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Pawapoke Dash is a 2006 visual novel + card game + roguelike RPG developed by Pawapuro Productions, formerly Diamond Head, and published by Konami for the Game Boy Advance. It is a spinoff released after Pawapoke 8 for the Nintendo DS, but story-wise it is connected to all previous installments and is regularly referenced afterwards. The game does not feature a Baseball simulator or any real life teams, and instead introduces the Card Baseball system.
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In it, the pitcher and the batter pick cards worth certain fractions of the strike zone. If they match, the batter makes contact and the result is then decided via a roulette. If the cards don't match, it is a strike out for the pitcher. This system was made an optional mode the player could choose for the Outer Successes from Pawapoke 9 to 12. The RPG mode featured in this game is also unique for being the only roguelike in the series.

Incidentally, Pawapoke Koshien and its follow ups do not count as proper Pawapoke games.

Outer Success Mode: Ball Father Edition

A young "Hero Dash" and his father are watching uncle Suguru Mizuki playing for the Moglars when suddenly a home run hit from him slams Hero Dash's father in the head, instantly killing him. The boy has a vision of the Baseball God, who lets the father live on as the baseball that struck him and challenges the boy to become the best elementary school Baseball player in 5 years if he wants his father to become human again.

Despite the game being produced after 8, this story is set between 7 and 8.

Inner Success Mode: Hell Dungeon Edition

While Hero Dash is visiting his father's grave the ground collapses under him and he falls into the underworld. Can he find a way out?
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This game features the following tropes:

