Multi-Mania Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

Zzap


Multi-Mania
By U. S. Gold
Commodore 64

 
Published in Zzap #88

How can someone as flabby and lethargic as Phil "Burger" King compete in the Olympics? By waggling his joystick, of course, as he plays the field of multi-event sports sims (excluding military, circus or weird ones).

World Games

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My favourite multi-eventer of all time features an eclectic mix of events, taking place at exotic locations around the world.

After selecting up to eight players and their countries, the first event is Weightlifting. Both 'snatch' and 'clean and jerk' lifts are attempted by accurately timed joystick movements - as with later events, the emphasis is on skill rather than strenuous joystick waggling.

Only slow, rhythmic waggling is required for Barrel Jumping to gain speed before pressing fire to clear a line of barrels. Next comes the real brown-trunks gobble: Cliff Diving in Acapulco! Judge the wind to clear the rocks by a whisker for the highest-scoring dive.

Quick reactions are needed for Slalom Skiing. Zig-zag around the flags to avoid time penalties, but ski as straight as possible for extra speed. The main hazard here is going straight into one of the flags, resulting in instant disqualification from one of your two runs.

The aim in Log Rolling is not to get wet. In multi-player games, this is a simultaneous two-player contest, both competitors altering the speed and direction of their rolling to try and throw the other bloke off balance. The following event has to be the horniest ever as you mount a Mad animal in Bull Riding. React instantaneously to the bull's movements (including spins) to stay onboard for the required eight seconds.

The last two events are my personal favourites. Tossing The Caber requires slow waggling in time with the tosser's legs to hold his huge pole at the right angle, before tossing it as far as possible. Get it wrong and it lands on his head, hammering him into the ground!

Finally, Sumo has two slim (compared to me!) wrestlers trying to push or throw each other out of the ring. Again, in multi-player games this is a competitive two-player event.

At the end of the day, the medal table is shown with each competitor scoring points for their medals. Win or lose, it's a helluva lot of fun. As well as looking great, the events are really well designed, combining quick reactions, careful timing and the odd bit of waggling. As with all Epyx sims, any event can be practised to your heart's content.

Of course, multi-player games are best with a really competitive atmosphere (especially on the head-to-head two-player events), but even in solo games there's the world records to aim for World Games is a timeless classic and has been available on the Kixx budget label (on tape and disk) for some time.

Scores

Overall 96%

Summer Games II

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This is the business as far as Olympic sims go. Up to eight players compete in eight varied, superbly presented events. On the disk version, there's even an option to merge the game with its predecessor Summer Games to play sixteen events in one go!

Unlike other Olympic sims, Summer Games II replaces tiresome (and tiring) waggling with skilful controls. Take the Triple Jump, for instance. No waggling is needed to make your man run - just accurately timed joystick movements for the hop, skip, jump and extra boost in mid air.

Rowing does require left/right movement, but not frenetically fast - a good rhythm produces the highest rowing speed. In multi-player mode, two players compete head to head.

Chucking the Javelin doesn't require waggling (or bottom wiggling) either. Press fire quickly to increase speed, then hold left to set the angle of throw.

There haven't been many computer horse-riding sims so the Equestrian event is a nice novelty. It's no nag either. As the course scrolls right to left, accurate timing is needed to successfully jump fences, walls and water hazards.

High Jump allows you set your height between 1.5 and 2.5 metres. Rapid right joystick movements make your man sprint. Timing is crucial when you press fire to jump and right to clear the bar.

Fencing gives you the option of a head-to-head contest. The first player to score five hits within the time limit wins. Available moves include thrust, parry and defensive sweeps. If the score is tied at the end of the hone limit, there's a (tastefully named) 'sudden death' fence-off.

On your bike! Although the Cycling sprint race doesn't feature waggling either, you do have to rotate your joystick in time with an wow to make your rider pedal. To attain top speed you must move slightly ahead of the arrow - but get too far ahead of it and you stop pedalling altogether. Again, in multi-player mode there's the option of head-to-head racing. Probably the trickiest event is Kayaking, where you paddle furiously to get through gates, some of which must be entered backwards or upstream. What really makes this event is the effective control system: steering with left/right and paddling by repeatedly pushing up or down.

Nearly seven years after its debut, Summer Games II still stands out as one of the great sports sims of all time. You might have some trouble getting hold of it now, but it was incorporated into US Gold's Gold, Silver & Bronze mega-compilation, along with Summer Games and Winter Games.

Scores

Overall 94%

Hypersports

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The Konami coin-op follow-up to the legendary Track And Field was converted in fine style to the C64 (albeit minus the pole-vaulting event). The game was even used in a long-forgotten TV quiz with Debbie Greenwood (phwoar!).

