On your marks…
E very four years, a small event called the Olympics arises. Almost every single games company fights for the ultimate Olympics licence. The money that floats around must be incredible. Unfortunately, International Sports Challenge is not the official Olympic game, but it is really rather good.
A bit of history for you. Anyone reading this remember Daley Thompson’s Decathlon on the good old Sinclair Spectrum? Yes, of course you do, it was the start of something big and it would revolutionise athletic games for ever and ever. Amen.
Yes, the one game that would be responsible for the end of an era. As you may or may not know, Daley’s Decathlon involved tapping two keys as fast as you could. This undoubtedly led to the N and M being worn out before any of the other keys. This, among other things, led to the death of my Spectrum, so with a tear in my eye I waved goodbye to the good old Speccy and said a big hello to my brand spanking new Amiga. Hurrah, hurrah and thrice hurrah.
Being a sentimental and thoughtful sort of guy (you’ve got to be joking – Ed) I still look back to the days when Daley ruined my micro, but in some way maybe it was a godsend and I was meant to receive an Amiga on that fateful day.
Since Daley, sports games have come and gone, but as I said a few seconds back, it is the time of the Olympics and sports games are big business to these software companies. For starters, most sports games are dead easy to produce – all you have to do is produce a simple joystick waggler, or that is how it seems to me, which is unfortunate for you the punters, yes you, the ones who have to fork out £25 or more a time for such software.
It is your decision and with tons and tons of Olympic games software available, it is you the punters who will make or break these companies. Whoops, I’ve just realised. I have made a major error. This is not an Olympic Games game. It’s only got six different sports in it, so it’s got nothing to do with the Olympics.
Blimey, that was almost a catastrophe. It’s easily done though, especially with the images that cover the box. There are six events – diving, cycling, shooting, swimming, show jumping and the marathon.
The marathon is the “key” event. You start with the marathon and in between you travel to all the different events. After the event has finished you return to the marathon to check on how your runner is doing. You can alter his rhythm and speed, plus you can tell him what to take on the refreshment stand. You have a choice of glucose, water or steroids. Oops, I mean a sponge. Don your swimming togs because the next event is diving. Yes, you too can dive like the pros or you could be a complete amateur and bellyflop, but at least it will be a flabtastic bellyflop. To be honest, it is not a bad diving event. For starters you can actually do a proper dive and yes you do feel quite happy when you do an inward reverse double piked somersault.
Show Jumping is next. Now this is the only event in the whole game that is guaranteed to raise a smile. For starters, it is all in 3D. It does not actually feel as though you’re riding a horse, it is more like driving a car. I found this out when Dobbin kept on doing three point turns and especially when he got pulled over by the cops and had to take a breath test to see if he’d been riding while under the influence. To keep you entertained, there are several different courses. Back to the baths for the next part, it’s swimming. The competition allows you to chose between four strokes, three different distances and three different competition levels. This is an almost straightforward waggler.
At the bottom of the screen there is a stroke bar which displays the speed and rhythm of your stroke. A heart will appear on the bar each time you need to breathe.
The only other waggler in the whole package is cycling. As in the Show Jumping, the cycling is a 3D-Vectory-type thingy. This is one of the more exciting events. You start waggling your stick and for the first couple of laps you have to either take the lead or follow the other cycle, then the bell rings signalling the final lap, then you go into a waggle frenzy until you hit that finish line. I know it sounds crap on paper, but believe me it is really exciting when you’re waggling away.
Right, last event before the end of the marathon and it’s the shooting. There are four different shooting events. Rapid Fire pistol shooting involves you shooting at five revolving targets which are marked with five scoring zones – the closer to the bull’s eye, the more points you’re awarded with.
Right, that’s another review done and dusted – all I need to tell you now is what I think about it. Overall International Sports Challenge is a very polished product indeed. The 3D bits add a new dimension to the genre, plus the fact that you have the marathon running all the way through the game – another idea that works well.
I think you will probably come back to this one even after all this Olympic business has died down. I liked it, but it does not last too long which is probably its only major fault, mainly because there aren’t enough events.
Amiga Computing, Issue 52, September 1992, p.p.14-15 (Gamer)
Are you an all-round athlete? No? Well then have a go at this little lot, it's far less tiring.
ith the pace hotting up for the Barcelona Olympics, it's hardly surprising that the software companies are pulling out the stops to get their sports simulations out to coincide with the start of the games. The latest digital combination of Olympic Events comes from Empire in the form of International Sports Challenge.
The game is a combination of six sports, with various events being included in each discipline to make a total of 21 events. Up to four human players can compete, each player choosing the level they wish to play at on each discipline. Each section is loaded individually from disk, the list of sports you wish to play being selected from a menu at the start of the game. Once all the events have been completed, the final totals are added up and the winner is presented with a nice gold animation (but there are no silver or bronze awards – bah).
