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A.P.I Review: Dodgem Arena
Developer: Formula Game Developments. OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Black Friar 1-4 Player
Game Type: Futuristic Racing Memory Card
Review Date: January 1999 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

It's AD 2049. Superconducting materials and high-grade hydrogen fuel have changed the world. Kids all over the galaxy participate in the thrilling sport of Dodgem. They see themselves as the outlaw skateboarders of the 21st Century.

Sponsored by bookmakers they travel the world, and the solar colonies, to participate in the Dodgem Elite League. Four pilots steering dodgems hover in huge bowl-shaped arenas, trying to shoot ice hockey like pucks into a goal located at the top level of the arenas.


Looking quite similar to Wipeout and playing like no other title on the Playstation, Dodgem Arena is a futuristic combat sports title from Formula Game Developments.


The intro involves a series of in-game shots from the first person perspective, backed by a thunderous soundtrack. Nothing remarkable there.

Visually Dodgem Arena looks pretty cool. Everything is constructed from polygons and first impressions are very good indeed. Collectable icons glow in the dim surroundings as if lit up by neon lights while the super smooth circuits appear to have been designed with curvaceous contours in mind. There's hardly a sharp edge or corner in the entire game.

The futuristic dodgems look like a cross between a Wipeout craft and a rather large magnet. But it's the pace of the game that impressed us most as the graphics shift along at a commendable rate, offering a gameplay that is both fast and furious.

Sounds and Effects

The music, as usual will come down to individual taste. Personally I loved it... heavy drum beat over a haunting melody... hmmm.

On turning down the music volume the sound effects were surprisingly reduced to a few noises when firing weapons and collecting items.

However combined, music and effects created an electric atmosphere that complimented the pace of the gameplay.


As with most of these futuristic sports sims it all comes down to gameplay and rules. I suppose the basic objective of the game could be compared to ice hockey where a puck is collected then manoeuvred and fired towards a goal. The main difference here being that the goal is constantly in motion, the players pilot a dodgem and there is no ice in sight. Some comparison!

First we had better select our dodgem from the six craft initially available. As with most arcade vehicles they each differ in speed, handling, durability and acceleration. There are eleven arenas with four rounds of play for each. In the first round four pucks are available to collect, in the second round three and so on, until the final round of every game when four Dodgems battle it out for one single puck.

After the pucks have been released from a central point in the arena the dodgems are launched into play. Dependant on tactics you may first stockpile weapons, ammo and armor, or immediately pick up a puck and make an early bid for the goal. Each arena has multiple levels with the pucks always being launched on the lowest. The goal is a constantly moving cylinder that patrols the higher reaches.

The puck has a bright green halo to attract your attention and once it is grasped firmly your team color receives a green inner to notify all other players that you are in possession of a puck. No hiding in this game! It is now 'simply' a case of accelerating up the smooth walls to the higher level and then firing the puck in the goal. If only...!

On the way up enemies must be avoided (other human players and CPU controlled) who are all after the pucks as well. Clever navigation around the arena, fast racing, jumps, intelligent collection of weapons and fast interaction with other players are the key elements for success. Each time a puck is 'scored' you are awarded a number of points and the player with the highest score at the end of a round is deemed to be the winner.

Remember the very first time you played the original Wipeout? Damn, it took a while before you felt in total control of the craft as you stumbled around those twisting, turning circuits! Well, the handling of the dodgems brings those memories flooding back... or were they nightmares?

Using a standard joypad we found that the directional controls were a little over responsive for our liking. The face buttons are used to accelerate and fire weapons, while the shoulder buttons allow you to perform a wonderful side-flip that throws the enemy away from your craft. However, switching over to analog proved much more favorable as the left stick can be configurated to control steering, acceleration and brakes.

The game begins after a three second countdown when your craft is launched into the arena along side three opponents. The fight begins immediately as you scramble towards the loose glowing pucks hoping to grab one of them before all are snatched up. Initially there are enough to go around, but this doesn't stop the CPU opponent from ignoring the free pucks and smacking head first into your craft, thus releasing your collected cargo.

This can be quite frustrating as each collision severely reduces your energy level and this must be quickly replenished if you want to keep up with the lightening pace of the game. To fully re-charge you must seek out and drive over a floating health icon. Weapons power-ups are gained in a similar way. Now that your batteries have been recharged it's time to climb that hillside and shoot a few pucks into the hovering 'goal'.

Value for Money

Definitely a game for the hyperactive but the more restrained had best try a rental first. If you like your games to have options then Dodgem Arena has them in abundance.

Game modes include:
* a single player battle against three other CPU controlled opponents,
* two player battle in split-screen mode,
* two player battle in link up mode,
* two player team event in split-screen mode,
* two player team event in link up mode,
* two player head-to-head in split-screen mode,
* two player head-to-head in link up mode,
* four player battle,
* four player team event.

GRAPHICS: 15/20 Dodgem Arena is as frustrating a game as I have ever experienced.

Imagine being in control of a craft that has the high speed, acceleration and handling of those in the first Wipeout game. Then having to charge it around a multi-layer enclosed 3D arena at hyper speed, while avoiding three ravenous enemies. All this before accurately firing the puck at a moving target from within a few inches. My opinion is that there's just too much going on for this to be entertaining.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 14/20


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