Review by KasketDarkfyre

"Whatever Dude!"

It’s hard to find games that bring all of the fun and excitement to different types of beach sports, and California Games merely continues that thought on with this combination of six ‘sports’ done in a rather average fashion. California Games doesn’t have a plot or a story. It doesn’t have an overall goal or some sort of rewarding ending for when you defeat the game. No, California Games merely piles a few activities into a small gray cart, slaps a sticker on it and then market’s the game as being something that brings the fun and joy of the beach sports home to the Nintendo Entertainment System! With only three out of the six games available being any sort of fun {in my own eyes of course}, California Games tries too hard to attempt to be something that it isn’t, and in the end, you have a rather useless game that could be used more or less to level out an uneven coffee table rather than be played in your NES.

The game play is divided into six different types of games, some of which are either scoring or simple make it to the end of the course type of games. These six games though, are so uneven in the way that they are presented, that you’ll have a difficult time actually making it through all of the different games before you throw your controller down in frustration and look for something else to play! Games such as Foot Bag and Skating require a certain amount of timing and skill that I just barely have, and other games such as Frisbee and Half Pipe require you to be quick enough with your fingers to make it through. Truly, the other two games that are left on the title are BMX and Surfing, both of which aren’t too impossible to work with, and once you’ve gotten the hang of the game down just enough, you should be able to play those two more than once and actually have fun doing it. Probably the biggest feature that California Games has going for it, is the fact that the game is eight-player compatible. This type of Multi-player gaming was relatively unheard of, and in all reality, you’ll find that California Games can be a rather fun game to play at a party if you have a few people milling around who are willing to go at this. Aside from that, there isn’t enough action or even fairness in the game physics to warrant picking this title up a second time after you’ve played it once!

The one thing that this game does not have, and what really drives the first and final nail into the coffin, are the controls. Since the NES has never really had a good handle on what control is supposed to be, you’ll find that the different games require you to have precision and near perfect timing in order to get through some of the events! Because there is a response time of a slug with some of the events such as Skating and Half Pipe, you’ll find that moving the character through the stages and actually getting them to pull off tricks is an exercise in futility. Something else that comes into effect, is not only the game play is uneven, but the controls are as well with some of the events, in which you have to know how to pull off the tricks. Unless you have a good idea of what to do, and the instruction manual for that matter, then some of the events such as Foot Bag and Frisbee are pretty much useless to play. Foot Bag in particular has some of the coolest moves, but you need to be able to input them while you play, and again, the speed and precision required is so difficult, that it’ll be hard to actually get a good feeling down on the game overall.

Visually, the game suffers from some minor problems; mainly with those being the color palette scheme. You’ll find that the lack of detail in some of the game stages is offset by the addition of actual landmarks and otherwise, but that in turn is detracted from the fact that the colors of the game just seem to be way too bright! Some of the best looking stages revolve around the Skating and the BMX tracks, in which you have little bits of detail here and there as well as a relatively animated character to watch. However, other stages such as the Half Pipe and the Frisbee game really don’t have much going for them, and the only real effect that you’ll see with Foot Bag is the fact that your character turns and the foot bag leaps into the air when you actually hit it right. Again, sub-standard visuals for a rather sub-standard game is what greets you here, and if you’re looking for anything particular flashy on a NES game, then you need to look someplace far away from here.

California Games doesn’t work with sound effects folks, but rather the music that is lined up within the cart. Even though you have some MIDI style music of classic hits like Wipeout, there really isn’t enough here that you’ll remember after you’ve shut the game off. With each event, you have a different musical selection that is produced in electronic form, and although it isn’t bad, I personally can’t stand having to listen to the same damned tune sixty times while I play one particular event! As I said before, there aren’t any sound effects to be found within the game, and if you’re looking for something along those lines, then you can stop looking the minute you turn the game on.

This isn’t exactly a stellar title and there are other games out there on the market that do a better job in presenting different games for you to play! With the uneven game play and horrid control with most of the events that are found in this title, you’ll be hard pressed to find a good reason to buy this title at the used game shop. If you’re into game such as this, that have some interesting, although very hard to play games attached to it, then you’re looking in the right direction. However, if you’re not into games such as this, and are looking for some California style gaming, then you might want to try out T&C Surf Designs first before spending a couple of bucks on this one!


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/02, Updated 01/02/02


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