Forget the stuffy six-a-side variety, two-on-two beach volleyball is where it's at. Gary Whitta heads for the shore with Ocean to bump, set, spike and smash his way to stardom.
Volleyball isn't as old as you might think - it was invented in the USA in 1895 by Willie G. Morgan, the son of Welsh immigrants. The game was originally known as "Minonette" - although nobody knows why.
The game was initially only played in YMCA's, and it wasn't until 1946, when the International Volleyball Association was formed in Paris, that the game was recognised as an official sport. In 1964 Volleyball became an Olympic sport at the Tokyo games and its popularity snowballed from there.
This recent increase in popularity has led to the invention of beach volleyball, a more aggressive two-a-side variation on the theme. Originally it was played on California's famed Muscle Beach just as an excuse for players to show off their tanned pecs, but it has since evolved into a professional sport all of its own, with its own leagues, cups and tournaments.
That said, the coverage of the game on home computers has been pretty lame - especially on 16-bit. Electronic Arts' Kings Of The Beach is the only one that springs to mind, and coin-op afficionados may remember Dodgeball, a futuristic interpretation of the theme which inspired the Bitmap Brothers to write Speedball.
Ocean's Beach Volley, put together by Ocean's French programming arm is an attempt to put the situation to rights. The scene is the World Volleyball Championships, and to get your name on the Championship trophy you travel the world, visiting the eight participating countries (including England, Egypt, the USA, the Soviet Union and, of course, France).
The reason why Ocean's Beach Volley is such fun to play is all down to its simplicity - there's no messing here, just straightforward Volleyball action from start to finish. The control mode is tricky to get to grips with, but once you've got the hang of it it's very instinctive - so if you make a mistake you know it's you and not the control method that's at fault. The graphics are of a very high standard and add to the overall feel no end. They're simple enough, but just oozing with style and humour, from the nude models on the beach to the player's quiff hairstyles!
Things are equally jolly in the sound department with umpteen heavy rock tunes and catchy jingles coupled with plenty of sampled 'oohs' and 'aahs' adding to the enjoyment. The emphasis here is on fun, and there's certainly more than enough of that on show.