Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
The only thing I know about Barcelona is that song by Freddie Mercury and the large singing frock. Apparently, there’s going to be some kind of event there this summer called the Olympics which, as far as I’m concerned, are just a handy stop-gap between World Cups!
What’s more, we usually do pretty damned badly, barely getting a whiff of a gold medal, let alone winning one. Now, I’m not one to run my country down (cue theme from The Dambusters), but let’s face it, we seem to do better in the Eurovision song contest these days!
As there’s a major sporting event coming up, there must be a matching sports sim. But don’t get me wrong, Olympic Gold’s totally excellent — it’s just I’m so completely naff at it! When I was younger I had to get a friend to help me with the running on the Track and Field coin-op. I was that bad!
Olympic Gold’s great fun and well playable. It looks great on both systems and there are only a few niggling differences between them.
Skip past the title screen (blatant advertising on display!) and you get the first options screen. Start by choosing the type of event you want to compete in, Training Session, Mini Olympics, Full Olympics or Olympic Records. The scores (on the doors) here are for real, so you can take on the world’s top pros!
There are seven events to choose from: 100 metres, pole vault, diving, swimming, archery, hurdles and hammer throwing. All take some getting used to.
Each event has difficulty levels tagged onto it so pick the one that suits you: Club (easy), National (normal) or Olympic (hard). It’s best to start on the easy levels and work your way up — you’ll need all the practice you can get if you’re to stand a chance of winning at Olympic standard!
The controls can be a real pain in the backside at times but keep pluging away and you soon get to grips with them.
The 100 metres is fairly straightforward. Build up your speed by whacking the hell out of two buttons, [A] and [B] on the MD, and on the MS. Try to get off to an early start and keep a good lead.
The time to beat’s displayed at the bottom of the screen and you’ll need to beat this in Full Olympics to qualify for the next event. In most events your speed’s shown as a bar in the top right-hand corner. Keep an eye on this, as top speed’s a must! Hammer throwing’s a doddle! Spin as fast as you can three times and let rip with that ball! Archery’s another fairly easy event. Pull back on the bow, aim the damn thing and get the bullseye (super, smashin’, lovely).
Hurdles is basically the same as the 100 metres, only remember to jump over the hurdles and not through them, like me (oh, the shame of it!).
Pole vaulting takes a whole heap of practice. Run along, pole in hand (madam), pull down then up-left, press the button to let go, and finally, down! It sounds like a lot to remember — and it is! Again, practice is the keyword here.
Moving swiftly onto the water events, swimming’s just water-based 100 metres. Try to keep up an average speed as your stamina level tends to go down far too fast. You only need to do four laps of the pool but remember to time your turns correctly.
And finally the diving rears its ugly head! Run along, jump in the air, spring off the board, perform a double-triple backflip and finish off with a spectacular belly-flop!
Keep at this and the judges’ marks’ll slowly creep up as you work through four compulsory and a freestyle dive.
Inevitably, the Mega Drive has better graphics and overall playability. But don’t worry, the Master System’s no slouch and there are some great effects on both games: the starting pistol at the beginning of most rounds (don’t start too soon!), the waving crowds, and of course, the anthem when you get your hands on a gold medal!
If you’re a sports fan, games freak or fan of the Olympics, you’re gonna love this. Don’t be put off by the controls, you’ll soon get the hang of them and want to play Olympic Gold again and again.
Most of us won’t be lucky enough to go to Barcelona this summer, so put on those shades, knock back the Sangria and slap Olympic Gold in your console instead! It’s a stormer!
I’m glad Mat mentioned Track and Field. Yep, I remember losing many a fingernail trying to keep that blasted speed up. That aside, I loved the game and Olympic Gold’s every bit Its equal — only with a lot more variety! Most of the events are pretty self-explanatory but the ones that aren’t, like archery, pole vault and diving, are even more of a challenge! The controls won’t take too long to master and the game looks superb on both systems. Winning a gold medal’s well worth it for the national anthems and even though some of the events are a doddle, you’ll still be hard pressed to stay near the top of the points table. Olympic Gold’s been well put together to create a challenging, fun outing which you and your mates will want to keep going at for a fair while.
A smart sports game for a super-nova summer!
A great sports sim. Highly competitive.