US Gold's timing is immaculate - not merely is the summer well and truly over, but these Games are set at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. So we are doubtly out of date. The delay can be almost wholly attributed to US Gold not being over keen the original Epyx PC version, and commissioning The Code Monkeys to do the Amiga and ST versions. It was the right decision.
After a rather neat opening sequence it is time to choose the players and their countries. Each country is denoted by its flag and a short burst of national anthem which is, again, rather nicely done.
There are eight events in total - two more than the usual six - and in competition any number of them can be played in any order. There is a good practice mode where any of the sports can be played singly, useful for learning up an event to thrash the competition next time round.
First on the list is target archery, and jolly playable it is too. Separate scenes allow you to choose the draw length and the aim, which leads up to the release of the arrow. Six arrows have to be shot in 90 seconds, which is a bit of a rush. Hit the target and you are rewarded with a white rabbit running across the screen. Miss high or low and... No. I won't spoil the surprise for you. Anyway, the whole thing is completely unauthentic because they have got the draw length all wrong. I know this because I am a target archer, albeit a mediocre one.
Next off is velodrome cycling. This is done in a very swish filled polygon track. The event is the exciting 1000m Sprint. Only the last 200 metres are timed, the rest being an exercise in tactics. The idea is to let your opponent act as a windbreak until the last moment, when you scoot out for your final sprint.
The tactics are captured well, but the actual riders are too small to give any impression of the type of real-life acceleration that is needed - so explosive that bicycles have snapped under the strain. It is still my favourite event, though.
Springboard diving is good family entertainment, but perhaps a little too confusing to be anything else. Even with the initial run-up and jump timed correctly, a similar sequence of joystick moves produced either 1 percent or 90 percent of the top score. Your guess is as good as mine as to how this works out. But it is good for a laugh, with animated crowd and judges, plus something nasty that appears if you take too long.
Hammer throwing is straightforward. All this little beauty requires is the correct swing and the correct release timing, both of which are easier said than done.
There are a few ways of getting it wrong - release on the backswing for example, which makes a hole in the fence, and release at the side, which makes a hole in the monitor. There are more. Actually scoring points is far less interesting.
The 400m hurdles is run over another filled polygon track, solid vector being officially old hat. The actual race is another "Daley Thompson's got shares in the joystick company so he does not mind if you break it" type game.
What is really nice is the tune, with a groovy James Taylor style organ break - James Taylor as in the eponymous Quartet, not as in BOF. Although running is easiest using the keys, a new keyboard for the A500 is a tad more expensive than a new Konix, so I am sticking with the latter.
Most athletics games make the Pole Vault the difficult bit. The Games is an exception - it is very difficult, maybe even extraordinarily so. There are many variables to get exactly right, but I guess that is the way it has to go until someone thinks of a better way of presenting it. The vault can be made, but it takes a long time trying. Again, as in almost all the events, there are some laughs to be had along the way when things go wrong.
Making up the eights are the two gymnasium events - the rings and the asymmetric parallel bars. The rings need fast and accurate movement between set positions, and then a hold in each position for two seconds. Like the diving, until you have become very experienced at the controls a random set of joystick moves can give as good results as following the script. If you fail in any way, the little man - whose animation, like most of the competitors in most of the events, amounts to hundreds of frames - dismounts, and starts crying. Aww! You then have the honour, or the ignominy, of being photographed for the back page of a digitally plagiarised tabloid.
The asymmetric parallel bars - Epyx calls them Uneven, which is shorter and easier to spell - has your female competitor doing a set series of moves, egged on by her companion on the sidelines. Again, random moves can prove fruitful, but then again they can result in the Back Splat Fall, which earns no points and is somewhat painful looking. Again, the tabloids are there to record your success or failure.
After all is finished there is a neat medal ceremony followed by a small closing ceremony, complete with flypast. And that is about it. Polished, very well presented, some good events, some bearable ones, and plenty of scope for competition.
Niggle the first: Although the graphics are good, only the top 200 lines are used - three marks deducted for that, I am afraid.
Niggle the second: The game loader spends at least half of its time seemingly not doing anything, with the drive motor off. It is almost certainly de-compressing data, but it does make you yawn now and then.
Niggle the third: Even though The Games comes on two discs, it won't use the second drive. OK, so the code fills a 512k machine completely meaning that a second drive - which needs about 20k - cannot be used, but why can it not auto-detect a disc change? We are talking "Insert disk into A: and press button" here. What a pain!
Niggle the last: The usual caveat about additional hardware should be heeded - The Games caused my elderly modem to get confused and hang the telephones for several hours. Not funny.
Niggles notwithstanding. The Code Monkeys have done a very creditable job - you would be very hard pressed not to find something you would enjoy here. But what a shame we did not have boxing. Remember the Korean team? Missed out on a serious piss-taking opportunity there.