What can match the international flavour of US Gold's latest festival of fun and frolic, World Games? Marcus Berkmann spins the globe and gets his fingers stuck.
We are the world, we are the children, as those great modern philosophers Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson once wrote. This spirit of global oneness (hey man!) is what World Games is all about. After Summer Games and Winter Games, Epyx's latest sports sim collection (through US Gold) travels the globe in search of the wildest and wackiest athletic contests imaginable. From the Soviet Union (Weightlifting) to the United States (Bull Riding), you'll hop the oceans to compete in eight events with nary a hint of jet lag. No hotel bills, either. And you may even wind up as world champion in an event or two.
As you'd expect, the game's a multi-loader, and the initial menu gives you a number of options. Being impatient, I always tend to go for the 'Compete in all events' choice, but it's worth putting in a little effort on the practice mode in some of the events. Alternatively, you can compete in just the one event especially useful for showing off to gullible friends. In fact, you can play with up to three other people, but personally I like to have a little quiet practice before I start clustering the competitors - I mean, you wouldn't want to lose, would you?
World Games is well up to Epyx's previous standards, and makes me realise how long it is since we've had one of these games compendiums to juggle with. Each event has been well designed, both in gameplay and graphics, and you'll be relieved to hear that there's not too much of the old waggle waggle - most of the time you need brainpower as well!
So pack your liniment, collect your passport and call Aeroflot, 'cos the first stop's Russia - and you're pumping iron!
WEIGHTLIFTING - RUSSIA
Home of those vast blubbery men called Zbigniew Lardslabflabinsky, who always come first in the megaheavyweight class at the Olympics. But you know what they say the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and this is your chance to grab weightlifting gold - even if you were a finalist for Mr Puniverse! There are two rounds, the "snatch" and "clean and jerk", and in competition you'll need to complete the first to move an to the second. The snatch is all a matter of timing - grasping, lifting, snatching and standing all within a couple of seconds. And don't leave him lifting the bar too long, or he'll crash through the floor! The Clean and Jerk is even trickier - lift it clean or you'll look a jerk.
BARREL JUMPING - GERMANY
A brisk flight over the Urals, and we're in the land of lederhosen, monoclas and "Tomorrow Belongs To Me". Here we try the 300-year-old sport of barrel jumping, in which Teutonic Torville and Deans attempt to clear a number of barrels on their ice-skates. Not the easiest sport in real life, I'd guess, but World Games gives you the chance to trounce those klose-kropped Kurts und Karls. It's a joystick waggler, of course, and by no means a piece of Apfeltorte. Press fire to jump, and pull back to land, if of course you actually manage to get over the barrels. If you foul up, expect to get wet. Just the sort of game to break the ice at parties, Vorsprung durch Technik, mein Fuhrer!
LOG ROLLING - CANADA
Are there any famous Canadians? (Besides Captain Kirk, of course.) Never mind. Our next stop is a Canadian lumber camp, where lumberjacks have been rolling logs since 1840, and pressing wild flowers for even longer. You compete against another player or the computer, and the idea is to dislodge your opponent from the log by spinning it back and forth. You need to establish a rhythm with the lumberjack's legs (Nawty! Ed) if you're to have any chance of success. When, inevitably, you fall in, you certainly pay the penalty - a shark starts circling you and soon you don't have a leg to stand on. Try changing the log's direction suddenly and then rolling it in the direction that'll make him fall off.
BULL RIDING - UNITED STATES
Hey, Mary-Lou-Beth-Jim-Bob, this time we don't have to flah (translation: fly) thousands of mahls 'cos we're right here on the do'step fo' this one. Iss jus' down from Canada fo' the Bull Ridin' - a favourite sport here in Dallas. This Bull Ridin' nonsense's reel herd to git the hang of. You got to control the bull when the critter's buckin', when he's spinnin' an' when he's runnin' an' haltin'. Not only that, you must try and anticipate the bull's moves and respond accordingly. Here's one round of World Games where practice isn't just useful, it's vital. Fortunately the practice made lets another player control the bull, giving you the opportunity to get used to his churlish and bad tempered ways.
CLIFF DIVING - MEXICO
Que? And we're off again to Mehhhhico (stand back, or by an umbrella) to watch Cliff Diving in Acapulco. Sounds like a fifties Hollywood film star, dunnit (...starring Tab Hunter, Rip Torn and Cliff Diving), but no, it's one of the more glam and unusual sports in World Games. Unlike barrel jumping, it's easy to get going without being repeatedly killed, but perfecting your art is a mysterious process requiring years of practice and some nifty stickwork. Avoid being dashed against the rocks by arching your back for as long as possible, then surface quickly to escape that watery grave. Cliff himself is an elegant individual, although I'm not sure I recognise Acapulco from the last time I was there (ahem).
SLALOM SKIING -- FRANCE
Bonjour, mon petit piece de broccoli! Avez-vous un ski-pass? 'Cos si vous avez un pass de ski, vous pouvet groover around les slopes comme tous les autre smug gits avec les outfits trendies et les tans out of les bouteilles. Naturellement, it'll cost you, Jean. Instead, pourquoi non try le World Games, de US Or? C'est tres inexpensive, mais il est mildly reminiscent de Horace Va Ski-ing, n'est-ce pas? Oui, vieux haricot. Mais les graphiques sont superieurs, et le gemeplay, c'est plus challenging (i.e. Difficile). Si vous pouvez get around tous let obstacles, vous etes un meilleur homme que moi, Gunga Din. Avez vous un go - c'est un corkeur.
SUMO WRESTLING - JAPAN
Haaaiiiieee! Thwok! Yes, our final port of call is Japan, and in more ways than one, we've come full circle - yup, it's the fat men again! And this is Lard with a capital L! Sumo wrestlers don't stop at two dinners - life for them is just one long meal. Here you can play against the computer or another player, pushing your opponent to the hack of the mat or chucking him over your shoulder - something you'd need more than a cooked breakfast to do in real life. The moves are fairly standard judo sim - loads of tripping and wacky Jap words that round like people sneezing. The quicker your reactions, the shorter the match and the higher your score. Aiiiieeee! Splat!
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