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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Sega

 

Developer

AM2

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q3 2002

 

 

- Great way to spend a rainy afternoon

- Classy women

- Easy to learn but tougher to master controls

- Some great visuals

- Very good multiplayer game

 

 

- Some repetitive animation

- Hit-you-over-the-head advertising

- Limited appeal for non-fans

- Camera can induce dizziness

- Disappointing audio

 

 

Review: Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball (XBox)

 

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Beach Spikers: Virtua Beach Volleyball

Score: 8.2 / 10

 

Letís get away from the idea that Beach Spikers (BS) is just a GameCube version of DOA: Extreme Beach Volleyball (which will be only appearing on Xbox).  Yes, the teams all consist of women in two-piece bathing suits but youíll be hard-pressed to find any gratuitous jiggling.  BS is all about straight up beach volleyball Ė the only thing missing is sand between your toes.

 

beach-spikers-1.jpg (95874 bytes)          beach-spikers-2.jpg (87053 bytes)

 

In this day of 75-button controllers, the fact that BS uses only two buttons -- two! --is particularly amazing.  As a result, it's extremely easy to get into. The control stick plays an important role as well, of course.  There is a great training mode that actually does train you.  The drills are broken down in a logical manner and once you master those, youíre well on your way to dominance.

 

ButÖ if youíre playing by yourself you might still face a big challenge.  Much of the initial challenge is putting up with your CPU controlled partner.  You have complete control only over one character.  The other is on autopilot Ė autopilot that seems to be on the fritz most of the time.  Between matches youíre given some attribute points to award to your CPU controlled buddy to improve the situation, but it can take a long time and much patience to see any improvement.  During the matches the only way you can affect your teammate is between sets by offering encouragement, berating them, or praising them.  (Unfortunately, smacking them on the back of the head isnít an option.)  Choosing which form of interaction can be pivotal as it affects your teamwork rating.  Boost it, and your teammate starts to act more professional; decrease it, you might as well just start another match.

 

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The opponent AI is extremely efficient and provides a great challenge Ė even when your CPU buddy is on top of her game.  But they donít cheat.

 

BS looks great!  If I had to narrow it down to what I like best, itís the sand.  At the start of a match the court is groomed smooth but as the game wears on, the sand becomes pitched and uneven as the teams run around.  The character models are great Ė moving smoothly and realistically.  (My gripe with the animation 

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has to do with the repetitive nature of some of the moves.  For example, when a team loses a serve itís not uncommon to see both characters simultaneously perform the same frustrated motion.)  And Iíve never seen more advertising in a game.  Before the start of each match youíre treated to extremely gratuitous product shots.  (This might defray some of the development costs and make it a more realistic experience, but egads! Enough already!)  There is also the ability to tweak the way your character looks Ė hair, skin tone, etc.  I really enjoyed the ability to make my player resemble She-Hulk.

  

beach-spikers-3.jpg (101616 bytes)          beach-spikers-4.jpg (95392 bytes)

 

Still on the topic of graphics, the camera can be incredibly dizzying.  It has this circular route that it follows Ė kind of like itís in a helicopter circling the action.  Once you become adjusted to that, itís not as noticeable (and can turn into a distinct advantage when playing against people not used to it.)

 

The audio might just be the most disappointing aspect of BS.  Although there are a variety of different characters there just isnít enough variety in terms of grunting as the players dive for balls and eat sand.  The voice acting during the teammate interaction is just fine but itís incredibly muted.  Music is mixed but thatís not the main draw so, who cares?

 

Game modes include the standard World Tour, single match, etc.  There are a few mini-game competitions but nothing out of the ordinary.

 

beach-spikers-5.jpg (98478 bytes)          beach-spikers-6.jpg (99622 bytes)

 

Beach Spikers is a very good game Ė not explosive, it wonít turn the gaming world on its head.  But it is incredibly easy to pick-up and play, is fun to play with friends, easy to look at, and provides plenty of back-and-forth gaming (especially on cold, rainy days) once you get the hang of playing off your CPU buddy.  Non-fans of beach volleyball (or tennis for that matter) might be hesitant, and thatís their right, but Beach Spikers sure wonít hurt you.

 

- Omni

(November 6, 2002)

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