Every four years some unlucky game makers inherit the unenviable task of turning the Olympics, a jumble of sporting activities, into something worth playing.
This time Sega’s got the job – with help from a hefty cheque, no doubt – and has decided (wisely) to slim down the number of sports from the 26 in the real-life games to a lean dozen. Fencing, equestrian dressage and water polo fans will be disappointed, but that still leaves all the essential track and field events, diving, swimming, gymnastics and more. Variety isn’t a problem, then. But quality is.
To make this choice manageable, Sega has made the controls dead simple so a good chunk of the events are little more than ‘see button symbol, press button’ exercises. Surprisingly, that’s not always as bad as it sounds.
The shot put and discus events, for example, find that mysterious balance where repetition becomes pleasure, much like a moreish smartphone gaming app. But before you sprint off to your nearest game shop, consider the dull diving and humdrum gymnastics, the stilted rowing and tedious volleyball.
Despite these false starts, the running events make a decent fist of an uncomplicated sport with a reliance on managing your pace instead of frenetic button mashing. Another plus is the kayaking, which is rather good and has some brill water effects to boot, although its single course won’t hold your attention for long.
The presentation also helps make up for the patchiness with a decent stab at capturing the buzz of the Olympics, even if it still suffers from the repetitiveness that curses almost every sports game.
Taken as a whole, this is one of the better Olympic video games, but it’s too shallow and too hit-and-miss to do much more than whet the appetite of Olympiad fanatics ahead of the real thing.