Winter Olympics logo

Ski, skate, shoot and jump your socks off in US Gold's simulation of the world's greatest winter sports spectacle.

US Gold have always been some of the leaders in producing top-hole sport simulations, so it comes as no surprise that they've beaten all their competitors to the Winter Olympics licence. The Winter Olympics will be over by the time you read this, but hey, you'll be able to re-live the whole event via your delightful computer.

The Olympics this year are being held in Norway's small town of Lillehammer. According to the "souvenir brochure" that you get free with the game, the Lillehammer games will be both an international festival and a sports extravaganza reflecting human achievement based on genuine values. Er, yes.

Winter Olympics (the game) also reflects human achievement based on genuine values, but involves an awful lot of joystick waggling to boot! There are nine different sports to choose from which include ski jumping, downhill, giant slalom, bobsleigh, speed skating, luge and the biathlon.

Up to four players can play Winter Olympics and once you've chosen a name and which country you want to represent you are plunged straight into the action. The first event is the biathlon and it is an essential part of the game because it is a link event between sports in the full Olympics programme.

The biathlon, for those that don't know, is a combined sport of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. You waggle the joystick from left to right to gain speed when you are doing the cross-country section, you then have five shots with which you must hit the targets otherwise you get a one minute penalty for each one missed. The targets vary in size as you progress through the Olympics.

Possibly the hardest event is the bobsleigh and I've still not managed to get down the "run" without crashing. Maybe, I'm just rubbish at playing games (yeah it's more than likely! - Ed)..

The bobsleigh is presented in two sections. The first is viewed from the side and involves you getting your team into the sleigh. The second is a 3D section and is viewed from the driver's point of view. The 3D section is quite good, but I've seen better.

Although Winter Olympics is a multi-player you have to take it in turns to compete in the event except for the speed skating when you can compete against each other. It's an elimination event, so if you get left at the back of the pack you're out. Like many of the sports in US Gold's sports simulation speed skating is a joystick waggler.

Apart from the subtle innuendo, I wish that there could be some way of getting rid of the waggler because they do tend to weaken your joystick and, ahem, leave you with a sore wrist.
But waggling does seem to the best control method for this type of game, so until someone invents something better we'll just have to put up with.

I'm just skating (ahem) over the events in Winter Olympics, but as with most games of this genre, some are good events while others are bad. Whether you want to buy Winter Olympics all depends on how much you like winter sports.

As a simulation it's not amazing, but if you love all things sporty at winter then you'll like US Gold's sports sim. For the average Joe trying to survive on the street there are much better games available to spend your money on.

Winter Olympics logo

The Winter Olympics conjures up images of John Curry, Torvil and Dean, Martin Bell, David Vine - and his super V-neck sweaters. And this year they're being held in the delightful Lillehammer. Formerly an East German shotputter, she's now a ski resort in Norway and looking forward to hosting the '94 Games.

US Gold were first in the queue for the endorsed game of The Games and you can now take part with up to three mates. Unfortunately there's no ice dancing, but can you see your mate wanting to wear a skirt? No matter, there are six sports t tackle (with 14 disciplines in all) and three difficulty levels. Try out full or mini olympics, or practise on event of your choosing.

Skiing's a super sport. We at AF love our bi-annual week on the piste, but the beer's expensive. Despite the joy of the real slope, to date skiing games have left a lot to be desired. And Winter Olympics, true to alpine computer game form, has its hits and its misses.

Faster! Faster! Faster!
Biathlon is a mixture of cross-country skiing and rifle target shooting which involves frantic joystick waggling over a short period of time - the faster you waggle, the closer you get to the targets. Reach the target and you have to be deadly accurate with the bullets because every miss costs a valuable minute in your overall score. The shooting section works very well but the joystick waggling becomes a bind after a few goes. Hit and miss.

Winter Olympics is best in multi-player mode. There's far greater satisfaction to be gained from out ski-jumping your fellow player than beating some computer opponent from Lapland. And the jumping and bobsleigh - both difficult events to simulate - work well. The alpine section includes downhill, slalom and giant slalom - a mixture of balance, accuracy between the gates, and extreme pace is required.

Turn on and off-able
The in-game music is awful although this is almost a prerequisite for such games. Fortunately, it can be turned off but the sound effects fall somewhat short of spectacular.

