Numerous sports have been reimagined as anime, giving birth to classics such as Captain Tsubasa, Hajime No Ippo or Inazuma Eleven to name a few.
A big question is always how can these larger than life series work as a game and can they compete with the more realistic simulation games like Fifa.
Brazilian developers Pocket Trap have taken the awesome sport of dodgeball and turned it into an anime-inspired JRPG that looks like it could be a hidden indie gem.
Dodgeball Academia follows the story of a rookie dodgeball student called Otto. New to the academy he quickly finds himself at the centre of the annual tournament.
The purpose of this tournament is not only to find out who is the best player in the school but also a chance for the academy to prove they are doing a good job, by producing top-level dodgeball players.
If not they will lose the Hero’s Dodgeball which literally powers the entire school and helps draw out students' latent abilities.
But Otto’s main concern is becoming number one and battling the best players in the school.
Dodgeball Academia is definitely a roller coaster of emotions that will see Otto forge friendships and create rivalries.
Dodgeball Academia has all the servings of a Saturday morning anime, with similar themes that have been seen in the likes of shows such as Pokemon, Beyblade or Bakugan Battle Brawlers even.
What’s nice to see is how self-aware the writing is in Dodgeball Academia, with a few satirical moments that will make any anime fan chuckle.
Visually Dodgeball Academia has a dazzling art style filled with wonderful and wacky characters. Each of the main cast has been carefully created with exaggerated details that make them stand out and are just a pleasure to see in action.
You can tell the developers had fun creating this cast. The world of Dodgeball Academia is comically psychedelic with its brazen designs that know no bounds.
The only downside is that other than the main cast of characters, everyone is literally a different colour variant of one character model. Although this does change depending on location, the majority of enemies and NPCs will look exactly the same.
But overall Dodgeball Academia is a visual feast that looks fantastic adding an extra level of creativity that's really outside the box.
A huge part of Dodgeball Academia’s charm is the music which has a large range of themes that invoke an extra sense of adventure.
The is a great mix of upbeat tunes and soothing melodies while exploring the overworld which quickly shifts and becomes more dramatic during battles.
This smart structure has been seen in classic JRPGs, so it's great to see it used here.
Dodgeball Academia is quite a lengthy game that’s a good mix between exploration, combat and character development.
The game is divided into several chapters with different mission objectives. During each mission, players will be able to take on side quests and battle other dodgeball players.
The main story is fun and does well to keep action varied enough so it doesn't become repetitive. Most missions will end with a big match but it's the journey getting there that's the beauty of Dodgeball Academia.
The side quests are really well thought out and add a lot of depth to the adventure.
One side quest will see Otto squaring off against a student every day with each match being vastly different to fall in line with the story progression.
Exploration is fun, the developers have decided that rolling is the best way of fast travel, which is nice but it’s never fully explained why they do that.
There are tonnes of great items littered throughout the world which just makes it even more worthwhile to explore.
The world is filled with students who love to play dodgeball and matches can be started in a similar method to Pokemon.
Although the majority of matches from the start will be part of the main story, the amount of people you can battle with does increase.
Matches are played in real-time and have a reasonable learning curve. The game does a great job at helping players get to grips with how to play.
Random encounters will vary with how many players are involved, it could be two versus three battles or one versus three and more.
Only tournament matches will mainly be played in a three vs three match up.
There are also different types of matches such as Knockdown Zone Rules, where a character who has been defeated will still be able to participate from outside the court. This will allow them to pick any loose balls and attack from behind.
There’s a huge variety of match-ups that can happen which is great as it helps players to constantly up their game and work on new strategies.
Dodgeball Academia’s real-time battle system works really well and is very accessible. Each character has been nicely designed with a lot of depth and variety within them.
Players will have access to two different throw attacks, a normal and charged one. The charged attack normally has elemental properties that will cause the enemy to be affiliated with some negative status effect.
Otto’s charge move will cause his opponent to be set on fire resulting in a gradual depletion of their health. Each character will be able to catch the ball or in Mina’s case counter it.
These defensive moves will in turn fill an energy gauge that will allow players to unleash each characters Balltimate move, which can be devastating.
The battle system has been amazingly crafted and allows players to go all out in matches.
It wouldn’t be a JRPG if players couldn’t develop their characters and here is no different. As characters level up they learn new abilities to help them in matches.
Levelling up is really efficient as the players are rewarded with ample experience points after a match.
This stops the game from becoming a massive grind and allows players to focus on other aspects of the game such as building the best team of three or working out which items are suited for your characters.
Dodgeball Academia is a real gem that could easily have gone down the dark road filled with anime and gameplay tropes.
But it manages to stand out from the rest with its witty writing and a fantastic battle system that was just a great experience from start to finish.
Dodgeball Academia is out on August 5th for PC, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch