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Winter Games

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Released: 1985

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: Commodore 64

Publisher: Epyx

Developer: Epyx

I’m not sure that it’s entirely natural for me to have developed a fondness for winter sports – I come from a town where the dry ski slope was demolished, and haven’t actually seen any snow in a couple of years. The closest I’ve ever come to actually ski jumping was falling over on a patch of ice while mildly inebriated. But I love snowboarding from a spectator’s perspective, and many of my favourite games are winter sports games like SSX Tricky, Winter Heat and Epyx’s excellent Winter Games.

What hooked me on Winter Games as a kid was the variety of the game. Each of the events feels distinct and Epyx clearly didn’t skimp on any of them – each looks very nice and has well-developed play mechanics. Over the long term my favourite event has become the biathlon, as it conveys the length of the real event and really rewards you for building up a good rhythm over the course of your run. Managing your heart rate for steady shots is a rather cool mechanic too, and predates the diazepam-aided sniping of Metal Gear Solid.

But my favourite when I was younger was always the Hot Dog, and it’s still the event that brings the biggest nostalgia rush. Besides the ridiculous name, you get to do backflips and the crash animations are amusing. In fact, I’ll occasionally land my jumper on his head deliberately, purely to please the childish part of me that still gets a kick out of them…