Volleyball video games are a rare sight yet here's a brand new one for Nintendo's latest handheld. When you're ready, put on your most flattering swimwear and let's see if it's worth a trip to the beach.
Arc System Works' series of family-based sports games is a mixed bag. I personally enjoyed Family Tennis quite a lot but some of their titles are far less than stellar. Super Strike Beach Volleyball is definitely a charming little game with a familiar cast of cute characters and simple gameplay, but it doesn't really accomplish anything particularly well. Take the graphics, for example. Most of the visuals consist of blocky pixilated textures that look like they belong to an early PS1 game. Even the cloud-filled skies make it look like the characters are playing within a small room that's decorated in sky wallpaper. The best part about its presentation is the audio as it features upbeat music, decent Japanese voice clips, and fitting sound effects. Overall, Super Strike Beach Volleyball looks pretty bad but the decent quality audio mostly makes up for that.
As with similar games, the controls are quite simple. Every match is played with two players on each team. Considering there's no multiplayer, you're always partnered with a computer-controlled chum. Anyway, you basically move around and bump, set, and spike whenever the ball is in your court. Some additional controls allow you to perform tricky moves such as blocking your opponents' spikes, feinting, and unleashing different kinds of spikes and serves. On top of all this, whenever your Super Shot gauge is full, you can unleash it which results in a goofy animation as your character launches the ball at the opposing team. If you ever forget how to play then the constant onscreen clues will help you out. The only question is, how could they possibly mess this basic premise up?
One of the first things you'll notice when you start playing Super Strike Beach Volleyball is how slow it is. The ball seems to float through the air as opposed to realistically being launched back and forth. Once in a while, you might get lucky and spike the ball really hard but even then, it travels much slower than you'd expect. The slow-paced gameplay definitely makes it more boring than it needs to be, but there's more. I understand that timing is everything because you need to push the buttons at just the right moment in order to perform the most optimal shots but I couldn't get it right no matter how hard I tried. Many times, my character would miss the ball entirely because I tried to tap the button at the perfect moment. After countless failed attempts at trying to master the timing, I resorted to button-mashing which surprisingly did the trick. Basically, the ideal time to strike always seemed randomized. I don't know why the controls have to be this awkward. Finally, your AI partner can be downright frustrating. There were many situations where the ball was coming straight for them and I assumed that they would go for it but they just stood there waiting for me to get it. To remedy this, I always went for the ball no matter where it was heading. In the end, playing this is a great way to test your patience.
When it comes to content, Super Strike Beach Volleyball has a few modes to play around in. Campaign mode allows you to level up your character's attributes as you challenge various opponents. Whenever you manage to beat them, you unlock their swimsuits. I guess that's worth it...? Next, there's Free Play mode where you can select characters, a court, and basic rules. Last but not least, Survival mode has you aim to defeat as many teams in a row that you can. There are only three courts and eight characters to choose from and with the only significant bonus being an unlockable gallery; there simply isn't much to do in Super Strike Beach Volleyball.
When you add it all up, Super Strike Beach Volleyball is a disappointing game. With unappealing visuals, irritating gameplay, and almost no content; it's probably best to stay inside than take a trip to this beach.
- + Charming cast of characters
- + Well done audio
- - Graphics consist of awful pixilated textures
- - Very slow gameplay with awkward controls and frustrating AI partners
- - Poor amount of available content