As Olympic year approaches, the software companies are all set to start bringing out their own interpretations of the various Olympic events. First off the mark are Hawk, with International Championship Athletics.
The game features sixteen athletic events which are controlled in one of seven ways, most methods being based on a control panel combining energy angle and direction.
For these events you simply have to waggle the joystick as fast as possible, using the Fire button for the odd burst of energy.
Hurdles and Steeplechase
These involve you running along a track pressing the Fire button to time the jumps correctly. To get over the hurdles, you also need to waggle the stick to keep up your speed.
Running over distance requires a more strategic approach. Pushing forward on the joystick increases your speed, but the faster you run, the more of your energy reserve it takes up. To succeed you must keep to the faster right-hand lane and judge the correct balance between speed and stamina.
Long Jump and Triple Jump
These are basically the same, with you waggling the stick to build up speed and pressing the Fire button to start the jump angle rising. The power and angle are taken from the moment when you hit the jump board.
High Jump and Pole Vault
Waggle the stick to build up power and press the button to start the angle sweep. If you fail to clear the bar you are out of the contest.
Discus, Hammer and Shot
These are the most complex of the events. You have to waggle the stick to increase power and press the Fire button when the angle and direction indicators are at the optimum value.
Make your run-up by waggling the stick and press Fire to start the angle sweep. Let go once the desired angle has been reached and the javelin is thrown.
At the end of each event, the crowd show their opinion of your performance, cheering their approval or gasping in disappointment. The medals are then awarded and the commentator gives a report on the competition standings.
There are already plenty of sports sims available for the ST, so a new one either has to have marvellous gameplay and presentation or bring a completely new aspect to the genre. Unfortunately, International Championship Athletics is about as mediocre as they come.
The graphics are pretty duff, with some very weedy sprites running across bland backdrops. The intermission screens aren't too hot either. The crowd scenes and commentator sequences are laughable, with all the characters looking like a Spitting Image puppet of ET.
The control method is rather novel, but it sometimes causes far too much confusion, especially on the throwing events, to enable you to actually play the game. Hunting around the bargain bins of your local ST software store will no doubt turn up an old sports sim at a low price, in which case you'd be well advised to plump for one of those rather than buying International Championship Athletics.
- Old-fashioned waggling similar to Daley Thompson makes the game seem very dated.
- The game features very little of the polished presentation found in the Epyx Games series.
- If you want playability, and a slick appearance you'd be better off with Games Summer Edition.