California Games 2 logo

Yo dudes! Come on down to the Californian coast where sun, sea and surf are there for the taking: where there's action all day and all night; and, as it happens, where this game is based.

The earlier California Games failed to create much of an impact on the Amiga. This latest version is in the Epyx style and consists of several different events all related to the sun, sea, surf and snow(!), and they all involve simplistic controls and methodical joystick movements.

As for the events themselves, what's on offer? There are five sports of the Californian variety: hang gliding, jet surfing, snowboarding, bodyboarding and of course that Stüssey favourite: skateboarding. They're a mixture of some known, and not so well-known pastimes of the wacky residents of California, but they're also mixed in terms of enjoyment.

Graphically, the game doesn't use the Amiga's abilities very well. The events are displayed in only 16 colours and while they look quite detailed and bright, they could have been much better. Some colourful title screens introduce many of the sections. Sound-wise there are some appropriate tunes, such as the rather ominous Wipeout on the bodyboarding event. The rocky tunes don't make up for the rocky and rough gameplay, though.

While California Games 2 tries hard, and up to eight people can compete against each other, there are not enough events or enough variety in those events to keep you playing for very long. The simple joystick controls make it initially accessible but don't help the gameplay in the long term, although some may like reminiscing about similar games of the past, back when the C64 ruled the roost and California Games was the game to have.

Here we have a game that lives up to the fast-paced lifestyle of the place it's based on, where trends change quickly and the past is soon forgotten - if you get the game you'll soon forget about it, and like the hula-hoop, it will be destined for the back of your closet.


California Games 2 is based on five separate sub-games, each one different from the other, but all of them based on supposedly common Californian recreational activities. Pick your sporting vehicle, whether it be a hang glider, skateboard or surfboard, and be prepared to risk life and limb as you compete in these parochial pastimes. Here's what you have to do...

California Games 2
Hang-gliding involves you flying (surprise, surprise) a hang glider off a cliff and over the sea. You have to drop five water bombs on three targets in the water. Fun, eh? There's a bit more to it - you can loop the loop in your glider if you time things right - but not much, and generally the whole thing is tedious.

California Games 2
Jet surfing is a poor man's version of any first-person perspective racing game, just that you're on a jet ski rather than a car. Race round buoys making sure you stay between them. Movement is limited, but you have a choice of skis and characteristics, though they are rather sluggish and unrealistic.

California Games 2
Once you parachute on to Mount Epyx, you begin the snowboarding event. This is viewed from a side-on angle which makes the event visually different. When you finish the first part you enter the snowbowl. Here you ride your board on a half pipe, performing turns and handstands. Fun for a while.

California Games 2
You get the chance to go bodyboarding next. This is like surfing, only you lie on the board. Anyway, after diving off the pier you manoeuvre the board on a wave, 'cutting', 'barrel rolling', and 'reversing off the lip', earning points as you do so. There's absolutely no excitement in this section.

California Games 2
The skateboarding section has you rolling through a long aqueduct, performing stunts as you go. It's simplistic, though better than the other sections, mainly because of its sense of humour. For example, if you're halfway up a pipe, you smash into the side of it and your brains are splattered all over the place.

California Games 2 logo

Vor über einem Jahr gab der amerikanische Sportspielspezialist Epyx am PC dieses letzte Lebenszeichen von sich - U.S. Gold hat das Signal nun abgefangen und auf Amiga-Frequenz konvertiert.

Wer schon länger mit einer "Freundin" sportelt, erinnert sich wohl auch noch an den Vorgänger, dessen Amiga-Fassung im Wust der unzähligen Computer- und Konsolenversionen nicht unbedingt als Meilenstein gilt. Diesmal ist die Umsetzung zwar recht ordentlich ausgefallen, bloß kann das Programm selbst halt nicht mehr and die Erfolge vergangener C64-Zeiten anknüpfen - die Tage von Epyx-Highlights wie "Summer Games" und "Winter Games" sind längst geschichte...

Bei vorliegender Geschichte dürfen sich bis zu acht Teilnehmer an fünf Disziplinen versuchen: sei es im Training, bei einer einzelnen Veranstaltung oder dem gesamten Wettbewerb. Die erste Gelegenheit zu sportlicher Höchstleistung bietet sich beim Drachenfliegen. Hier sollen fünf (Wasser-) Ballons den Weg ins Ziel finden, anschließend muß der Luftikus wieder heil auf den Klippen landen.

Besonders viele Punkte lassen sich dabei durch wilde Kunststückchen wie etwa einer "540" Wendung" verdienen. Beim Jet Surfing stehen dann vier Mini-Schnellboote und fünf Kurse zur Wahl, das Zeitlimit ist einstellbar und die Aufgabe klar: Blitzschnell soll man über das Wasser jetten und dabei Rampen überspringen sowie Flaschen einsammeln, wofür ganz umweltbewußt Öko-Punkte verteilt werden.

Auf die eher durchschnittliche Raserei folgt das wahnwitzige Snowboarding, wofür man zunächst den "Mount Epyx" per Helikopter erklimmt. Noch selbstmörderischer wird es bei den drei verschiedenen Streckenabschnitten der Abfahrt, wo man für waghalsige Akrobatik-Einlagen (z.B. Handstand) Zeitboni erhält und unter dem Limit von vier Stürzen bleiben muß.

Als nächstes steht Bodyboarding an, eine ganz witzige Weiterentwicklung des Wellenreitens aus dem Vorgänger. Nach diesem feuchtfröhlichen Hindernisrennen darf man zum Abschluß erneut seine Kunstfertigkeit am Skateboard unter Beweis stellen: Je komplizierter die vorgeführten Drehungen und Sprüngen sind, umso mehr Zeit erhält man bonushalber - wenn man jedoch zu langsam ist oder öfter als viermal stürzt, endet die Fahrt vorzeitig.

