Beach volleyball is just such an underrepresented genre! Although this sport enjoyed a boom of sorts around the turn of the decade (a "boom" being defined here as being shown at 2 in the morning on ESPN), but its fortunes have fallen a bit and nothing for the consoles has really been made since the classic Konami opus Kings of the Beach and this also-ran coded by Idea-Tek and released by AVE, Venice Beach Volleyball. Another one of AVE's early releases, I'm afraid that the gaming press just looked at this game and other classics of modern literature as Double Strike and immediately wrote AVE off, which is a bit of a shame for Krazy Kreatures and Dudes with Attitude. This game seems to ooza loneliness and depression - it's not something tangible that I can lay my finger on, but the whole game screams "coded by people who really don't care".

Those who've played Kings of the Beach can vouch for that particular Konami peppiness that was built into the game - the bongo drum music, the moves that each competitor had, the "argue with the referee" feature that actually worked on occasion. You won't find any of that here. The music has this sort of feel that reminds you of bad 80s skater movies and little kids playing on their Casio 20-key keyboard. All the players look pretty much the same; even the women have this perfectly buff body even though they're wearing bikinis. Animation is nonexistant as jumping is represented by your character moving up and down, and spikes and such are a little hard to time as a result.

Jump serve it, baby!

What a strange looking crowd...

There are four different teams of two you can pick and you can go into a mini-tournament or just play an endless series of single matches - a far cry from the worldwide tournament that Kings gave you. Also, the screens at the end of matches have that same eerie feeling the rest of the game has - while not horrid per se, there's something about them that makes you want to turn off your NES as soon as possible and stick your head under a pillow. Star-shaped fireworks blare off as an anonymous dude waves at you if you win; a scary-looking dude sneers at you to the tune of the blackest, deepest music in the world if you lose.

Beach homosexuality is where it's at, baby!

Grrrrr! GRRRRRRR! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Pix: |tsr

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