Requirements: Commodore 64, Apple II, Apple IIGS, IBM PC and compatibles, and Amiga.
Following the success of Summer Games and Winter Games, both based on events from the Olympics, Epyx searched for new challenges and settled on World Games—supposedly the events the Olympic committee forgot. For this, they combed the world and came up with events such as bull riding and log rolling. Then they apparently sat back, wondering what to do next, and discovered new sports right in their own backyard. The result is California Games. It's difficult to think what they might do next, for it will not be easy to top this one.
The California Games are, of course, ones we all know and love—although Midwesterners have few chances to practice surfing—but more than that, they are the games of our time, a part of pop culture. Besides surfing, there is skateboarding, roller skating, BMX bike racing, flying-disc. throwing, and foot bagging (also known as hacky sack). For each game, a different set of joystick skills must be learned.
Award From The Sponsor
Your reward for playing well is not only a high score but also an attractive trophy from your sponsor. Sponsor? Of course. Since these are not international events—and since you must represent somebody—you compete on behalf of a sponsor rather than a flag. The sponsors themselves are also representatives of pop culture: Kawasaki, Ocean Pacific, Casio, and so on.
Once you've chosen a sponsor, the menu gives you the option of practicing an event, competing in an event, or competing in all events. Pick the one you think you can handle and go on from there.
In Skateboarding, you ride a half pipe—in cross section a huge U—and while a good deal of your skills will be used in simply staying upright, extra points can be earned by completing stunts such as Hand Plant, Kick Turn, or Aerial Turn—each requiring the right combination of joystick movement and fire-button use. Assuming you can stay on the board, you're allowed slightly over a minute to complete as many stunts as possible. Otherwise, you're allowed three falls.
Foot Bagging was new to me, yet it was one of the easier events. In this, you juggle a small bean-bag ball with your feet and head. Start the round by tossing the bag into the air; try to keep it airborne with kicks, knee lifts, or thrusts with your head. Success is measured by how long you keep the bag in the air as well as by how you keep it there, with extra points given for making spins and jumps between kicks.
Surfing gives you the opportunity to ride the waves in style, but simply riding them will not be enough. Moving your joystick up and down takes you from trough to curl, and careful maneuvering in this part will extend your ride and earn points. More points can be earned by taking chances; making cutbacks or turning a full 360 degrees. While successful rides end by going over the top of the wave (where making a turn will allow you to catch the wave again), many will end with a wipeout, four of which are allowed.
BMX Bike Racing presents you with a course strewn with obstacles, and, while I consider it a great feat simply to complete the course, my children insist it is even more fun if you complete it while doing backward and forward flips and 360–degree turns. I wouldn't know. At any rate, the object is to complete the course in the shortest possible time, with extra points being awarded for successful stunts.
Skateboarding is one of many challenges in Epyx's California Games.
Roller Skating should be easy, and in fact would be if there just weren't so many hazards like grass in the cracks of the sidewalk, dropped ice cream cones, and sand. With your joystick, pump back and forth to begin skating; then try to avoid all the obstacles in your way by going around them or jumping over them. Extra points are awarded for jumps, and still more points for making a full turn while jumping. You're allowed three falls. One of my favorite routines occurs here: On the third fall, your alter ego—a pony-tailed girl—lies face down, beating her fists and kicking her feet in the ultimate expression of frustration.
Flying Disc Throwing requires controlling two players. For the first, you must maneuver the joystick for a clean throw. There are variations depending on whether you want distance or altitude. Sticking to the marked scale, however, will give you more consistency.
Once the disc is thrown, it appears in a schematic at the top of the screen, which also gives you a representation of the catcher. Don't wait to begin moving the catcher back and forth in an effort to be where you think the disc will be.
In contrast to the repetitiveness of other current software entries, where the challenge seems to be to shoot an alien of a different color or to solve a mystery in a different house, this program from Epyx is both inventive and charming. To paraphrase an old Beach Boys number, I sometimes wish they all could be California Games.
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