Winter Games
for PC (CGA)

Herr M.:
Company: Epyx
Year: 1986
Genre: Sport
Theme: Individual Sports / Multiplayer
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 11726
Review by Herr M. (2014-12-14)

Dear Readers, welcome to our live coverage of Winter Games! The organisers could not have chosen a better day for the event: Look at that Čerenkov blue sky, ever so slightly marred by small cloudy squares of brilliant white! The sight is even clear enough to catch a glimpse of the far away Purple Peaks.

He is really rather cool

Just now a runner enters the stadium with the Olympic torch and climbs the steps up to light the fire. But what‘s that? His skin is blue with cold! Has nobody told that poor man that a sleeveless shirt might be a little bit too much on the cool side? Now the Epyx-fire blazes up and the white doves are set free. Endless swarms of them fly over the crowds in this grandest of opening ceremonies.

And here come our brave contestants, who decided to stay true to the Olympic spirirt and take part in all seven events. M, a veteran of many a wintry contest, competes for the great skiing nation of Austria, if nothing else, because he likes, quote, ‘that green-blue eagle thingy on that flag’, unquote, so much. We also got Potemkin, from Mother Russia, who wants to take a close look behind the scenes. And finally Epyx, who funnily enough wants to dedicate his victories to the country of the same name. Geographers are yet a bit undecided on where this most exotic country should be, but on one thing they all agree: Never have they heard an anthem as high in originality as in frequency as this one. Yet malicious gossip has it, that someone just droned the musical scale up and down.

Off we go to the first event: The Hot Dog aerials. The athletes will have to do some ski jumping, while trying to impress the judges with their acrobatic moves. Epyx will go first. Slowly he gets closer to the mogul. He is getting ready to jump. And there he goes! He is hesitating and loses a lot of height. Oh my, far too late he tries to make a clockwise spin and lands face first in the snow. The rating of 0.0 comes at no surprise. Now it’s Potemkin’s turn. Am I hearing a silent curse? Something like a “Damn that unresponsive controls!” Well, at least he landed on his feet after a plain and boring jump, but in the end his score is as high as Epyx’s. Judging by the hammering sound, M tries to play it safe, which pays off: After a more or less elegant flip he scores a 5.7.

Admire the view

Second attempt: Epyx has learned his lesson well and starts his flip a whole lot earlier. But his attempt to combine it with a straddle right afterwards doesn’t go well, and he crashes again. At least he landed on his behind this time. Potemkin is even more venturesome and convinced that only a double flip will earn him a perfect 10. But it looks like he is about to only manged one and a half turn. He has no chance to pull this move off and ends up in exactly the same pitiful pose as his forerunner. The very unoriginal M wants to do the same move as before, but for some reason or another it doesn’t work out this time.

The third attempt turns out almost the same. It seems like that the athletes can try as they might, they simply can‘t manage more than one flip or one kick. There is no room for a second stunt. You just have to wonder whether this comes from a poor jumping technique or from the architects messing up the mogul. Anyways, the contestants look slightly frustrated as they move on to the next event. Except for M, who seems ‘delighted’ to listen to a horribly cacophonous version of Land der Berge.

Sadly, the pink pine was declared extinct in the late 90ies

The next competition is Biathlon. Now it‘s Potemkins turn to go first. You can clearly tell that this sport is more to his liking. Skilfully he smashes the sticks into the snow and dashes away, past the snowbound cabin, the rare pink pine and the psychedelic CGA stream. It’s just too bad that he misses so many targets at the shooting range, which gets him an enormous penalty time. His 2:03 sets the bar rather low for the fellow competitors. M starts off even faster, though you can tell by his clenched hands that he is having trouble keeping up the pace. Look at that shootin! No misses, which gets him an almost perfect time of 1:44. After seeing M’s cramps, Epyx decides on a rather unconventional, but very relaxed approach. I am told by the experts, that he uses the so called ‘keyboard buffer’. Well, it turns out it wasn’t really much help: 1:57 is only good enough for the second place.

While we are yet again listening to the awfully chirpy tunes of an overly solemn piece of Mozart, all three contestants agree on that this event was a lot more fun than the other one. At least there was a bit of variety to it and it required more skill than some wild spasms. In M’s opinion there is only one shortcoming to it, namely that he has seen this rhythmic stomping far too often in his gaming career, to be swept away by its simplicity.

Next up is Speed Skating. And as unbelievable as it might sound, we have got two contestants on a head-on race this time! Potemkin is skating on the upper lane. Right now he looks a bit pale while he is asking his coach how to control his legs. On the lower lane Epyx seem quite ready to start. Ready, set… go! Epyx turns in an epic start and hurries away, while Potemkin seems to be struggling with his legs. Right now he only has control over the left one. Finally, he has figured the right one out too and he is gaining speed incredibly fast. But alas, too late! His opponent already crossed the finishing line.

Notice the weird shadows

Which leaves us with M, who is about to race against a mysterious fourth athlete, the so called Computer Pacer. Both of them stand ready, the starting signal could be given any second now. Well, I’ll be damned! A jump start! Both of them moved too early and the race is cancelled. How humiliating for M, who wouldn’t have thought that a contest as simple as this would have such hard rules. Totally baffled he has to clear first place for Epyx this time.

At last we get to hear another, though not necessarily better, national anthem from the speakers. Epyx tells us that he actually liked this event very much, although there wasn’t that much of a difference to the biathlon. ‘The secret lies in the beat, which was a lot more pleasant this time. I almost felt like a real pro!’

