Volleyball. Girls in bikinis. There is something about the combination of the two that makes most men tune into the channel that this is on, whether they care about volleyball or not. Sega hopes that its newest title, BEACH SPIKERS VIRTUA BEACH VOLLEYBALL for the Nintendo GameCube, has the same effect, even with the polygonal women.
BEACH SPIKERS' graphics are actually pretty impressive. The character models are done quite well, and the characters look somewhat realistic. The courts that the games are played on are also very well designed, and look close to the real thing. But then again, it isn't really that hard to design volleyball courts, as most of them are purely sand.
Gameplay wise, the control is excellent. During my first match, I somehow won without having to even move my players around. After that, I was about ready to turn my GameCube off and give it an awful grade. Luckily, I continued playing, and yes, the game does get much harder. Basically, you have a certain set of things you must do in a match. You serve, volley, set-up and spike. It sounds pretty simple, but it really isn't. For spiking, you have a power meter. The higher you get on the power meter, the harder the spike will be. Most of the time, a good spike will result in a point, but in the later rounds of tournaments, don't count on it. The game gets progressively harder round by round, and the final round normally had me wanting to rip the hair out of my head. Fortunately, I didn't, and I normally got past these final rounds after retrying them a few times.
You have a couple of different gameplay modes in BEACH SPIKERS. You have the normal Arcade Mode where you just play in an 8-team tournament. In this mode, you select your team from numerous different countries, and square off against others. There is the Tutorial mode, where the game will basically teach you to play. There is the Vs. mode, where up to four players can duke it out against each other. And finally, there is the World Tour mode, where you pick a team (or create your own) to play in numerous tournaments around the world and try to rack up cash.
When creating your duo of volleyball players, you have a pretty wide variety of different ways you can customize them. You can customize their hair, faces, and even the skimpy bikinis they have to play in. You can really come up with some weird combinations (the green hair, green bikini works well). Surprisingly, you cannot change the height, weight, or basic body structure of the players, which is weird for a lot of sports games.
In the end, BEACH SPIKERS is a fun time. If you're the type that gets tired of the same old sports games (football, baseball, basketball), this may be one for you. It's fun and addictive, and it's a genre that isn't explored as often as volleyball fans like to see. It's worth a rental at least.