Volleyball Review

Volleyball is an abomination of the sport and of video games. To say that it hasn't aged well would be overly courteous.

There are only two plausible reasons for Volleyball for the NES to have been released on the Wii Virtual console. One is to show you just how far sports video games have come since the mid '80s. The other, and more fitting reason, is to simply grab you by the throat and shake every ounce of nostalgia out of your brain. Volleyball is that ridiculously nauseating.

They look happier to be here than you'll look if you play this.
They look happier to be here than you'll look if you play this.

There are two main modes of play in Volleyball. You can either undergo training, where you can attempt to learn the ropes of the game, or go straight to a match where you can choose from eight national teams. You can either play against an artificial intelligence-controlled opponent or a friend, with either the men's or women's team. The only discernible differences between the teams and the genders are the sprite art and coloring. Otherwise, the gameplay remains uniformly rancid throughout.

You use the D pad to control three team members at a time depending on where the ball is. Specifically, you'll control the three players closest to the net until the ball passes behind them, when control will shift to the three rear players. You don't get to determine any single player to take over. This archaic control scheme results in classic moments, such as when your net players will back up to set up a volley, only to freeze in place as control shifts to your rear players who end up running away from the ball.

Setting up successful spikes is also a complete nightmare. First, you have to position your player under the ball with surgical precision. There's barely any leeway given here--if you're more than a pixel off, you'll miss the setup. If you manage to set the ball up for your spiker, a push of the B button will send the player closest to the ball flailing skyward in a laughable attempt to hit the ball. If the peak of your player's leap doesn't exactly meet with the ball, your attempt fails. There's no collision detection between ball and player otherwise. There's no hold-and-release mechanic that you can use to control when you actually hit the ball. All that's there is a sense of pride that comes with you successfully executing an action that seems to have been programmed to fail with as much regularity as possible. Good luck getting to that point.

There's hope for Volleyball yet, however. Yes, volleyball sports atrocious, antiquated sprites reminiscent of construction paper and paste. However, the silver lining is a disturbing yet amusing two-frame hip gyration animation that a given player sprite will display when idle. It's especially funny to watch a sprite do this when it's serving, revealing an intimate bond between player and volleyball. The sound effects will jar you out of any fleeting enjoyment, however, with an earsplitting whistle that plays before and after every single play. Miraculously, the music somehow manages to not be insulting.

You can do it, put your hips into it.
You can do it, put your hips into it.

Trying to peddle Volleyball today is plenty insulting, however. Rereleasing this game for 500 Wii points is like trying to sell spoiled milk that never tasted good in the first place. The mechanics don't work, the presentation is irritating, and watching 20-year-old sprites gyrate at the hips is only entertaining the first time you see it. Simply put, Volleyball is appalling.

The Good

  • N/A

The Bad

  • Broken, archaic controls
  • Frightful graphics and sound effects
  • The fact that it's being released for any price other than free

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