Volleyball's a great way to pass the time on a beach, but unless you're one of those lucky types who has sand on the doorstep, Beach Spikers, thanks to its top-notch gameplay, lush graphics and numerous game options and modes (not to mention the lovely ladies in bikinis, fellas) is the ideal substitute.
In volleyball, your team must send the ball over the net to the opponent's side of the court so that it drops on the ground. By the same token, your team must prevent the ball from being grounded on its side of the court. The game begins by serving the ball to the opponent's side of the court. Except for the first serve of the game, the team who scored the last point has the right to serve. The team is allowed three hits, or contacts, with the ball once it's in play, as long as no team member plays the ball twice in succession, before returning it over the net, in the hope of scoring a point. Fail to ground the ball on your opponent's side of the net, fail to return the ball after three contacts, or fire the ball out of bounds with no interference from the opposing team, and the other team scores a point.
In Beach Spikers, the first team to reach 15 points, with at least a two-point advantage, wins the game. If the score ties at deuce (14-14) the game continues to a score of 20 points, or until one of the teams gains a two-point advantage.
Beach Spikers features the fluid animation and attention to detail gamers have come to expect from Sega's Virtua series. The floating camera angles take a little getting used to, but as long as you take notice of the indicators on court when in receipt of the ball, you'll be blocking and smashing in no time at all. The indicators on the sand are accompanied by a power gauge at the side of the screen. This gauge lets you dictate the ferocity of your service and your attacking plays. The gauge rises and falls fairly rapidly, so good timing is essential so as not to overcook your shot or maybe even not make it as far as the net.
Beach Spikers' game modes are plentiful: Arcade is a conversion of Sega's famous arcade game (you don't say!) where you take part in an eight-team tournament. World Tour is where you create an original team and participate in a series of tournaments. VS lets you play against the computer or other players with various settings. There are also mini-games in this section, including a race along the beach to pick up a flag, and a game of volleyball where you play with a ticking timebomb. Team Play and Match Play lets another player join in the game, either as your team partner or as part of the opposition. Up to four players can experience Beach Spikers simultaneously, so even a two-on-one is possible, in case you only have a couple of friends.
For a sport as fundamentally simple as volleyball, Beach Spikers has a lot going for it, in terms of depth of gameplay. Now go get some sand in your virtual joints!