After the well received Summer and Winter Games, Epyx turned their attention to various events from around the globe and brought us World Games. As before, you have the choice of which events to play, and can compete with up to 8 players (each picking a country to represent). Only two of the eight events allow for simultaneous play, with players taking turns at the rest. You also have the option to review a travelogue before each event, which provides a brief history and overview of the event to be played.
Weightlifting is your first test, with two different types of lift to master. You have three attempts at each kind of lift, these being the “Snatch” and “Clean and Jerk”. The Snatch is the easier of the two, involving fewer moves to pull off a successful lift, but timing is critical. Stay too long in one position and you’ll drop the weights, but rushing things is also a mistake! You can choose to increase the weight to lift, although the difficulty increases accordingly. Your aim with each attempt is to impress at least two of the three judges.
Barrel Jumping comes next. Build up your speed as you skate on the ice, using rhythmic left and right movements, before launching yourself over your chosen number of barrels and landing successfully. This is a simple event, but one that still provides a lot of fun. No matter how many barrels you clear, it tempts you into trying to manage just one more. Speed is the key, and also knowing the exact moment to begin your jump – with comical results if you leave it too late!
Cliff Diving follows, and sees you jumping off a cliff in an effort to execute a perfect swan dive into the ocean below. Unfortunately there is not much to this event. You choose how far up the cliff you wish to jump from, and then arch or straighten your back depending on how close you are to hitting the cliff (with wind also affecting this). It would be more enjoyable if you could perform acrobatics on the way down, but, as it stands, this is a rather weak event.
Slalom Skiing proves to be one of the hardest events, although (a lot of) practice does help. Ski down the slopes going through alternate gates of blue and red colour, whilst trying not to hit them head on or collide with the obstacles at the edge of the course. Fortunately there is no target amount of gates you have to pass through, but each one you miss (and with 39 in total, you’ll miss a fair few!) carries a five second time penalty.
Log Rolling is the fifth event and one that will probably try your patience the most. The idea is to roll the log (using left and right, with fire to change direction) in order to unbalance your opponent. The reality of it seems to be a poorly implemented control system that leaves you at the mercy of a rarely caught off guard computer opponent. Unlike some other events where you can choose the difficulty, this starts too hard and suffers as a result. Playing against a human can provide some laughs, but is otherwise a frustrating experience.
Bull Riding has you clinging onto the back of one of five fearsome bulls, trying to survive eight seconds of bucking and spinning. Eight seconds might not sound like long, but you’ll be glad when it’s over! This is another event where practice pays off, and at least you can start with a slightly less hostile bull (named Ferdinand). In practice mode another player has the chance to control the bull, which is even more entertaining!
Caber Toss provides the next event, as you stagger under the weight of a tree trunk before attempting to toss it as far as you can (which usually isn’t that far). Building up speed is the order of the day, without holding on to the caber for too long and sapping your energy. Once you reach your optimum velocity it’s up and away with the caber, hopefully getting it to completely flip at least once for a legal throw. Failing leads to some amusing animations, including being pounded into the ground by a caber going the wrong way.
Sumo Wrestling rounds things off, but sadly has the same problems as Log Rolling. Again there is no choice of difficulty, and the computer wrestler doesn’t like to be beaten. Trying to force your opponent out of the ring is almost impossible. Should you manage to trip or throw him, but not perform better overall (usually by also falling over), then you still lose. Two-player mode is obviously the best way to play this.
Graphically excellent, as you would expect from Epyx, every event is alive with colour and detail. Presentation is of the usual high quality, with the inclusion of travelogues a nice touch. The tunes that play before each event are mostly fine, but generally you’ll be glad they stop during the gameplay. Sound effects range from good to bad, with some proving useful when timing movements. The controls require a fair amount of practice – some events demanding more perseverance than others.
As mentioned in the California Games review, this type of game is a lot more fun with multiple players. There is only so much pleasure you can get from improving your scores alone, and it’s the competition element that makes you want to try harder at the events. Ultimately this feels like a weaker collection than California Games, despite having two more events. Some of the challenges are just not as satisfying, and a couple are downright frustrating. If you have someone to compete with then this still comes recommended, but as a solo game there are better options available.