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California Games

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Released: 1991

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive

Publisher: Epyx

Submitted by: Alex Holmes

Gamers the world over refered to each other as "dude" and traded high fives as they played through five sports in California Games, either in practice mode to fine tune their skills or in Games themselves, in which require you to compete in all events to show how "gnarly" you really are!

The half pipe sees you take to the ramps using handplants and spins to earn points.  Plus you must keep the momentum by pushing the D pad or you come to a humiliating halt.  Surfing requires you to get ahead of the giant wave and then launch yourself and land correctly before the wave catches you or else its "wipeout, dude"

Footbag is basically keepie uppie but with a mini bean bag instead of a football.  And its all about keeping the combo going with flicks and headers.  And extra points are earnt by hitting the seagul that comes across from time to time.  In skating you have to get from one end to the other, avoiding beach balls, ice creams and other items litterbugs have left in your way.  Executing jumping spins earn bonus points.

BMX is set on a dirt track and like skating sees you complete the course within the time limit and earning big points by pulling off backflips and rotations.

A truely classic game that was ported onto many different consoles. 

California Games

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Released: 1989

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: Atari Lynx

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Epyx

Submitted by: Darran Jones

Packed in with the Atari Lynx, California Games is a cut down version of the Commodore64 original that boasts a great multiplayer mode, some really neat graphical effects and rather limiting gameplay.

The biggest issue I have with California Games on the Lynx is that there's simply not enough there to keep you entertained. While the Surfing is fantastic fun the other three events (especially BMX and Half Pipe) are rather limiting, and therefore, not very fun to play.

Granted they all look nice, with Half Pipe in particular having some exceptionally good scaling effects, but great graphics do not necessarily make a great game, and as a result you'll quickly become bored with the small selection of games on offer and their limited gameplay.

Ironically, California Games greatest asset – its superb multiplayer mode – is also the one that was least experienced, mainly due to the difficulty of finding three other friends who owned a machine. This is a real shame, as Surfing in particular is amazing fun to play.

This Lynx outing is worth tracking down if you can find it at a half-decent price (the cartridge can be surprisingly expensive) but don't be surprised by its lack of depth.

California Games

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Released: 1987

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: Sega Master System

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Epyx

Submitted by: Darran Jones

In a desperate attempt to hang on to the last few days of summer, we’ve found ourselves playing California Games quite a lot over the past few weeks.

While a new version is on the way for the PSP and Wii, it’s the Master System outing that we’ve been unable to put down. And even today, some 13 years after its UK release; short of heading down to your local beach and smothering yourself in factor 35, it remains one of the best summer experiences you can have.

Arguably one of the greatest titles in the extensive Games canon, California Games not only did a great job of digitally capturing those long, hot summer days, it also turned out to be a pretty darned good game, which offered a variety of different events to compete in.

Half-pipe had you busting out tricks on a skateboard within a strict time limit; footbag saw you trying to keep your bag in the air for as long as possible; while surfing required you to do nothing more than ride a wave as coolly as possible. Although each of the six events boasted extremely simple play mechanics (no doubt a throwback to Summer Games’s 8-bit computer heritage), they were nevertheless extremely fun to play.While the Lynx version is notable for its link-up abilities, and the Mega Drive outing boasted superior visuals, there’s something about playing California Games on the Master System that epitomises everything about Epyx’s brilliant game.

Visuals are wonderfully vibrant; presentation, while simplistic, offered a variety of different options and allowed you to do everything from choosing specific events to compete in to the naming of your sponsor; while little elements – like being able to hit a passing seagull with your footbag – kept a big smile plastered all over your face.

So the next time it’s pelting down with rain and you’re feeling all depressed, load up California Games and take a sun-drenched stroll down Memory Lane. Just make sure you stay away from the diabolical sequel.