Botaoshi: Topple the Pole!

6 min readNov 3, 2021

-- — Art by Alfredo Torres

Botaoshi is a fast-paced action event originating in Japan. And I am not sure how I found out about it, but I’m glad I did! As an avid sports fan and someone with a long-time interest in Japanese culture like a lot of kids I knew growing up. I had always been on the lookout for my preferred style of intensity in any way I could get it.

Back when the games industry had a healthy sports genre this meant wrestling, hockey and dirt bikes as much as it (primarily) meant American football. My walls as a kid were covered with Nascar posters and big rocket boosters. I like intensity. But this is something else!

It’s kind of crazy and I’m not the only one who LOVES it. Although in my case, so much so that I wanted to make a game about it. One I can’t wait to play!

That part being most important to me since to date I cannot say that I have ever been as continuously interested in a new idea for a game as this one. Even with its two-year long pre-production phase and setbacks. Every time a new asset for this project happens to get willed into existence I find myself its biggest fan!

This blog is an attempt to elaborate on the details we’ve so carefully hidden up until now. Since, perhaps unfortunately, the business of games is a business and things tend to happen accordingly. I felt like it was about time we move forward in earnest. The next part of this entry will be revealing additional details regarding my not-so-new project called Botaoshi: Topple the Pole!

So let’s talk about gameplay.

Traditionally, each team has 75 players totaling 150 on a field at any given time. Injuries are the only way out and captains and other members of the Japanese Defense Academy squad(s) would support their teams from the “sidelines” with various chants. In Botaoshi: Topple the Pole!, we are planning modes allowing from 6 to around 150 players.

Practice mode in particular will have even fewer teammates on the field and will focus on providing a more casual management style experience with RPG elements. Meaning there will be a focus on interactions and squad structure, game planning and generally interacting with the team by just walking around the field as the captain and interacting with teammates.

Like Madden with the ability to hang out and chat with everyone from your coaching staff to your fans and anyone else in the locker room. In and out of practice and with the occasional drama even. I believe that sports games can be more immersive if this was more common. Being that the human player feels more in tune with their on-screen character(s).

There will be an emphasis on the experience of going pro. Your story beginning after you join a recreation league after high school and extending throughout your career. I always liked the idea of adding career-ending injuries and other dynamic factors to traditional sports game career modes similar to my personal favorite genre — roguelikes.

Early 3D structural work for Botaoshi.

What’s any good career mode without being allowed to create a player who, in singleplayer, represents your team captain. Each individual member of the team will have their own stats that can increase or decrease due to age, injury etc. It will be up to you to manage them. Each team consists of an offensive and defensive squad.

More importantly, considering the sport isn’t exactly formalized, creating a fictional league was also necessary. This will add depth, longevity and by extension add structure to the sport in a way that was necessary for design. I will be making a separate major announcement once we iron out more of those details.

Follow @botaoshigame on Twitter!

Strategic options will include being able to switch into a top-down, third and first-person view where you can dictate what should be happening in terms of positioning, defenses and attack.

Chaotic Multiplayer

Your created player, in multiplayer, represents your individual character with other real people controlling their own on the field. The captains in multiplayer will be the players with the highest stats in terms of fitness and record. As earned by playing. And will command either the offense or defense squads respectively.

VR view with a lower resolution for performance. — Alpha 1.0

There will be zero tolerance for any sort of griefing or team sabotage as this sort of thing is, frankly, what ruins these types of gaming experiences. Players participating in griefing will be flagged and almost never be able to command a squad.

Teams in either mode will progress as expected and compete in championships. What I can say is that the league “nationalizes” the sport. While still allowing for localized “clubs”. Allowing for a more diverse set of players which leads to fun advantage/disadvantage scenarios based on things like common height, weight, vision (think FIFA scouting) etc.

An early Botaoshi custom character model

Of course, helmets and other accessories can be customized as well as damaged. Your team might not be doing too great and may have to show up with tattered clothes for example.


Ninja POV — Alpha 1.0

As mentioned, you will be able to choose a squad to play with on the field. Alternatively, in singleplayer, you can simply manage formation and execution from the sidelines. Contributing to a leadership stat.

Each squad has a set of positions labeled by function. These break down into two or three on offense:

  • Attacker [A] (dynamic)
  • Spring Tackle [ST] (specifically attacks the pole)
  • Scrum [S] (serves as a springboard for all attackers)

And four on defense, being:

  • The Ninja [N] (is on top of the pole helping keep it balanced)
  • Circle Defense [CD] (typically between your interceptors and pole support)
  • Interceptor [I] (mobile defender, must stay ahead of CD)
  • Pole Support [S] (supports the pole inside the circle)

A good captain will of course want to find the right people for the right jobs.

I hope you found this interesting! If you’d like to keep up with this project please do join our mailing list for ongoing updates regarding development.

See you on the field!