Visually, Winter Olympics looks quite good, particularly the backdrop to the downhill event but other skiing games can match it. The sprites are large with plenty of detail and even the sleighs look like bob.

On the whole, Winter Olympics is the best collection of ice-based sports games yet. Most events work well although the speed skating is disappointing; but not as much as the price - a whopping £32.99. Mind, these licences don't come cheap.
As an alternative you could try Superski 2 at a third of the price, but it's not as good.

Winter Olympics logo

Wie man olympischen Wintersport richtig versoftet, hat Epyx schon 1985 vorgeführt - neun Jahre später zeigt uns nun U.S. Gold, wie man sich im Digi-Schnee gründlich blamiert!

Dabei muß man den Amerikanern sogar noch zugute halten, daß die etwas besser zu steuernde und insgesamt runder wirkende Amigaversion nicht ganz so schlimm ausgefallen ist wie die Schneekatastrophe am PC.

Aber auch hier überwiegt die Enttäuschung: Es gibt 14 Disziplinen, wobei das Skifahren praktisch in allen angebotenen Varianten langweilt. Die diversen Rodeleien spielen sich genauso schrecklich, wie sie aussehen, Biathlon wurde in kleinen Häppchen zwischen die übrigen Events verteilt, und das halbwegs erträgliche Skispringen hat Epyx vor neun Jahren auch schon schöner, spielbarer und spannender hingekriegt.

An den Wettkämpfen dürfen zwar bis zu vier menschliche Olympioniken teilnehmen, gleichzeiting antreten können jedoch höchstens zwei - und das auch nur beim Eisschnelllauf, der am wenigsten gelungenen Disziplin.

Mit der Sticksteuerung läßt es sich zwar leben, generell kann man die Handhabung aber nicht gerade als genial bezeichnen, die Paßwortabfrage ist z.B. eine glatte Frechheit.

Außerdem will das Game ohne ersichtlichen Grund mit manchen Amigas einfach nicht zusammenarbeiten. Die optische Aufmachung ist passabel, mit einem Megabyte Chip-RAM kriegt man ein bißchen mehr Grafik und Sound, bei 2 MB Speicher kommen noch einige Präsentationssequenzen hinzu.

Auf dem 1200er läuft das Spiel etwas schneller und enthält ein paar zusätzliche Landschaftsdetails, aber das leichte Ruckeln gewöhnt es sich nie ab. Der Begleitsound klingt da und dort unaufdringlich bis einschläfernd; kurzum, hier muß man wirklich nicht dabeisein! (mm)

Winter Olympics logo

It snowed in Bath the other day, you know.

Before I start this review, I'd just like to mention how nice it is to see US Gold still entering into the spirit of international friendship and employing people whose first language isn't English to write their instruction manuals.

"If you are playing the game in Full Olympic mode, when the last event has been completed you are able to view the Opening Ceremony and celebrations which open the Games" - from the manual, page 8.

But hey, there's a serious point here. Having seemingly not learned any lessons from the last two US Gold games I've played (Pinball Magic and Street Fighter 2, both of which had insultingly useless manuals), USG are persisting with instructions which are not grammatically laughable ("Made of concrete to high standards, competitors are subject to forces of up to 4G " - page 11), but almost completely without value when it comes telling you how to play the game.

I'm still, after three days, not sure what's going on in the first of the Biathlon event, where you "use the LEFT and RIGHT directions to move the pointer along the bar, this will improve the biathletes rhythm." What in dancing? Playing the drums? I certainly can't find any releveance for it in the Biathlon. But anyway.

"Do not hit objects off the course as this will result in fatal injury, preventing you from completing your run." - from the manual, page 9.

It seems like I'm putting off talking about the game here, it's because there's very little to say about it. The events are all ones you've seen before in sports sims, and control is pretty much the same as it always is, a mixture of aiming/steering and frantic joystick waggling, with an added puzzle element in that the instructions are so crap, you have to work out the actual mechanics of control for yourself.

In a Full Olympics, you play five from the 10 available events, one in each category (there are, for example, four different kinds of skiing, from which you choose your favourite). But you can also practice individual events until you've got the hang of them.

Dancing? Playing the drums?

