As a rule I don't like conversions up from inferior machines, but as with all rules, however, there are exceptions, and the game I am about to review is one of them. Originally written for the Commodore 64, World Games has only recently become available for the Amiga, although the Atari ST version has been available for some months.
Programmed in America by Epyx, a company with a deservedly good reputation, U.S. Gold have decided to take the plunge and import the game although the price £24.99 suggests that they are just testing the market.
One of my 64 favourites, before the machine got relegated to the cupboard was the original Summer Games and Summer Games II series, so when World Games became available on the Amiga you can imagine my reaction, I had read reviews of the 64 version saying it was excellent, but could the Amiga version really be any better?
After three hours of constant play, with blisters forming on both my hands and the answering machine screaming for attention the answer is a resounding YES!
As the game's name would suggest, it is set in eight countries around the world, with each place visited providing one totally unique and varied event, all of which combine to create a task of mammoth proportions.
The first event is Weightlifting. Set in Russia, and introduced with a suitably morose theme tune, the test takes two stages: first the snatch, and then the clean and jerk. Both events require accurate joystick movements and intense concentration. The animation for this event sets the standard for the rest of the game; huge, excellently drawn characters, wonderfully smooth movement and realistic backgrounds. To start with the event seems impossible, but if you watch your man carefully, you can see him breathe, and this is the key to success.
When you manage to complete weightlifting, you are confronted with Germany's game Barrel Jumping. Again there is an applicable theme tune, and as with all the events, speed of joystick movement does not necessarily win the day. You can vary the amount of barrels you jump, but even after twenty or thirty practices I could still not jump more than 12!
Summer Games fans will feel right at home with the next event, cliff diving from Acapulco, although even watching it on a computer screen was enough to scare me, let alone the thought of actually hurling myself over the edge of a cliff. As with the original diving event from Summer Games, the object is to land smoothly, the main difference being that in this case your dive is given approval by a Pelican sitting on a rock nearby.
Barely patched up from your cliff diving antics, it's straight off to France to try your hand at slalom skiing, complete with everything except the almost synonymous sound of the ski Sunday tune and David Vine's dulcet tones.
Completing the first half of your world tour is log rolling in Canada. Although it looks simple, this is in fact one of the most fiendish of the eight events, and requires not only instant reactions, but a tactical mind. You take on the role of a lumberjack and must try and force your opponent to fall off the log by rolling it back and forth. Unfortunately the computer opponent is rather good at this and seemingly had no trouble disposing of even the most experienced jock. Believe it or not, this takes place to the merry Mony Pyhton Lumberjack song, although there are no signs of either buttered scones or women's clothing.
Perhaps the two most disappointing events, at least in terms of playability, come next: Bull Riding from America, and Caber Tossing from Scotland. Bother events seem to have been programmed with a great deal less care than the others, to the degree that there is visible screen flicker as the caber is tossed. Criticisms apart, the music for the caber section is wonderful, with the Amiga's stereo sound used to full effect.
Surprisingly, Epyx have saved the best until last. If you are not already knackered, you are flown to Japan to take part in a grueling duel against some of the fattest and strongest men in the world, Sumo wrestlers. To be totally honest, this event really puts all the others in the shade. The animation, sound and playability are all superb, and if I were a little more fickle I would have been a little surprised that U.S. Gold did not launch it as a full-price game on its own (Don't give them many ideas! Ed)!
With a total of ten different attacking and defensive moves, one bout can last anywhere from three seconds to five minutes, depending on how good your opponent is.
All the way through the game you play one character, whose name and country you input at the beginning. At the end the computer gives you a tally of your results,and if you have broken any records, it stores them on disk for posterity.
World Games is really eight separate games on one disk. Some of them are good and some of them are less good, but without exception they are all fun. There are only a handful of really great games so far for the Amiga, and all of those were written specifically for it. World Games is a conversion, but it is an excellent one, and a game that will provide a great deal of fun months after the latest singing, all dancing shoot 'em up has been given to Oxfam.