The six events here are supremely playable, diving off with a cracking swimming race. Waggle to swim faster, not forgetting to press fire to breathe at regular intervals (breathe underwater and you splutter to a standstill!).

A far less exhausting event is Skeet Shooting. Press left/right to fire the barrels of your shotgun at the clay pigeons - hit them all and you get a bonus duck to shoot!

Horse-vaulting features an automatic run-up (no waggling) but isn't as easy as it sounds. Accurate timing is needed to hit the springboard right at the end; wait till your man is doing a handstand on the horse, then get in as many rotations before landing (hopefully on your feet!).

Another relaxing event follows, Archery requires careful timing to release arrows at the right angle towards downward-scrolling targets.

After a welcome rest comes more waggling for the run-up to the Triple Jump, but holding down fire to achieve the optimum angle for hop, skip and jump is critical.

The real waggling killer, though, is Weightlifting. On higher weights, it's a real struggle to get the weight above your head and keep it there until you get three white lights.

Unlike the Epyx multi-eventers, Hypersports continually wraps round so you play the series of events again and again until you fall to qualify.

The way the qualification standard gets harder each tine makes for coin-op-style addiction as you aim for a high score, and there's world records to break too. Totally compulsive.

Scores

Overall 90%

Winter Games

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This is really cool. First of seven events is the Hot Dog Aerials. To my disappointment this doesn't include mustard and ketchup but is still a tasty treat. Six stunts are available including flips, back-scratchers and daffles. Awkward movements and falls reduce your score.

After a quick change of dress (and sex), you're ready for the Figure Skating. Impress the judges with a range of seven spins and jumps - time the landings exactly or end up with a cold bottom!

Returned to male form, you go for the Ski Jump. Continually adjust your flight position or end up like Eddie Edwards - a sad prospect indeed!

Free Skating is just like Figure Skating except you have to perform each movement three times within two minutes.

Speed Skating, on the other hand, is a completely different kettle of ice. It's a head-to-head, split-screen race against a human or computer opponent. Speed is achieved not by rapid waggling but by attaining a good rhythm with the skater's legs.

A similar technique is used for the cross-country skiing in Biathlon. At regular intervals you stop to fire you rifle at five targets - missing one incurs a five-second penalty.

Finally, there's no room for error in the Bobsleigh. Accurate steering around corners is needed as you hurtle down the 3D track.

As with Summer Games II, the events are well thought out with good control systems. The graphical standard is even better with some gorgeous backdrops and convincing sprites, and sounds great too with loads of tunes. Definitely the best wintry sim around.

Scores

Overall 88%

Summer Games

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The only real waggler here is the 100m Sprint, though rhythmic fire pressing is required for both Swimming events (100m and 4 x 100m). Back on land, the 4 100m Sprint is more strategic, with you simply controlling the speed of the runner to make optimum use of energy.

Again, no waggling is needed for Diving and Vaulting - aerial movements are controlled by various joystick directions. One of the best (a realistically tricky) events is the Pole Vault: press fire at exactly the right time to plant the pole, flip over the bar and release the pole. Last but not least is the skilful Skeet Shooting.

Like all Epyx games, Summer Games is brilliantly presented with loads of practice and competition options. Graphics are also excellent with smooth animation in every event and attractive backdrops. Most importantly, the events play really well, requiring lots of practice to get the best out of them. Great fun to play with a group of friends.

Scores

Overall 87%

Daley Thompson's Supertest

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Definitely Daley's best performance, this comprises eight varied events. Pure waggling is needed for Cycling, Rowing and Tug O'War, while Ski Jump, Football Penalties (one of my faves!) and Diving require waggling and skilful timing. Pistol Shooting and Giant Slalom are pure skill events.

Obviously the waggling is tiring on your arm, but the more skilful events give you a rest. As with Hypersports, the events wrap round until you fail to qualify, and though it's not quite as playable as that game, Daley Thompson's Supertest is good fun for a while.

Scores

Overall 73%

The Games: Winter Edition

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Epyx's reworking of the winter theme isn't as playable as their original Winter Games. It's still brilliantly presented (apart from the two-disk multi-load), though, and most of the seven events are good fun.

Among the best are downhill and slalom skiing. As well as a fast 3D view, you get intermittent 2D scenes from the cameras placed along the piste. Speed Skating is also a laugh with a great two-player mode. One of the most sophisticated events (though a trifle dull) is the figure skating. Budding Christopher Deans can even plan out a choreographed routine and choose a suitable piece of music!

A lot of the events are tricky to start with, the tiniest mistake completely mucking things up, but once you get the hang it's pretty playable.

Scores

Overall 78%

Decathlon

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The original joystick's nightmare is still well worth a bast if you can find it (It was released five years ago!). Running events are particularly good with two-player, head-to-head races. Other events are implemented simply but effectively. Yes, it's hard on your arm with some waggling in every event, but play with three friends and you get a much-needed rest, along with a more exciting competition. It plays a whole lot better than it looks!