Up to four players can play at once, although the ice-skating events are the only ones in which more than one player is ever onscreen at one time. None of the events ever seem to get really off the ground - the luge and bob can be completed with practically no intervention from the player whatsoever after the start (and are particularly crude-looking), the skiing is slower, less pretty and less exciting than the five-year-old Super Ski (currently £2.99 in the Pocket Power range), the ski-jumping has no sense of height, speed or tension at all, and the biathlon is just plain weird.

You spend the first bit swinging the joystick rhythmically left and right between two parallel lines which occasionally get closer together (or, as I've already mentioned, no readily apparent or ever-explained reason), the second bit waggling like crazy while your skier takes the form of a little icon in the middle of the screen and a clock counts down from 15, and then suddenly you're straight into the target-shooting bit and it's all over until the next round (you play the biathlon in stages between all the other events, finishing off with a final biathlon mini-stage that's a bit like a strange cross between the first two bits).

That just leaves the speed-skating, which is straightforward waggling, and rubbish. Odd word, rubbish. You'd think it would mean "like the act of being rubbed", or something like that, wouldn't you? But it doesn't. Where was I?

The graphics, as you can see for yourself (except for the dodgy scrolling), are alright, but the sound is very sparse indeed, and what there is is almost uniformly horrible. You can use joystick or keyboard controls and they're both okay.

Now, some people (US Gold, in all probability) will tell you that I'm completely missing the point here, and that Winter Olympics is lots of fun in multi-player mode. It is, moderately, but so what? We used to play a game in the AP office to decide who was going to make the tea. It was called Spoof, and involved all the players holding a number of coins (between zero and three) in their closed hands and then taking turns to guess the total number held by all the players.

It operated in a kind of knockout system until only one player was left, who then had to go and make the tea. It was a good way of deciding who was making the tea, sure, but it was also fun. See what I'm getting at? Practically anything you play with other human beings is fun (except maybe Eric Clapton records), you don't need to blow 33 quid on a sub-standard sports game for some top interactive laughs. So don't.

Winter Olympics logo

The weather has been cooler than Prince Charles lately, so what better time for Rik Skews to look at Winter Olympics, a game based entirely on sports played in such chill-some conditions.

Strike me with a brick, was it really ten years ago that Summer Games, the first of Epyx's classic games series appeared? Amazingly enough it is. An although a heck of a lot of computer software has flowed down the river of time since, the basic format of these sports-based games has remained much the same.

This year it was the turn of Lillehammer in Norway to host the 27th Olympic Winter Games. So what's the game all about then? You (and up to three friends if you've got them) can compete against each other (the different players are represented by different competing countries) as well as, or with up to 15 spirited computer opponents.

There's 14 disciplines, covering six Olympic winter sports: these being alpine, bobsleigh, luge, biathlon, short track speed skating and ski jumping. And you choose up to four of them at any one time (the biathlon is always included).

Clearly the first thing that Winter Olympics has going for is that there's no figure skating event, the bane of the Epyx product, while the included opening and closing ceremonies turn up the atmosphere no end. Sadly, all the games - apart from short track speed skating - are one-player only which takes some bite out of the gameplay. After all, all the good things in life are best done with a partner, eh?!

So just what are the sports on offer? Ladies and Gentlemen, in no particular order, may I present them.

Biathlon is a combined sport of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting and takes the form of a link event (just as it did in the Epyx game) between the other sports. Movement of the athlete is achieved by simply moving the joystick left and right in a regular rhythm while shooting is achieved by, you guessed it, moving the cursor over the target and slapping that fire button.

This is perhaps the strongest event on offer here. Ignore the boring walking section and wait until you're reached the targets. The graphics here are very good, particularly the view through the viewfinder. The gun handles very well, with a lovely weighted feeling. Pleasing stuff indeed.

The downhill track is based on what is apparently one of the world's toughest downhill courses. The winner is whoever completes the course in the fastest time after just one run. Miss a gate and you'll be disqualified. However, you can continue to complete the course but no result will be given.

Hitting the track-side obstacles is not advised unless you want to become a permanent Christmas figure. Control here (as with all the Alpine disciplines) is achieved by moving the skier left and right, while pressing up tucks the skier, speeding him up in the process, while holding the joystick down brakes him.

