Normally I don’t copy-n-paste others blog entries, but when I noticed this game on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace under the ‘Indie Games’ banner and later this blog entry from 1UP’s Retronauts blog by Ray Barnholt, I thought I could do it no better justice other than the re-post. It is an interesting read, especially for those who played these Kunio games back in the day. Enjoy the post, and if you pick up the game, let me know what you think. -SG
Did you like Super Dodge Ball on NES? I mean, really like it? Would you believe there's a small group of Japanese gamers who feel the same way? A couple of years ago, those gamers formed the company Miracle Kidz, and went ahead and made an unofficial remake of Super Dodge Ball for PC, and just recently brought it to Xbox 360 via the Indie Games program, where it's known in English as "Downtown Smash Dodgeball." You can find it there for 800 Microsoft Points. Keep in mind that the game explicity takes after the original NES game, and not the later sequels for Neo Geo, Game Boy Advance, and so on. Aside from a higher color palette, you're getting graphics, gameplay, and other elements straight from the 8-bit version. In that regard, it's actually rather well-done, and is worth checking out if you want to see what a widescreen, flickerless version of the game would be like.
"But it's 800 points," you say. "That's ridiculous for an XBL Indie Game!" Well, I don't have much of an argument there; it is way higher than the other titles in the Indie catalog. Fact is, Smash Dodgeball is a "doujin" game from PC, and doujin games are more aspirational than the typical notion of an "indie" game; they're often made by larger groups of people (a "circle") and sold in physical form -- discs and fancy manuals and so on. In other words, this isn't a typical XBL Indie Game, where it's rarely more than one person making the thing -- Smash Dodgeball is a concentrated semipro effort that has a higher degree of polish, and probably a higher degree of passion behind it as well.
Besides, being a very blatant "homage" to the Technos classic, Miracle Kidz would have trouble getting the game on the more legit Xbox Live Arcade. Putting it on Indie Games, where releases are governed by Microsoft's community of outside XNA developers, makes it easier to get a game that is already considered a "rip" out the door... even if it is full-price.
It's clear Miracle Kidz loves the games in the River City Ransom/Kunio-kun "universe." In fact, I wasn't entirely honest in calling them mere gamers. Though their productions aren't officially endorsed by the current Kunio series rights holders, the group was started by Mitsuhiro "Yoshimitsu" Yoshida and Hiroyuki "Mokeke" Sekimoto, who were key members in the production of many of the early Kunio games, particularly the NES/Famicom ones. The fact that the men behind the original games can't let go of them is a strong testament to the undeniable charm of those games, and their intention to accurately reproduce them on modern platforms is mighty appreciated. I'm not demanding you buy Smash Dodgeball (even though it is just 10 bucks...), but it wouldn't hurt to consider where it comes from, and maybe show your support one way or another.