using this in conjunction with different situations and character positions gives the option of different types of throws, such as homing throws, or power throws. The A button is the main jump button, although you will find that this is used rarely, except as part of advance throws. B allows you to catch a throw aimed at you, pass to a teammate, or request a pass from one, so it'll probably become your most used button. The d-pad can be used to dodge roll; holding the Z trigger on the nunchuk and moving the analogue stick produces the same result, so it's down to preference. Finally, the C button handles on-the-fly teammate switching, so you're not always stuck with one character. There isn't a classic or GC pad option here, and there's only one control scheme unlike previously promised, but it's a fine one.

Story mode is where the real chunk of time will be spent, and thankfully the basic nature of the game has not gotten in the way too much here. Initially only the stories of pirates and the ninja Miyamoto Clan teams are selectable, although successful completion unlocks the paths of the other five: zombies, aliens, monsters, robots, and guest stars the Mushroom Men, from Red Fly's Wii and DS game of the same name. Each of these other teams are well designed, but not distinct enough in terms of ability or attribute, so they all largely feel the same to play with. Each team's story typically lasts around eight or nine matches, and small unobtrusive speech segments separate these games. None of these have voice acting but do feature some impressively witty and interesting writing about them, plus they help the somewhat limited plotline trudge along. There isn't a great deal of variety in story mode, as all you're doing is playing dodgeball with different characters and rules. However, players will encounter steep difficulty curves at times, so it will take a while to play through all seven scenarios; depending on the rules you set or the part of story mode you're at, you can find yourself in for one heck of a battle. At times, the computer's A.I is almost unfairly barbaric, so this game will satisfy those after a decent challenge. At the expense of their hair.

Pirates vs. Ninjas provides 8 arenas for players to battle on, but aside from object placement, surrounding theme design and the catchy music tracks, they're all relatively similar. There are many rules to fiddle about with, including adjustable difficulty, number of rounds for that longer play session, and a 'Hot Potato' function that turns all of the balls into fiery weapons of death. The challenges will also eat up your time, as they are relatively difficult to pass, and playing either dodgeball or dodgebrawl with friends is good clean fun. For the price, Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball provides a moderate amount of entertainment; just without any 'wow' or unexpected moments.

Screenshot for Pirates VS Ninjas Dodgeball on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball plugs a gap in videogaming's sports selection, and provides a fun, if sparse, game in the process. The download origins of this game are immediately apparent, but excused by some clever writing and fun controls, with a good amount of variety in tasks and features. It's a wonder Nintendo still haven't green lighted a Mario dodgeball game.


Blazing Lizard







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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