Virtual volleyball

This beach volleyball game has everything but the sand between your toes.

Do the blahs of winter get you down, and do warm, sandy, exotic locales sound appealing? Do you enjoy games that have a simple, fun premise? Games that involve skill-based competition and minimal rules instead of maze-like scenarios, heavy weaponry, and kegs of blood? How do you feel about bikini-clad athletes and Italian supermodels? If "all of the above" sounds familiar, you might be a Beach Volley Hot Sports fan and not even know it. It's a beach volleyball sim from Idoru that relies on accurate play based on the real sport's official rules instead of elaborate virtual worlds or violent action, though action it does have. You can play multiple teams in different scenarios and change the appearance and abilities of your players. Winning tournaments unlocks additional content, and a LAN options makes real team play possible.

The program isn't a small download, but a standard Windows installer makes a quick job of installing the program and, if you lack them, necessary Microsoft DirectX components. The game's action is simple, just a volleyball game with some configurable options, but it's much more than a bikini-clad version of Pong played against a sand-colored background. You can configure 12 different teams and compete in six different scenarios. The hardest part may be deciding among 30 swimsuit styles for your teams.

Beach Volley Hot Sports works in Windows versions up to Vista. The free trial version has a one-day/two-use limit, but it costs only $5.99 to buy, less than chips and soda for a LAN party.

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