Stop-Motion Meets Arcade Basketball in RoboDunk

RoboDunk by Jollypunch Games is a nostalgic arcade basketball game all about hitting the rim and avoiding laser beams. Check out our impressions of the recent Steam Next Fest demo!

Published: February 20, 2023 1:00 PM /

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Robots fight for the rim in RoboDunk

RoboDunk, the arcade basketball game of the future, is coming soon to PCs everywhere. This unique offering from developer Jollypunch Games gives players a distinctive twist on the classic 2v2 formula that dazzled sports fans and gaming fans alike in the 1990s. Combining retro gameplay with a stylish stop-motion animation style, its playable sampler from the most recent Steam Next Fest makes it a clear must-play for anyone who still screams "Pippen" and "For 3" whenever they see an NBA game on TV.

The game takes place in a world where robots have taken over the sport of basketball, replacing the bouncing ball with a sphere of energy and the stadium arenas with battlefields flush with weather and mechanical hazards. Players control these robots in 2-on-2 matches. The objective is to outscore the opposition with high-flying dunks and over-the-top moves reminiscent of NBA Jam and its many competitors. You can do this via a campaign mode, a simple single match, or an endless gauntlet of opposition. Each mode comes with full local multiplayer support, letting you team up with friends near or far using Steam's Remote Play Together.

In terms of gameplay, RoboDunk is fast-paced and action-packed. Players must be quick on their metallic feet to succeed. Like in the classics, knowing when to pass the ball and when to go for a colossal dunk is vital to winning games. RoboDunk lives up to its name by foregoing scoring outside of jams, honey dips, and elbow hooks. You can charge your dunk from a simple jump shot to a flashy Marvel vs. Capcom-esque screen-clearing descent from the heavens. The more power you give to your dunk, the more points you receive.

RoboDunk Ring of Fire

RoboDunk also adds unique offensive capabilities to each class of robotic athlete, letting them lay down mines and shoot lasers across the field as they fight back against the elements and their opponents. These weapons may sound overpowered, but they strike a good balance in practice and give the game layers that set it apart from its inspirations. It never feels like something wholly different from basketball, but you need to know what types of robots you're fighting against and what weapons they're packing.

Even in this early look, RoboDunk delivers an instantly recognizable and enjoyable arcade experience. What sets it apart from the games of yesteryear is an innovative upgrade system inspired by more modern roguelikes. In the campaign, players can level up their robots using giant skill trees that unlock new abilities and upgrades along the way. This addition adds a strategic aspect to the proceedings, allowing players to create a personalized team that best suits their playstyle.

RoboDunk Upgrades

Robodunk's stop-motion visuals immediately caught my attention. The attention to detail in the animation is impressive, reminding me of early 3D games on the Super Nintendo while performing way better than any of those games ever could. Some goofy bits also bring early eras of gaming to mind, including ridiculous lore about the religious power of the slam dunk that you can collect as you progress in the campaign. Even so, the visual style alone adds a layer of personality to Robodunk that will surely catch the eye and set the game apart.

One of the best things about RoboDunk is its accessibility. The game is easy to pick up and play, making it an excellent option for someone who's never picked up this style of sports game before. However, the upgrade system and various power-ups provide enough depth to keep more serious competitors engaged. It matches up with its inspiration in this regard, delivering a simplistic gameplay loop that could end up being a favorite for a select group of basketball fans that they can return to for years. The balance between accessibility and depth is spot-on, making RoboDunk a fun experience for players of all skill levels.

RoboDunk Lasers

If RoboDunk delivers what it promises in this demo, it will be a fantastic addition to the pantheon of arcadey sports titles. Its unique stop-motion animation style, fast-paced gameplay, and innovative upgrade system make RoboDunk stand out among the many demos included in this past week's NextFest event. Whether you're a basketball scrub or a veteran of the 2K games, RoboDunk offers a fun and exciting alternative that should be on your radar.

TechRaptor previewed RoboDunk on PC via a demo included as part of Steam Next Fest. The game is scheduled for a release on PC sometime in 2023.

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Alex Santa Maria TechRaptor
| Staff Writer

Alex Santa Maria is TechRaptor's former Reviews Editor (2015-2020) and current occasional critic. Joining the site early in its life, Alex grew the review… More about Alex