Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Weird and wonderful sports from planet Earth!
If you've had enough of hanging ten in the surf, or are suffering from Frisbee elbow through playing California Games, Sega now give you the chance to try your hand at some of the dafter sports that people thought up when they got bored, hundreds of years before the advent of Australian soap operas and consoles.
As with its predecessor, one to four people can take part. Once each participant has entered their name (or more likely a rude word) and chosen a flag to represent, it's off to Germany for the first event...
"Barrel Jumping takes place in Germany, where skaters compete to jump over the most barrels. The sport started about 300 years ago in Europe where ice skating was a form of transportation, in their dash before take-off, jumpers hit speeds above 40 mph, risking painful bruises if they fait to clear the last barrel. These daring athletes keep protective gear to a minimum for tighter weight"
Only moderately silly, this one, but still quite daft.
(Image caption) Oh no! The skater's stalled in mid-air! He'll never make it now!
Before each attempt, you get to select the number of barrels you wish to jump, from three to a maximum of 20. Your skater blokey starts from a standstill on the left of the barrels and you start him off by rocking the joystick rhythmically from side to side. As you waggle more and more quickly, so the skater picks up speed; but if you waggle too quickly, he misses a step and slows down again, so timing is the key here.
As your skatesperson approaches the barrels, a tap of the fire button launches him (or her, as it's difficult to tell at this range) into the air, and there's a brief pause in the action while the guy sails through the air. As he approaches the far end of his leap, you then have to pull down on the stick to prepare him for landing on the ice (or smashing into the last few barrels if you've messed it up!). If you don't pull down, he hits the ice heels first at mach three, and smashes straight through it!
You get three attempts to clear as many barrels as possible, and the highest number gets gold. Simple.
"Log Rolling brings a visit to Canada, where two lumberjacks try to dislodge each other from a large, floating-log, spinning it back and forth until one contestant plunges into the ice river. Log rolling began in Canadian lumber camps around 1840 and requires great balance and agility. The novice lumberjacks always get one piece of advice,
'Never take your eyes off your opponent's feet'."
Up against the Sega lumberjack, and you're looking a bit wobbly already...
And, following a smart forward somersault, you're suddenly shark food!
This rates a hefty 8 out of 10 in the 'Stupid Sports' category, but then what do you expect from a country that has their police dressed up like Smokey the Bear?
This event is a head-to-head against the computer, or a human chum if there are several people playing. The aim is to topple the opposition from the log by spinning it with your feet. By waggling the 'stick slowly from side to side, your lumberjack starts log-jogging, and you can vary the direction that the log spins by pressing the fire button. Two meters at the bottom of the screen monitor the direction and speed of both 'jacks so that you can tell when to switch direction and tip him off.
The one who stays on the longest gets the most points, and what do points make?
"Bull riding is the most dangerous event in rodeo. A sport born over 100 years ago in the American West when cowboys challenged each other to contests of riding and roping for entertainment. The rider sits bareback on a wild bull weighing two thousand pounds or more and holds onto a rope to avoid being thrown. When a rider falls, rodeo clowns draw the bull's attention away.”
(Image caption) There you are, perched on top of three tons of bovine psychopath...
Given the size and power of these creatures, this sport is extremely dangerous and just plain silly. Cowboys must get really bored to risk life and limb like this!
(Image caption) Then two seconds later, you're sitting in the dirt. Funny old game, innit?
The rodeo starts with your suitably attired loony perched atop a bull in the holding pen. Pushing up and down on the stick, cycles through the bulls available to be ridden, some of which are more crazy than the others (but still less so than the dumb honcho sat up on top).
A jab of the fire button opens the gate and the bull tears out, bucking like mad and spinning round. Every time it looks like you’re going to get thrown, you pull down on the stick to re-seat yourself. To be in with a chance of a medal, you have to stay on for more than eight seconds, and after that your time is recorded. Amazingly enough, the longest time after three attempts, wins.
"The heather-splashed hills of Scotland is the birthplace of the ancient Caber Toss. In this famous event from the Scottish highland games, athletes lift and throw a tree trunk the size of a small telephone pole. Cabers can vary in size, but once tossed successfully can never be cut. The Braemar caber, one of Scotland's greatest challenges, is
19 feet long and weighs more than 120 pounds."
(Image caption) There have got to be easier ways of putting in telegraph poles...
Totally ludicrous, and should not be attempted at home. Well, not indoors, anyway.
Your McCharacter starts on the left of the screen, clutching his log. Wobble the stick from left to right to get him walking, and when the Scot's up to speed, press and hold the fire button to tilt the caber. When it's reached an optimum chucking angle (guess!) loose the button to finally toss that sucker.
If you manage to throw a clean toss (where the caber tips end over end to land facing away from you) the kilted one does a highland fling, and the distance is measured. If your toss fails, though, the pole falls back and lands on the tosser's foot, whereupon he jumps up and down clutching his tootsies in agony.
Three goes and the longest toss is awarded the yellow medal.
Having seen World Games on other, less potent computer systems, the Sega version is a bit of a disappointment. Well, it's actually a major disappointment. A huge, stonkingly big, earth-shattering, leviathan of a let-down. A massiv-(OK, calm down - Ed). Instead of the eight events on other versions -which included Russian weightlifting, French slalom ski-ing, Japanese Sumo wrestling and cliffdiving in Acapulco - the Sega only has four. So you pay twice the money for half the events. Not good maths, that.
The usual Epyx standard is maintained with lovely animation throughout - especially on the log rolling - smart backdrops and some nice parallax scrolling on the barrel jumping and caber tossing.
Sound too is used to a premium with some snazzy effects such as the 'clump, clump' noise of feet on logs, a nice 'moo' sound (from the bull, cloth head) and the roar of the crowd. The backing tracks, too, are all very jolly and listen-to-able.
It a shame, then, that none of the events are that entertaining. Barrel jumping is the most fun, but even then you'll be able to clear at least 18 barrels in the first day, and then spend the rest of your life trying to jump 19.
All the events are competently done, but they're just too simple to keep you occupied for months on end. It won't take long before you've an expert on all four events, and even if you can get a gang together for some competition play, a four-event Olympics isn't going to keep the party bubbling for long.
Twenty five quid for a couple of day's play? No way, kiddo: don't touch this one with a caber.
▲ Smart parallax scrolling on the barrel jumping and caber tossing
▲ Animation is of a typically high standard
▲ Loads of nice touches, such as waving flags, falling through the ice and shark attack!
▲ Nice 'n' detailed backdrops, with animated crowds
▲ Great bagpipe theme for the caber tossing
▲ Different soundtracks for each event
▲ Bull 'moo' noise is pretty authentic!
▼ Countries' national anthems are boring standard stuff
▼ No call for tactics except in log rolling, which is still simpleton standard
▼ Only four short events, with straightforward controls
▼ There's no options to let you fiddle around with the gameplay
▲ Practice option lets you play one event at any time
▼ Doesn't take long to become master of all four sports
▼ Simple gameplay won't stretch the reflexes or the grey matter
▼ Lack of decent head-to-head action is a downer
Oh dear. We'd like to say that World Games is a fitting successor to Cal Games and a great sports sim in its own right. But it isn't.