I have just had some quite remarkable news. It seems that these French lads have come up with a 10-event sports simulation. Errrrrrr... Well done! Given that the bandwagon left town over five years ago, there could only be one reason for bringing out this sort of sports sim now, and that would be to bring it up to date. You know; bigger, better graphics than ever before, amazing sound and a cunning new interface that leaves you gasping at its awesome simplicity. Unfortunately, Super Sport Challenge has none of these.
The game offers you the chance to compete in 10 events, from the athletics field to the swimming pool: 100m, 110m hurdles, pole vault, long jump, shot putt, high jump, triple jump, 100m freestyle, 4 X 100m freestyle relay and the javelin. It does not take a genius to realise however, that the 4 X 100m freestyle relay is the 100m freestyle repeated four times.
Up to four people can compete at a time, each representing a country of their choice, although joystick port limitations means that in race events only two actually compete against each other at any one time.
The controls for each event vary, from the simple to the unusable. In the first category is the 100m where you start running by pressing fire, and push the joystick to the right when you want to run faster. Now this many be less expensive on joysticks than Track and Field-style button bashing, but it is difficult to feel like you are actually involved in helping your athlete win.
In contrast the pole vault requires you to push fire to start running, move the joystick left to increase your run up speed, push fire to plant your pole, pull back on the joystick to bend your pole, press fire to lift yourself up the pole and then move the joystick left to clear the bar. Which is as difficult as it sounds.
The real gameplay comes in the control of your energy level. At the bottom of the screen is a bar display showing the amount of energy you have. This is never enough for maximum effort all the way through an event, and the trick lies in using your energy sparingly. In the jumping events there is little point in arriving at the board at 100mph if you are too tuckered to lift yourself into the air.
Similarly, in the race events there is no point to racing away from the field and leading for the first half if they all catch you up when you are doing a dying fish impersonation down the home straight.
One of the worst points of Super Sport Challenge is that during most events you are forced to listen to the most annoying sample ever heard on a computer game. It sounds like a crowd of 100,000 people chanting 'boring' into a flanger; it only lasts two seconds, but it never stops repeating. Aaaargh! Turn off the sound.
Super Sport Challenge lacks consistency, you get the feeling that different people worked on the different events and nobody co-ordinated them properly. On top of this there is a serious lack of imagination. It does not make any difference which country you select, you will always be the same athlete; there are no female athletes or shots of you on the podium if you win a medal; there is no celebration when you set a new world record and there is unnecessary disk swapping because the individual events are stored in the wrong order.
It is a shame Microids have let these sort of problems spoil what might have been an exciting game. In places the graphics are good and there is an above average soundtrack, which could have been performed by a close friend of Jean Michel Jarre. The four player option encourages even the most pale and wan gameplayer to have some kind of interaction with real people.
Even thoughSuper Sport Challenge does show a lot of promise for the future of Microids, it is let down by poor execution. You can have some fun with it, but it will wear off soon, leaving you bored.