The fine folks at Unfinished Pixel gave us one heck of a game with Super Tennis Blast. I absolutely love that game and highly recommend you check it out. A few months later, a new Blast title was released and this one’s theme fit me perfectly. Super Volley Blast was released. I played 2-man beach volleyball in my early 20’s and even won a big tournament in Atlantic City, NJ. Ironically, that tourney was called Volleyball Blast: Best of the Beach. Well, let me just say this game definitely brought back great memories and I had a lot of fun playing through it. Beach volleyball requires skill and precision as well as deploying strategy playing to your opponent’s weakness. While the game never really gets crazy with anything it does deliver a solid beach volleyball atmosphere.
Super Volley Blast is a clean visual experience. You don’t have over-the-top realistic graphics or something that came straight from a mobile device. The visuals are solid and work perfectly for this title. You’ll have customization options to create characters and you can come up with a lot of different variations in which you can even make clones of real-life people. Well, cartoonish clones that is. There are various arenas and courts to play on that are clean and colorful as well. I just like how this game looks for what it is.
The game modes offered up will keep you busy for a while. The story mode takes you through 7 matches against varying opponents. Many of the characters are caricatures of real people and some of them are quite hilarious. I won’t give any of them away. As I said, you can even make your own with plenty of customization options at your fingertips. The story mode also has a + mode and a ++ mode which will be quite a challenge of skill and patience. You also have Quick Match, Multiplayer, Tournament mode, and Super Blast mode. Yup, there are plenty of gameplay options to choose from that’ll keep you busy.
The gameplay is pretty straight forward and it’s simple yet may take a little practice to master. You use the “X” button to hit the ball, “A” to pass and dive, “Y” to jump for blocks and spikes. You can just serve the ball normal or try jump serves as well. Just use the appropriate buttons. Now, in volleyball the proper hit sequence is as follows when receiving the ball. Bump to your partner (A), Set to your partner (A), then hit the ball over the net (X). Now, you can change up the format and hit the ball over at any point during a volley which consists of three total hits. Change things up to keep your opponents off guard. If you get predictable then you can start getting blocked or find it difficult to score points. A point is score when the ball hits the ground on the other side of the net. Timing your spikes can take a bit of time to get actual smashes, but you can still spike the ball pretty hard even if your timing is off. Aim the hits away from your opponents if you can.
Depending on your match settings, you’ll have to achieve a certain total of points to win a match. Sometimes you must win by two points as well if the option is switched on. Playing with a person as your partner really changes up the game, and it changes up even more when they are your opponent. The AI can get a little predictable but with higher difficulty you’ll find it difficult to drop the ball for a point as they seem to dig everything you throw at them. Jump serves are definitely something you want to practice as you can get them to receive the ball in some awkward positions causing the ball to fly off the court and out of bounds.
While the game is simplistically presented and looks like a cakewalk, it really does hold a true sim factor to the sport of volleyball underneath. Line shots, corner shots and even dinking the ball are strategies that you want to master. Against an easy AI you will find it pretty easy to land the points right down the middle, but up that difficulty and you will now find a challenge in everything. True sim players will definitely want to play at higher difficulties to get the most out of this game.
The Super Blast mode is fun a for a little but definitely not where I would spend most of my time. I really like the somewhat simulation experience that this game can offer up even with arcade paint. The tournament mode is fun as well and you could really get creative by creating a bunch of AI characters and pairing them up for a huge celebrity style tourney. Definitely be sure to dig your paws into the character creation mode and mock up a few celebrity clones, or perhaps create an armada of real-life friends. It totally adds to the game when you have players on screen that you can relate to.
I did see a few moments where I took issue with the way a point played out. For example, players crossing the plane of the net in out of bounds to hit it back to their side of the court is ok as long as you do not cross the net between the antennas. I saw this happen on several occasions and it resulted in my opponent sometimes scoring a point off the play. This was probably my biggest and only real issue with the game as the unrealistic nature of the play real tarnished the sim experience. I played semi-pro beach volleyball 25 years ago and back then this was not a rule so unless things changed, I would like to see this addressed in a patch. Yes, it irks me that much. Outside of my own personal issue the game is really solid.
Super Volley Blast is well worth the money. Much like Super Tennis Blast, you’ll find yourself just having a lot of fun with an arcade style game that offers up underlying simulation aspects. The creation tools at your fingertips give you limitless creativity to build a roster of characters to mimic that of the real world or close friends. The multiplayer aspects in the game also allows for a lot of living room fun especially in tournament mode where you can have each team as a human controlled team and even each and every AI. Up to 16 players. There are very few volleyball games on the videogame market, but this one definitely fills the void with a great game and some great fun. I highly recommend checking this one out. Well done, Unfinished Pixel, well done.
Score: 90 out of 100
*** A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.