The futuristically named super-g is up next. Another alpine event, this is set on a somewhat shorter track than that used for the downhill. Again the winner is decided after one run.

The giant slalom's next. The winner here is decided after two runs. It's a case of lowest overall time winning. Slalom is much the same, other than the winner here being the competitor who has the fastest aggregate time after two runs. All the downhill courses are very weak gameplay wise, partly because they are too slow, with little to avoid, but primarily because they are far too long.

Last of the ski-based events is the ski jumping section which requires strength, grace and courage, not to mention a healthy insurance policy. Competitors with "Eagle" in their name are frowned upon, especially if they're representing Britain. Two jumps are required, with points being awarded for style and technique as well as the distance achieved. Hitting fire when the green light shows sends your skier spinning off into oblivion. Just like real life going through a red light means instant disqualification. Tapping left or right keeps the skis straight which is essential to build up speed.

Once in the air it's "simply" a case of keeping the correct stance by moving the joystick up and down and pressing fire at the right time as you come in to land. Leave the fire button too long and you could find yourself becoming an experiment in 3D television as you hurtle towards the world's press screaming wildly. Despite the simplicity of this event it's actually pretty good fun thanks mainly to its speed, and I'll bet you'll never tire from making your competitor crumple up in a heap. Hear those tendons snap!

Bobsleigh next. Yep, speed rush city this one. Expect to push your competitors to 4 G as you hurtle down the course's 1,365 metres. The control here is of the waggle-waggle variety with frantic left and righting to push-start the bobsleigh. Once in it's simply a case of pushing either left or right to keep the best line on the track.

Coming in to the home straight and it's the luge event we bump into. This strange piece of kit is for one or two people who hurtle around the track bobsleigh-style in a light toboggan. The controls here (and indeed the game itself) are much the same as the bobsleigh event, although the winner is the person who has the best aggregate time over two runs. Bobsleigh, Luge whatever is up there with Biathlon. The 3D effect is fast and convincing and the grating sound effects give this event a real hang-on-to-you-pants effect.

Lastly, there's short track speed skating, where you get to wear rather raunchy skin tight-togs as you hurtle around an icy track with a group of similarly clad skaters. Once again it's a case of using left and right to build up speed. In case you wonder how you move it's a case of shifting left and right on the joystick with the fire button pressed down. This is a frustrating event to start with and requires a lot of time to get used to. Bear with it though 'cos it's the fastest event on offer and pretty damn exciting I can tell you, especially with those skin tight clothes. Phwoar!

So, all original stuff on offer huh? No, not exactly. And that's a big problem with Winter Olympics. You're likely to have seen games like this a million times before. Most of the sub-games require little more than either waggling the joystick or tapping it left or right.

You could argue that this is a welcome blast from the past but the old Epyx games had much more variety than this. Take the similarity here between the four skiing events for example. The downhill and Luge are much the same also, hardly likely to create long lasting gameplay eh?

Presentation is very good though, with lots of options and some nicely detailed graphics, especially on the still screens. Sound FX are convincing too, and the tunes, while not being strong musically, create a suitably tense feel as you rush around the courses.

If you're looking for a good blast from the past then take a gander at this, as it recreates the feel of the old Epyx product pretty well, and is the sort of game you'll dig out on occasions for years to come.


The earliest recorded date given for the first Olympics is 776BC., although historians, being the knowledgeable people they are, believe the games began well before then. Staged during midsummer at Olympia, (with The Grateful Dead supporting no doubt) the festival became a regularly scheduled event during the pre-Christian golden age of Greece. The Games were held in honour of Zeus, the most important God in ancient Greek mythology and all wars would cease during the contests. There must have been a lot of bored people however, because records suggest that the first Olympics boasted only one event, a 200yd (183m) foot race.


Apart from having a fairly decent footy team the Norwegians aren't exactly famous for much are they? Okay, so if this was 1986 then A-ha could safely be added to the list but the only other things we could think of what they tend to say "moose" quite a lot and all their cars are called "Fjords". The accompanying souvenir brochure of Winter Olympics doesn't go a long way to changing our opinion of the Norwegians as it describes the region's favorite leisure pursuits as swimming, angling and swimming. The Norwegians, they're a bit boring, aren't they?