torstai 23. elokuuta 2012

REVIEW - Winter Olympic Games: Lillehammer '94 | SNES | 1994

GENRE(S): Sports
DEVELOPER(S): Tiertex, U.S. Gold (Amiga, PC)

Olympic Gold: Barcelona '92 apparently made enough money for the International Olympic Committee to begin licensing official video game merchandise on a standard basis. Back in '93, the next summer games were still a few years away, but the Lillehammer winter games were coming up. A game simply entitled Winter Olympics was released on home computers, and just in time for the Olympics, on choice consoles as well. As an official product of the Lillehammer games, it goes by many names, but if any of this following rant about extremely crappy and tedious gameplay rings a bell, I guarantee it's the same game you cursed at as a kid.

Cold and damp

I have to say I have no idea what this event is.
There are no less than four options.
I remember this game. A few hours ago, I had never played the console versions before - from the 3rd to 6th grade, there was a computer in our classroom, which anyone could use to play games. It ran on Windows 3.1, and there were many educational games installed. Well, no one really played those besides The Incredible Machine, which could be categorized as an educational game - we played Tetris, Jurassic Park, Wolfenstein 3D, the classic unofficial Mario game that still circulates on some abandonware sites, and finally, this game. It was a mildly entertaining winter sports title. We even used to have ski jump tournaments.

First, I'd like to state my honest opinion on Winter Olympics; they suck. All forms of skiing, alpine skiing, skating... I can't stand that shit! I don't get what's so God damn exciting about any of it. I remember my dad watching biathlon from the TV like it was some of the hottest porn ever - I didn't even get the goal of the event back then, and even if I did, watching it would've bored me to death in two minutes. Ski jumping and ice hockey, now there's a couple of exciting events - the only ones I just might watch if there's nothing else to do.

So, the PC game was quite all right in its boring framework. Something went very wrong when Tiertex ported it over to consoles. "Ported" isn't really the proper word to use here, as not only is the name of the game different, the whole game is quite different. Different, and much worse. Much, much, much worse. Whatever you call this game, it's horrible. Might as well call it "shit".

I come from the promised land of ski jumping,
I know my business.
Let's get the audiovisual nightmare out of the way first. At first glance, you might think the game looks quite decent - you have to take note of a couple of things, though. One, the game was made in 1994. Two, that's two years after its predecessor, which was released on a technically inferior 16-bit console. It looks just as bland as it is to play; actually, the rough edges of the text make the game look like a very early draft, a test version. The music is inspiring stuff as per usual, but since it plays virtually all the time, it's bound to get on your nerves sooner or later. Most likely sooner, since if you've got respect for good gameplay, you're not going to be able to withstand this game very long.

The game has a very similar structure as Olympic Gold; there's a Training Mode, and the main modes - short and long versions of the actual Olympic games. There are ten different events... wait, let's rewind. There are ten events, but honestly, about five different ones. It's not that the game alone is repetitive, Winter Olympics really ARE this repetitive! There's a total of four different variations of alpine skiing, and even in this case, the only difference is known by someone who knows the rules of the actual events - they all play out almost exactly the same. While in the PC version - at least, I don't know about the others - these events were viewed from behind the player character, in this one, you move towards the screen. Just one of the bad ideas in this bad idea of a SNES cartridge.

Hey. Seriously. What the fuck makes biathlon
Unlike most games of the type - including games in this very series - Winter Olympic Games is not a button-masher. There's some of that traditional style of gameplay going on, but mostly, this game is about timing and navigation, and these elements combined - and none of it works! Ski Jump, which was my favourite event in an all-around playable PC game, is now the ONLY remotely entertaining event in the whole bunch, since it really has none of the game's basic elements and therefore, does not suffer from horrible controls as the others do. On top of being a bitch to control, the game refuses to admit being one - it's unforgiving. For example, just one tiny nod to the wrong direction in any alpine skiing event will cost you the whole game, there's no way to repair your one single mistake once you've done it. Bobsleigh and Luge... well, as if it wasn't enough that the 3D environment keeps magically changing and flickers all the time, you're very easily thrown too far high up the sides and turned face down on the track. You'd like to think you have a say in it, but you certainly don't. It's not your fault; it's purely the designers'.

All in all, Winter Olympic Games is a terrible disgrace. It's even more boring than its theme, and an uncontrollable, unforgiving, ugly, utterly unplayable piece of shit. No need to be fancy about this one - try it and see if you can come up with something more constructive. I doubt it.

+ Ski Jump is very remotely entertaining

- It looks as good as it feels, and the 3D graphics are disorienting on top
- The controls are horrible
- Tedious and repetitive events

< 2.5 >

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