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Video Game / Pawapoke Dash

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The One With… a poltergeist ball dad. And incest themes.

Pawapoke Dash is a 2006 dating sim + 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.

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 introducing roguelike systems into the series.

Incidentally, the 2005 DS game Pawapoke Koshien was disregarded as a proper Pawapoke game due to its lack of a story mode tied to the setting, because that is the entire point of the series compared to the Negative Continuity of the main Pawapuro games.

The game was featured as a pre-order DLC for Power Pro-kun Pocket R remake of the series' first two entries in 2021.

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?

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, character profiles and some trivia. This includes information from the then recently-released 8, but its plot and characters aren't explained in detail.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The emulated version for the Nintendo Switch by M2 has a save state function.
  • 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...
    • Wanko Memori is doomed to die, but her friendship with Hero Dash can allow her to pass away peacefully.
  • 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.
  • Bookends: A short melancholy version of the first main theme in Ball Father plays during its ending scene.
  • Boss Banter: There is dialogue during matches in Ball Father. No other game in the series does this for some reason.
  • Bowdlerise: Even though the Power Pro-kun Pocket R remake of the first two games got the series' age rating finally bumped to a CERO B (12 years and up), the port of Pawapoke Dash included as a pre-order bonus for it has censored dialogue.
  • Breakable Powerup: Usable items in Hell Dungeon are divided in three categories and there are traps in the dungeon that will break a random one of a certain kind in your inventory if stepped on.
  • Breakable Weapons: Every weapon and piece of armor in Hell Dungeon has durability.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: The protagonist is actually the lost twin brother of Sakura, one of the love interests. If Hero Dash dates her and doesn't discover the truth, he eventually 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 act and driving her away without explaining anything.
  • The Cameo: When a runner gets outed, the game displays an icon with an umpire. This is the only time in the entire series an umpire is shown during a match.
  • 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.
  • Cursed Item: Blessed items in Hell Dungeon have improved effects and cursed items have inverted effects. Only the Auto-Revive item has no cursed or blessed status. Cursed equipment won't have stat changes but cannot be removed until blessed or broken.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Yes, the dog-girl in this coming of age story dies at the end no matter what, and miserably, too, unless she's successfully romanced.
  • Denial of Animality: Wanko 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.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Happens in half of the love interest quests.
    • Wanko 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, presumably because it had a standalone non-canon story. Later in 2006, Konami even removed Pawapoke Koshien from the series' homepage without an official statement and went on to not market the next Power Pro-kun Koshien games as part of the Pawapoke series. This was reaffirmed in 2021 when Konami made Dash a pre-order DLC for R and published the OSTs for the entire series online without ever mentioning Pawapoke Koshien.
  • 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: Wanko's fate if you fail to befriend her, after she pretends she's just moving to another school far away.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The roulette in the Card Baseball system spins at a reasonable speed that makes it easy to get hits and home runs by paying enough attention. Later games in the series not only changed the color-coding of the slots for whatever reason but also added a bunch of stat-dependent conditions on the roulette speed that make it often spin so fast it becomes a pain to score anything.
  • 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. If this item is cursed, it warps to the lowest floor reached so far instead.
  • 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 an aloof rival 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.
  • Fade to White: If you clear a love interest's questline, the screen fades to white. If you're rejected, it fades to black.
  • 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 who can't read Japanese 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 bows, helmets, shoes and armor in Hell Dungeon but only a generic sword and shield will appear on Hero Dash's sprite.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: In Hell Dungeon you must manage inventory weight. At less than half of the current weight limit you receive stat boosts. If it goes past the limit a stat penalty is enabled and the hunger meter starts draining faster.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Other than the game over outcomes, every love interest and the teammates have a terrible ending if the protagonist fails to help them.
    • Wanko dies alone as her deal with the Baseball God expires, while the narrator remarks she could never make a bond with anyone in her short life.
    • Rurika and her mother are sent away to some island by a debt collector. A letter she sends to Hero Dash makes it seem like they're at peace, but the first column of characters in it reveals a cry for help that implies they're forced into Indentured Servitude and became addicted to drugs like the people in Happiness Island were.
  • 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 in many aspects is a given.
  • The Maze: One of the minigames is a randomly-generated first-person dungeon crawler. It is made a bit annoying by how there are monsters in the way that teleport you upon being touched (and you must walk up to them), but you get some markers to drop on your way.
  • Motive Decay: Hero Dash must focus on becoming a Baseball champion, so doing anything unrelated to Baseball causes Ball Father to slowly fade away.
  • Multiple Endings: Both the love interests and team mates in Ball Father have good and bad endings. Seeing every ending and game over condition in both scenarios is required to unlock the Golden Ending in which Ball Father is revived.
  • New Game Plus: 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: A series entry released for the dying GBA after it had migrated to the Nintendo DS and that lacks both the Baseball simulator and the Pennant mode.
  • Oddly Named Sequel: It's a Gaiden Game called Pawapoke Dash instead of being a numbered Power Pro-kun Pocket entry. According to a 2022 interview, this was thought to be a more appealing name scheme for kids.
  • Power-Up Food: In Hell Dungeon, enemies can drop Cartoon Meat items. By eating them at less than 235 fullness you have a 15% chance of acquiring a skill unique to each item, 5% of getting a negative skill and 10% of cancelling negative skills. Those percentages are modified by the blessing and curse statuses. The cap on skills is Character Level divided by 4.
  • 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...
  • Skill Scores and Perks: In Hell Dungeon the various positive and negative Baseball perks that typically have no effects in the series' visual novel modes do change the protagonist's attributes. In the Card Baseball, some of them are passive and activated by certain conditions as usual and others must be activated by spending points.
  • 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. All tracks are unlocked by default. There are also a few tracks from the previous games in the recap gallery, except for 8.
  • 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.
  • Status Effects: Hell Dungeon has Sleep (unable to act for some turns or until being attacked), Paralysis (unable to act for some turns), Poison (takes damage every turn until healing it) and Petrification (instantly kills the player if not healed within a random number of turns).
  • 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 determined by steps taken, 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.
  • Title Scream: A different voice than usual shouts the game's title.
  • 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.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Hell Dungeon features a fullness stat. The starting default value is 170 and letting it past a range of 30 results in small penalties. Getting it over the cap of 235 severely drops stats, limits attacks to once per turn and disables the appearance of skills. If it reaches zero it activates the same stat penalties and lowers HP with every turn.