Opening with the Kingsmen's 'Louie, Louie' backing the credits, the Amiga update of the 64 blockbuster is as Californian as a year round sun tan. It may not be the best of the hundred and fifty so versions of the song recorded, but it is the thought that counts.
No new sports have been added to the original eight bit format, so the gameplay remains virtually untouched. You can skate in the half-pipe, juggle with the foot bag, 'shred the tube' (which is surfing, to all us pasty faced Brits), roller skate, BMX race and (whoopee) play flying disc - better known as Frisbee. You can take them on individually, or you can submit yourself the strains of a sun drenched sexthalon (that means six events, by the way).
Some of the events are as completely trivial as only the Americans could possibly manage. Frisbee involves you in launching the disc and then trying to position your catcher underneath it. A bit bleeding easy if I do so myself...
Foot bag is, surprisingly, more fun. All sorts of combinations of tricks are possible. Wonderfully exotic stunts like the Horseshoe and the half axle, which basically consists of booting the bag up in the air a couple for times with different feet.
By far the best sports here are the BMX racing and the surfing. The BMX track effortlessly scrolls over a variety of different jumps and obstacles and each time you crash your rider lets out a painful little squeal - especially the time he got impaled on a cactus - and a comforting message appears like, "Chill Out" or "You Ate It!" which winds me up no end. Likewise on a surf wipe-out, a little shark sometimes appears to the strains of the Jaws' theme.
The stunts you can perform here, if you are sufficiently adept, are moderately satisfying, but there is still not a lot to sustain interest. There is only so much your imagination can do with a dirt track.
As you would expect, the graphics on this Amiga version are considerably improved, but all you seem to be paying for is a bit of improved resolution and a couple of extra stunts listed as Footbag. I managed an Axle Foley, but I cannot tell you what it is because the instruction guide is not kind enough.
California Games is a good laugh, it was ideally suited to the 64 but the Amiga cannot make much more of it.
California Games? The only sort of games I play in California take place in motel bedrooms (arf, arf). Not exactly family entertainment, eh? But these are the games played by those fitness freak Yanks with the gormless toothy grins.
The games are skateboarding (that takes me back), foot bag, surfing, roller skating, BMX racing and flying disk (frisbee to you and me). Being American it's all competitive with up to eight competitors able to try out in all events and hopefully win the championship. It's not only competitive though - it's fun too.
The surfin' and frisbee were me faves but it's all quite a larf. All that exercise without needin' to leave your armchair. If all this inspires you to get fit, I could really do you a favour - I'm doin' a nice little line in genuine Reetech trainers, yours for just a fiver.
California Games is one of the few sporting games that has looked great on every platform it was ever released on. Maybe because all versions looks almost the same :) You can play it with many human players to compare your strenght.
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