Over The Net
Copyright/Publisher: Genias, Coding By: Marco Corazza & Luca Zarri, Graphics By:
Marco Corazza & Andrea Paselli, Music By: Paolo Predonzani & Stefan Roda,
Release Year: 1990, Genre: Volleyball, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

The blisting sun is kissing your tanned skin, your ears are being serenaded by the gentle, musical lapping of the waves against the shore and your eyes are feasting 'pon the miles and miles of grey, murky sand... At first I thought the game was set on the site of some old US airbase in the Philippines, the beach made of volcanic ash.

But no, the sand is grey because the C64's colour palette can only do so much. Anyway, where there's a beach there's beach volleyball and now there's a beach in your 64, thanks to the Genias crew.

Over The Net is a sport sim' for up to two players. These players can be either chummy and play on the same team or play for opposing teams. Each team consists of two beefy blokes in shorts. The rules are simple enough: work together to hit the ball 'over the net' - don't let it hit the ground. It ain't easy?

There are five play options. First comes the 'point on change' option. All this does is change the scoring system slightly. If you accept 'point on change' then a point is awarded to the other team when you foul up and lose the service.

Otherwise you can only get points when you keep hold of the service and not during the crossover. The second adjustable option is the number of sets played. Set this to one every time if you value your sanity. The next two options sort of go hand in hand as the first is 'cup match' which enables you to enter a tournament, followed by 'match' which only accesses one-off games. The final option appears when you've actually decided to play a match and is the single/multi player option.

Controlling your player is simple. The joystick moves you up down left and right. Pressing the fire button makes your man volley the ball. So it should really be a case of positioning yourself and pressing fire.

Unfortunately, pixel perfect positioning is required before the game allows you to even initiate a volley. If you're slightly out of position, your blokey doesn't even move, he just stands there as if paralysed from the hairparting down. This leads quickly from annoyance, to frustration, then on to anger, followed by blinding rage and finishing nicely with a call the the Samaritans, if you get my meaning.

This is a real shame, because had the collision detection been a bit more forgiving this could have been a fast moving and challenging game. The simplicity of a two on two competition could have led to an uncomplicted wheeze that you'd come back to time after time. But the way it is, it's just not worth the frustration.

Hopefully, Over The Net won't be the last word on volleyball.

THE DOWNERS
Collision detection is merciless to the point of making the game playable.
The option menu and game are loaded separately causing annoying delays between games.
The sprites are a bit blocky making positioning even more tricky.
Grey sand? Attention to detail is sadly lacking.
Jumping near the net seems second nature to your opponents but next to impossible for you.
THE UPPERS
Pretty hot sprite animation for all the volleyball moves.
The icon system gets you from A to B no messin'.
Spikin' fast gameplay.
For the best results play against a friend.

INTRO SCREEN

POWER RATING 41%

The option screen, from which anything is possible... well, almost anything. Actually, not very much if the truth be told. You can change the scoring system, the number of sets played or you can enter the cup.
Serving is simple. Press fire and, Io and behold, the ball flies into the air. Then, when it falls back down to earth, pressing fire again sends it hurtling into the other team's half. If only it was all this easy.
How not to return the ball. The bloke jumping on the right should have rocketed the ball into his opponents half... but he didn't.
But, this time, he fared better. If you can pull off this tricky shot, it's practically impossible for your opponents to return it.

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