KINGS OF THE BEACH / Konami (Ultra) / NES

NES Titties, hell yeah

Volleyball - the game that goes on fucking forever! Video game versions of it tend to either be really good or really clunky and tedious, but Kings of the Beach manages to kind of walk a fine line between the two. On the whole its pretty decent - especially for the time - but leaves you wanting quite a bit Moar.

The game offers up limited modes of play. You are stuck playing 2-on-2 with real American heroes Steve Stummies and Sinjay Patel, against a roster of CPU-controlled obscure Ultra characters, guys based on other IRL volleyball pros, and guys that someone just saw bumming around the burrito stand one day. A solo player can merely practice individual moves, play an individual match against randomly selected opponents, or enter a tournament wherein you play all the CPU characters to be the ultimate King of the Beach. Two players can either team up to play co-op or against each other.

A major recurring problem with volleyball games is timing and precision, it can be really hard to see when to swing at the ball and where to stand to line up with it as it descends. Kings of the Beach makes an effort to solve this problem, but unfortunately it does so by taking control out of your hands. When your CPU partner bumps the ball, for example, you'll automatically run into position under it and then simply have to tap the button at the right time to Set it. Likewise, if you execute a Bump, the CPU Sets, then you move into position automatically and simply have to hit both buttons together at the right time to Spike.

The game really focuses on the Bump-Set-Spike thing, you're free to go off the script and try to block or spike an opoonents underhanded serve right back in their face, but pulling it off correctly requires a shit ton of practice and familiarity with the nuances of the game. The CPU also often decides things for you, automatically deciding whether to position himself to Bump an incoming ball or to let you do it, and the only way to change this arrangement is to jump in his face and fuck the shit up. Players seem to dive automatically if you're headed in the right direction and get lucky, I don't think it's under your control. Apparently you can argue with the ref somehow as I've seen my CPU partner do it a couple of times, all I've been able to do is get under him and do weird scooping motions in an attempt to knock him off his throne. I think the end result of it is that you just get a penalty or lose a point anyway.

The game was originally released on the PC and Amiga by Electronic Arts, and a number of things have actually been cut from this port. In the computer versions there's pre-match profiles of each character that give you an idea of their strengths and weaknesses, these are totally gone here. The graphics were more detailed and the animation a little more fluid in those versions as well. This version adds a soundtrack by the same guy that did the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game though, so if you like that boppy sort of chiptunes music you might like this one. Much better for 2P than it is for solo play.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video