torstai 23. elokuuta 2012

REVIEW - Olympic Gold: Barcelona '92 | GEN | 1992

GENRE(S): Sports
RELEASED: July 1992
PUBLISHER(S): Sega, U.S. Gold

The idea for this one actually came from a reader, an Olympic enthusiast, who presented the question: if Track & Field, why not official IOC-licensed games? I thought: yeah, why the hell not. After leaving Epyx's sports games out of the fray for now, and some random tryouts by several developers, I'm left with only three official games. They're easy and quick enough to review... I hope! 'Cause I've never played the first two games before. Let's start with the very first officially licensed olympic game ever made, and hope that it packs at least some punch, besides being such a historical game - here's Olympic Gold: Barcelona '92 for the Sega Genesis.


Remember: shooting your opponent in the ass
is considered cheating.
The late 80's were Sega's primetime. With the release of the 16-bit Sega Genesis/Mega Drive system, they established a solid base of followers, who might've sworn to Nintendo's name and that only in the past. When Nintendo struck back with their own 16-bit system in 1990, Sega suffered quite a blow and could not get their hands on many exclusive deals. They needed games like Olympic Gold, officially licensed games that were sure to sell based on the size of the license alone. Naturally, the first question is: how does a game, officially licensed by the International Olympic Committee, stand up to Konami's Track & Field - which was pretty much the only serious alternative at the time? Actually, it's the only important question. Besides "Que?"

Where to start...? Olympic Gold does not feature anything new when it comes to the events. Actually, it's like a collection of events from all of the Track & Field series; Dash, Hurdles, Archery, Hammer Throw (I'll get to it...), Pole Vault, Freestyle Swimming, and finally, one of my personal favourites from Track & Field II (at least when I was a kid), Springboard Diving. Just reading through the list of events gives off a warm, familiar feeling of a good way to pass time. It's just that simply understanding this game takes you the same time it takes you to run through the whole of the first Track & Field game. Oh, and guess what? You know that annoying button-alternating system I criticized very heavily in the case of International Track & Field? Guess where that shitty idea was used for the first time? "Que?"

Uhh... what was I supposed to press again?
Well, doesn't matter anymore...
The graphics are quite good and polished, and the music is awesome at its best - very inspirational stuff, I could listen to the lead track all day long. Well, not quite, but it's good shit. I'm not too surprised they invested in the audiovisuals, and I'm not surprised they invested less in casual playability, either. Disappointed - yes - but surprised - not really.

Training Mode will spill out the essential beans - you don't even have to try out the actual main mode to deem this game kinda sucky. I said "kinda", 'cause while it has all the elements of a bad t 'n' f game, it's not the worst one around. For example, the button-alternating system used in most events is much easier to manage with a Genesis controller than a PlayStation controller; it's more ergonomically suited for different holding and pressing techniques by a far lot - arguably, of course, as people have different hands. The Hammer Throw - I know you've waited for this - is actually a pretty fun event in comparison to all its all-out horrible incarnations. The release window is more forgiving, and your guy doesn't spin around like a fuckin' propeller to totally obscure that window. This time, it's the button-alternating system (A-B-A-B-A-B, tap C) that pisses on the event just like it pisses on the whole game. Yeah, I know just tapping one button might sound boring, but it simply works better and results in much less physical trauma! I don't know when they stopped getting that fact.

What a mess! If I got this right, you're supposed
to pick a certain type of dive and nail it perfectly,
or else you're going home, no matter how great
your dive looked.
Archery is a tough one to understand, but the complicated button presses of Pole Vault, the strict strategy of Freestyle Swimming, and the mess that is Springboard Diving take a split No. 1 spot on the list of "Que the fuck is this?" Sports games with several different events are meant to be easily comprehended by casual players, regardless of their age or any similar factor. Anyone should be able to just pick up the controller and go. That's what Track & Field taught us. Olympic Gold isn't that kind of game. Each event has some complicated strategy, that might take hours to sink in, and even more hours to work on cue every time, if you're doing it right. I'm not a sports enthusiast myself - I'm a casual fan of this video game genre, and I expect every game of this video game genre to be a casual game with easy access. Olympic Gold is far from it. I don't feel the need to talk about Springboard Diving, just look at the screenshot. Kinda different from the basic simplicity of the event in Track & Field II, don't you think?

Like I said, even with the enfuriating and rough button-alternating system and the sheer difficulty to learn all aspects of the game, Olympic Gold isn't the worst and most tedious Olympic game out there - it has some subtle, attractive qualities. When it comes to what it has on my favourite game in the genre - Track & Field on the NES - unfortunately, the answer to that is nothing.

+ Good graphics and music
+ Consistently annoying events from sports games are worked on...

- ...While entertaining ones are flushed with a ridiculous learning curve...
- ...Or the scourge of the button-alternating system introduced here for the first time on a home console

< 6.2 >

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