Gut, die Disziplinen sind neu (auch das Skateboard-Fahren), sicher, die Steuerung per Stick bzw. Tastatur klappt problemlos, freilich, die Soundbegleitung (Musik und FX) ist etwas spärlich aber teilweise wirklich gelungen. Soweit zu den Pluspunkten des Games, der Rest enttäuscht ein bißchen: Die Grafik ist durchschnittlich bis ganz okay, aber manchmal furchtbar langsam und ruckelig.

Kein einziges der Events erreicht das Niveau eines Klassikers, und die gesamte Show hinterläßt einen soliden, jedoch etwas betagten Eindruck. Alte Fans der Epyx-Sportfeste sollten also ruhig mal einen Blick auf die neuen California Games riskieren. Nachwuchs-Athleten können sich im Pool der Vorgänger aber besser und billiger bedienen. (mm)

California Games 2 logo

Uh, it's like, I dunno, man. It's like totally tubular, y'know? It's, like, a most excellent idea for a game.

Yo Dues and duettes! In this age of Wayne's World, Baywatch, Beverly Hills 90210 and the Olympics, what could make more topical (i.e. commercial) sense than for a software company to evoke a tiny morsel of the atmosphere from each in a single concept? Think West Coast humour and slang, think sea and surf, think glamour and riches, and then think sports, of sorts.

Sounds wacky? Sounds refreshing? Sounds fun? Sure, it SOUNDS all of these things, but unfortunately California Games II invokes 'just a tin morsel' of each superlative.

It's not that any of the five sports are particularly bad, just boring. For example. Snowboarding involves being dropped by parachute from a helicopter onto a steep, snow covered, mountain from where you surf down to the sandy beach which sounds as amazing as it is preposterous. However, the reality is a numbingly repetitive pressing of the fire button to jump over logs and rocks on a simplistic obstacle course, nothing else really happens.

And so it is throughout the other sports. Bodyboarding, Jet Surfing, Skateboarding and Hang Gliding. The idea in each is to do stunts for extra points, but the individual games simply don't inspire enough enthusiasm for you to want to master the rather limited techniques on offer. An eight player competition mode adds some incentive, but basically it's all too familiar.

Possibly I'm being a bit hard, but then Epyx were making equally good, if not better, sports sims way back in the mid-eighties when their Summer, Winter, and World Games series seemed the ultimate in sophistication to yer average Commodore 64 enthusiast.

So what happened? Complacency? It's like in Epyxville the Amiga was never invented and time stood still, when WILL the old dog learn new tricks? The only truly surprising thing about California Games II is the price: £25.99? Get real dudes.

California Games 2 logo

Steve Merrett didn't want to write an intro about 'donning his loud surf shorts and get radical', so he didn't...

Once upon a time, there was a software development team who called themselves Epyx - apt really, as virtually every game they produced was, indeed, an epic. From the incredible platform antics of Agent 4142 in Impossible Mission to the race action of the classic Pitstop II, Epyx's name was synonymous with quality. And when they took the logical step into the world of athletics sims with Summer Games, Winter Games and Summer Games II, Epyx reached their apex.

Whereas other Decathlon-style games relied on the player hammering their joystick for all it was worth, the Epyx games required genuine skill if its hotly-contested Gold medals were to be earned. However, as the series grew in number, so the events have got steadily weaker. And this is rather apparent in this latest addition to the series.

The original California Games succeeded because its events were well thought out and easy to play. However, this sequel uses what can only be described as 'left over' events - and it shows. Starting on a typically sunny Californian beach, you are invited to select an event by positioning a Seagull on to one of five, typically hip characters. These 'dudes' represent the five events of Hand-Gliding, Snow Boarding (yes, in sunny California), Jet Skiing, Body Boarding, and Skate Boarding - and, after continual play, these events are revealed to be extremely boarding... sorry, boring.

Epyx games are renowned for their presentation and general finesse, but these factors are sorely lacking in California Games II. No more is genuine skill required, and when taking your skateboard through a series of large drains or pitting your Body Board against a large wave for points, there's very little feeling of achievement as the assorted moves are pulled off.

Each of the events is simply a matter of amassing as many points as possible by performing tricks with your Hang-Glider/Body Board/Jet Ski whatever, and whilst this is fine for, say, half an hour's entertainment, the aforementioned lack of necessary skill soon ensures that boredom creeps in.

Basically, it all comes down to we've seen it all before - and executed.

Better, too. The original California Games features Skateboarding (albeit in a scrolling tube rather than the original's half pipe), and you would have thought that, with the advances in gameplay we have seen over the last four years, that they could have come up with something better than this tawdry effort.

I am majorly disappointed with California Games II as it is probably the lowest the series has sunk. There's none of the innovation we are used to seeing in Epyx products and no events which stand out as particularly remarkable - and even less that you'll play more than a dozen times. And, more importantly, there's no reason for you to buy this sad parody of a classic series...

EPIC EPYX Epyx started video game production in 1981/82 with the release of The Temple of Asphai RPGs, a platformer called Jumpman, and Pitstop - a rather spiffy racing game. Following these, they then entered the world of sports sims with Summer Games.
Distributed in the UK by Rod Cousen's Quicksilva, Summer Games went relatively unnoticed, but after U.S. Gold duly picked up the rights to import Epyx's stunning Impossible Mission and Pitstop II, people started to take more notice of the Californian development team. However, it wasn't until Summer Games II and Winter Games hit the scene that they really took off. From these on, though, things started to fizzle out. Impossible Mission II - good as it was - never caught on like the original and, with the exception of California Games, their Games series never really reached the dizzy heights of their predecessors.Perhaps it's time for a completely revamped Impossible Mission III.