An all but exact replication of the iOS original, Powa Volley arrives on the Xbox Live Indie Game platform with a proven track record but also with a surprisingly steep asking price. At 400MS Points, this bout of simplistic, cartoon styled volleyball is one of the more expensive titles available on the platform, but, in fairness to Kydos studio, it’s also happens to be one of the more polished too.
The core mechanics of Powa Volley couldn’t be any simpler. A 2D, physics-based take on volleyball, this game has you taking one of eight pleasingly unique characters out onto the court (think Monsters Inc.’s combination of monstrous and cute) as you attempt to hit the ball back over the net via a combination of timing and trajectory. This is all achieved with a simple push of the A button with shots determined by the speed and angle with which your strange little character’s head meets the ball. Beyond that, there is a basic power move unique to each character (be warned, some are extremely overpowered) and a few court specific power-ups, but that’s about it.
That’s not a criticism mind. As simple as the mechanics are, Powa Volley can be hugely entertaining when played with friends. The CPU offers up a very decent challenge, but like any game of this ilk, playing with real life opposition is certainly the way to go. Essentially Pong with snazzier graphics and a net, this is one of those games that couldn’t be any easier to pick up but often proves surprisingly difficult to put down. The high asking price will be a barrier to some (especially given its budget price on iOS) but for those happy to hand over the virtual reddies, a genuinely enjoyable, feature-filled sports title awaits.
Some of the game modes are essentially the same thing repeated with the slightest of twists, but there is no doubting that you are getting a fair ol’ bang for your buck here. Beyond the basic quick play and tournament mode (allowing for up to eight players to join in on the action), there is also a story mode (albeit, without an actual story) and a classic mode that has you playing as cell-like, blue and green blobs. There is also support for online play, but despite my best efforts, I was unable to find a single game. The real fun however lies in the local multiplayer for up to four players that, while a tad on the hectic side, is rarely anything less than highly entertaining.
As much fun as the local multiplayer was though, I was genuinely surprised by how addictive some of Powa Volley’s mini-games proved to be. With a collection of five to choose from, Kydosstudio has taken the extremely basic mechanics of the main game and created a surprisingly varied selection of quick fire games to play through. With certain game types requiring you to keep the ball in the air while collecting falling stars or avoiding falling missiles and others asking you to keep the ball in play for as long as you possibly can, just about every mini-game in the collection is worth at least a quick blast. The two that kept me coming back, however, were Wall Breaker, a game that essentially turns Powa Volley into a sports-based take on Breakout and Basket, a game mode that loses the net and replaces it with a giant basketball hoop. This is all stuff we have seen a million times in Virtua Tennis but in fairness to Powa Volley, their inclusion really does a great job of justifying the relatively high asking price.
It might be a tad expensive for an Xbox Live Indie Game release and it can certainly be found cheaper on iOS, but play this with a few friends in tow and it quickly justifies its asking price. The visuals suit the game to a tee and the basic, physics-based gameplay is the kind of simplistic fun that just about anyone can enjoy. The online component is a wasteland and many of the game modes don’t really amount to much, but honestly, Powa Volley is worth the price of admission for the local multiplayer and mini-games alone.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.