California Games

Review by John DeLuna
Atari's fumbling of the Lynx in the late eighties is the stuff of legend. No one can understand how any company could ruin such a fabulous system. And one of Atari's biggest mistakes was the notion that the software *alone* could carry the Lynx, without any marketing or adverdising push. What a joke. But, truth be told, it *almost* worked. Because when the Lynx debuted it generated tremendously positive word of mouth. And one of the things people were raving about was the game that came with every system...California Games. CG was the *perfect* pack-in game. It showed off all aspects of the Lynx. It's powerful graphics engine, it's awesome sound system, and most was FUN. Now most of you remember CG from the ole 8-bit Nintendo days. It was a game that gave you a taste of the West Coast's most popular sports...skating, hacky sack, skateboarding, BMX biking and surfing. And even though rollerskating didn't make it to the Lynx, the other four did. What results is the best version of California Games available.

GRAPHICS: This was basically the debut, so the system was beening pushed to the limit. Still, these are some of the better graphics you're likely to see on the Lynx. The half-pipe skateboarding really shows off the scaling effects nicely. And the rolling waves in the surfing stage are a treat for the eyes. Unfortunately the hacky sack and BMX levels are basic and inferior in comparison. Just the nature of the two sports I suppose. ***3/4

SOUND: Good lord this kicks on *so* many levels. Once you hear the opening theme you'll never forget it. It's addictive. All four sports have their own themes, and the surfing stage even uses "Wipe Out!". *****

CONTROL: Considering California Games is essentially four seperate games, you have to give the programmers their dues. All four boast near-perfect control. The only flaws coming in the BMX and half-pipe levels. The BMX bike tends to drift to the left or right while your pumping along. This leads to some frustrating, high speed crashes. And there's nothing really wrong with the half-pipe's controls. I just think they're too abstract. If you don't read the instructions WORD FOR WORD you'll go absolutely nowhere. ***1/2

OPTIONS: The only choice you're faced with is what sport to try. Which can be a delightfully tough decision. **

REPLAY: At first you might think California Games is a "two day wonder". But it's not. Once you've mastered the controls of each game, it becomes a contest of "beat the high score". Which gets quite addictive. Not to mention each of the four games is *genuinely* fun. I'm still playing this game eight years later. ***

California Games showed the world that Lynx was something special. And if you were one of the first to buy a Lynx, like me, you've been enjoying California Games for quite some time. But if you don't have it. Get it. It really is good, clean fun. And the perfect "show off" game.

Reviewer's Score: 8 / 10