The Olympiad Collection
Copyright/Publisher: MicroValue, Release Year: 1992,
Genre: Multi Events, Number Of Players: 1 to 4

Cheap summer packages ahoy! Ol' numb bum Ian does some armchair athletics, while we give Mark an elephant's trunk, a big goot and fiery breath to play with (funny, I thought he already had those - Ed).

Holy tie-ins! Armchair sports freaks have been having a field day lately. First the European footy championships, software houses making a fast buck by rereleasing two-year-old World Cup tie-ins with one or two original releases thrown in for good measure, and now it's Olympics time!

Our athletes can't do any worse than our soccer team, so MicroValue could be onto a winner with their two-game Olympiad Collection.

In the summertime, when the weather's fine...
The first of the two offerings is Summer Olympiad, a five-event opus that features fantastic presentation. Set against a breathtaking stadium graphic, you choose which events to play via a rather groovy options menu - move the pointer over one of six TV icons, and it flashes into life showing a brief sequence of the event in question. Press fire to select. The opening ceremony's also selected in this way.

First of the five events is Skeet Shooting, where you blast clay pigeons out of the sky from seven different positions, arranged in a semi-circle around the two launchers. Aim your gun using Op-Wolfish crosshairs, the clay exploding into a showe of fragments when hit.

Your double-barrelled shotgun gives two cracks at single clays, but you'll need to be on your toes when they're released in pairs. Easily the best of the five events, the animation's great, control pixel-perfect, and generous-but-fair collision detection prevents it getting too frustrating. The gun effect sounds more like a rocket launcher than a shotgun, but this is the only gripe.

Pity Fencing isn't as good. The characters aren't as well animated, and controls take some getting used to. Okay for a play or two, but you soon get bored.

Derivating as it is, Triple Jump is another hit. A standard Track-and-Fieldesque waggler, hit the fire button three times to execute the hop, skip and jump, holding the fire button determines the angle of ascent. Nothing original, but great fun - you have to have one more go just to get that little bit further.

Until you get the hang of it, the Diving event's trickier than doing the breast stroke in concrete wellies! Hurl yourself off a high board, flipping, somersaulting, and levelling out as you hit the water. No one in the ZZAP! office can beat Phil 'belly flop' King, so we have to make do with the sumptuous graphics and brillo animation.

The runt of the litter is Hurdles. Hellishly uninteractive, you bloke runs and jumps whatever you do - I once left the joystick alone until the last ten yards and still won!


Waggling in a winter wonderland
On the flip-side is Winter Olympiad, a competent but unspectacular interpretation of the winter Olympics. Another five-event outing, presentation is again top-notch (I loved the David Vine signature tune!).

The first event is the Ski Jump, a flavourless offering that captures none of the thrills and spills of its' sporting equivalent. Press fire to start the skier skiing, press again when he reaches the foot of the ramp, and piddle about with th ejoystick to keep the skis level - that's it!

Downhill's a little better, but not much. Viewed from behind, you keep body and soul together by dodging the trees and jumping the logs. Great graphics, but it's ruined by weak animation and sluggisg scrolling.

Biathlon's a cross-country skiing event where you stop every few screens to take potshots at static targets. Waggle away to build speed, and hit fire when the cursor's on the target.

It's great to begin with, but the flickscreen scenery (push-scrolling would've been nice) soon repeats, and it becomes a long-winded pain in the wrist. A brave attempt at a rarely covered event, but less-than-perfectly executed.

Though not as graphically stunning as the other events, Slalom plays really well. Steer the skier right and left, weaving in and out of the posts, 'fire' straighters you up and increases your speed. Because the steering's very sensitive you'll find in all sorts of troubles until you've got the hang of it, but when you do it's a gas.

Last and definitely least is Bobsleigh, another event that plays like a spectator sport. Hold the line for maximum speed, slide too high on the bank and you crash. Could've been a winner, but you only get control of the bob when you hit the bends - the rest of the time you just watch and wait!


For the high jump
There's some great stuff here, but there's also a few fillers. Presentation and graphics are excellent, and there's loads of ace touches like the 'flashes' from photographers in the crowd (fnarr).

Like all multi-eventers they're more fun when played with a few buddies, but even then you have to play alternately - you can't compete against another human, even on events like fencing and hurdles!

At five events a throw there's no denying you're getting a lot for your dosh, but the quality's a little patchy. If they could've combined the graphics and presenation of The Olympiad Collection with the playability of Winter Super Sport they'd be onto a real winner. As it stands it's still good value for armchair sporty types.