California Games review - Sega Megadrive
Can you perform a twist-plant aerial kick tail? We seriously doubt it, because we just made that up. Still, you too can confuse your friends by spouting any old rubbish and passing it off as "Californian" with the help of California Games by Epyx.
This game puts you in control of a team of five hip beach-types competing to be the five hippest beach-types on all the beach! This is done by coming out tops in five unmistakably West Coast events, namely skateboarding, surfing, footbagging, skating and BMX. What's more, if your pals reckon they're much iller and skiller than you, why not simply challenge up to eight of them at once in a mega-contest?
What the Mean Machines staff thought
California Games must rank as one of the greatest multi-event sports simulations ever written - and this Megadrive is the best version yet seen! It's a graphical tour-de-force, with superbly animated sprites and splendid backdrops, and it plays like a dream. Each event is a brilliant mini-game in its own right, with beautifully weighted playability that's easy enough to get into but is challenging enough to allow experts to learn and perform tricks that let them attain seemingly impossible scores (can anyone top my 427,00 record on the footbag?). The only disappointing aspect is that the Frisbee event that appeared in other versions is missing - but since it was by far the weakest event, it's not a major issue. Obviously, California Games is best appreciated with multiple players, but even as a single-player game I think it's enjoyable, addictive and challenging enough to make it a priority purchase.
California Games might have been converted to every format known to man, but it's still a real laugh to play. In fact, this Megadrive version is one of the best of the lot, featuring colourful graphics, incredible animation and smooth, fast gameplay. The sound is a bit of a letdown - it's not bad, but the tunes don't fit the action very well. Still, the playability is what counts, and California Games has lots of this. Each event takes some time to master, which is just as well because unless you've got some pals to hand, you have to challenge yourself. It would be better if there were a competitive one-player game, but even without it, California Games is good enough to warrant purchase.
Laurie - 11 Jun 2008, 18:26 GMT
Being a fan of California Games on the C64, I was itching to play the Megadrive version given the rave Mean Machines review. However, I was very disappointed with the cartridge. Rad alluded to poor sound and he was right in his assessment--compared to the top sound from the C64's SID chip, California Games on the Megadrive is a poor relation. Frisbee event is missing, which in my humble opinion is a bigger disappointment than Jazza believed at the time. Generally the cart lacked the character of the C64; for example, the brilliant play on West Coast advertising and West Coast life in general is lacking in the Megadrive version which also possesses unappealing (plain blank) intro screens. All in all, probably worth a punt at 50p, but at full-price, I'm afraid not.
Dan - 18 Mar 2009, 10:19 GMT
California Games was top notch back in the day, but for some reason I thought that the Megadrive version was weak compared to the others and preffered playing the Master System version out of em all. Apart from the obvious lack of the Frisbee event (which was a good laff when all said and done) the master system's version just seemed to feel and play better in most events. Still, it was a good crack.