Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
The Olympics. Ahhh! It conjures up some priceless memories - David Coleman getting so excited he’s in danger of suffering a cardiac arrest, setting the alarm for three o'clock in the morning in order to watch events taking place on the other side of the world, the opening and closing ceremonies and Olympic endorsements on everything from running spikes to tea bags.
US Gold have snapped up the much sought after gaming endorsement and aim to capture the spirit of the games with Olympic Gold. There are seven events to compete in which sum up the whole athletics experience. Sprinting opens the games, and like the hurdles and swimming it's tailor made for neurotics! To test skill as well as nerve there is the pole vault, the hammer, diving and swimming.
Developing a perfect technique reaps obvious rewards. As well as the obligatory gold medal, there is a point system done in much the same fashion as the decathlon. Good form in all events is therefore important. There is also the chance to compete at club, national or even Olympic level, when there is a need for stronger opponents. But the challenge doesn't stop there. As well as gold medals to win, there are Olympic and world records to break. It's enough to send Dave into intensive care!
Because some of the moves are very tricky, the programmers have included a teach facility which takes the player through the moves step by step. In events like the pole vault and diving, perfect technique is the secret to success, but it is also something that takes time to master.
In the sprint, the hurdles and swimming, the good old button bashing technique is used. In these events time is very important. World or Olympic records rest on a hundredth of a second. This means that a flying start and (where the sprint and hurdles are concerned) the all important dip on the line are crucial if you want to be a record breaker.
Diving gives the competitors a chance to slip on their favorite pants and take to the spring board. The competitor chooses a dive and is judged on the quality of its execution. Here is where the teach facility comes in handy because there are a wide variety of different dives to master. Pulling off the hardest dives secures the greatest rewards, so go for the inverted double pike twists... whatever that is!
The most annoying thing about the hurdles is all those fences that get in the way of your runner! The only alternative is to hurdle them. In this event, judging where to jump is of vital importance. If a competitor launches into the hurdles too early he goes tumbling, and if he jumps too late he likewise goes bum over breast.
The pole vault, like diving, involves a complicated sequence of moves which take time to perfect. A fast run up and good judgement of where to plant the pole, as well as accurate release and directional control are all essential for successful vaults. It seems tough at first but it gets a lot easier.
Here it is! If you're good enough to come first in any given event, you're awarded with this amazing gold medal!
Although I was expecting a very similar game to the Megadrive version, I was nevertheless surprised at just how much the same this is. About the only difference is that in the sprint, the hurdles and swimming, three compete rather than six. It's much to the Master System's credit that it has managed to retain all of the options as well, including the very handy teach facility. The graphics are impressive as well, with good animation in all of the events. Because of the similarity though, Master System Olympic Gold also inherits the Megadrive’s problems. Some of the moves are fidgety because of the awkward control sequences,and this makes the game frustrating at times. Another thing I was disappointed with was the lack of originality, many of the events have been seen before in the likes of Summer Games. Despite my grumbles though I enjoyed playing Olympic Gold. It has quite an addictive quality, especially in events like diving, archery and the hammer, and the desire to break world records kept me plugging away for some time. It’s true that Olympic Gold has been released on a wave of Olympic hype, but for sports fans and fanatics it's a wave worth riding.
Although this suffers similar problems to its Megadrive big brother - no simultaneous two-player action and a lack of truly exciting events - I actually prefer this to the 16-bit version that we reviewed last month! The graphics are just as good and the game seems to be slightly more playable. That’s not to say that it’s the greatest sports game in the world - after all, the Megadrive game was no great shakes - but at least this is more fun and challenging. Olympic Gold certainly won't set the gaming world alight, but it's nevertheless a fun and enjoyable sports simulation which fans of the genre should feel satisfied with.