Retro Achiever Game #56: Super Spike V’Ball

I was never big into sports games as a kid, but I could still enjoy a good “alternative sports” game as they popped up. I played my fair share of Skate or Die when I was younger, the arcade nature of Tecmo Bowl made it a clear favorite and there were splashes of obscurity in games like Gotcha! which was based on a real-life attempt in trying to get paintball off the ground in the U.S. with “toys” on the heels of a 1984 film.

For the vast majority of my NES childhood, the only volleyball game that ever came around for rental was Kings of the Beach by Konami/Ultra based on an Electronic Arts computer game. I remember thinking Kings of Beach was an “okay” title, and only rented it once or twice.

It wasn’t until visiting a cousin that the opportunity to play Super Spike V’Ball presented itself. Most of my interest in playing this game stemmed from reading in a magazine that Technos had slipped the Double Dragons, Billy and Jimmy, into the game as characters. However, it’s enduring qualities were in the fast-paced action, killer spikes that exude Super Dodge Ball vibes and the ability for two players to form a team.

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When I restarted my NES collection in 1999, Super Spike V’Ball – in tandem with Nintendo World Cup on the four-player combo cart – was among my first purchases at FuncoLand. I sunk a large amount of time into the game to learn everything the CPU does in the tournament modes, and, most recently, I gave the game some casual speedruns after Kavoc took up the game for a 12 Hour Challenge.

I’d played Super Spike V’Ball for a handful of streams, but the recent revisit came when the game eventually had a set of Retro Achievements added. It came as a surprise to me considering achievements were not implemented for the majority of the time I spent doing Retro Achiever streams.

Super Spike V’Ball became a hot property once Nintendo released its Four Score peripheral to allow four players to simultaneously play select games on the NES. Unfortunately for me, my friends only wanted to play Nintendo World Cup, finding Super Spike V’Ball to be much more difficult to play.

Understandably, Super Spike V’Ball can be a tricky game to learn, being based on timing needed to serve the ball and spike without completely whiffing or sending the ball into the net/out of bounds. However, once you get a grasp of the basic mechanics, the game becomes a tense back-and-forth sport, and learning advanced maneuvers surrounding the spike mechanics is immensely rewarding.

The A button handles all of the player’s basic strikes – bumps, sets and standing serves – while the B button is used to jump and position players for spike serves, spikes at the net and blocks on defense. Mashing the B button while in mid-air powers a player up for harder spikes or more durability on block.

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Getting these full-powered spikes is the crowd pleaser in Super Spike V’Ball, with a crushed ball having a chance to smash into an opposing player and sending them flying like they were hit by a super throw in Super Dodge Ball. This adds to the intense gameplay where it seems like anything can happen at any point, especially when players learn the timings of when they can spike. There are multiple setups, such as spiking the ball as it rises from your teammates’ set, standing back and jumping forward to spike and staying in the backcourt for a safer, less aggressive spike.

Super Spike V’Ball is based off a Technos arcade game, so the graphics and sound have all of the charm you’d expect from the company. The characters really make this game, with large portraits on the select screen giving them personality and different stats really play into the strategy of the game. The Double Dragons are the “defensive” squad, with high durability to avoid getting smashed by spiked balls, but there are others to provide gameplay based on speed, strength and balance.

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The single player or two-player co-op mode provides three different tournament modes, each escalating in difficulty. These modes let you select a home state in the U.S. that changes the color of your gear and go on for practice or do a tour of the U.S. or the world. The end of the world tour introduces special teams that are absolutely brutal to face, but the difficulty remains satisfying all around if you have a grasp on the mechanics.

All of this is helped by the fantastic control in the game. Since there is little room for error in volleyball, players need the game to have great controls, and I find most everything in Super Spike V’Ball to be my own fault when the point doesn’t go my way.

The achievements added for this title are pretty straight-forward, but they reward the player with almost a full set just by playing through the game modes. There is a more difficult achievement of shutting out your opponent, otherwise, the biggest grind here is winning the World Cup with each available team. With a simple playthrough on the stream, I bagged 15 out of the 19 achievements to boost my RA score by 300 points.

Even if the sports genre isn’t your cup of tea, I recommend trying Super Spike V’Ball, if not just for the multiplayer. Super Spike V’Ball has all of the basics of the sports, and, in video game tradition, cranks the intensity up to full volume. There is nothing more satisfying than sending opponents flying away with a super spike, and I’m begging for the game to land on a service like Nintendo Online so online multiplayer can be a very accessible option for players.

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature, GemuBaka Retro Achiever

Author:indiesnack

Indie Snack is a video gaming Web site focusing on independent developers and game releases. Indie Snack will also soon have services made available to independent developers to include tools aiding them in public relations and game marketing.

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