Power Spike: Pro Beach Volleyball Review

By: John Doe

Every company's flagship mascot has got to get in on the latest craze and that latest craze is set by none other that Mario. No surprise, he's been setting the standards for the better part of two decades. Crash Bash is Universal's answer to Mario Party, an entertaining and successful multi-player game made up of a series of imaginative mini-games.


Because such sports are relatively new to the viewing habits of the great unwashed, it's only a matter of time until they grow weary of watching some alcoholic from Scotland throw needles at a cork board before they demand some new crap to watch. This is where volleyball comes in. But not your regulation six-person team, volleyball had to be reinvented because it wasn't considered a great spectator sport. Now enter the spring break kids to add some bikinis, speedo's, sand and a number of players that they could easily count to and how could Budweiser resist promoting it? With plenty of T & A for the guys and macho peacock posturing for the gals, how could beach volleyball not be a hit? In my opinion, it's a game that is made to participate in and by participate I mean more than buying a hot dog and shouting, "Go Blondie, go."

Now we come to the video game version; part player and part observer; with the greater emphasis put on observer. Oddly enough this game is not bad. I will admit that I couldn't wait to shred it to pieces but it really surprised me with its level of control and keen AI opponents.

The graphics have to be dismissed right off the bat. Even for the PSX these are not in the ballpark. As a serious PSX advocate I would normally call foul and walk the other way refusing to play ball. The only way to get to first base with this game is to overlook the rendering altogether and get right into the bullpen to see what it's made of. The pitch has been made to bring the PSX the first beach volleyball game and I think it's closer to a home run than a strikeout.

The gameplay consists of a series of well places hits, passes, blocks, serves, sets and spikes that are all represented on the control pad. You can even vary the intensity and power of each hit. A practice mode allows you unlimited time to acquire your skills which you should have full access of in an hour or so. You won't find everything you need to know in practice mode as tips are scattered throughout the other modes which include exhibition, world tournament and create-a-player. Once you get fluent with the controls you can expect a lot of intense volleying which is something you won't see a lot of in real life. Use your cursor to indicate where you want your shot to go in your opponent's court and circular indicators will appear on the sand in your court to advise you of the best position to stand or jump when blocking, passing or spiking.

The AI is engaging. It goes right for your weak spot; the area in your court with the least population per square inch. Two-player mode is even more fun but the graphics, jittery framerate and poor animation is not conducive to four players; it just gets too cluttered. Plus, who wants to buy a multi-tap if you don't already own one?

No doubt this first-generation game has a future should it ever be improved for the PS2. Right now it's the only game in town so if you want to get a jump on next year's opponents, pick up Power Spike Pro Beach Volleyball now. Recommended with caution.






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