It’s volleyball and it’s quite super!
Volleyball has never been the most popular sport in the real world so it’s even less often that you encounter it in the digital world. When you do it’s more often than not based on the more interesting (certainly to most men anyway!) beach variety of the sport. Originally released in the arcades with both Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and NEC PC Engine/TurboGrafx versions following, Video System’s Super Volleyball tries its very best to recreate the thrills and spills of international volleyball, and it does a pretty good job too in the most part. So don’t let the subject matter put you off too much and read on, because this might just be a game that’s worth adding to your collection.
In this TurboGrafx version of Super Volleyball you start off by choosing your team from the available selection of countries and selecting the type of game you want to play. You have both one-player and two-player games, as you would expect, and the usual array of options. In the single player mode you can choose to play in a one off exhibition match to hone your skills or go straight into the action and try to win the Volleyball World Cup. There’s a wide selection of countries to chose from around the world, all with varying levels of skill. Rather strangely, there is also the option to watch a match instead of playing it yourself! Why would you want to do that? The game itself takes up a rather unusual viewpoint, while being side viewed (ok, pretty normal so far) it is 2D, on a flat plain with no up or down movement at all (very unusual indeed!). However the screen does scroll horizontally to move with the action and keeps up with the pace pretty well. Each team has four players, like real volleyball, and you get to control just one of them. The CPU players on your team tend to just hang around the net, so it’s your job to serve and volley from the back of the court. The A.I. levels of the computer players is pretty decent too so you don’t have to worry too much about them messing things up for you. You have the standard range of actions such as spike, volley and pass. The action in Super Volleyball actually gets pretty intense at times too.
When it comes to the visuals, Super Volleyball is rather nice. The sprites are both nicely drawn and well animated and the crowd in the background makes it look a bit more interesting. On the audio front it’s perhaps a little lacking, with just some pretty basic sound effects and the odd little tune when you score points and win games, but nothing to really complain about. Super Volleyball controls well and gives a good challenge, so it will take you a while to master. I can’t quite put my finger on what I liked about this game, I just did. I still find it strange that while the TurboGrafx doesn’t have a decent football (soccer for our American readers) game it plays a mean game of volleyball! I have always found it bizarre that a system with such a high quality library in general has so many terrible sports games. So Super Volleyball was not only a very welcome surprise but it also, almost by default, becomes one of the best sports games on the system.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: NEC PC Engine/TurboGrafx (reviewed), Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Arcade ; Publisher: NEC ; Developer: Video System ; Players: 1-2 ; Released: 1990 ; ESRB: E For Everyone ; MSRP: N/A