WINTER GAMES / Epyx / Atari 2600

In 1987, Epyx released this 2600 port of their fairly well regarded Winter Games, which appeared on numerous other platforms, all way better than the 2600.

You start out by opting to choose a country from about 10 of the world's Supar Powars though it seems to make no difference in the appearance of your characters, and no statistics are saved. There's then seven events that you can play, choosing between them by toggling the ol' 2600 toggle switch. There's no overall cohesiveness to the whole thing, like you don't play for medals or anything, you just bop back and forth between events whenever you want for your own amusement.

Let's check out each of the seven events one by one, since they each basically constitute a mini-game unto themselves:

1) Downhill Skiing - This initial event that the game kicks you to by default is not bad, but the layout could have been more thoughtful, and it could have been randomized or included more than just one track for better long-term playability. The hideous squeal when you miss a set of flags is ear-raping as well.

2) Bobsled - I guess you try to follow the curves down the track for maximum speed, but most of the time you'll just go too far over the edge and explode horribly.

3) Ski Jump - This is probably the best event from a gameplay perspective as you try to time your jump off the ramp for maximum distance, then you have a few seconds in midair to adjust your skiers body and ski positions to land properly. The best part is jacking him into all sorts of weird contortions and then watching him bounce gruesomely down the mountain, that alone guaranteed this game at least a Meh Face rating.

4) Five Point Palm Technique Skiing - I have no idea what the hell is going on here, you're skiing around with the guy and the sprite set from the downhill skiing, but there's no sets of flags to go between. Instead you've got a Tell-Tale Heart that seems to increase in rhythm for random reasons. My best guess is that you're supposed to perform some bizarre dance for the judges and if they aren't fully pleased by it, they make your heart race with microwave radiation until it explodes.

5) Speed Skating - Stick-waggling at its finest, try not to break your joystick as you jam it left and right as fast as possible while two weird top-knotted skaters race it out.

6) Competitive Show-Off Jumping - Probably the most fun of the bunch, this is like the Ski Jump, but just with one screen and the close-up of your skier is used to show the radical gnarly moves he's doing in mid-air, which are done with a combination of the button and pressing left and right. Try to bust as many moves as you can, but you also have to make sure you land properly by moving the stick up-down and not being in the middle of some Shove It To Boneless when you land.

7) Luge - I think this is just bobsled again with a different sprite?

There's a pretty good amount of events even if some are clunky, decent background graphics, and good use of color for the system. It's not too bad and can be a laugh for two players, probably worth grabbing for the 2600 owner if you see it on the cheap.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video