Releasing a conversion of a game called Winter Sports in the summer wasn't going to win US Gold any topicality awards, but it may please some Amstrad owners who have been waiting patiently since November for their turn on the slopes.
Seven gruelling events are supplied in a twin cassette pack and the first drawback is that only two events can be loaded in at any one time. Once there in the computer you can practise either of them and then compete against up to three other human contestants. There are world records to be beaten for each event but, since you can't update them, they will stay there long after you've beaten them.
Enough of the grumbles, onto the first of seven events, the bobsled.
The object of this event is simply to steer your bob down a course as quickly as possible. This is a lot harder than it sounds as you will have to navigate some tight bends. These are displayed in 3D as you hurtle down the ice and as part of a plan of the course on the left hand side of the screen. As you charge down the course, you can steer the sled only left or right, which you must do to stay in the centre of the track. Go too far up a bank and you'll tip over and your run will come to an acrobatic end.
Acrobatics are the name of the game in the next event, the curiously-named Hot Dog Ariel.
Your turn starts at the top of a mini ski-jump which you leap off. However, before you land (hopefully on your skis) you have to perform as many acrobatic leaps and splits as possible to get as close to the maximum score of 10 as possible.
Turning the tape over loads in two more events. The first, speed skating, is a simple left/right waggle to the finishing post, whereas the ski jump is an attempt to leap as far as possible, with marks being awarded for distance jumped and style points which are earned for how well you kept your skis straight (corrected by joystick movement) and, of course, for a good landing.
Figure skating and freestyle skating are two similar events which can be found on the first side of the second tape. Both are a test of skill in which you must use timed joystick movements to perform spins and jumps without falling. At first you'll spend most of the one or two minutes flat on the ice, but soon you'll be performing camel spins, double and treble lutz and axel jumps with the best of them.
Finally, if you've enough energy left, you can compete in the final biathlon. This is a gruelling combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting that will leave your joystick in ruins. To score well, not only do you have to complete the course as quickly as possible, you have to hit all twenty targets since each one missed incurs a heavy time penalty.
This Amstrad conversion of the excellent Winter Games actually features graphics (particularly the background) that are better than the original C64 game.
Well done US Gold. Now what about Summer Games and Summer Games II conversions?