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SummaryA surprisingly engaging experience
The GoodWhen objectively considering the concept of volleyball video games, especially 8-bit volleyball video games, skepticism seems to overwhelm the brain. Anyone, though, who seriously plays Super Spike V'Ball will have that skepticism wiped away.
First of all, the game is really funny. The sound effects make good use of the NES's abilities, producing odd propulsion-like noises with every jump. The most hilarious aspect of the game is the 'super spike,' wherein a player mashes a button while in the air before a spike to build up its power and make it potentially unblockable. A 'Ka-Boom' onomatopoeia is displayed, and the opposing player is smashed back into the sand.
What's amazing is that the simple concepts of this game work together well enough to produce a progressively more-challenging experience. One begins learning the basic means of defending and spiking in the American Circuit. One must have spent at least several hours in that mode before gaining the abilities required to begin the World Cup, which features a whole new level of difficulty, culminating in a battle with the U.S. Navy team, which is extremely challenging.
The mechanics of the gameplay are finely tuned enough to offer a real, gimmick-free work out to those who play it. One is also rewarded by the odd cityscape backgrounds to what could have been a drab volleyball layout. Again, the hilarious noises and oddities round out the experience, and make the game simply a joy to play and get good at.
The BadThe game has a few technical issues. Sometimes the sprites will be momentarily invisible or obscured as the graphics are rendering. I have found these issues to be infrequent and certainly not inhibitive of the gameplay.
One other thing that can happen, although rare and funny, is when, after diving for a shot, instead of hitting it up to your teammate, the ball makes a funny noise and flops out of bounds. I have always enjoyed these moments as odd quirks, and they also do not hinder the overall gameplay.
The game also comes with the ability to have 4 players at once, a rarity on the NES. Having tried this before, the experience turned out to be slightly disappointing. It was functional, but lacked the depth of the 1 or 2 player circuits.
The Bottom LineIt is, simply, a volleyball game. There is no gameplay that does not involve playing volleyball. However, it is a challenging game without being too difficult, and can engross its players for hours - something that the vast majority of third party console games cannot boast.
It does have a very extensive set of options, involving everything from team location, player build, to wide-ranging scoring options. The most significant option is the player build. There are 4 sets of players to choose from, all with different names and a specific type. There are the all-arounders, who don't do anything poorly or extremely well - there are the big guys (or fats, as we always called them) who are painfully slow in the sand, but make superspikes very easy - there are the punkish looking guys, who are actually the Double Dragons (Billy & Jimmy), making a cameo. They are good at defending spikes and diving for well-placed shots - and finally there are the fast guys, who are average at spiking and defending, but can move very quickly across the sand to set up shots.
Some players will be good at timing blocks, and would benefit from the Double Dragons, whereas some players will be better at placing spikes, making the fats a better choice. The game really offers a wide-ranging experience.
Perhaps the best aspect of the game is that all of the tournament modes can be played by 2 players. Going through the game with a buddy is far better than controlling 2 guys yourself, with the other sometimes working as a drone. Much more than a lot of multiplayer games, Super Spike V'Ball is a team experience. Your buddy can back you up when you get smacked by a superspike, and the quality of your set shot determines the ease with which your friend can administer a return spike.
All in all, it is another great Technos game that few people have ever played. Any lover of 8-bit games needs to own this title, or at least give it a shot. It is a well-crafted game that rewards those who bother to give it their time.