Scores

Overall 72%

Brian Jacks' Superstar

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Most of you are probably too young to remember a brilliant TV show on the BBC a few years back. 'Superstars' had several sportspeople competing at various sports events (not their own) to win points (why oh why don't they bring it back?). Orange-sucking Brian Jacks was the champion several times and hence lent his name to this Superstars-style computer game.

Unsurprisingly, it's very energetic with a lot of waggling in events like Canoeing, 100m Sprint, Swimming (pressing fire to breathe), Arm Dips and Cycling. Three more sedate events offer a brief rest: Boar Shoot (aiming a crosshair at a moving target), Squat Thrusts (combination of joystick movements) and Football (dribbling round cones and shooting for goal).

Like most heavy wagglers it's tough to continually reach the qualifying standards, and enjoyment is always marred by an aching arm.

Scores

Overall 68%

The Games: Summer Edition

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It may not be a ski sim, but Epyx were definitely on the downward slope when this was released to coincide with the Seoul 1988 Olympics. Those South Koreans are great animal lovers, so it's apt that the game stinks like a boiled kitten.

Most of the events are poorly implemented, with some overcomplex control systems required for Assymetric Bars and Rings. Sadly, the 3D-view Cycling is the only event to offer head-to-head, two-player competition. Don't get it confused with the infinitely superior Summer Games II!

Scores

Overall 48%

Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge

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Waggle, waggle, waggle SNAP! Arrrgghhh. I've broken me bleedin' arm! This has to be the hardest joystick-jiggler of all time. Daley starts off in the gym, waggling to do various exercises to help him in the ensuing decathlon - you're knackered before he's even started! All ten events involve yet more hard waggling to attempt harsh qualifying standards. This is a test of sheer endurance rather than skill, and a flippin' painful one too. A shame, as the game looks really good with a brilliantly animated Daley in training and some realistic grunt FX - pity you can't hear them above your own groans of agony!

Scores

Overall 40%

Winter Olympiad

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Brrr, it's enough to give you cold feet all right. Sluggish controls make the dull events even dodgier. Biathlon is boring with the course repeated four times, the Bobsled overturns at the slightest error, Ski Jump's about as good as Eddie Edwards without his glasses. Downhill Skiing's too slow, and Slalom's just about playable. Not a patch on its summer counterpart. Why Ian gave it 60% last ish (on the Olympiad Collection) is a mystery — maybe he's got snow on the brain?

Scores

Overall 38%

Summer Olympiad

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Far better than its winter counterpart, this contains five playable events. The Skeet Shooting is my personal fave. A lot more sophisticated (and harder) than its Hypersports counterpart, it has you aiming your twin barrels at the quick-flying skeets from seven different positions.

Hurdles, on the other hand, is a bit disappointing. You waggle to make your man run faster, pressing fire to jump the hurdles, but your bloke doesn't seem to respond very accurately to your movements (if at all, at times!).

Triple Jump is a bit better, featuring more waggling and a solitary fire-button press to set the jump angle. Diving is good fun with your lanky bloke performing loads of impressive spins and somersaults from the high board. Finally, Fencing plays well too but sadly doesn't permit two players to fight each other.

Taking a slightly different angle to most of the events, Summer Olympiad is now available with Winter Olympiad on MicroValue's budget Olympiad Collection (see last ish).

Scores

Overall 65%

Daley Thompson's Decathlon

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Yet more hard waggling and simplistic graphics (including an appalling, stout Daley sprite).

Included are some more-restful events, such as the high jump (albeit with the infamous bug allowing you to jump under the bar!). It looks crude, it is crude. It was bad enough at the time, and certainly can't hold an Olympic torch to some of its infinitely more-sophisticated successors.

Time to retire, eh Daley?

Scores

Overall 34%

International Team Sports

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I've never been a fan of Ed Ringler's SportTime sims, and this one's no exception. Though it's disk-only, the multi-load works at about the same speed as a tape! And when the events do load, they're so poor you'll wish they hadn't!

Unresponsive athletes compete in Soccer (Accrington Stanley standard), Water Polo, Volleyball, 4 x 400m Relay and Swimming. No thanks.

Scores

Overall 28%

Hunchback At The Olympics

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Amazingly, this pile of old tosh was licensed from an obscure coin-op. It even won a Zzap Tacky award (remember them?). Eight athletic events involve waggling forwards and backwards, but they're bugged to hell. A seemingly perfect throw often goes a pathetically short distance.

The graphics are so bad, they're funny - unlike the supposedly comical interlude screens. This grotesque game will definitely give you the hump!

Scores

Overall 15%

Ian Osborne