Summer Games

Reviewed by Jim Short

 

Issue 19

Jan/Feb 86

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Epyx/U.S.Gold
48k Disk 14.95

1/8 players
Joystick

The fact that Britain is a nation of sport lovers is reflected in the overwhelming number of new software releases dedicated to one sport or another. In the comfort of your own home you can now participate in a wide choice of sports ranging from cricket to karate or baseball to boxing. Track and Field type games started the ball rolling and they are still quite popular, so much so that US GOLD have now released SUMMER GAMES in the UK. It was previously available only on import.

The game is based on the Los Angeles Olympics and when you first boot up the disk you are treated to a short animated sequence depicting the opening ceremony of the games where a lone athlete mounts the steps with a torch to light the Olympic Flame and then a flock of white doves (symbolising peace) are released over the stadium.

Up to eight (yes, eight!) players can take part and each has the choice of representing one of seventeen individual countries around the world. The flags of all countries are displayed on screen and when you choose a country you get a brief burst of the appropriate national anthem.

There are eight different events in all - Pole Vault, Platform Diving, 4 x 400m. Relay, 100m. Dash, Gymnastics, Freestyle Relay, 100m. Freestyle and Skeet Shooting. Usually these sort of games require you to toggle the joystick back and forth at great speed in order to get your athlete up and running and, consequently, are 'lethal' to joysticks that use bubble contacts. Whilst Activision's DECATHLON is a great game, a hard session could prove very costly in joystick replacements. Not so with SUMMER GAMES. Only the two running events require this hazardous joystick operation and so you can play the game for prolonged periods with relative safety.

There were no instructions included with the review sample and it took me some time to get the hang of certain events but after a bit of experimentation I just about managed. Let's take a look at the eight events in order beginning with the Pole Vault. You can adjust certain parameters such as the bar height and pole grip before attempting each vault. The animation is impressive with the pole bending under the weight of the athlete before catapulting him over the bar. Or at least that's the general idea. I'm afraid that all my attempts at clearing the bar proved negative and I definitely need more practice at this event.

Platform Diving was completely beyond me without the benefit of instructions. Pity as it looked the most interesting of them all. Try as I might, my diver always ended up going into an uncontrollable spin and crashing into the water in true 'belly flop' style! Not the way to do it and the judges rewarded me accordingly with a series of zeroes. I enjoyed trying though.

The running events are much of a muchness so I'll skip quickly past them and move onto my favourite event, the Gymnastics. This takes place over the vaulting horse and your athlete undergoes a quick sex-change as you now control a girl athlete for this one event. You can use the joystick to vary the degree of difficulty of the vault and you can even attempt something complex like a triple somersault if you feel like living dangerously. The difficult part is making the athlete land upright on her feet and some of my uncontrolled landings looked painful in the extreme.

The swimming events are next and I've got mixed feelings about these. They are laboriously slow and whilst the 100m. Freestyle is only over two lengths of the open-air pool and is short enough not to get too boring, the Freestyle Relay drags over eight lengths and does get rather tiring. On the other hand the sound effects are great.

After that, the final event - Skeet Shooting - comes as a welcome change. It's also the easiest event by far as you are only required to line up the target sight on the black skeets and blast them out of the sky.

The program allows you to compete in all the events, one individual event, or to practise any of the events so there is a good deal of variation. Graphics are colourful and detailed and the animation is super-smooth. The sounds are good too but the game does have it's ups and downs and one really annoying aspect is the way you have to keep flipping the disk over after every event in order to review the results before moving on to the next event.

SUMMER GAMES was priced at around 35 on import but the U.S. GOLD release should be around 15 on disk. I am not sure if it will be on cassette, best check with your dealer.

Overall, a worthwhile investment if you enjoy this type of game. I hear that SUMMER GAMES II is even better. Can't wait!

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