Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Over on the West Coast of the good ol' US of A, dudes surf, party, and chill out to the sound of the Beach Boys and NWA. What's that got to do with the game? Nothing, really, except wearing psychedelic shorts and a Grateful Dead tee shirt is a must if you want to play this game.
The competition consists of half pipe, foot bag, BMX, surfing, skating, and flying disc (Frisbee to most people). Each event needs its own individual skills, and a practice option gives the chance to hone abilities before joining the competition proper.
With up to eight players participating, the choice is to compete in one, some, or all of the events. Of course if only one player is involved, victory is certain - who's going to beat your score? But there's always the record table to keep you challenged. Trophies are awarded to the top three entrants, although the total after finishing all the events determines the overall winner.
If Muscle Beach and Disney Land are your cup of tea, check this out for a taste of California life!
The classic skateboarding event. To gain points, build up speed and perform turns and stunts on the descent. Timing is important to avoid a humiliating crash!
Also known as hacky sack, simply keeping the bag in the air is difficult at first. Extra points are had for doing as many stunts as possible, and for five tricks in a row.
Keeping ahead of the wave is a must, and to keep on the board be sure to enter the water at the same angle you left it.
Wiggling up and down provides forward motion, and it's important to jump in plenty of time - or the skater will go flat on her face!
A tricky event, the throw has to be of a minimum length to stand any chance of a catch. Diving catches give bonus points but require split-second timing.
The classic stunt course provides chances for bonus jumps and twirls - provided care is taken not to collide with the obstacles! Speed is important, but so's stopping at the end - remember to brake!
The array of sub-games and the skills needed for each event in California Games makes this one of the best multi-player games about; inevitably some people are better at some events than others, guaranteeing an exciting challenge. My particular favourite's the BMX race, whereas Julian prefers Footbag. Some of the events are tricky to learn, especially the Flying Disc and Half Pipe, and this may be discouraging to some players. It's worth persevering though, as California Games offers a varied and thrilling test of anyone's joystick skills.
I've played California Games more than any other Sega game - It's tough, challenging and very, very addictive. The events are all great to look at, with superb backgrounds and animation, and mastering each one takes a lot of practice. What I particularly like is that it's very difficult to get perfect scores - there always seems to be scope for improvement, and it's that constant challenge that keeps me coming back to play again and again. When you've got a group of mates taking part, the multi-player competition is terrific, and beating each other's records is tremendous fun. If you missed California Games when it first came out, make sure you get it now - it's one of the best Sega games ever!