Company: Nintendo / Pax Softonica
Platform: Nintendo NES
Controller: Default controller of the console
The volleyball is a really popular game in Japan, and as you can wait, appeared amongst the first videogame sport titles for the NES.
The most interesting feature of the game, IMO, is that tried to appeal to both male and female videoplayers offering the option to use teams with different genders.
It was not the first videogame to offer this particular feature, but volleyball is a sport where female tournaments can be more popular than male tournaments.
Finally, the available teams can be a bit unfamiliar to casual fans of the sports, but were competitive teams at the time.
Once you hear the game tune you find with an interesting feature, a Training mode, I don’t recall any other videogame of the time offering this mode. In that mode, the AI only returns the ball, the game highlightes the virtual players which can receive the ball so you can try to receive it. Also you can practice the spike, and here it comes one of the game’s weaknesses: there is not an indicator from where the ball will land. So you’ll often fail either from jumping too soon, or too late, generating hilarious situations.
Other weakness was that when it’s a normal game, there are no indicators to which player can receive the ball, so it’s a bit hard to position the players. Get accustomed at first to receive many ace shots from the rival, either be the AI or other human player which played the game beforehand. Also you can struggle (just as in real life) defending a rival spike.
At last, just like in real life IMO, visually it’s better to watch the female virtual players instead of the males. Also you have to consider that at the time the videogame was made, in volleyball the score only increases when the team serving wins the point. If the rival serves, and you win the point, you don’t score. This feature increased the elapsed time of the matches and also in the videogame. Don’t expect that the virtual players hit the ball with any part of the body just like the current way of playing a volleyball match.
The volleyball tournaments between nations are frequent, so there were eight teams available to the player.
Probably for people who are not frequent fans of the sport can be surprising to see countries like Brazil or Tunisia (this last probably has its first appearence in any video game) but these two were competitive teams at the time the videogame was developed.
The company Pax Softonica published a port of this game with the name Attack Four Volleyball. For the purposes of this site, it was very hard to define if this game was or not a port, or a completely different videogame.
For starters, there are only 4 clearly female players per team (hence the name of the videogame). The videoplayer can only play with Japan, but can choose the rival from China, United States or the USSR. I did not find any significant difference among the rivals, except the color worn in the uniform.
The playability is essentially the same as the NES game, but the pace is a lot faster. Which makes the learning curve more difficult than it has to be, specially if we consider that in the NES game was a bit sharp.
I was not able to found in this game was developer first than the NES one or not. But same company, same sport, and same weaknesses, it’s hard to determine.
Definitely, it was not the best of the first sports videogames for the NES console, but at least, IMO is not as bad as some critics say about it.
My recommendation is watching at first how the AI executes the spikes to ease calculating the time to execute one at the time of playing, I find this last one method really useful.
Console Icons taken from Retroarch.