The latest title in Segaís
action sports series is Beach Spikers, a Gamecube volleyball simulation from
AM2. Like the other titles in the genre, this emphasizes arcade thrills over
realism. With superb graphics, easy to master controls and intuitive play this
is an excellent arcade-style game. A lack of extra modes hurts the replay value
and is disappointing but doesnít ruin the experience. We go underneath the
visual appeal to understand why itís another Sega gem.
Spikersí game structure takes inspiration from Virtua Tennis, with similar
mechanics and modes. While the eye candy is plentiful, this is a solid
volleyball sim. While the interface seems simple, youíll need to master
serving, receiving, tossing and attack moves, in order to really master this
title. When itís your teams turn to serve, youíll find the power-gauge along
the left side of the screen. You press one of the buttons to select the type of
serve, underhand, overhand or a jumping serve and need to time it so that you
the hit key when this reaches the top makes for a powerful shot as well but this
system is intuitive. Once the ball is over the net, the other team has to
receive the ball, toss it to the attacking player and then attack the opponentsí
net. At this point, the controls switch from the attacking to the defensive
players after each punch. Once your team is on the receiving end, the spiker and
defender alternate control with each hit. After youíve gotten control of the
ball and are ready to throw the ball back at your opponents, the power-meter
once again comes into play and you can choose a devastating attack to beat them.
Beach Spikers offers three main modes of play: Arcade,
World Tour and Versus plus variations and rules changes in each. An excellent
practice mode where you can build up your skills and technique is also included.
In the Vs. mode, you play a single match against an either a computer or human
opponent, but canít unlock hidden uniforms or teams. Beach Spikersí real
challenge and depth lies in its World Tour which allows you to build and guide a
team during an 8-round international tournament. You can customize your
team-mates and give them encouragement, or berate them between matches. The game
also allows you to create custom players with hair, face and uniform styles.
Winning matches in this mode allows you to earn points, which can be used to
increase the abilities and attributes of your team. These matches are also
played for the full 15 points, which is unlike the shorter Arcade matches. In
that mode, you only play for 5 points (starting at ten, not zero) in a shortened
8-team tournament format. Unfortunately, there are no mini-games in Beach
Spikers which is really disappointing since they added to Segaís earlier
As is the usual from Sega, the game features outstanding graphics, with excellent environmental, lighting and weather effects. The luscious character models are outstanding in their realism and the players move around with an convincing purpose and athletic grace. Different lighting effects and sand-surfaces give Beach Spikers more visual variety than other games. There are actually many different types of arenas in the game. While the basic levels are pretty bland after awhile, some of the World Tour stages feature elaborate backdrops filled with sponsorsí spinning signs and logos. This adds to the excitement of these matches and keeps your interest level high throughout. In the end, this is a very good title that succeeds at capturing the atmosphere and fun of beach volleyball. Between its solid gameplay, multiple modes, intuitive controls and sex appeal, Beach Spikers is another addictive action-sports title from Sega.