The most interesting battle in the Winter Olympics has been the race between Electric Dreams and US Gold to win the Spectrum owners' gold. Electric Dreams was the first to the finish but this is not a mere race - there's scoring for style too!
Winter Games has only seven events while Winter Sports had eight. But of those three were almost identical and two of the new ones give me a feeling of deja vu as well. Both need to be loaded in parts, but Winter Games keeps this down to two and on the whole it's to say they manage better graphics.
The first side contains some great music but the four program second section is silent - a pity because the instructions refer to Free Skating to music. There are options to practice and compete in single events as well as all together and multi-player options.
Both programs compete in the Ski jump and Biathlon events. While Electric Dreams versions are more sophisticated I preferred the latest two screen jump. The Biathlon is rather simplistic but at least it doesn't take an age.
There's also the obligatory joystick-wrecking Speed Skating about which what can say except 'Ouch, I've sprained my wrist!' Bobsled appears in both Games and Sports and the American team provide much less of a challenge than the English, who make you steer a proper course instead of just compensating for centrifugal force.
The other three events are unique to Winter Games. Hot Dog Aerials isn't flying frankfurters but a ski jump with stunts - looks like a good way to break your neck in reality! It's closest to the diving events in more summery athletics.
Figure and Free Skating are very similar, with one and two minute time limits to perform certain specified moves without going over on the ice. Attempting a Double Lutz when skating forward will only prove that you're a total klutz! Though in the John Curry stakes these are more Mild Korma than Madras. I rather liked them.
In the end those all important style points go to Winter Games, mainly for the graphics and music, and if you must have yet another excuse for not going out and getting some real exercise, then this is probably the one.
Remember the blizzard of winter sports games early this year (Blizzard! Two of them? - Ed) What's wrong with a bit of poetic license? Well, this was the good one and its expansion to 128K has done no harm either.
I actually have a sneaking regard for Winter Games, because on the whole it avoids the slippery slope (geddit?) of pure joystick jiggling and goes instead for timing. And as we all know, it's not just how fast you quiver your Quickshot that counts.
Even the speed skating is less a question of wild waggling, calling for a more rhythmic pace. White noise swooshes as you shoot the curves in your bobsled (Well mine's called Bob - what do you call yours?) And when it comes to creating your own free skating displays - move over Torville and Dean, Rachael's comin' thru.
As well as packing all of this activity into one load, US Gold has improved the music. There's a Jaws style pulse before you set off down the ski slope and a bit of Bach as you glide around the ice, perform a triple axel, a double lutz and a singular klutz that leaves you flat on your back.
Maybe sports simulations are last year's thing and it won't be cool to be seen with Winter Games, but if you've just availed yourself of one of Uncle Alan's Plus Twos, get piste. (And if he ever brings out the Plus Four, buy yourself a golf simulation too!).
Sports simulations are possibly the greatest shot in the arm for the joystick industry yet developed. A dedicated Daley Thompson fan could leave an entire heap of mangled plastic behind him in his quest for gold.
Winter Games, though, ushers in a new era in the genre. Rhythmic movement and a cool head have replaced frantic stick waggling.
Seven events are on offer, a fair cross section of the sort of thing Winter Olympians are called upon to undertake. Success in most of these requires timing rather than the application of brute force. The graphics are workmanlike with rather anorexic figure skaters.
One to four can play, each player takes a country from the large choice presented including such unlikely candidates for the Winter Olympics as Mexico and Australia. This all makes for a good evening's entertainment as you try to shave tenths of a second off the records. After completing all the events, a ranking table is displayed and your eye moistens as the stirring chords of your national anthem resound around the stadium.
It's good to have a sports game which doesn't need you to go into intensive training to play. Coming from a country justly proud of its heroic place in Winter Sports, personified by Conrad Bartelski, the greatest living exponent of the downhill, we hope that the game manages more than Conrad's usual token appearance in the charts before ignobly crashing in an undignified heap.
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