Dodgeball Academia is an anime sports RPG with NBA Jam vibes

For many, a day dodging at the gym was a nightmare or a chance to unwind from the anxiety of an angry teen. I really enjoyed it, one-sided as it often was, usually because it was the most honest opportunity I ever had to take on bullies and throw them in the face. Fast forward to 2021, and I’m about 30 years old and enjoy many anime shows, so the Dodgeball Academia cartoon sports action was clearly designed in a lab for loved ones like me. It’s a creative action RPG with just enough charisma to stand by the football Captain Tsubasa or NBA Jam.

(Image credit: Pocket Trap)

Stop me if this sounds familiar: You are a young boy with big dreams of becoming the best dribbling player in the world, and the only way to do that is to attend a giant school where that seems to be the only curriculum. Along the way, you’ll meet extraordinary faculty, form friendships and rivalries with fellow students, and discover campus mysteries. The only thing missing is a catalog of creatures to pick up, unless this elusive has some extra functionality that I don’t know about. Dodgeball Academia explicitly recalls the influences of Pokémon, the sports anime series, and Steven Universe.

I start working my way through the ranks of the Dodgeball Academia, getting up every morning in the dorm I share with Ballooney, a literal balloon-headed boy. I’m free to roam the moderately sized campus as I see fit, spend money in the equipment store, challenge classmates to fights in the stadiums, or go to class in the main building. On my way to class, I was interrupted by several students in duels, and they quickly learned to bite my dribbling ball. In RPG style, defeated opponents give some cash and experience points. The 3D school environment is nice enough, but all the amazing 2D character art and animation is what makes me feel like I’m suddenly stepping into an episode of Gumball or some other Cartoon Network classic.

(Image credit: Pocket Trap)

Dodgeball Academia fights are very similar to a dodge ball. I race to catch one of three balls sitting on the center court divider, take a few steps back to safety, and while just throwing the ball is an option, I quickly learn to charge my shot and set the ball on fire. Well, that last part is nothing like a regular dribbling ball. My bullet hit the schoolyard thug and his silly dull hair, washing him in flames that continue to hurt him.

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