Going for gold
However, for the most part the game seems to be just the same old stuff we've been seeing for years. The 3D events are quite innovative, but even the cycling event is just an old-fashioned joystick-waggling affair (which is pretty much an outdated idea when you come down to it). The diving can be annoying at times too, with the control method becoming ridiculously hard to execute, making the going extremely frustrating. As for the marathon, all you have to do is push up the effort to make the pace around two hours and keep taking water at the refreshment stands. Sure you could get a slightly better time by using some of the other functions, but there is no immediate effect on the game as you are playing it, which makes it all seem a bit dull.
Although Empire have tried to take a different view of the genre, International Sports Challenge still doesn't take the field of sports simulations any further than the original Epyx games all those years ago.
Amiga Format, Issue 37, August 1992, p.p.64-65
Jetzt, da Ihr diese Zeilen lest, dürften die olympischen Sommerspiele in Barcelona gerade so richtig heißgelaufen sein - höchste Zeit für ein bißchen digitale Körperertüchtigung...
...dachte man sich bei Empire und beglückt die Bildschirmathleten mit einem neuen Game im Stil der C64-Klassiker von Epyx (Gott hab' sie selig). Bis zu vier Spieler ringen in insgesamt sechs Sportarten um einen Eintrag in die speicherbare Rekordliste, fünf der Veranstaltungen sind einzeln anwählbar, am Marathon darf allerdings nur teilnehmen, wer alle Disziplinen in einem Rutsch durchzockt.
Dabei stellt doch gerade der Dauerlauf eine echte Neuerung dar, er dauert nämlich ganz wie im richtigen Leben etwa zwei Stunden! Zunächst wählt man einen der vier vorgefertigten Läufer, nach dem Start werden Laufgeschwindigkeit und - rhythmus eingestellt. Beizeiten gönnt man seinem Sprite einen Drink, eine Ruhepause oder eine Vitaminspritze, das Laufen besorgt es gottlob von alleine - über Sieg oder Niederlage entscheiden die taktischen Entscheidungen des Spielers. Da natürlich kein vernünftiger Mensch die ganze Zeit über vor dem Screen ausharren mag, kann man inzwischen die anderen Sportarten beglücken, das Rennen läuft derweil sozusagen im Hintergrund weiter...
Gehen wir inzwischen zum Turmspringen, wo allerlei Freifall-Figuren mit unterschiedlichen Schwierigkeitsgrad zur Auswahl stehen. Allerdings schlägt man nicht beliebig Saltos, vielmehr muss ein Punkt geschickt im Kreis dirigiert werden, damit der Rechner die gewählte Kombination perfekt ausführt. Nicht sehr abwechslungsreich, also ab zum Springreiten. Hier gilt es, in flotter 3D-Vektorgrafik diverse Hindernisse fehlerfrei und in vorgegebener Reihenfolge zu überwinden. Ja, dank der gelungenen Steuerung liegt das Glück der Erde tatsächlich am Rücken der Pferde!
Weniger glücklich hat uns das folgende Wettschwimmen gemacht, zwar glänzt es durch zahlreiche Einstellmöglichkeiten (Brust, Kraul oder Freistil, Streckenlänge, Stärke des Computergegners), der Spielspaß geht jedoch baden. Das rhythmische Joystick-Rütteln wird bald langweilig, außerdem kann man trotz Splitscreen nur gegen den Rechner antreten. Etwas witziger ist wiederum das Radfahren im dreidimensionalen Stadion, wo der Polygon-Computergegner nur durch wüstes Joystickrütteln und eine stabile Kurvenlage zu besiegen ist. Anschließend folgt das Schießen, was am besten per Maus erledigt wird. Mal kommen Tontauben in einem Affentempo angeflogen, dann stehen die Ziele still; so oder so wird nur der geübte Scharfschütze erfolgreich sein - wie das Spiel überhaupt mit einem kernigen Schwierigkeitsgrad aufwarten kann.
Leider werden die Mühen kaum belohnt: Es gibt weder Eröffnungsfeier noch Schlußzeremonie, die Grafik ist trotz netter Zwischenbildchen nicht gerade aufregend, Musik und Soundeffekte sind nur spärlich verteilt, dafür wird recht häufig nachgeladen. Alles in allem eine brauchbare Digi-Olympiade, aber die mittlerweile drei Jahre alte "Summer Edition" gefällt nach wie vor besser. (rl)
Amiga Joker, September 1992, p.12
Empire sprints ahead with the first of the Olympic games.
Release: Out Now
rghhh! Just as the dust was clearing after the stampede of footy games, it is time for the Olympics and the inevitable onslaught of athletics games. Lucky for Empire, their International Sports Challenge has two things going for it – it is the first one out, and it has got some weird events in it. Sure it has got the usual dose of joystick waggling (in the swimming and cycling events), but among the six events (okay, so it is not exactly a full Olympic sim) are show jumping, and – yes! – skeet shooting – always one of my faves on the sports games of yesteryear.
