Wrap up in your bright red skiing gear, don your skates and go out on the piste courtesy of Winter Games. Yupsirree sporting fans, the latest Epyx/US Gold sports simulation prematurely brings to your Spectrum's screen seven of the events which will feature in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
The events fall into three categories: skating events, figure, free and speed; skiing, hot dogging, the jump and biathalon; and finally sledding - bobsled. All these events won't fit into memory together, and two loads are required. The package includes a double-sided cassette with three events on one side and four on the other. Each side can be loaded independently.
Once a side has loaded an extensive options screen is presented. Using this, you can change the game controls, see the world records and choose the number of players participating - up to four people can compete together. Events can be practised, and it's possible to compete in single events or run through all the events loaded from one side. When the game has been set up to your satisfaction you're asked to input your name and play begins.
SIDE ONE: Ski Jumping, Hot Dog Aerials and Speed Skating
Speed Skating involves a 30 mph dash over a smooth glassy surface. The screen is split horizontally, each half showing two skating lanes and competitors race against a computer-controlled pacer on their half of the screen. The idea is to whizz off as fast as you can once the starting signal sounds, in an attempt to get to the finishing post first.
To control your skater, all you have to do is press left and right rhythmically in time with your skater's legs, quickly at the beginning to build up speed, then slowly and smoothly to keep the speed up once it has been attained. A bar display on the right of the lanes gives a speed readout. Naturally, the player with the fastest time wins the race.
The Ski Jump sees you at the top of a long runway, and the ground looks far, far away. Pressing fire starts the journey down the slope, and another press at the end of the runway makes your skier leap into space - mistime this, and the skier takes a tumble. If the jump is timed right, then the screen changes, revealing the skier's flightpath as he falls towards the landing slope and stopping area. In the upper right hand corner of this screen a little window shows the skier's posture in the air. To make good jump, you need to watch this window, correcting the skier's faults in mid-air. Up unbends the skier's kness, down stops the skis from crossing and left and right is used to adjust the angle of forward and backward lean. If corrections aren't made then presentation points are lost, the skier doesn't travel so far and a crash landing is likely, and more points are lost.
The distance jumped is multipled by three and added to the presentation marks to give an overall score. Each player has three attempts to notch up a good score before the winner of the event is announced.
Hot Dog Aerials is the third event on Side One. In this crazy event a skier has to whizz down a short runway, take off and perform as many stunts, somersaults and kicks as possible before landing safely. Like the Ski Jumping, the skier is activated by a press of the fire button. Once in the air, six directional controls select the stunts that can be performed. Since the jump is a short one there's only time for two stunts - any more and the hotdogger is likely to land head-first! Points are awarded for the difficulty of the stunts performed: the more complex the routine, the higher the points. Once again, you get three attempts but, in this skiing event, a panel of international judges award points, which are then averaged.
SIDE TWO: Figure Skating, Free Skating, Bobsled and The Biathalon
The two skating events are very similar indeed and have indentical control methods and graphics - in Figure Skating seven compulsory moves have to be made whilst in Free Skating it's up to you to choreograph your own performance.
The Figure Skating event lasts for one minute, and skating against the timer, you have to complete a program of seven movements. Your skater is shown in the centre of the screen with the crowd scrolling past in the background. A timer ticks down during your performance.
Figure skaters are capable of eight different moves, including skating forwards. Practice and experimentation are needed before you become proficient at these events. Learning which move can succesfully follow on from another without risk of your skater taking a tumble is vital. When a minute is up your skater takes a bow and a score is given. Points are awarded for successful movements - awkward movements and falls cost points.
Free Skating looks and plays identically to the figure skating, only there is a time limit of two minutes. In this event the overall object is to make three successful attempts at the seven moves. Once again, points are won for each movement completed and lost for mistakes and falls. The highest possible score is a six, no matter what your overall score.
The Biathalon is the most strength sapping of all the events... with a .22 calibre rifle over your shoulder you have to endure ice and snow as you race against the clock over scenic landscapes pausing for a spot of target shooting on the way. The course consists of several flip screens showing slopes, flat stretches and the four target boards. Each target screen contains five targets and a sight moves vertically over each one in turn. Your athlete's pulse rate, monitored by a flashing heart on the bottom right of the screen, affects the steadiness of your aim. You get one shot at each target - aim carefully as a miss adds a five second penalty to the overall time for the event.
