Review by ApocalypseKurtz
"Because a Game is Fun to Play, Does That Make it Good?"
California Games is an NES game in which the player (up to 8 can compete, taking alternate turns) first chooses a sponsor (which has no effect whatsoever on gameplay) and then competes in 6 games. A gold, silver, and bronze trophy is awarded for each event to each of the top 3 finishers, and after all events are completed, the results are tallied and a final gold, silver, and bronze trophy are each awarded to the top finishers overall.
GAMEPLAY - 4.5/10
Each event is completely unique, so I will divide this section into 6 sub-sections, one for each event.
1. Skateboarding (Half Pipe) - Very difficult, and frustrating due to the lack of effective control over the skateboarder. The player must perform tricks, and receive various amounts of points for each trick performed. Not a very fun simulation. Skate or Die beats this into the ground. 1/10
2. Foot Bag (Hackey Sack) - Simple, but lots of fun. You can hit the foot bag with your head, knees and feet in various positions, and even seagulls! Lots of cool tricks to do here, like Jesters, Full and Half Axles, and Dizzy Deans. Gets my vote for the best overall event. 8/10
3. Surfing - Very simple. You ride the neverending wave, and you can do jumps to impress the judges. The only rule is you must land the jump at the same angle as you started it, or you will wipe out. Also, a huge wave is chasing you, so you can't get slowed down doing too many jumps. 4/10
4. Skating (Rollerskating) - You skate along a paved boardwalk by the beach, with a goal of getting to the end of the boardwalk. You must dodge or jump over beach balls, cracks in the pavement, banana peels, and other cheesy obstacles. Fairly difficult, but like some of the other events, I get the feeling that it is only difficult due to the very bad play control. If you put in the practice, its beatable, but not especially fun, and kind of ridiculous (you touch a crack in the pavement or a beach ball and you fall on your face!?) 3/10
5. BMX (Biking) - Bike along a dirt course chock full of hills and mud spots. Takes some practice to get into, but a fairly fun event. You can do a handful of different tricks on the bike, which each run the risk of you falling over. The course can get annoying - go up or down too far and you will hit the ''rails'' and fall over. 6/10
6. Flying Disk - Choose the speed and angle of your throw, then control the receiver and try to catch it. Catching is a little harder than it should be, but it is a fairly interesting and challenging event. 5/10
GRAPHICS / SOUND - 4.5/10
The graphics are not especially pretty to look at. They are very simple -footbag, half pipe, surfing and flying disk each consist of a single background and 1 or 2 moving objects in the foreground. BMX and skating are made up by a scrolling basic background with blurry objects placed along the way. The sound is decent - each event gets its own theme, but they are extremely repetitive - seems like under 30 seconds of original music per event. Plus a cool sound effect accompanies the awarding of the trophies. Graphics - 3/10. Sound - 6/10.
PLAY TIME / REPLAY ABILITY - 8/10
Each game lasts a fairly short amount of time, depending on if all events are played and how many players are playing. California Games' strength is the fact that 8 people can compete at one time (not simultaneously - alternating). And this is the perfect game to have that option, because its a good party game.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION - 5/10
Fun for a bunch of friends getting together for some old school NES action. When you and your friends are sick of the latest Madden, NFL Blitz, or Mario Party, you may want to pull this one out. Just don't expect the fun to last forever. If only the half pipe was more playable, and the play control was better in events like Skating and BMX, this would probably be a favorite amongst groups of NES playing friends. As it is, it is a pleasant diffusion for an hour or two. A tough game to translate into a rating, because the multiplayer is infinitely more fun than single player.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/03, Updated 07/24/03
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