I’ve had a chance to play Hyper Vball for SNES, International Volleyball 2009 for PC, Beach Spikers for Gamecube and even found some enjoyment playing Beach Volleyball Summer Heat for PlayStation 2. All of these games allowed me to enjoy the sport I loved without having to move from my couch after a tough day at school or even after a tough practice during my young club volleyball days. After these were made, there hasn’t been a real attempt towards making a volleyball simulation video game until recently when Black Sheep announced Spike Volleyball.
Ever since Black Sheep announced the creation of a new volleyball game, I couldn’t hold back the excitement while also feeling doubtful about whether I would like it or not. As a volleyball player myself, I was looking forward to relieving what the games mentioned above made me feel. The enjoyment, the frustrations, and the good memories those games brought back while playing them with my friends. Sadly, my excitement turned into big disappointment. I bought the game as soon as it came out and found myself asking for a refund 50 minutes into the game. Why you may ask? Well, I’ll look to break down my experience with the game for you guys…
For a game that has come out in 2019, it was disappointing to see the way they tried to portray the sport of volleyball in this videogame. First of all, why is every single player in this video game hitting the ball with their elbow? Why is every single player surpassing the net down to their hip when hitting and blocking? That’s not all, volleyball is a sport packed with fast-paced action as after a service often comes a reception, a set and a spike ending the rally. This game failed to capture the essence of the sport by making every set 30 feet high and making setters be able to set with their platforms while being a good 30 feet away from the net and facing the back of the gym. It’s just a huge miss! At this point, it already sounds like I hate the game, but it isn’t all that horrible. Playing the game isn’t complicated. Passing/defending is just a matter of timing, setting is a matter of choosing where to set and hitting is kind of a press/hold kind of situation. You can set every hitter on the court including the back-row and serve in three different ways (float/jump float/jump serve). Blocking gets a little tricky, but I can see someone getting used to it. When it came to mapping out how to play the game, Black Cheap did a decent job.
In terms of pleasing your eye, the game did a decent job. The main menu makes you think you’re playing an EA Sports videogame as it really looks slick. The court looks realistic, the cutscenes look exciting and make you feel part of the game. The broadcast graphics while playing the game, statistics tables, score graphics and every other graphic within the game are really pleasing to look at. In terms of really capturing the sport of volleyball… it’s a big no-no. The slow gameplay, lack of hitting angles and the robotic player mobility do not resemble volleyball at all. Just imagine playing International Volleyball 2009 with a few graphical upgrades, and you’re already playing Spike Volleyball.
The game has a variety of different options to choose from. You can play online, play multiplayer locally, create a tournament and even start a career with your team of choice while adding a logo. It was exciting to start a career while being able to edit the players’ names, jerseys, and many more elements. You can change the difficulty, how many points you want to play to, the camera angles and even how many sets you would like to play. I would of love to see a decent soundtrack to compliment the rest of the work Black Sheep put into this game modes and add-ons.
The game was a bit disappointing, to be honest. It seems like the idea to make a good product was present, but the effort really slacked. It would have been considered a good try back in 2009, but when compared to any other simulation game it really doesn’t reach the standard or simply doesn’t get that much better. This was exactly the type of game I would expect for a mobile device, not for high-performance gaming consoles like the Xbox, PlayStation or Steam Computers. The fact that older games seem to have a better understanding of volleyball movements or just overall better physics makes this game a big miss for me. To me, it’s one of those games that serve as a good draft essay before you hand it to your professor and he rips it apart only for the good of your essay. It’s not horrible, but for now I’ll return it and continue to play older versions of these volleyball simulation games.