Saturday, 16 April 2016

RealSports Volleyball (Atari 2600 review)

Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari
Released: 1982

RealSports Volleyball is a sports game and one of several RealSports titles to appear on the Atari 2600.

The object in each match is to score 15 points before your opponent. When the ball is on your side of the court it needs to cross the net within three hits and you can choose to either move a player into position for an automated high pass or press the Fire button for a spike. The difficulty switches determine the speed from slow to fast with the latter being preferred so it doesn't feel as if you're wading through treacle! You control both team-mates at the same time and they can individually only cover certain parts of the court. However, there is a 'dead-zone in the centre that's inaccessible to both players; this leaves you completely helpless if a shot is hit there which is massively frustrating. The shadow of the ball helps to position your player but unfortunately it disappears once the sun sets which makes the game almost unplayable. The computer A.I. isn't the smartest and will sometimes refuse to defend a ball that's hit towards the net area. What disappointed me most was how easy it was to defeat the computer on each setting as they barely put up a fight. Unless you have a friend to play with you're stuck with demolishing the CPU repeatedly and as a result you likely won't spend too much time with the game after a couple of matches. There's also a second mode that removes the ability to pass and instead each hit returns the ball across the net. I found it to be pretty pointless, as without the option of both spiking and passing it basically turns into a one-on-one game of Pong (1972, Arcades), only less enjoyable. The annoying SFX are meant to sound like rolling waves, yet resemble a rocket taking off!
RealSports Volleyball is marginally playable for a few minutes but unfortunately it has some design and gameplay flaws that hold it back. Roping a friend in for some competitive matches does help but even then it's unlikely that you'll stay interested past the ten minute mark.
Random trivia: The other RealSports games released on the Atari 2600 were Baseball (1982), Football (1982), Soccer (1982), Tennis (1982) and Boxing (1987).

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