It was, I think, US Gold who started it all off in the amazing Summer Games I and II. The second game was such a success that four months after, as the nights closed in and the attraction of sport simulation in the sun withered, US Gold released the seasonal sequel, Winter Games.
Since then, virtually everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. But, until now, no-one has produced a really worthwile variant for the C16. Tynesoft had a go with Winter Olympics, but it was a big disappointment. Half the events called for minimal participation by the player and the curling was totally unintelligible.
Anco obviously thought they could do a lot better and they were right. Winter Games is, without doubt, one of the best sports simulations to appear on the C16 and, in some respects even surpasses the Commodore 64 versions.
Winter Events follows pretty closely the format of the original. Only the two ice-skating events have been dropped, which is just as well because they were boring, and have been replaced by something better.
The line-up of events is: Biathlon, Slalom, Ski-jump, Speedskating, Downhill and Bobsled.
Each of the events is loaded separately from the cassette; there's no way you'd ever cram all that code into the C16's memory all at once. But before you get the skis on, it's time for the opening ceremony. The torchbearer runs across the screen and lights up the Winter Events flame - very pretty. All this happens to the accompaniment of a mishmash of tunes, none of which I could recognise, other than the Dallas theme.
Seasoned C16 gamers will spot the programming handiwork of the prolific Udo Gertz, author of Ghost Town, Tom Thumb; dare I mention it, Bongo and around a million other C16 games.
One to four players can compete against each other. If you're on your tod it'll have to be you against the machine. Each player must enter their name and country, though wherever you're from you'll get a rendition of the West German national anthem, nice one Udo. You can practise, or compete in a selection of some, or all of the events.
1. Biathlon Renowned as one of the most gruelling winter events, the biathlon is no pushover with a joystick. Well synchronised waggling is required if you want to do more than just grid snow. After what seems like an eternity you must put in some accurate shooting to increase your score. Not easy when your fingers have gone blue at the ends.
2. Slalom Steer your way down the slopes from top to bottom without trying to uproot the trees. The idea is to steer round the gates without hitting them. If you collide with more than three you can still finish the course, but you aren't given a time.
The graphics on this section are stunning. In fact, this is the best ski simulation I have seen on any machine. The 3D perspective is spot on and the animated skier performs manoeuvres with all the style of Franz Klammer. [Who? - Ed]
3. Ski Jump One for the loonies without a doubt. Push the joystick button and your skier starts a long descent down the slope. Seconds before reaching the end, press Fire again and the skier roars into the air. Now it's a question of matching the movements of the computer skier in the inset, who of course does everything perfectly. The closer you are, the further you get. Points are also awarded for style, so it helps if you at least look a little graceful. Put your helmet on for this one.
4. Speed Skating Another Winter Games clone and probably the least exciting at that. You against the computer, or a friend, joystick waggling like mad to reach the finish line first. This is more a question of co-ordination than sheer speed so try to work for a steady rhythm.
5. Downhill I was expecting the usual ripoff - slalom without the flags, but the downhill is in fact quite different. The thing here is to go as fast as you can, skintight leathers and waxed skis permitting. Watch out for the lakes and trees and take advantage of the humps, which send you flying into the air, to save on time.
6. Bobsled You have two views of the sled as it careers at breakneck speed through the bends. View one is from directly behind, view two, a plan so you can see what's coming before you get there. In practice it's difficult to look at two things at once, so get a friend to keep an eye on the map and shout left! or right! as appropriate, until you know the course.
Udo Gertz has done a great job to make Winter Events one of the best sports simulations around and the only one worth considering for the C16. The background graphics, traditional alpine scenes complete with mountains, are superb and add to the sense of realism, provided by the excellent animation.
If Winter Events doesn't make the charts then I'm prepared to hang up my skis for good - without taking them off.