Review by Spektre

Reviewed: 03/01/00 | Updated: 03/01/00

An OK sports game with some frustrating aspects.

California Games was a pretty early sports game offering many different kinds of recreation sports to play, including roller skating and BMX biking. Each features you as a ''cool'' kid doing the sports to beat out teams of many California-based companies, including the infamous Ocean Pacific company. You choose what team you want to be and fight for the trophy. As you compete, you can take place in numerous events across the western state. So do you have what it takes? Why is the halfpipe impossible? Isn't it fun to kill birds by kicking balls at them? ONTO THE REVIEW!!!

GRAPHICS: Some of the sports feature good graphics, where others, like the discus, are lacking. There is some decent animation featured in each event. Some amusing attractions have been added to the game, like hitting the bird with your hackey sack or falling off of your board in surfing and seeing Jaws pop up out of the water. All of the graphics are crisp and clear, but when moving fast at points, the whole screen whizzes by and you have no time to prepare for the obstacles ahead. There is no slowdown whatsoever, but that is due to the lack of moving sprites. I would have appreciated a little more, and although you may laugh at points, sometimes you'll get a little frustrated when you don't know where you are or why you aren't moving fast enough. All I'm saying is that it could have been better. (8/10)

STORY: There really isn't one. You try to win a tournament in California. Big whoop-de-do. (N/A)

GAMEPLAY/CONTROL: Did you notice that when I cover sports games, my reviews tend to be shorter? I guess it sets me up to be a Top 20 reviewer... Anywho, the game isn't exactly challenging- just extremely frustrating. The halfpipe, the discus, roller-skating, surfing... they will all drive you nuts. You need to move fast and time all of them, but you'll wonder why your controller doesn't seem to respond. You are constantly tap-tap-tapping away at those buttons, and if you don't move in half a second in surfing, you die. While on the subject of surfing, no matter if you crap it all up, the least score you can get is a 0.2. The BMX will drive you crazy if you start pedaling fast, then you go a jump and automatically die. It's very cheap. In discus, you'll be surprised if the stupid frisbee ever leaves your hand. The controls are definitely confusing and not intuitive. The only event you are practically guarunteed to be good at is footbag- if you kick the sack five times in a row, you get a major bonus. It's a cinch. Unfortunely, by the time you reach that event, you'll probably be reaching for your power button. Each event has much different controls from any of the others, so for God's sake, READ THE STINKING MANUAL! Without it, you are a bonifed loser in the game. This is probably the worst looking category. Although you may get attracted by the ''extreme sports'' theme, the only extremeties you will find are your hair follicles from you scratching your head and wondering what the hell to do next. (6/10)

SOUND/MUSIC: Some tunes will excite you, and others will bore you. I understand that this is first generation music, but none of it is really that enjoyable. The BMX and Footbag (Hackey Sack) music will put you to sleep, but the sort of catchy Surfer Dude-type music in surfing is pretty cool. I think this game is trying an early attempt at electric guitar sounds and fails. The gripe about sound? There is none!!! You read right: there are no sound effects besides hitting the hackey sack and throwing the frisbee. You would expect a little something more... (6/10)

-Players: 1-2. I think you can exchange controllers...
-Fun Factor: 7.Some of the stuff ticks you off, but you'll enjoy it a bit.
-Replay Value: 6. There is nothing new. The same courses are repeated for every event.
-Rent or Buy: Only buy it if you're a collector or something of the sort.

I really don't have the time to write much else here. If you are really into this kind of stuff, by all means, play it. Otherwise, I advise you sort of blow this one off into the many forgotten titles for the NES.


Rating:   3.5 - Good

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