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A Nintendo Switch dodgeball game made me love to lose

It might not be so bad being a loser

Game Swing

I’ve never loved the actual game of dodgeball, because it always rewarded players who were faster and stronger. In Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure Deluxe, which just launched on the Nintendo Switch eShop, skilled players still have an advantage over others, but there are ways to have as much fun when you lose.

I missed out on this well-received local multiplayer game when it hit PC and other consoles last year, but I’m glad I got my hands on this new version. The deluxe edition ups the player count from four to six, making it easy to play big matches if there are several Switch owners in one place. This release also adds an exclusive game show-style tourney mode, but most players are going to get their kicks in standard multiplayer — especially because it changes what I’ve come to except from competitive games like this.

Like high school dodgeball, Stikbold has you throwing around that bouncy ball at other players and trying not to get knocked out. Within minutes, I mastered the simple controls that allowed me to throw, dodge, pass and grab dodgeballs mid-flight. I loved how this simplicity made the game immediately accessible. But my favorite feature does something I’ve never seen before, and didn’t discover until later on: Instead of punishing losers, the game gives them unique power-ups the second they get knocked out.

Now, I no longer had to wait for the free-for-all matches to end so that I could keep having fun. The moment I got removed from play, I was randomly assigned one of a handful of power-ups based on the stage I was playing on. These tools didn’t help me snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but they did allow me to screw with the game’s remaining players. I found these little acts of revenge more playful than vindictive.

The power-ups themselves are a toybox of goodies, ranging from the ability to control a shark that eats other players or a decoy dodgeball you can use to lure others into hazards. I usually found myself laughing when I lost a match to a power-up, instead of being annoyed by it. Sideline attacks help level the playing field and ensure that every moment of the game is fun for everyone, even if you don’t end up winning.

It’s a simple feature that stood out to me, because I wasn’t crowned the winner in every match I played — but I still had a big smile on my face at the end of every round. I never thought I would love losing so much.

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