  • A.I. Breaker: Say you are batting and the best card you have only matches 4 of the pitcher's 5. Choosing another card that fills the missing spot will work most of the time. When pitching, the CPU will also often try to match the card your cursor started on.
  • All There in the Manual: The game comes with a recap of all previous games. This includes the then recently-released 8, but its plot and characters aren't explained in detail.
  • Anti-Grinding: Hell Dungeon runs on a time limit, a hunger meter and has equipment durability, so you can't just level grind to your heart's content.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Hero Dash leads his team to victory, but his father passes away anyway. Unless...
    • Igumori is doomed to die, but her friendship with Hero Dash can allow her to pass away peacefully.
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  • Bland-Name Product: The game does not have the license to use the official Japanese Baseball League teams. So when you set up a custom character, you must pick a fictitious favorite team which is changed to the corresponding real one if you use the custom character's password in another Pawapoke game.
  • Boss Banter: There is dialogue during matches in Ball Father. No other game in the series does this for some reason.
  • Breakable Weapons: Every weapon and piece of armor in Hell Dungeon has durability.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: One of the love interests, Sakura, is really the protagonist's lost twin sister. If Hero Dash dates her and doesn't discover the truth, he breaks up with her at his father's request. If he does discover the truth, then he also breaks up with her... by putting on a harsh Jerkass Façade and driving her away without explaining anything.
  • Chest Monster: The only way to detect one in Hell Dungeon is to shoot arrows on every chest you see, but those are precious resources.
  • Companion Cube:
    • The titular Ball Father is a poltergeist baseball who Hero Dash carries around.
    • Momoko the peach tree manifests as a girl only Hero Dash can see.
  • Continuing Is Painful: You get 4 continues in either 2 hours long story mode. Run out of them and back to the beginning you go.
    • Failing to mantain the Baseball club in Ball Father or running out of time in Hell Dungeon is a total game over, as the save file becomes unsalvageable.
    • You only get one shot to clear the optional second half of Hell Dungeon and obtain a special skill. Furthermore, the game will start wrecking your inventory as you lose continues.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Happens with half of the love interests.
    • Igumori dies towards the end of the story for failing her deal with the Baseball God. The best Hero Dash can do is to let her pass away happily.
    • Sakura is actually Hero Dash's sister. Either Ball Father forces the boy to break up with her without telling the truth or Hero Dash finds the truth and breaks up with Sakura in a rather terrible way.
    • Momoko is the projection of a tree, and stops appearing as Hero Dash grows older.
  • Discontinuity Nod: The game does not include Pawapoke Koshien in its series chronology. Later in 2006, Konami quietly removed Pawapoke Koshien from the series' homepage.
  • Dungeon Bypass: You might fall through crumbling tiles to the next floor in Hell Dungeon. You will take damage and you might be unprepared for what happens next, but at least you'll spare a key.
  • Dying Alone: Igumori's fate if you fail to befriend her. Geez.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending:
    • The main challenge in Ball Father is clearing the Baseball matches. Chances are one can only get the game over for having less than 9 people on the team on purpose to unlock it on the gallery. You will also only really risk getting the Heaven gauge filled up if you repeatedly get Hero Dash to injure himself from training at zero health.
    • It is actually hard to run out of time in Hell Dungeon by mistake. But you need that game over to complete the Gallery.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Hell Dungeon ends with Hero Dash reuniting with the ghosts of his parents, and a secret ending in Ball Father shows the Baseball God restoring his father to human form.
  • Easter Egg: If you load the game on a Nintendo DS, it will sometimes display an unique title screen with Hero Dash holding a Stylus pen. Unfortunately, that's all it changes. The Pawapoke 8 music samples really aren't in the game's code and the title screen illustration even lampshades that the game won't accept touchscreen input.
    Hero Dash: Can I touch it?
    Ball Father: Impossible!
  • Escape Rope: One item in Hell Dungeon warps you back to floor 1. Keep one for using after defeating the Bonus Boss, as the bottom of the dungeon is a dead end.
  • Evil Uncle: Downplayed with Suguru. After his wife died in an accident and he accidentally killed his brother-in-law, he was left in despair and began to present himself as a evil man to his nephew Hero Dash. They eventually reconcile and he adopts the boy until Ball Father's human form is restored.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: On Sakura's true (read: bad) ending, she gets a messy tomboyish haircut and adopts a bitter personality after Hero Dash breaks her heart.
  • Gaiden Game: Ball Father is set between Koshien Hero and Special Mission Hunter, so it is marketed as a spinoff. Conversely, Pawapoke Koshien had nothing to do with the series' storyline and was officially cut out by Konami.
  • Ghost Leg Lottery: The new year minigame in this installment. The ladder climb is very long and the screen scrolls down fast enough to make it very hard to guess which path will lead to the best result. Especially because the monkeys on the way to the top are another factor that causes the protagonist to swap paths.
  • Golden Ending: After filling the whole Gallery, every subsequent playthrough of Ball Father will end with the Baseball God finally meeting his end of the deal.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The Card Baseball system is just simple enough that if a Western player manages to understand the gist of it and get out of the tutorial, they should beat the game without much trouble.
    • Hell Dungeon is more difficult to get the hang of without understanding Japanese, as the inventory isn't illustrated.
  • Informed Equipment: You can equip helmets, shoes and armor in Hell Dungeon but only a generic sword and shield will appear on Hero Dash's sprite.
  • Kid Hero: Hero Dash is the first elementary schooler in the series.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: To progress through Hell Dungeon you need keys that are spent everytime you access a new floor. This is to prevent the player from both rushing through the adventure and from repeatedly reloading floors.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Hell Dungeon is a roguelike RPG, so randomness is a given.
  • The Maze: One of the minigames is a randomly-generated first-person dungeon crawler.
  • Motive Decay: Hero Dash must focus on becoming a Baseball champion, so doing anything unrelated to Baseball causes Ball Father to slowly fade away.
  • New Game+: As usual, you can use points to purchase up to three items for the second playthrough of Ball Father and onwards.
  • No Name Given: Hero Dash's father is never called by name.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Towards the end Ball Father reveals Hero Dash was an abandoned baby whom he saved and adopted.
  • Oddball in the Series: Lacks the Baseball simulator and the Pennant mode.
  • Petting Zoo People: Igumori says she's human but has dog ears and her dates involve playing playing with her like she's one. In fact she was an actual dog who got run over by a car. The Baseball God gave her a hybrid form and some more years to live for a Baseball career challenge similar to the one he presented Hero Dash with.
  • Press X to Not Die: The Quick Time Event from the first three games returns when Suguru challenges his nephew to a batting match towards the end of the story. The input prompts are FINALLY given as arrows instead of kanji. Both arrows and the action keys will score you a point when pressed correctly, so the duel goes by pretty fast.
  • The Promise: When dating Momoko, you must visit her just once per month on a specific week. Forget it and she will ditch you. And yes, it can be surprisingly easy to forget — especially if you don't beat the story in one go.
  • Puzzle Boss: The final boss in Hell Dungeon most likely can't be defeated by normal means. When its psysical attack becomes super strong it must pause and recharge every six turns. So walk six steps around it, slap it, and repeat until it is done. For the buffed-up version at the bottom of the dungeon, watch out so you don't walk away from it, or it will hit you with an energy blast.
  • Shows Damage: The more the Heaven gauge is filled, the more faded Ball Father becomes until...
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: Hell Dungeon's theme slows down if Hero Dash gets hungry and is replaced by a tense song when he's low on HP.
  • Sound Test: Like in Pawapoke 8, the Sound Test menu is available from the beginning.
  • Stars Are Souls:
    • The game over screen for Ball Father passing away shows Hero Dash stargazing in tears.
    • Hell Dungeon ends with Hero Dash getting yanked out of the underworld just as he meets his parents. He looks up at the sky sadly, imagining the two, but realizes they're still right next to him.
  • Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: Need to get walls out of the way in Hell Dungeon? Just punch them a bunch of times. Hitting walls with weapons will not just decrease their durability but also apply stat losses to them.
  • Timed Mission:
    • The goal for each year of Ball Father is to have enough teammates to keep the Baseball club running. So at first you've got to focus on meeting and befriending the entire supporting cast.
    • Hell Dungeon has a fairly generous time limit, but it has a hunger meter on top of it. Oh, if time runs out the game erases your save file even if you still have continues.
  • Together in Death: Hero Dash's dead parents are living together in the underworld during Hell Dungeon.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: To date Sakura you must first get your friend Usu rejected by her. Nothing good comes out of this.
  • Video Game Tutorial: When the Card Baseball interface comes up for the first time, Hero Dash has no idea what he's looking at, and Ball Father has to teach him the ropes. This tutorial is skipped from the second playthrough on.

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