Developer:Beach Bums Entertainment
Release Date:March 09, 2010
Summary:Bounce volleyballs off your jiggly bellies in this twist of the classic beach volleyball game.
Have you ever played beach volleyball? You should try it some time, it’s really fun. It doesn’t get much better than sunny days on a beach, in your swimsuit, smacking a ball back and forth over a net. But, have you tried beach volleyball using only your belly? That version takes some serious skill – of the adipose tissue kind.
Belly Bums by Beach Bums Entertainment is such a trip. I normally have better words, offhand, to describe the inanity of certain gaming apps, but Belly Bums really takes the cake. It’s bright, absurd, and silly all wrapped in one giant sumo wrestler belly – only they’re beach ball players, save for one who could actually pass for a sumo wrestler. The object of the game is to to play against another, um, sturdily built player, and volley the ball over the net with your bellies. My goodness, how did we never think of this before? What better surface to ricochet a ball from than a large, hanging belly of fat? The fat is cushy enough to soften the blow, the paddle is composed of your body so the degree of the player’s control is that much better, and there’s enough snap and bounce to the fatty protuberance to properly projectile a ball back into the game. Plus, if you’re absolutely huge, you take up a quarter of the court, anyway, so moving frantically back and forth, sweating away all those calories, can be taken out of the equation.
The graphics are loud and cheesy, much like the copacabana resort type music in the background, and the images are all saturated with a yellow, sunny hue, meant obviously to mimic a sunny day at the beach. A few palm trees break up the monotony of the beach, and an ocean lays in the background, a rock jutting from its blue seas, and a sailboat lazily drifting awash the shore. You play as Jerry Smalls, a rather fat Italian bloke with a forest of chest hair, a chin to rival Jay Leno’s, and a
weight of a whopping 245 lbs on his 5’8 frame, seemingly concentrated all in his belly. The other characters bear nearly the same carriage, with immense bellies hanging over their swimming trucks, and sunglasses perched on their massive mugs.
The characters, apparently, differ in their strengths and weakness, some faster than others, and some more powerful in the belly bumps. They do possess slight differences in their physical appearance, with some, like the blond-haired one, in possession of an almost enviable upper body, but most upon cursory first glance could hardly be distinguishable from the next. Jerry Smalls is actually fairly short compared to the others, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in consistency – or, at least, if any trait were truly distinguishable in this game, consistency would be it. As the player, you’re supposed to have a great deal of control over your character’s belly-busting moves: a swipe up will move the ball trajectory upward, whereas a swipe down would do
the reverse. Disregarding the obvious physics battle here, of actually having a degree of control over your belly and its angles of hitting a ball, the game simply doesn’t deliver in this respect. I found that any swiping this way or that in no way changed the angle or force I hit the ball, and the results were indistinguishable from whenever I simply tapped the screen, near the green volleyball icon in the lower right of the screen. Any changes on my part of striking the ball may as well be random, because that’s how it seemed – every now and then I’d miss a ball, or every now and then it’s shoot down instead of up, or be struck wayward.
Adding to this seeming farce of strategy is your inability to move the characters. The developer says this was to ease the game’s operation, but I feel it just detracts from what could, potentially, be a very engaging game. As of now, it’s fairly flat, with a slow-moving volleyball, of which its trajectory you seem barely able
to control. Despite the fun atmosphere, and the inviting setup, the game gets old, very fast. I admit that even during my first round of the game, the novelty of fat bellies wore off quickly, and I found myself stuck in this sloooow, monotonous game of bounce, belly, bounce, belly. After we were both tied at 8 points, and this game was still going on, I was waiting impatiently for an end.
All in all, though, I enjoyed Beach Bums, despite my grievances, and I must give kudos to the developer for coming up with such an original, and funny idea. The characters sketches are all thoughtful and witty, the soft squishy bounce of the ball off the players’ bellies is hugely satisfying, and the music just makes me think of summer. If I were a large man or woman, myself, I might even be tempted to recreate this game in the real world – most likely to disastrous results, including bruised ribs and egos, but with a cheesy, beach bum smile plastered across my face. Hopefully, the next update will improve upon the playability of the game.