Like most Americans, I participated in the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, only by watching the events on
television - sitting in the comfort of my sofa or standing on top of my coffe table, depending on the pace of the action.
Now that the roller-coaster ride of emotions is over, my coffee table is safe for another four years - or is it?
To the delight of coffee-table manufacturers everywhere, Epyx has introduced an Olympic simulation, The Games -
Summer Edition. Although Epyx has produced other interactive Olympic Games, this latest version may be its best.
I didn´t expect to be impressed with The Games, thinking it would probably be a copy of Epyx´s earlier hit, Summer Games.
Instead, I discovered a sports game that captures the spirit and emotion of the XXIVth Olympiad, distilling the
Olympic ambiance into two double-sided disks and a companion coaching manual.
Buying this game is a lot like purchasing a commemorative coin as a keepsake of the recent games. Because the
software is officially licensed by the United States Olympic Committee, future U.S. athletes will benefit from the
sale of the product.
Allow me to take you on a tour of this computerized world of international camaraderie, sportmanship, and worldclass
competition. After you´ve loaded the program, you´re greeted with pleasant Oriental music and a pictorial map of
South Korea overlaid with photographs reminiscent of the opening ceremony. Following a brief animation sequence, you
quickly move on to the Olympic Village to prepare for the competition and your chance to win the gold.
Like the best athletes, you should practice your sports vigorously, especially if you want to stand on the tallest
of the three blocks at the awards ceremony. You´ll need to practice each of the eight events time and again before
starting the competition. As many as eight players can compete for Olympic fame and glory, with each player choosing
to represent any of 18 countries. Multiple players can also choose to compete as a team under the banner of one nation.
The enclosed coaching manual explains the joystick moves you´ll need to master for both practice and competition.
The manual also gets you into the spirit of the games with true stories of past Olympians and great moments in
A quick tour around the gymnasium reveals two very difficult events - difficult even for the best of athletes.
The uneven parallel bars and the rings require your steady concentration as you put together and perfect your
gymnastic routines. With persistence, a perfect 10 is possible. I came nowhere near this score, even when I assumed
the role of a Soviet gymnast.
In the velodrome, the 1000-meter cycle sprint pits two players against each other, or one player can race a computer
opponent. Drafting techniques and strategy help you conserve energy for the all-important bell-lap sprint to the
finish. The monitor screen is split in half so you can view the race from cycle level and from a bird´s-eye perspective.
Over at the track, the hurdles event requires you to clear ten 42-inch-high hurdles over the course of 400 meters.
To run well, you´ll need speed, spring, and timing. your computer opponent is swift and sure, but you can overtake
your adversary once you get your timing down. It does take a while to extend your legs over the hurdles, so jump
early to avoid tripping.
Moving to the center of the track, we find the field events. At the hammer throw, strength and timing determine
how well you´ll throw a heavy cast-iron ball attached to a chain. Tha faster you rotate and the more precisely
you time the release of the chain, the further the hammer will fly.
In the pole vault, you´ll use a flexible pole to jump over an adjustable bar and land on a foam mat. Electronic
fireworks explode on the stadium´s Diamond Vision screen to celebrate a successful jump.
Now that you´ve worked up sweat, it´s time to cool off in the diving competition. Five persnickety judges
rate your dives as you springboard to glory and gracefully descend into the water. With a little practice,
you´ll be nailing inward back pikes and forward twists that would make gold medalist Greg Louganis turn green
Finally, we move over to the archery range, where arrows travel the length of a football field on their way to
the target. You´ll learn to judge the wind´s speed and direction, with the twang of your bow signaling the launch of
each arrow and renewd hopes for success.
The closing ceremonies feature the competitors who have won the most medals, along with the national anthem for the
Olympian on the highest platform. The closing graphics are as detailed as the opening scenes, creating again
the feeling of actually participating in the XXIVth Olympiad.
Because The Games - Summer Edition revives the same excitement I feel every four years with the real Olympics,
I rate this game a 9,975. It could just as well be a 10.