The only true stinker of the early Disk System titles, Vollyball is composed entirely of esoteric mechanics and half-baked design choices that make the game a near-unplayable mess. Nintendo missed the mark, and future vollyball games would do it much, much better.


Japanese Title: バレーボール
English Release: Vollyball (NES, 1987)

Release Date: July 21, 1986
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo R&D1, Pax Softnica
Genre: Sports
Product Code: FMC-VBW
Disk Format: Single-sided
Notable Credits: Music Composed by Koji Kondo.

Vollyball is not a very good video game. This is made more amazing by the fact that Nintendo seems to refuse to accept this simple fact. Vollyball has more releases than a game of its dubious quality deserves; first on the Disk System, then as an early black box sports title for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and finally on numerous interactions of Nintendo’s modern day virtual console download service.

The core problem with game lies in its gameplay mechanics. Your group of players moves around as distinct groups depending of where the incoming ball is set to land. This causes a great level of confusion and you are never really sure where to position you group so that the ball is reachable by any one of your groups sprites. The result of this bizarre design choice is that you never get the sense that you are in control of your characters, a huge misstep especially in a sports game where timing is crucial.

This mechanic is so counterintuitive that Nintendo actually programmed in a tutorial mode, something unseen in even the most convoluted video games of the era.

The on-screen sprites also are constantly wiggling there 8-bit butts which is extremely distracting when the entire screen of characters is repeatively doing this in unison.

There is a slightly above average variety of game play options and challenge levels if you are able to master the games esoteric mechanics, but why bother? Vollyball is just not good enough to merit the time it takes to master its poor design.