It is possible to play each event individually, but of course these games are all about doing the entire thing, preferably competing against a friend of two. The formula for the whole lot goes something like this – diving, shooting, cycling, swimming and show jumping are all played as in-between events, with a strategy- based marathon even enveloping them all. This marathon does not require a single joystick waggle, instead requiring players to balance rhythm with speed, top-up energy, avoid dehydration, all that kind of stuff. It is a mixture of balancing performance with endurance, with the occasional reaction test (i.e. when fine-tuning the rhythm) thrown in for good measure. Not riveting stuff, but it works nicely as an interlude between the shorter, sharper events. Pity about the runner’s animation though.
Of the events, the two water ones really let the side down. The diving event is a nice idea, with a novel control system, but it just does not work. Graphically, it is pretty lame too. The swimming is just downright tedious – a wagglefest with the added attraction(?) of needing a good rhythm, and breathing control which must be timed so as not to fill the swimmer’s lungs with water. I kept getting the urge to let the little jerk drown.
The waggle concept is used again in the cycling event, but here things actually look exciting (solid 3D vectors are used), and there is not rhythm to worry about. Sometimes the simplest things in life work the best, y’know?
Finally, then, we come to the show jumping – another solid 3D thing. I must confess to hating show jumping on TV, and I have never had the urge to ride a horse in my life. But this is funny AND fun. Guiding a horse’s head round the course, trying to find the next fence without crashing into everything else is just a little bit surreal, but it is laughter all the way (smashing straight through all the barriers is a real hoot).
The lack of events is partially compensated for by the game’s flexibility, with several variations in each event upping lastability and game time. Empire reckon there are 2000 event variations to try out, and while I doubt you would want to try out every single combination, International Sports Challenge offers a decent amount of fun for yer money, for a team of players at least. I have got my doubts about its value as a single player game though, and the water events really are tedious. But at least it tries to be a little different, and anyway, I am a sucker for multiplayer games.
Amiga Power, Issue 16, August 1992, p.p.72-73
LICENSE TO PRINT
ATH THE CORE
Steve Keen aims for a gold medal with the first of the many forthcoming Olympic-based games to arrive...
With the 1992 Summer Olympics just about underway you can expect a whole bunch of track and field-related games to be grasping at the pot of gold which accompanies the spectacle every four years. Empire's game caters for up to four players, and covers six sports with a choice of 21 events. These are diving, show jumping, swimming, cycling, shooting, and the marathon. The events are all played in succession in the competition section, but can also be practised individually.
The marathon serves to tie all the events together and if you choose to play it, it will always be the first competition you'll embark on. Because of its twenty-six mile length, the race can be left to tun whilst you get on with the other five sports, with the computer automatically cutting back for an update on the action between events. Of the six sports, this is surprisingly one of the most enjoyable. After selecting your runner, you can modify his competitive drive from a series of sub-menus. From these you can also control how much effort he exerts, the speed at which he runs, the rhythm of his stride, and even which refreshment to take at the many strategically-placed watering holes. The track is preset and can be viewed by clicking on the map icon which shows everything from the gradients of hills to the whereabouts of the refreshment tents! All such details must be taken into account when adjusting your runner's stats. For example, running downhill requires much less effort th Although this section is fun you won't have much trouble beating the computer players. The real challenge is sprinting against the clock and actually keeping in the race. Set too fast a pace and you could find yourself burnt out and out of the race.
LICENSE TO PRINT
ATH THE CORE
At first glance, you'll probably be dreading the inclusion of the waggling method employed in previous games. Although the joystick-trashing system hasn't been totally abandoned, it is nowhere near the level of exertion displayed in the past. The main offender is cycling which takes place inside a velodrome. There are four races to choose from and, as with all the events, you can compete in three different classes – National, International and World. The race is displayed using polygons and involves waggling your joystick as fast as possible to pass the finishing line before your opponent. All two-player games can be raced head-to-head with a friend or against the computer. The scrolling is smooth, but hardly exciting, and you'll be glad when it's over.
The diving section is another event which falls foul to bad gameplay. The idea is to pick four out of forty possible dives spread over three heights of board. Each dive possess a tarif showing the difficulty and, the harder the dive, the more points you'll get for the performance. To perform the aerobatics you must first press the firebutton when a red icon expands and follow another sphere's pattern as it spins around.
International Sports Challenge is a very poor affair. The graphics for the human sprites and the 3D sections are nothing special. Gameplay is especially limited and, although there are a good variety of events, they're all very samey. As a result, you're best advised to wait for the next sweaty sim to come along.
CU Amiga, August 1992, p.75