Great Volleyball



If only my players were that enthusiastic.





PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous


GENRE: Sports

RELEASE DATE: 03/29/87 – (JP), 08/87 – (US), 1987 – (EU)


Allow me to paint a simplistic picture, one that you’re probably all familiar with: volleyball, like tennis, is a sport that consists of hitting a ball over a net. With tennis, you have either one-on-one or two-versus-two, and you play with tennis balls and rackets. In volleyball (or at least in Great Volleyball), teams consist of six people bouncing a large-ish white ball back and forth with their hands or head. There are no plays like in football, no deep co-ordination between teammates like in basketball or soccer. Strategies, yes, but nothing too head-scratching. And no hating, volleyball lovers. I write all of this as a fan of both volleyball and tennis. But I need to point out the relative simplicity of volleyball compared to other sports in order to comment on the needless complexity of Sega’s Great Volleyball.


Great Volleyball (UE) [!]001

             This match is for all the missiles.


Indeed if Sega’s tribute to this sandy sport has taught me anything, it’s that volleyball is more complicated than just some bronzed half-naked people punting a ball over a net. There is lingo you must learn before you play: sets, delayed attacks, dummy attacks, dinking. The game manual gives you the straight skinny. Study it, and you’ll at least have a grasp of what the game’s trying to get you to do. But even with the manual guiding you, pulling off a move like a dummy attack is incredibly difficult. Heck, trying to hit the volleyball back to the opposing side is incredibly difficult, because the controls aren’t intuitive in the slightest.


Forget about the advanced stuff, the dinking, the dummies, the delays. What if you just want to spike the ball? Ostensibly, you hit Button II, but only after another player hits the ball high into the air. You then position yourself directly under the ball’s shadow, then you hit Button II. I never got the hang of it and not for lack of trying. The best I could do was to hit the ball among my teammates with Button I, occasionally knocking it over the net. The players don’t naturally gravitate towards the ball, so you have to guide them manually – which is fine, except when you think the players are going to hit it and they don’t because they don’t align exactly underneath the ball’s shadow. In the matches I played, the computer-controlled teams knew exactly what they were doing, they saw our weak points and took advantage of them. Let’s just say… we got served.


Great Volleyball (UE) [!]003

And this match is for all the fireworks in Asia.


If you’re committed to the volleyball cause, there’s a lot to appreciate here. Eight teams, tournament matches, two-player competitive play, cute characters from a variety of diverse countries (hello, USSR!), and most of all, an incredible devotion to the purity of volleyball. Admit it, you’d never heard of dinking before this review! Unfortunately, Great Volleyball is a complex six-button volleyball sim shoved down into two buttons and a D-pad. As per usual, Sega’s ambition far exceeds their console’s limited abilities. I don’t mind learning more about the intricacies of volleyball, but it would be nice if Great Volleyball allowed for more flexible play. Basically, if your virtual volleyball game is harder to learn/play than real volleyball, perhaps it’s time to go back to the beach for additional inspiration.



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7 thoughts on “Great Volleyball

  1. I never played this. But what they were going for with this and Great Basketball were Olympic and international style play. Great Basketball is the same way and has competition between countries with the old I international Olympic basketball style court and rules. 5 on 5 Volleyball is OK I guess but for a Videogame, beach style 2 on 2 or a modified 3 on 3 is much more sensible.

      1. They definetly “got” baseball. I’ll comment on the few I had as we get there. But really they excelled at sports when they made a strong push in the early Genesis era and late SMS era.

  2. I’m resurrecting a long dead post here, but I just booted up Great Volleyball for the first time this weekend. My oldest girl just finished her first season of volleyball last night (won the championship tournament as a 6 seed!), so volleyball has been introduced to our house over the last few months. Having many fond memories of Great Baseball, Great Football, and Great Ice Hockey from my youth against my brother, and having enjoyed Great Golf (the US version) recently on emulator, I figured this would be fairly “pick up and play” volleyball fun.

    Sweet Christmas, but this game is hard!

    I cannot deny that Sega was really trying to make this game a serious volleyball sim. The graphics and presentation are really nice for an 8 bit game, and I can see how there is the underlying mechanics in place to make this a strong game. But without a lot of practice, I don’t know that I will be able to make much headway against the computer. Against another human, I might have a chance!

    FWIW, traditional volleyball (not beach) is played as depicted in this game, 6 on 6 with each player rotating positions (so everyone will serve, and will work between the back row and the front row).

    1. First off, congrats to your daughter. That’s awesome!

      In regards to the game, I agree, Sega was definitely trying to make a serious volleyball game, but the Master System just wasn’t up to the task. And, with all due respect to Sega, I’m not sure who the target consumer is for a volleyball sim? I just want to hit some balls back and forth over the net without much trouble. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

  3. I like playing this Game.
    When it comes to playability-it’s great-probably the Best Volleyball-Video-Game ever.
    With this game ,I am able to hit the ball up 2 times (set-up)then you hit the Spike by pressing the
    proper button and the direction key toward right (if your team is on the Left Side of Field).
    And why the reviewer was unable to win some matches against the “SMS CPU” Opponents is beyond me.
    When the Game came first out I got it and loved playing it-it’s fun-play with an original Sega Master-Sytem Pad-that’s perfect to play it with.
    It took me some time to get used to it -but once you know how to control the game it’s great fun really.
    If your team is on the other side of court (right field) -you need to adjust somewhat a bit-because
    it’s opposite directions then.
    The game has a flaw-when it changes sides in the Final Set -the Flashlights on the outside flick-
    ering red or green get switched -a fault of the game-but nothing bad-doesn’t affect the game at all.

    This version beats “Super Volleyball” for “Mega Drive”(or Genesis in USA) easily with lots of play-
    When it was reviewed in local mags back in 1987 it scored way about 80% as grandtotal.
    If anyone wants a perfect volleyball game-this is it-it’s great fun and not too tough to learn-just
    practice to set up the ball 2 times,and then smash it over to your opponent.
    Strategy advice:position 2 player close to the lower right side of the left field.
    Now after receiving the ball get the ball to the 2 players,set up the Ball-3rd time do a Spike.
    Voila-you can score easily that way-it ‘s not tough to learn.
    Your players can also block smashes from your opponents-just jump up in the Air when the CPU
    is trying to smash-if your position is good with 2 of your Players you can successully block it.

    Overall the Best Volleyball game ever in my opinion-better than Nintendo’s “Volleyball”-though
    they are somewhat similar,but the Sega Game is easier to control and more fun to play really.

    Heavily recommended,over 90% I give this one as A Score for being perfect to control once you
    get the hang of it.


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