Fluent left/right movements on the joystick or keys moves the biathlete across the snow on the level and uphill stretches. If you go too fast he slips; go too slowly and it takes ages to build up a good speed. Digging your ski sticks into the snow adds speed on the downhill slopes. At the end of the course your overall time, less penalties, is displayed.
The final event on Side Two puts you in the driving seat of a bobsled. In order to retain control of the sled you have to steer left and right in the bends. The screen is divided into three, with the biggest area taken up by an aerial plan of the course. Once you start racing a red line creeps down the course showing your progress, helping you to anticipate bends. The second screen area gives a view of the track as you belt down it, and is the most important screen since it allows you to gauge whether the bob is being oversteered or understeered. If you don't steer the sled properly then it tumbles over. The third screen is the timer which you race against... and as in real life fractions of a second count.
After every event Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are given and points awarded accordingly to the medal wnners. After all the events have been played on one side, the player with the highest points is acclaimed the champion of the games.
Winter Games also has a World Record facility. If you get a record during a game then it'll automatically be included in the record tables which can be viewed using the option screen. Unfortunately the table can't be saved, but at least you can note down your best efforts, or throw down a challenge to your chums. Don't be too disappointed if you can't find the Opening Ceremony mentioned in the large instruction sheet - the programmers couldn't quite fit it in, and an Errata slip should come in the package apologising for this omission.
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: nice and easy
Use of colour: good
Graphics: very good, especially some of the backdrops
Sound: some good tunes
Skill levels: one, improve your scores!
Screens: one for each event, two for the Ski Jump, and a course made up from three flip screens for the Biathlon
'Seven events in only two loads for only eight quid can't be bad. I wasn't impressed with the menu and medal screens, but the game itself is very good with beautiful backgrounds on most of the outdoor events. Side One is the best graphically, with sound on the events too, but Side Two features four events - it's hard to decide which side to play. All the events require a fair amount of practice, some more than others - the skating and ski-jumping, for instance, need a lot of accurate joystick or keyboard control and split-second timing. Every event is of very high quality, and just when you think you've gone as far as you can, you find some other special move. With the snow gently descending in Ludlow, I'm glad I can get some skating practice in!'
'I reckon this must be the best sports game to date, with the possible exception of Hyper Sports. Seven excellently portrayed events make for great fun, and because of the constantly appealing challenge about beating the record, or trying a different event, this is a highly addictive piece of software. Some of the events take some getting into, others are instantly playable but the difficulty still remains. The instructions are very long and helpful, telling you everything about each event, and detailing a history of the Winter Games as well. Epyx seem to have succeeded where Electric Dreams failed with their Winter Sports. I think the name similarity could confuse, which would be very unfortunate. I now live in hope of seeing a Spectrum version of Summer Games (I and II). Over to you US Gold/Epyx.'
'The cover looks great and the games inside are mega-great. All these highly dangerous winter sports can now be played in the comfort of your own home without the risk of breaking bones! The seven different events kept me glued to the keyboard for hours on end. The graphics are lovely throughout, with beautiful lodges and scenery - David Thorpe (see ON THE COVER, Issue 17) has done a great job. Some of the games are really fast - you need to be really quick with your reflexes. All in all, a great package.'
How many times is this game going to be rereleased in a different format? After the original release it's been on countless compilations I know of, and now rereleased on the Kixx label. If you haven't got it somewhere in your software collection, where have you been over the past few years? It's no wonder it's been rereleased so many times though, it's a brilliant game. One of the best winter sports simulations on the Spectrum.
The events range from the basic ski jump, which takes some mastering, to fun things like the toboggan and hot dog events. And no the hot dog has nothing at all to do with sausages and rolls, it's the free style event where the skier has to do the most death defying leaps he can. All the snow tipped mountains in the background add a nice touch - you could almost be in the Alps. In fact I thought I saw Robin Candy flying by on his skiing holiday! The main sprites are a bit basic with not much detail, but they're well animated: what do you expect, this game was first released in 1984! Sound is also not up to modern standards, but who cares? The graphics create all the atmosphere, and the various events are a real challenge, even to the experienced game player.
Winter Games is a Spectrum classic. Any self-respecting collector should have it on his or her shelf in one form or another, and with this budget release you've no excuse: go out and by it now, you won't be disappointed.
The most interesting battle in the Winter Olympics has been the race between Electric Dreams and US Gold to win the Spectrum owners' gold. Electric Dreams was the first to the finish but this is not a mere race - there's scoring for style too!
Winter Games has only seven events while Winter Sports had eight. But of those three were almost identical and two of the new ones give me a feeling of deja vu as well. Both need to be loaded in parts, but Winter Games keeps this down to two and on the whole it's to say they manage better graphics.