Since our contestants will have to undergo a sex change for the next event, we have a short break in which we take a look at the history of the Winter Games. In 1985 they took place for the first time in C64, Apple II and Macintosh. Reportedly they were more colourful in the first two places, than here in PC. The last one was a bit snow blind because of all the white, yet the sights were still sharper. Rumour has it, that you could even see some branches on the trees and actual faces on the athletes. The games were so successful, that two years later it was decided to repeat them in several other places. Apart from the already mentioned PC, they also take place in Amiga, Atari and far east in NES. I heard that the local games lack a lot of resources, which might explain their rather cheap looks.

Guess the flag

I am told that we are ready for Figure Skating now. Lady Potemkin, who has to follow the giant footsteps of her fellow countryman, goes first. The orchestra starts playing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, and she is ready to got. Alas, what’s that? She hasn’t even moved an inch and has dropped on her knees already! Murmurs go through the crowds. She has fallen again, backwards this time. That’s certainly not a good start. But she doesn’t give up and begins a breathtaking pirouette. Something isn’t right here… she can’t stop, she just keeps on spinning! And back on the ice again. Well, the minute is over already and the judges agree: 0.0 is almost too good for this depressingly clumsy performance. This doesn’t get her down: She still raises her arms high up in the air in silent triumph.

Up next is Miss M, who immediately tries some axels and pirouettes. I can’t believe it, but she manages to pull them off… well, at least some of them. She even combines them, which results in some nice moves. But yet again it all ends in a crash. Nevertheless the rating is a bit harsh: Only 1.6 points for this impressive performance seems a bit stingy to me.

Before we get to see Epyx, she has to be calmed down first. I think I can hear something like ‘look at that thighs’ under all that girlish giggling. Finally she starts skating. Well, it looks like she isn’t willing to take this serious enough, for she just changes between moving forwards and backwards, while mocking the miniskirt. And the judge's ratings are coming in: A deserved 0.0.

Yet again we get to hear the praise to the rocks and waters of the small mountain nation. Our athletes think, that this event was almost the same as the first one, except for the fact that it took a whole lot longer to finish and they had even less control over the flow of their movements.

This attempt on creating a new jumping style is bound to fail

Well, after a lightning fast re-surgery Epyx is already on the Ski Jump. He is standing right at the top and is a bit uncertain whether he can trust this construction, which seems to blend in with the sky and the mountains. But off he goes! He jumps and starts flailing about in order to gain some balance. This isn’t looking good: His ski are crossing and he is leaning far too much to left. There! He is landing on his back. Oh man, that hurts! 57 metres isn’t all that impressive too. M is coming next and he is leaning forwards far too much. That’s it, he is crashed face down. Well, at least he managed to go two metres further. Might this be enough for a Gold medal? Potemkin changes between stretching and crouching and eventually lands on his feet. But with 51 metres he reaches a new all time low.

The second and the third attempt don’t show much improvement. Potemkin even manages to drop of the end of the ski jump. Finally Epyx wins Gold with a slight edge of 2 points. All three of them agree on that this sport leaves lots of room for improvement. Potemkin can’t believe how boring it is to simply adjust your posture according to some obscure signals. He also thinks that the range is determined at random, which should be taboo for any kind of sporting event.

We turn to skating again, Free Skating this time. Screaming, the three contestants try to escape, but the committee shows no mercy: They are forced to enter the icy dance floor. Epyx and M respond with denial: They simply run circles for two full minutes. Potemkin goes even further and tries to make as many mistakes as possible, hoping to draw some attention to the unnecessary cruelty by gaining a negative score. Not even the disqualification of all of the athletes keeps the orchestra from choosing a victor on their own: Without further ado, or probably because they already got used to it by now, they strike up the good old Austrian anthem again.

Right turn on pink

Our three Olympians want to give their best for the last event, the Bobsled. Potemkin places his sled on the track and races away. The first couple of curves seem to be no problem at all to him. But here comes a narrow turn. Will he make it? Ever so slightly he scratches the edge, but he stays on track. He masters two curves right after each other and now he has only to take one more turn before he enters the finishing straight. Oh no! The crowds scream in disappointment as his bob turns over and he crashes right next to the finish!

Epyx is determined to cross that pink line at the end of the tunnel. Wildly he keeps moving left and right until he reaches the point where Potemkin had to give up. The spectators hold their breaths… and YES! he made it! Epyx slides through the finish! The people start cheering, while the musicians start an impromptu melody of joy, which sends shivers of horror down through everybody’s spine.

Now it‘s up to M to beat this incredible performance. With no signs of emotion he enters his bob and starts accelerating. Professionally he takes the first couple of turns. Then, while wondering whoever came up with the idea to mark those curves with such an awful pink colour, he smashes right into a wall.

Laaand der Beeerge, Laaand am Stro-home!

Epyx strides up to the podium and the bobsled earns a lot of praise from the contestants. While the actual action only takes place in a very small space, and much of the display is wasted on somewhat useless information, this one offers an actual challenge, which isn’t only based on waggling left and right at random.

Without further notice the closing ceremony are taking place. M wins with only three points ahead of Epyx. Which means we have to bear that one particular melody one more time. At this point I would like to give a bit of advice to anyone who is planning to organise his own sports event: Avoid such repetitions at all cost!

There is still time for one short statement from each of our athletes:

M: ‘A totally unspectacular random succession of boring sports, and on top of that without skiing! Maybe, once upon a time, those games where ahead of their competition, but nowadays they are dusty beyond hope. What bothers me the most is that the events are so similar to each other, and I am not even talking about figure skating turning up twice here.’

Epyx: ‘If I hear Land der Berge one more time I will have to vomit…’

Potemkin: ‘Such an extremely ugly landscape is a rare sight. If you have to play those games, at least do it somewhere else than on the PC.’

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