ST Format


Beach Volley
By Ocean
Atari ST

 
Published in ST Format #7

Beach Volley

Attempts have been made before to "do" volleyball on computer, with varying degrees of success - remember Mastertronic's playable but dull-looking Bump, Set, Spike, or Accolade's flashy but shallow Kings Of The Beach? Now comes Ocean's Beach Volley, yet another stab at the popular beach game.

The game recounts the success story of a pair of schoolkids. Their teachers always told them they should pay more attention to their work and not mess around in the gym so much, or they wouldn't get anywhere in life. Now the chance has come to laugh in their teacher's face. The team have struck a deal to go on a world volleyball tour, to the tune of a $250,000 contract. Not really what most people would call "not getting anywhere!"

You control the team as they play a series of matches in such exotic locations as Sydney, New York, Nassau, Tokyo and Paris - each with its own scenery and characters. Play starts in London, on a suitably green English lawn.

Beach Volley

After the ball is served, an on-screen hand points to the player currently under your control, while the other player on your team fields the second hit and sets up the ball for an attack. To hit the ball you guide your player towards the blue crosshair, which shows where the ball is about to land. From this position you can either volley the ball over the net or leap up to execute a powerful smash.

The first team to score seven points is deemed the winner and goes to other locations to take on more international players.

Effects

The time spent on graphics in Beach Volley has been used to good effect. The backgrounds are carefully drawn and the sprites are extremely well animated. The presentation doesn't stop at neat sprites and backgrounds though; there are a number of humorous intermission sequences as the players travel from one location to another - which usually end up with one of our heroes having a mishap!

Beach Volley

One bone of contention is that the perspective goes askew at times, leaving you wondering where the ball's supposed to be coming from. This is infrequent though, and doesn't take away the fact that an excellent job has been carried out executing the graphics.

Sound, is a different matter. A few "boing-ping" effects have been bunged into the machine to play twee little ditties. There have been worse soundtracks on the ST, but then again, there have also been a hell of a lot better.

After five minutes the natural reaction is to kill the volume completely. The ST is certainly capable of better aural delights.

Verdict

Beach Volley

Once the appeal of the graphics has worn off, the realisation hits you that Beach Volley's gameplay is repetitive. The only way to score points is to either return the opponent's smashes as soon as they're hit, or get them to knock the ball out of court (in the same place every time, I might add).

The two-player mode is a little more fun because the human element provides the necessary unpredictable edge to your opponent's play.

Beach Volley is good fun for a while, especially as a two player game, but when your friends have gone home and you're left alone in front of your ST, then you soon get fed up of thumping the ball back and forth. Even the amusing intermission sequences fail to lift the proceedings above the mediocre level of interesting.

Still, Beach Volley is the best representation of volleyball seen on a computer so far. Maybe the true potential of the sport is doomed never to be fully realised in digital format.

Maff Evans

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