An arcade sports game that lives up to the legacy, playability, and multiplayer greatness that Virtual Tennis contains? Beach Spikers is awesome.
Dear lord, is this game addictive. I knew that I was in for a treat when I saw the subtitle, “Virtual Beach Volleyball”, underneath the title on the main screen, as Beach Spikers offers the simplistic game mechanics, underlying strategy, multiplayer goodness, and sheer fun factor that Virtual tennis offered gamers when it was released years ago. Once in a while, a sports game will be released where many a gamer will proclaim that one has to play it, even if they’re not a fan of the sport. Mario Golf, Virtual Tennis, and now Beach Spikers.
As I mentioned before, the controls and mechanics are beautifully simplistic. The left analog control stick moves your two characters around the sandy court, the A button controls pretty much all of your main functions (hitting the ball, diving for the ball, selecting power for serve, etc), and the B button is used for lesser functions like underhand serves. Unlike doubles matches in Virtual Tennis, Beach Spikers allows you to control both of your characters, in a way not unlike that of Virtua Striker (but in a good way). Whichever character on your team is closer to where the ball is going to land is the one that you assume control of. This is executed to perfection, as you always have full control over the pace and destiny of the match.
Did I mention that all of the selectable characters in Beach Spikers are all women? All slim, silicon representatives of very attractive women? And at the end of each match they often hug and… caress each other? Yeah. I just felt that this deserved a paragraph of it’s own.
Along with that aspect of the visuals, AM2 has created a very complete and beautiful package. The character models themselves are excellently modeled, featuring individually rendered strands of hair, though they do feature skin that resembles plastic more than flesh. One distinct representation that everyone immediately notices is that of the sand. The players leave deep imprints as they dash around the court, and by the end of a round, you’ll notice that the excellently textured ground floor has extremely deformed, with large mounds and deep impressions littering the play area. Aside from that, the crowd and arenas look above average, and the lighting is borderline terrific as well.
If you understand the basic rules of volleyball, you’ll be able to jump into Beach Spikers right away. The game starts off with you serving, which is accomplished through an animated power meter, which requires precise timing to get off a powerful show. Once the ball is headed your way, a colored circle is featured on the area of the court where the ball will land. The sooner you get to the circle, the harder your shot will be, or the level of accuracy for your volley increases. The only other basic mechanic is that if blocking, which is simply accomplished by pressing A at the net during the time that your opponent is getting ready to strike.
This all combines for an extremely addictive and fun experience (I’m going to go play it again once I get this posted, and I still have a ton of other games I’ve got to write about) that is sure to rival, and possibly surpass Virtual Tennis. Definitely play this one whenever you get your first chance.