ZX Computing1st November 1986
Published in ZX Computing #31
Bump, Set, Spike
Here's something a little different for sports simulation fans - doubles volleyball! This latest offering from Mastertronic's Entertainment USA range is a highly enjoyable game and the first attempt to my knowledge to put volleyball on the Spectrum.
You are in control of two players against a pair controlled by the computer. It's a keyboard only game and you define your own eys. It's deceptively simple however to work out the best arrangement of keys so that you can switch easily between your two players. I had to redefine them several times before I found an arrangement that meant I wasn't accidentally hitting the wrong key. This I should add was down to my cackhandedness. To get good team work betwen your two players rather than just bashing the ball back first time requires a lot of dexterity on the keyboard.
Controlling the ball is quite simple; when the ball comes to your player and you are in a position to hit it, you press the fire key and a cross is shown going up the court to where the ball will land. Release the fire key and the ball is on its way. It's not perhaps the most sophisticated of games but there are some nice touches - for instance, if you hit the ball high into the air it crosses unexpectedly in front of the scoreboard at the top of the screen.One game playing tip which is not down to my skill but rather an oversight in the programming is that there are blind spots from where the computer opponents seem unable to return the ball. If you serve on the left hand side of the court to a point just inside your opponent's baseline they are stymied. Using this tactic will of course take a lot of the edge off the game if you choose to exploit it but it's handy if you need a vital point and certainly doesn't detract from the game if you are sporting and choose to ignore the computers achilles heel.
The animation is fair and as simulations go it's pretty representative of the game itself even though it's only two a side (but as even doubles will give you a bad case of entangled fingers two players are certainly enough).
For the enjoyment it gives, it's more than good value for the price and seems to suggest that there is potential for someone somewhere to produce a fully fledged full price volleyball simulation. For now though, Bump Set and Spike is in a class all by itself.
PS. There is however one curious feature about the game. The crowd, who are totally immobile throughout all seem to be wearing white masks over their faces and the entire game looks as though it's being payed in front of a gathering of the Klu Klux Klan or are my eyes deceiving me?