Playman Beach Volley 3D

For some reason, a number of publishers have released mobile beach volleyball games. It could be the familiarity of the sport, or the strategic depth, or the athleticism of its stars. Or it could just be a chance to animate some foxy women in bikinis.

RealArcade have taken a brave leap in this game, though, by ditching the bikinis in favour of... men! Do men even play beach volleyball? They certainly aren't televised if they do. But then these aren't any old men: they're Playmen.

Yes, RealArcade's popular cartoon sports star is returning to the beach, having spent the year since his last outing, Playman Beach Volley, bulking up to 3D proportions. Whatever gym he's been to, it's working: this game's beefed-up characters and swooping camera look top-notch.

The structure is the same as the previous game in the series. You compete in two-on-two cup competitions made up of four rounds, which is each 'first to five points wins'. If you lose a round, you have to go back to the start of that cup.

The control system is innovative, as you control both players on your team simultaneously. Your half of the court is divided into four squares, and each Playman takes two of them. You use the '1' and '3' keys to move the top player forward and back, and the '4' and '6' keys for the bottom one.

If they're in the right square when the ball comes down, they'll pass it to the other Playman. When you judge the time is right to hit the ball back over the net, you press the '5' key, with timing dictating whether it's an unstoppable smash or a weak push.

Initially, the game is fairly easy, but the difficulty curve ramps up swiftly, to the point where rallies in the later cups can last for several minutes at a time, and if you don't nail perfect smashes, you won't score any points. It's tough, and at this stage when you've sweated through three rounds it can be maddening when you lose in the final and have to go back to the beginning.

Depth is provided by the way the game awards you more points if you hit winning smashes, or even tonk other teams 5-0. And beating your record points totals on the high score table will keep you coming back even when you've completed the game.

There's even a secret cup to unlock whose location is… well, we won't spoil the surprise. Just don't expect to see any ships sailing by.

There's no doubt that Playman Beach Volley 3D is the best beach volleyball game on mobile, and a step up from its 2D predecessor. The lack of pneumatic Baywatch-rejects? That's a bonus.

Playman Beach Volley 3D

This quite literally smashing beach romp shows 3D needn't mean sluggish action and complex controls