The first side contains some great music but the four program second section is silent - a pity because the instructions refer to Free Skating to music. There are options to practice and compete in single events as well as all together and multi-player options.
Both programs compete in the Ski Jump and Biathlon events. While Electric Dreams versions are more sophisticated I preferred the latest two screen jump. The Biathlon is rather simplistic but at least it doesn't take an age.
There's also the obligatory joystick-wrecking Speed Skating about which what can say except 'Ouch, I've sprained my wrist!' Bobsled appears in both Games and Sports and the American team provide much less of a challenge than the English, who make you steer a proper course instead of just compensating for centrifugal force.
The other three events are unique to Winter Games. Hot Dog Aerials isn't flying frankfurters but a ski jump with stunts - looks like a good way to break your neck in reality! It's closest to the diving events in more summery athletics.
Figure and Free Skating are very similar, with one and two minute time limits to perform certain specified moves without going over on the ice.
Attempting a Double Lutz when skating forward will only prove that you're a total klutz! Though in the John Curry stakes these are more Mild Korma than Madras. I rather liked them.
In the end those all important style points go to Winter Games, mainly for the graphics and music, and if you must have yet another excuse for not going out and getting some real exercise, then this is probably the one.
Remember the blizzard of winter sports games early this year (Blizzard! Two of them? - Ed) What's wrong with a bit of poetic license? Well, this was the good one and its expansion to 128K has done no harm either.
I actually have a sneaking regard for Winter Games, because on the whole it avoids the slippery slope (geddit?) of pure joystick jiggling and goes instead for timing. And as we all know, it's not just how fast you quiver your Quickshot that counts.
Even the speed skating is less a question of wild waggling, calling for a more rhythmic pace. White noise swooshes as you shoot the curves in your bobsled (Well mine's called Bob - what do you call yours?) And when it comes to creating your own free skating displays - move over Torville and Dean, Rachael's comin' thru.
As well as packing all of this activity into one load, US Gold has improved the music. There's a Jaws style pulse before you set off down the ski slope and a bit of Bach as you glide around the ice, perform a triple axel, a double lutz and a singular klutz that leaves you flat on your back.
Maybe sports simulations are last year's thing and it won't be cool to be seen with Winter Games, but if you've just availed yourself of one of Uncle Alan's Plus Twos, get piste. (And if he ever brings out the Plus Four, buy yourself a golf simulation too!).
THE LOG FIRES and polished pine panels of the Calgary resorts may have been replaced by shiny plastic and chrome, but the weather's the same and so are the Winter Games.
There are seven events in the games, which take place in three locations, and there are two parts to the competition. The first includes a trip to the high slopes and the ski jump and then a visit to the minor crests for hot dogging. Finally, there is the specially constructed rink for speed skating. There are different techniques for cutting snow and ice.
Practice each of the events in turn. You'll need to get your timing right if you're to win any medals - let alone gold. Don't worry, practice sessions are done out of view of the judges. You don't win any medals but you get a time which you can aim to improve on.
The Ski Jump is my favourite event in part one. You put on your skis and start from the top of a long, sloping ramp. The organiser, Epyx, recommends that you use sticks and I agree - I've never been one for free-fall skiing.
When you are ready press forward on the sticks and you will start to slide, gathering speed all the time. At the end of the ramp press forward again and you will take off. If you fail you end up head down in the snow.
If your legs are bent keep your sticks up and you won't fall. On some occasions you may lean too far forward. If so, pull back on the sticks - not too far or you will lean back and will have to turn your sticks to the right.
The biggest danger on the jump is when your skis cross. Slam down on your sticks or you will crash. Snow is soft but not when you hit it at 100 kph.
Don't worry if you land awkwardly or fall over at the end of the jump during the competition. The judges may fault you but you will not be disqualified. The same goes for all the events except the skating - which comes in part two - where the judges could give you no points.
Hot dogging is great fun. The event involves skiing off the frozen crest of a snow bank, while performing aerial acrobatics - or is it aerobics? Anyway, it's all very frightening.
There are six movements you can make before you land. The Daffy is a backflip with legs pulled together and as straight as possible, while Backscratching is a forward flip while keeping the ski handles tucked into the body. Mulekicking means throwing the hands into the air and bending the knees. The Swan is a combination of the Mulekick and the forward flip.
The most marks for the event are gained for the forward and backward flips - in layman's terms somersaults - but those are the most dangerous, if the most flexible, jumps. By keeping your stick depressed you can do one, two, or three flips in the air but your timing must be accurate or you will bounce onto your backside.
