The makers of Mario Kart Live Home Circuit are back with Knockout City
Velan Studios and EA go cross-platform with this spin on Splatoon meets dodgeball.
Scott SteinEditor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
ExpertiseVR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tabletsCredentials
Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Splatoon 3 isn't coming until 2022, but there's a game heading to the Switch this year that could be a great substitute. Replace ink with dodgeballs, and you've got Knockout City. I've already played a few rounds, and it holds up. Even better, it's cross-platform including PC.
The premise of Knockout City looks simple, and familiar. Teams of players running around a skatepunk-ish futuristic city, launching things at each other to get the win. Except here, the things are dodgeballs. Knockout City's style is a lot like the old Sega game Jet Grind Radio, or Splatoon. '90s-ish splatter, cartoon vibes.
It's only the second game from Velan Studios, an upstate New York developer that also created the AR-enabled RC car Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit game with Nintendo last fall. There's no AR or strange new tech here, but Velan's team says it built a whole new engine to reduce game lag and enable balls to be thrown and caught in team matches.
The basic twist here is that balls can be caught and launched back at other players. Or you can become a ball yourself and have others throw you. I got to try a few rounds via a PC beta that's available in closed demo this upcoming weekend, ahead of a planned May 21 launch.
I just know it was fun. More interestingly, it seems to have captured that Nintendo feel... but in an EA game for PC, PS4 and PS5, Xbox One and Series X/S, and Switch, with cross-play between all so you can play with people on any platform.
There will be nine-week seasons, too, sort of like Fortnite. But the game will be $20 with no planned in-game micro-transactions, which also sounds refreshing. Now that we know that Splatoon 3 isn't coming until 2022, this feels like a very solid stand-in.
Online games with friends have taken on a new meaning now that my life has been largely virtual for a year. I appreciate games that don't cost a lot, and that my kids can play online with friends. In that sense, Knockout City looks great so far. My kids loved it even more.