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Article #33 (79 is last):
From: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Subject: LYNX Retroactive: California Games
Posted-By: xx004 (aa399 - Len Stys)
Reply-To: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Date: Mon Apr  6 00:42:56 1992

  Another in a series of Rob's Retroactive Lynx Reviews.

1-4 players, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
$34.95 (free with Lynx Deluxe package)
Stereo? No

    So you want fun in the sun without the hassles of zinc oxide, crowded
beaches, and the risk of skin cancer? Well, the Surgeon General has certified
CALIFORNIA GAMES for the Atari Lynx as a completely safe way to get your sand-
coated jollies. This is an adaptation of the Epyx home computer game, and
allows one to four players to compete in a number of "sport" contests for
points and bragging rights.

    (Sidebar: The instruction manual says that CALIFORNIA GAMES only allows
for 1 or 2 players. ComLynxing three or four players is possible, but tricky
-- don't give up if it doesn't work initially)

    There are four events in CALIFORNIA GAMES. The BMX bike race is a run
through a hilly, obstacle-infested course as fast as possible. Surfing lets
you hit the waves, doing stunts like riding the tube or 360-degree spins
before running out of time. Similarly, halfpipe skateboarding gives you a time
limit to try and perform as many handplants and aerial turns as possible.
Finally, you can play with the footbag, which consists of keeping a small
beanbag airborne using only your feet -- style counts.

    CALIFORNIA GAMES is a card for beginning video players. The individual
games are fun at first, but all of them are fairly easy, and most dedicated
gamers will master them in a short period of time. This is especially
noticeable when playing by yourself, and the game soon becomes an exercise in
"can I beat my previous score?". More contests would have helped, as well as
options to adjust the difficulty or a "tournament" consisting of all events.

    There's nothing wrong with CALIFORNIA GAMES; there's just not much to
recommend, either. Playing with other people makes it more enjoyable -- the
competition is head-to-head, and you must adjust your strategies for opponents
who are trying to trip you, run you over, or crash into your latest stunt.
This is good for some cheap laughs, but the lack of real depth in the gameplay
keeps it from retaining any permanent appeal.

    The sound and graphics in CALIFORNIA GAMES are a good indication of what
the Lynx is capable of. Color, hue, and animation are used well throughout,
providing realistic-looking backgrounds and characters. The scrolling is
smooth, and there are a few graphic treats, like the semi-transparent tube in
Surfing, and the camera zoom in/zoom out on the Halfpipe.

    Sounds are also commendable, with quality music and noises everywhere.
Each game has its own, distinctive soundtrack, and the title theme music is
suitably bouncy. Similarly, sound effects are appropriately used, each one
properly coordinated for the current on-screen action.

    It's understandable why Atari includes CALIFORNIA GAMES in the deluxe Lynx
packages: It's easy, varied, non-violent (have to placate worried parents,
you know), looks and sounds well, and ComLynxable. However, with only four
basic games available, most players will want a tougher challenge soon enough.
If you don't already own CALIFORNIA GAMES, you may want to consider a
different title.

                GAMEPLAY:        4.5
                GRAPHICS:        8
                SOUND:           8
                OVERALL:         6

  Rating values  10 - 8   Great! This game can't get much better.
                  7 - 5   Good. Average game, could be improved.
                  4 - 2   Poor. For devotees only.
                      1   Ick. Shoot it.


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