Giant Birds! Jousting! Explosions! Oh My! What do you get when you take a room full of friends, equip them with lances, saddle them up on the backs of enormous, explosive birds, and toss them into a sports arena packed with an assortment of balls? A battle of wills and perseverance. A clash of beaks and steel. A war of birds and men. That’s right friends and neighbors, it’s SPORTSBALL! As the video game industry continues to push online multiplayer experiences, I can’t help but to feel sad for the multitudes of young gamers who never had the opportunity to grow up with couch co-op. It seems that the days when friends would gather around a screen to spend time laughing, screaming, and competing has all but come to an end. Thankfully, there are still developers out there who shine a beacon of light into the darkness of isolation to bring people together once again. Enter TOO DX. “This… is… SPORTSBAAAALL!” TOO DX is the independent developer responsible for the incredibly addictive upcoming co-op game, Sportsball. We had an opportunity to sit down at RTX 2014 to spend some time playing this absurd game and talking with Ned “Kuma” Green, who handles Business and Development for this indie team. What I thought would be a simple, fun time turned into an addictive, enthralling experience that our CEO had to almost physically drag me away from. Let’s talk about the basics. I had the chance to play two separate modes in Sportsball, Sportsball and Rallyball. The latter, Rallyball, is a challenge mode that allows a player to hone their skills though various challenges and also try out different birds to help a person find their ultimate feathered comrade. This is an excellent way to start playing Sportsball, as it will help players to develop the finer skills of avian combat and ball control. Once players have tested their skills through rigorous training, then it is finally time for the real challenge to begin. Time for Sportsball! “Selecting the right bird is one of the keys to victory.” In the main Sportsball mode, up to 8 players will choose from four different teams and decide whether they will fight together or go solo in a match that is sure to end in blood, tears, and fried feathered friends. Each team is stacked with unique birds that players can choose from to fit their own preference and play style. Do you prefer the ostrich, flamingo, hummingbird, the resplendant queszal, or some other quilled warrior? Each bird has its own unique design and stats that change its attack, flight, control and speed. Choose wisely my friends. Finding the bird that works best for you will be your key to success and avian dominance. Once the teams are decided, it is time to set the rules. The abundance of various options can make each game unique and can change the course of Sportsball history forever. Match length, victory conditions, power-ups, and a myriad of ball modes are some of the options that will keep games fresh and exciting. The different ball choices are particularly fun to explore. Bomb balls, expanding balls, homing balls, sticky balls; so many balls, so little time. After the teams are chosen and the regulations are decided, it’s finally time to challenge fate and meet your destiny. Cages rise from the depths of the colosseum. The stench of fear, determination, bloodlust, and avian ordure fill the air. The countdown starts and reaches zero, the bell sounds, and all hell breaks loose. “Players wait for the match to start. Death is imminent.” During a match, players will be competing to destroy their opponents while carrying or bouncing the game-balls into a goal. Each player must use their abilities to fly, dive, tackle, pass, carry, sprint, and joust in order to soar to victory or face a heart-breaking, crispy-fried defeat. I’ve been told that thousands of birds sacrifice their lives each day in these horrific battles. It’s up to you, the player, to make sure that your winged companions do not surrender their lives in vain. One of the best aspects of Sportsball is the potential for a player of any skill level to pick up and play this game. From the moment I picked up the controller, it only took a matter of seconds before I was scoring and obliterating my opponent, who happened to be our host, Ned, from TOO DX. The fact that I was teamed up with two other members of the Gamer Assault Weekly staff against our lone adversary is completely irrelevant. We totally owned him. While the game is incredibly easy to pick up and play, there is also a great deal of skill that players can acquire and sharpen if they wish to reach the pinnacle of their potential through avian acrobatics and ball control. Sportsball looks like a chaotic button-mashing frenzy, but to be the best will require a certain amount of skill, precision, forethought, and bird mastery that will keep even the most competitive players engaged and addicted. The future of this captivating game holds a great many mysteries and surprises that are sure to please fans. I only had an opportunity to play the two modes and one map, but TOO DX has assured me that they are working tirelessly without eating or even taking bathroom breaks to make sure that this game and future DLC will be packed full of fun maps, new modes, and insanity galore. I had an absolutely incredible time playing this game at RTX. I can’t wait to sink my beak into the full game when it releases in September. Stay tuned to Gamer Assault Weekly for future updates on Sportsball and our full review coming later this year.