THE LOG FIRES and polished pine panels of the Calgary resorts may have been replaced by shiny plastic and chrome, but the weather's the same and so are the Winter Games.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
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