Dunkers by developer Colin Lane is the Enviro-Bear 2010 of sports games. From goofy long-armed characters to hilarious abuses of physics, everything comes together in a perfect storm of silliness, creating a brutally-difficult, yet satisfying 2D slam dunk competition.
The joy of Dunkers lies in its simplicity. There are no tutorials, no retries, and no pay-to-proceed perks. It’s down-and-dirty, it’s challenging, and from time to time, it can be a little unfair. The player-character moves in arcing jumps on a 2D plane, arms flailing like Kermit the Frog while opponents flail in similar arcs, snatching the ball or smacking it off the top of the screen. It’s utter havoc, and it’s a delight to play. The game’s controls are tricky to master, as the player-character launches itself depending on the angle of its body at the time of jumping. Thankfully, the game’s slapstick humor should provide more than enough entertainment to hold the player’s interest until they’ve learned the ropes.
Out of the two single-player modes available – Arcade and Career – I found myself favoring the latter, as Arcade Mode occasionally devolves into a challenging struggle against the opponent’s devastatingly-precise AI. Career Mode’s early levels are much more manageable, though the challenge skyrockets when your character reaches the upper tiers. However, the game’s progression for unlockable characters is fair, so even with the overly-tricky AI, most players should find themselves advancing through the game with just a little practice.
Unfortunately, the game’s music is quite repetitive, and doesn’t offer the option to separately mute the music and sound effects. This left me playing the game without sound altogether, which detracted from my enjoyment of the game even further. I’d love to see a separate mute button for sound effects in a future update.
After purchasing the $2 upgrade to wipe ads from the game, Dunkers is enjoyable through and through, despite its repetitive music and sometimes-off-putting AI. Folmer Kelly‘s art is irresistibly charming in its simplicity, and the game’s two-button controls are just responsive enough to control the chaos. Dunkers is by no means a perfect game, but the pure fun of its gameplay overpowers any and all quirks. As it’s a free download, I highly recommend Dunkers to anyone who enjoyed the NES era of tricky-yet-charming sports titles.