Waggle your way to boredom

International Championship Athletics logo

HAWK * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Out now

The timing of this game is probably a little dubious. There is no obvious tie-in with the athletics, apart from the season itself, nor is there a big name licence. On top of that, the Olympics aren't until next year.

Basically there is no obvious reason to release an athletics game which offers nothing new. If the game was stunningly playable that would have been no problem - sadly there is not even that to recommend it.

Joystick waggling makes up the bulk of the 10 types of events, except the longer distance runs and the steeplechase. Jumping events and the javelin make use of what is called the Angle Sweep, positioned on one side of the info panel in the top left of the screen.

This is triggered by hitting the fire button, the idea being that if it is hit far enough in advance, but not too far, it will sweep through the optimum angle of 45 degrees at the moment the jump is triggered automatically. Meanwhile you are furiously waggling to get maximum speed in order to make the greatest distance.

The fact that the jump is triggered automatically takes away the one realistic aspect of the game, and anyone with a strong wrist can waggle their way to success very quickly.

The same applies to the throwing events but this time the fire button is used to catch the athlete as he is facing the right way, and the constantly moving Angle Sweep is at the optimum central point. The energy level created by the waggling is shown at the right of the info panel. This juggling of the three elements, energy, direction and angle, is a good idea but is too easily conquered: my third throw of the hammer netted me nearly 80 metres.

The running events under 400 metres come down to nothing more than your basic waggle: the stronger the wrist and the higher the level of stamina, the better you will perform. Still, physical strength and stamina are what athletics are all about aren't they?

Above 400 metres it comes down to tactic. The idea is to use the joystick to adjust the level of energy expenditure: the more energy you use the faster you will go but the quicker you will collapse, exhausted. The idea is to get a balance that will see you run out of energy just as you cross the line in first place. Trial and error will soon sort this out.

Finally, we come to the steeplechase, and again it is too easy. The computer controls your running. All you have to do is time the leap over the hurdles. This is triggered by the fire button: five minutes practice and you're laughing. It's no real challenge.

Not all the events have to be entered - you may choose to focus on single events for the sake of practice - but those with a strong wrist will find that after half an hour all the events have been successfully mastered. Or you can take part in the full championship and fight for the title. Either way, you'll probably regret it.

You see, not only does the gameplay fall woefully short of adequacy, but the graphics are truly dismal, amateur in the extreme, and the sound comes down to nothing more than a few oohs and aahs at the end of the event - and even these have to be loaded individually from disk.

My advice is that I would be loathe to pay out £7.99 for this on a budget label, but paying full price is well out of the question. This has nothing more going for it than the novelty of being so poor.

International Championship Athletics logo

Hawk * £25.99

16 events are yours to try in the classic "Summer Games" style. A mixture of waggling and touch play, you have the chance to compete against a world class field in 100m, 200m, 400m, 110m Hurdles, 400m Hurdles, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, Steeplechase, High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump, Pole Vault, Discuss, Javelin and Shot. You cycle through the events, competing in each, racking up medals for your country as you go. In between events a mutant announcer and strangely similar crowd cheer your success or failure.

Good waggling games are fun when played in a group, but average ones played alone are dull. International Athletics falls into the distinctly dull camp, with average pics and some strange controls. The long-distance races are particularly confusing and henceforth hard to win.

Es darf gerüttelt werden!

International Championship Athletics logo

Auf dem C64 waren sie vor rund sechs Jahren groß in Mode, auf dem Amiga hat sie bisher eigentlich keiner vermißt: Die "Rüttel-Sportspiele", bei denen man seinen Athleten durch hektisches Hin- und Herbewegen des Joysticks auf Trab bringt...

Als vereinsamter Solo-Sportler darf man hier zunächst seinen Namen eintragen und eine Nation auswählen. Deutschland-Patrioten seien allerdings gewarnt: Sie können nur für die DDR starten, auch wenn es die schon längst nicht mehr gibt. Dafür sind die folgenden (einzeln anwählbaren) 16 Leichtathletik-Disziplinen auch für unsportliche Athleten bestens geeignet - man kann nämlich nirgends ausscheiden!

Bei den Sprintstrecken ist einfach Rütteln bis zur Erschöpfung angesagt, die Wurfdisziplinen (Speer-, Hammer-, Diskuswerfen) erfordern zumindest ein wenig Timing, damit man den richtigen Abwurfwinkel erwischt. Am schlimmsten sind die Langstreckenläufe: Sobald das Lauftempo einmal eingestellt ist, torkelt das Sprite minutenlang auf seiner Bahn dahin, und man selbst darf derweil däumchen drehen.

Die übrigen Highlights des Programms sind ein miesepetrig dreinschauender Stadionsprecher und daß man seine Leistungen nochmal in der Wiederholung betrachten darf. Die Grafik ist ganz nett animiert und recht bunt, dafür ruckelt das Scrolling wirklich höllisch.

Sound gibt es (außer der Titelmusik und etwas Ächzen & Keuchen) fast gar nicht, der Schwierigkeitsgrad ist viel zu niedrig, und ein Zwei-Spieler-Modus fehlt auch. Bei dieser Olympiade ist Dabeisein nicht alles - genaugenommen ist es noch nicht mal die Hälfte... (rl)

International Championship Athletics logo

We're all for 8-bit style games, but joystick waggling anyone?

When I suggested to fellow reviewers that this multi-event Olympiad would be getting a reasonably enthusiastic review there were cries of protest. After all, they reasoned, aren't the graphics laughably appalling? Isn't the game control useless and unwieldy? Aren't the graphics way out of date? And isn't the gameplay limited in the extreme?

Well, yes, all that is undoubtedly true, but apart from the pretty second rate presentation this really is a lot of laughs, and although my first impressions were derisive, I ended up playing for hours.

You have about a dozen events to take part in ranging from 100 metres sprint (waggle the joystick madly and press fire for extra bursts) to javelin (waggle the joystick madly and press fire to release the spear) to 5000 metres (use the joystick to keep a balance between energy used and energy left).

Yes, it's all very simplistic, but after being beaten soundly a few times by computer athletes I got to practicing, and soon started getting fired up by the old competitive spirit. And when a few medals starting coming in, I was hooked.

Perhaps it is the hilariously bad presentation which adds to this game's appeal. There is a commentator who pops up every now and again to reveal just which country is leading the medals table - the facial animations of this guy are so unrealistic, it looks as if the poor chap is chewing an iguana.

And yes, it's true that some of the events simply do not work - the 5,000 metres is far too long to retain any interest at all, and the pole vault is difficult to get the hang of. But, in the main, these dozen little games are a fun diversion. The only trouble is, who wants to spend £25 on something so off the wall? Especially when similar games like Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge are available on labels like The Hit Squad at less than half the price?

Still, there are loads of events, lots of laughs, if not too much in the way of serious gameplay here.