With EA generally dominating the sports market each year, it’s hard to think that anyone else would really feel comfortable stepping into the ring to compete, especially a small independent studio. However, the guys over at Unfinished Pixel – those of Spy Chameleon acclaim – look to have relished the challenge, and with the sport of volleyball rarely catered for in gaming, they’ve gone all out to release a memorable volleyball experience with their latest title, Super Volley Blast. But does it hold the quality to prove a sporting success?
If you’re looking for a volleyball title that will deliver ultimate realism then chances are Super Volley Blast on Xbox One will struggle to entertain. However, if you’re happy enough with a good quality title that perfects the basics and is a joy to play with or without friends, then this may just be the sporting surprise that you didn’t know you wanted.
Super Volley Blast doesn’t bring in your official teams of the sport, it doesn’t bring lifelike visuals and it doesn’t come with a wealth of official greatness oozing from every crevice, in fact, what it does bring is quite the opposite; cartoonish visuals, basic controls, and absolutely random characters taking to the field.
With no strain on keeping to an official likeness, the team at Unfinished Pixel have taken the opportunity to bring in some comedy to the game and as players progress through the single player portion of Super Volley Blast – a seven-match story mode – there is plenty to enjoy as you take on comical battles against parody tag team duos. These include the likes of Spider-Man and The Hulk, some of the finest characters from the Street Fighter franchise and a truly humorous duo of Tronald Dump and Jim Kong Un, amongst others.
What with just seven matches making up the entirety of the story mode, you could be forgiven for thinking Super Volley Blast lacks content, but once you’ve bested the short-winded, rather enjoyable, single player story mode, you’ll get to the best part of the game – the local multiplayer and the heart of Super Volley Blast.
From the main menu it’s clear that Super Volley Blast is a local multiplayer focused title, and should you have a controller spare and someone willing to take to the court alongside you, what you’ll find is one of the most enjoyable local multiplayer titles available on Xbox One.
Players can jump in with Quick Match, Tournament and Super Blast modes, with the former providing a quick no strings attached matchup, and Tournament offering a custom competition for either 4 or 8 teams and up to 16 players. Super Blast meanwhile brings in modifiers to each match.
The modifiers are a great way to experience something a little different once you’ve already mastered hitting the ball back and keeping up a good rally. These range from the likes of Chicken Ball, which brings a chicken to the field willing to jump at the ball at any time to knock it off course, and Bomb Ball that turns the volleyball into a bomb with three points given based on which side the bomb explodes. Then you have the Icy Floor modifier that turns the floor into a frozen ice rink and Bad Shape that tires players out every time they hit the ball. The final modifier is Max 2 Hits, with just two hits allowed between a team before it is sent back over the net.
The modifiers are hardly revolutionary, but they do help bring a fresh feeling to what can otherwise be seen as rather repetitive gameplay. It is these which prove to be a great blast to play when you have a court of human players taking on the opposing players.
With all of those different options it’s fair to say there is enough to keep players occupied for a good few hours, but what keeps things enjoyable is the pure simplicity of everything; simple controls and rules ensure nothing is ever too complex in Super Volley Blast on Xbox One.
What’s more is that whilst Super Volley Blast may not be as tactically demanding as the FIFA, Madden or NHL titles out there, there is a surprising level of competitiveness as you set, spike and return each shot at your opponents. This is especially apparent when you manage to get a good rally going, and finally break the deadlock with a well-placed and unreachable shot to the back of the court. With each shot bringing up a circle to indicate where it’s going to land, scoring that next point is much harder than you’d expect.
Besides game modes, Super Volley Blast also comes complete with an Avatar Editor that allows players to create their own players to go alongside those already available in the game. There may not be any distinct stats or differences but it’s always nice to run out on the court with your own characters.
It’s competitive, it’s fun, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and so if you’re a fan of local multiplayer titles, enjoy sports games, or simply want something to play with family and friends, then Super Volley Blast is a title you should consider grabbing with both hands.