Sex on the beach?
Graphics. Fun. Simple.
AI issues. Sound.
The Bottom Line:
"Call it a fad, a sport or just plain hormone therapy; the beach volleyball genre is the buzz on the wires. It's good to see that GameCube is getting an alternative type game, and since it's put out by Sega there was no doubt in my mind that this was destined to become a success."
Right. Tell me the top three beach volleyball pro's on today?s circuit. Don't know? Well, can you tell me the difference between beach volleyball and regular volleyball? No? At least tell me how the scoring works in the dang game... This is what I'm talking about, no one knows or really cares about the volleyball circuit; especially those who huddle around game consoles. Every game released tries to market one aspect of their title. And when it comes to Beach Spikers the real hook is simply hot babes, jumping around hitting balls. What testosterone driven male wouldn't want to "educate" themselves?
Well, bouncing babes can only take a game so far, and those (like myself of course) want to experience the deeper gameplay aspects of any given title...
Follow the bouncing...
One thing that has always been a huge thumbs-up for Nintendo fans is that most games always come with a superb tutorial. Spikers is no different, and the tutorial really puts you through the ringer. By the time you've completed the tutorial, head on over to the World Circuit and taste the sand...
Gameplay mechanics are well done, and the overall physics seem to be quite realistic. If you can keep your eyes on the action and not the girls; the general gameplay is addictively fun. Starting off in a single player game (preferably the World Circuit), you choose your team, country, etc. Your team consists of three players, and you must rely on the computer opponent to sometimes decide the fate of the match. The computer A.I. is a mixed blessing. At first, the computer AI is so bad that you think you will never win. But, what makes the experience rewarding, is how your teammates progress in skill as you move on. I was surprised to see how my computer teammates grew dramatically after about ten games. Your skill, at first, will seem hands down better than your teammates; yet soon thereafter as your experience grows, so does theirs. As matches progress, you can earn statistics that can then be implemented and distributed to your teammates. Again, this keeps you interested in the entire "team" aspects; while still focusing on your personal skill.
What makes Beach Spikers so playable is the over-simplified gameplay. The game could really be played by only using two buttons and your analog stick. Serving is simply a matter of timing the power-timing meter, and diving/bumping/spiking/setting is easily done with a combination of the three. Picking it up is Mickey Mouse simple, and the tutorial shows you the more "advanced" moves. With smooth control aspects, responsive controls and beautiful physics (wink-wink), the games playability is off the hook. The bottom line here is that the game is just plain fun.
While the single player mode is enjoyable (yet somewhat shallow) the real meat-and-potatoes of the game is the multiplayer aspects. At first I was a bit hesitant, wondering how Sega would pull it off, but I have to admit multiplayer truly takes the cake. With a handful of unique and enjoyable options, multiplayer is highly addictive and the game modes are classic Sega. We had hours of ballin' fun with the "Beach Countdown" game, which is like a high-powered game of hot potato.
-writers note: I've said the word potato twice now in the same review -
So, multiplayer is sure to become an instant hit for the party crowd. Add in a few pizzas, and a nice lasting beer-buzz and the game will rank right up there with Madden. You have to give it to Sega, though, for making yet another unique game that is simple; yet indescribably fun. But, as good as the game is; it does have a few minor flaws. The most noticeable is the enigmatic AI at times. While the computer learning curve is nice, at times your teammate will dive for a ball that is heading straight for them. At other times, they will set up what seems to be a perfect set to have the other teammate lightly tap it over instead of going for the big spike. Lastly, the ball cursor (as it's in the air) sometimes "magically" disappears, leaving you guessing where to position yourself. Even with the minor gripes, the gameplay and longevity easily overshadows the negative.
I'm hooked and I can't stop staring...
From screen shots, I thought this was easily going to become a perfect "10", and I wasn't too far off. Sega has pulled out all the stops, and makes every detail highlight like a pink marker. The character models, as well as the physics are simply breathtaking. Player animations, although somewhat repetitive, are fluid and amazing to see in action. Sega has always been known for their color patterns and contrast, and Beach Spikers just oozes with crisp, sharp colors.
The biggest blow to hormone-hungry, boob watchers; is that this is still a Nintendo game and if you are looking for realistic bouncing bosoms you are going to have to wait for DOA's offering on the XBOX. To me, it didn't detract from the game at all, but the buzz around the community is another story. So, for all of you adolesent gamers just take a cold shower and if you want soft porn the internet is filled with it. Or, if you just have to watch unrealistic boobs that you will never claim your own; The girls of DOA and their beach volleyball is filled with voluptuous chestiness...
Since the game is basically modeled after the girls, most will be impressed with the ability to create their own player. The options are nearly limitless, and can sport up to 100 different features (again.. no boobs ok?). Many of these features are locked, and can be unlocked by completing different events throughout the game. Overall, a real winner when it comes down to visuals and even the crowd doesn't seem to be cookie-cut. For you huge video-philes, Spikers also comes with a sweet progressive scan option and still trucks along at a smooth 60 FPS.
Most games that are hyped, and too good to be true have an Achilles heal. And the biggest hit to the game has to be its miserable audio. While most would claim that the game reeks of 80's arcade action, the audio is just barely tolerable. The sound effects are standard, but the soundtrack is just not worth the disk space. Sure, the voice-overs are nice, but they can't save the game from certain audio peril...
Beach Spikers is a classic arcade game that works perfectly for your home console. While the single player aspects were shallow and unrewarding; the multiplayer is a huge success. Plan on spending countless hours duking it out. Probably the biggest asset to the game is the simple gameplay, solid physics and overall enjoyment. It's a straight up fun game that should at least be worthy of a weekend rental. A full purchase is still in order, especially if you have more than one person playing the game.
Overall, an excellent release from Sega (yes, I'm still a fanboy) and yet another reason to be optimistic for the GameCube.
Simple. Fun. Addictive.
Sweeter than a honey pie on the fourth of July.
Bland and uninspiring. Sometimes arcade music should just stay there.
Multiplayer makes this a long lasting title.
If the audio was better, this could have been one of the best GC games of the year.