Game Reviews

Beach Volleyball

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Beach Volleyball

There are some sports that scream video game conversion, while others don't allow for the kind of flexibility required for digital translation. Judging by the easy going, casual nature of beach volleyball, you'd be forgiven for thinking this sport fell into the former category. In this case, however, it falters in the sand like a beached jellyfish.

Perhaps we expect too much from iPhone games, considering some of the superbly imaginative and gorgeous looking apps we've been reviewing lately, but Beach Volleyball fails to live up to the standard we'd begrudgingly have accepted from Palm Pilots seven or eight years ago.

The scene - a relaxing seaside vista - lacks any artistic imagination. Indeed, the players look as though they're playing volleyball in a sports hall, with a badly painted backdrop provided by the remedial class of the local high school.

And, while we're dissecting the graphics, the characters really aren't much better. The animation, what there is of it, plays out like a puppet with one string and the choice of male and female players really doesn't feel like much of a choice at all once you meet them on the court. It might sound superficial, but the sport of beach volleyball pretty much only made it into the Olympics due to the abundance of eye candy it inherently enjoys, and this game comprehensively fails to meet that outward expectation.

Controls are simple, yet mostly ineffective. The touchscreen allows you to guide your wooden player left and right, while tilts of the handset move them from side to side. All that's really required is positioning yourself under the ball and hanging around a second to make sure you don't just punch it up into the air instead of sending it back over the net. For a brief moment the game does come to life when the realisation that this is, in essence, a colourful retelling of the old Pong story reveals itself, but the lifeless gameplay soon kills off any nostalgic intrigue.

You can encourage your player to jump extra high, though the benefits of doing so are difficult to understand. Generally it causes you to miss the ball and rarely does it appear to return it over the net any differently than simply standing underneath it. There are three difficulty levels provided, which does make a considerable difference to the competition. The easy level imbues your opponent with the dexterous ball control of a hippo with a hip replacement, while ramping it up to hard grants them some kind of volleyball-centric telekinesis. A normal game lands somewhere around average human standard, though it can't rescue Beach Volleyball from the tedium of its own existence.

It's very unsatisfying to slate a game so thoroughly, but the regrettable truth is that Beach Volleyball is simply too far below the standard people rightly expect from their iPhones. It harbours none of the charm or panache that even the most rudimentary application usually manages to wring from the platform, and would be a poor choice of download even if it were free.

Beach Volleyball

Rough, jarring graphics and unresponsive, stilted gameplay conspire to make Beach Volleyball a tedious and unlovable game in most every respect
Spanner Spencer
Spanner Spencer
Yes. Spanner's his real name, and he's already heard that joke you just thought of. Although Spanner's not very good, he's quite fast, and that seems to be enough to keep him in a regular supply of free games and away from the depressing world of real work.