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California Games by BMan2
Game:California GamesCompany:Epyx
Type:SportsPlayers:1

California Games is a game revered by many gaming enthusiasts. It brought new life to the Epyx series of sports games that invaded the Commodore 64 in the early 80's. The events were fresher, the colours brighter, and the control more simplistic. Today it still stands in the "classic" game genre with it's head held high.
Many ports opf this game were brought out - each with varying degrees of success (The Amstrad port was appalling!) Today, we take a look at a version of California Games that's slightly different to the rest - the Atari Lynx version.
Why Lynx?? Why not! There's a brand new emulator out just for Lynx - Handy - and it seems appropriate we take a look at this much underrated hand held machine - with one of the better games of the period.
California Games took the Epyx series of sports games to the streets. With events such as foot bag, surfing, rollerskating and flying disc - and a MUCH better control method (ie not as much joystick waggling) - the game was different enough to be the stand out of the group. As with the past games, you scored points through the various events - and at the conclusion - highest score wins. The original version also had support for up to 8 players - so it made it a great "party" game - that everyone could sit around and challenge each other with (hey, it WAS the 80's! :P )
For the Lynx port however, Epyx had to come up with something that still captured the feel of the original game so far as sound and graphics are concerned - and let's face it - it's not easy creating atmosphere on a screen not even 10 cm wide! Also, true to the nature of a hand-held machine, the game had to be small - but had to hold your attention.
Firstly we'll deal with the downsizing. California Games contains only four events from the original game - BMX riding, Half Pipe, Surfing and Foot Bag (Hacky Sack) - a good choice seeing as these were probably more popular events in the original game. The layouts of the events has also changed - noticeably so that the action you get from it is MUCH faster - it's more of a challenge in a shorter period of time.
So how well does this new setup hold you? Very much so. The events as stated before are much more compact in the way they play - and thus - are quite challenging - giving you that excuse just to tap the Start button one more time.
Graphically, the Lynx was actually quite advanced for its time - it's LCD display quite crisp and colourful. The sound, well, if you've heard a Gameboy, you know what hand-held sound is like. Considering this, California Games performs admirably - cpaturing the feel of the original game well - and bringing it to you in a portable form.
So why should you go and try this version of California Games? I thought this myself on downloading Handy - being a BIG fan of the Commodore 64 original. However, there's a certain challenge this game brings, that differs rom the original. This version brings the action fast, and STILL has all the addictive powers of the original. Also, it brings a type of instantaneous satisfaction - a filling game almost - much the same as "Solitaire" and "Minesweeper" do in Windows - and we all know how overused those games are.
Curious? It certainly worked for me. California Games for Lynx is a truly good translation of the original - and just might lead you down the path to trying out some of the other ports that the Lynx provided. Grab Handy and the ROM - and give it a whirl!
Graphics
8
8
Sound
Play Control
7
8
Challenge
Replay Value
6
8
Performance
1999 EmuViews