Bodycheck review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Ludometrics
Developer: Ludometrics
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes (1-2 players)

If you’re a fan of sports games, it’d be understandable if you’ve moved on from the Vita (assuming you were even there in the first place). We haven’t seen an entry from MLB The Show in years. There was one Madden game. EA stopped porting over FIFA roster updates quite awhile ago. Apart from Active Soccer 2 and, in a weird way, Drive Girls, there hasn’t been a lot on the handheld in recent years.

Into that void steps Bodycheck. It’s been in development for years, which shows an admirable amount of dedication to the platform. And I’d like to say that this dedication has paid off, and that Bodycheck is an amazing sports game that shows what the Vita can do, but…well, it’s not that good.

I mean, it’s not a bad game. In some respects, it’s kind of reminiscent of Rocket League: a bunch of players (human, in this case) hurling a ball around an enclosed field with only a vague idea of where it’s going, hoping to fling it into the opponent’s net at the other end. When it works, it has the same sense of enjoyable chaos that has made Rocket League such a success.

The thing is, though, it very rarely works. For starters, the controls are kind of a baffling mess. The tutorial consists of a single static screen, and nothing is particularly intuitive. If you mash a few buttons you’ll be able to get the hang of the game, more or less, but it seldom feels like the game demands much skill or precision.

On top of that, the general layout is extremely hard to get a handle on. Your view is limited to only a small portion of the screen, which makes it a constant challenge to figure out where your teammates are and how much further you have to reach the opponent’s net. In general, I’d just cross the centre line, take a few steps, and fire the ball at the goal, and I’m not sure what’s worse: that this is what my approach devolved into, or that this approach actually worked more often than not. On defense, it was even more of a crapshoot: it’s impossible to tell which player you’ll suddenly control, so you just press everything rapidly and hope hat, eventually, you’ll control the player nearest the ball or the opponent.

I feel bad about not liking Bodycheck more than I do. As someone who loves the Vita, I always appreciate when developers show the same level of devotion to the handheld. But there’s still no way I could recommend a mediocre-at-best game to people, no matter how much I want the system to continue to succeed well into its twilight years — and, sadly, this is the definition of a mediocre-at-best game.
Ludometrics provided us with a Bodycheck PlayStation Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: C+