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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.

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Knockout City: Team dodgeball battles with a very Nintendo feel.
EA/Velan Studios

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. 

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Catching balls is challenging without being crazy hard. You can turn into a ball, too.

EA/Velan Studios

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. 

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The arena designs give me heavy Splatoon vibes.

EA/Velan Studios

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.