Before you launch yourself off the crest you should decide how many flips to attempt and turn your stick into the manoeuvre as soon as you can after the leap.
The finale for the first part is the ice rink and means a good deal of stick pumping with the speed skating. It is the least popular event and involves building up and maintaining speed against your opponents. Although a lot of stick jostling is required you should push and pull using a strong, slow rhythm. Frantic pumping will only decrease your speed and increase your finishing time.
The four events of the second part take place on the mountainous slopes, on the bobsled run and across the opaque sheen of the ice rink.
The Biathlon takes you over snow-covered hills and your aim with a gun must be as good as your speed on skis. You have 20 bullets and must race up and down the slopes to locate your targets. Again a slow and steady hand, rather than frantic pumping, is required to ski.
When running downhill it is best to slide using an up and down motion with your sticks. Moving across the flatland and up a slope should be accomplished by pulling the sticks left and right.
When you arrive at a target area, unsling your rifle, pull back its bolt and push the bullet into the barrel. Be careful not to push too far forward or the bullet will flip out onto the snow leaving the chamber empty and your chance of a point lost.
Remember that this is a timed event. The more time you spend at the targets the less time you will have to ski to the next.
The Bobsled is the most terrifying experience. You start at the top of the icebound run. The sled contains two people, one steering and the other at the back to act as a counterbalance. When the sled shoots up one wall of the run you should lean in the opposite direction to avoid a spill.
The run provides one of the most tricky events in the games and just when you think you are coming into the home run you will bounce off an edge and come a cropper. The last two bends are the ones to watch out for. The others go left, then right, in sequence but the last two are both left bends.
Figure and free skating are held on an indoor rink and provide a welcome relaxation for everyone except the participants.
Figure skating consists of a short series of moves each of which must be executed with as much grace as possible and as few sit downs as you can manage - that ice is cold! The easiest moves are the sit and camel spins.
The most awkward postures are the jumps which include the Triple Lutz, the Double Lutz, and the Triple Axle. The most important thing to remember is to make a jump forwards. Jumping backwards on ice is not recommended.
Winter Games is guaranteed to get your blood and muscles pumping although - unlike Daley Thompson's Decathlon and Hypersports - it's unlikely to knacker your joystick.
The scenery is colourful and very detailed. The tiny villages surrounded by pine trees and ever-white mountains provide the frosty setting for the smoothly-animated skiers and skaters - not a hint of dot crawl, flicker or attribute clash.
The graphics are more realistic and appealing than those used in Winter Sports from Electric Dreams, and more innovative. Winter Sports loads its first three games at once, and then you have to load the final three in one at a time. There's no messing around with Winter Games - just two long loads using both sides of the cassette.
Three of the games in Winter Sports differ from those in the Epyx package. Those are slalom, giant slalom and ice hockey. If you buy Winter Games only you won't be missing much. So, go for gold - or at least a high personal standard - without stepping into the slush and damp of real snow.
Programmers: Jon Woods and Geoff Brown
Joystick: Kempston, cursor, Interface II
The slush of snow on skis, the red noses, white faces, and the comforting crack of ice as your opponent sinks beneath Innsbruck skating rink.
US Gold's reasons for a 128K version of Winter Games are clear. It loads in one ten-minute marathon - rather than two - has continuous music on some events and sound effects which raise a shiver in the jacket of even the most seasoned skater.
There are seven events in which one to four players take part. Skill is required for figure skating, free skating and hot dog aerials. Brute force - the rugged hand on the joystick - wins speed skating, ski-jump, biathlon and bob sled.
Most of the games have a musical intro, quickly silenced by a press of key or button. When you start skating or skiing the 128 makes a satisfying electronic swish which bounces out of the television speaker. On events of endurance the swish is replaced by a pulse that rests at 60 beats and climbs to 130.
Endurance events require joystick bashing reminiscent of Daley's Decathlon but a slow rhythm, rather than a frantic panic, is needed.
Events such as figure skating and hot dog aerials require delicate skill at the joystick. You're out to impress the judges with an acrobatic display what will earn you a gold.
Medal tables and score boards are created when you've been through your set pattern of events - all or a selected few. You're given your ranking - medals - after each event but the final score is calculated on a points system which is identical to that used in the Winter Olympics.
Winter Games is a package which surpasses all others, including those inimitable joystick crunchers Daley's Super Test/Decathlon.
Label: US Gold
Author: Ocean, David Thorpe, Epyx
Reviewer: John Gilbert
Amstrad, £9.95cs, £14.95dk
C64, £9.95cs, £14.95dk
Spectrum, £8.99cs (128 only)
IBM PC, £19.99dk
It may not have Eddie the Eagle, but this does have seven events requiring skill and timing, all set against picture postcard scenery. The seven events are: bobsleigh, hot dog aerials, speed skating, ski jump, figure skating, free skating and biathlon.
Events like the hot dog aerials and figure skating require the player to perform various moves to score points. Speed skating and biathlon require rhythmic waggling. In nearly all the events the main problem is staying upright - like real life. A thoroughly enjoyable game that combines good graphics, music and gameplay to make an excellent whole.
SUPPLIER: U.S. Gold
Can Winter Games on the Spectrum be as good as the C64 version? And what's this - another contender in the computer Winter Olympics called Winter Sports? C+VG's reviewers waxed their skis, watched a couple of Ski Sundays on BBC2, and prepared to go on the piste for a battle royal between these two snowbound sports simulations!
First let's take a look at the events you get in both packages.
Winter Games gives you Figure Skating, Free Skating, Speed Skating, Hot Dog acrobatic stunt ski-ing, Ski-Jumping, Biathlon and Bobsled.
Winter Sports gives you three sorts of ski-ing, Slalom, Giant Slalom and Downhill, plus Ice Hockey, Speed Skating, Ski-Jumping, Bobsled and the Biathlon.
First we have to say that the figure and free skating events in Winter Games are pretty pathetic on the Spectrum version reviewed. The skating figure is simplistic and the backgrounds boring. The good news is that you don't have to bother with these two events unless you want to compete in everything for an overall score.
The quality of the games improve by leaps and bounds once you've got over the skating. The ski-jump, hot dog, biathlon, bobsled and speed skating events have similar graphics to the C64.
My favourite event is the Biathlon - a combination of cross country ski-ing and rifle-shooting. The idea is to complete a cross country course in the quickest time - at the same time hitting as many targets as possible along the way. The Winter Games version has a "pulse" feature which measures how tired your skier is getting.
You must wait until you pulse rate has dropped to around 80 before attempting to shoot at targets. Otherwise the cross hair sight governed by your pulse rate will be jumping up and down across the target at an impossible speed! You can make sure your pulse isn't racing by ensuring your ski-ing action between rifle shooting sections is as smooth and controlled as possible.
Next best event is the Bobsled - extremely difficult to do right and featuring some excellent graphics. You see a plan view of the course with a marker showing your position on - or off - it.
Hot Dog ski-ing is, to say the least, different and challenging. Speed skating is a bit like those bike racing events in other sports simulations. You've got to get the rhythm right to be any good. Ski-jumping is fun too.
If the figure and free skating are a disappointment in Winter Games then the Ice Hockey feature in Winter Sports is equally unattractive. The teams are matchstick men and the game itself is too simplistic to be challenging. Much too easy to score goals against a computer opponent.
Up to four players can compete in Winter Games, two in Winter Sports. Both games give you high score tables, but only Winter Games has the useful practice mode for events.
So which package gets the gold? For our money the Winter Games conversion just has the edge on presentation and playability - despite the naff skating bits.
Winter Sports comes a close second, however, because it features straight ski-ing games.
How can you have winter sports without downhill ski-ing? Excuse me while I go back to waxing my skis...
Sports simulations are possibly the greatest shot in the arm for the joystick industry yet developed. A dedicated Daley Thompson fan could leave an entire heap of mangled plastic behind him in his quest for gold.
Winter Games, though, ushers in a new era in the genre. Rhythmic movement and a cool head have replaced frantic stick waggling.
Seven events are on offer, a fair cross section of the sort of thing Winter Olympians are called upon to undertake. Success in most of these requires timing rather than the application of brute force. The graphics are workmanlike with rather anorexic figure skaters.
One to four can play, each player takes a country from the large choice presented including such unlikely candidates for the Winter Olympics as Mexico and Australia. This all makes for a good evening's entertainment as you try to shave tenths of a second off the records. After completing all the events, a ranking table is displayed and your eye moistens as the stirring chords of your national anthem resound around the stadium.
It's good to have a sports game which doesn't need you to go into intensive training to play. Coming from a country justly proud of its heroic place in Winter Sports, personified by Conrad Bartelski, the greatest living exponent of the downhill, we hope that the game manages more than Conrad's usual token appearance in the charts before ignobly crashing in an undignified heap.
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