The Video Games of the Olympic Games: Looking Back At OLYMPIC GOLD (Barcelona '92) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

The Video Games of the Olympic Games: Looking Back At OLYMPIC GOLD (Barcelona '92)

Chris Morley revisits a 1992 Sega consoles sporting classic, Olympic Gold, and the sporting event it accompanied.
Moving past our e-sporting opening ceremony - a touch of the relatively new - into looking back at the Olympic Games games of the past. And how better to do that than diving into the first fully officially licensed effort with worldwide availability, Olympic Gold.

The virtual companion to the 1992 Summer Olympics aheld in Barcelona, Olympic Gold was developed by Tiertex exclusively for Sega consoles; the Genesis/Mega Drive, Master System and Game Gear, and just like its real world counterpart the game was sponsored by Coca-Cola, with the company's logo featured both on a zeppelin above the scoreboard, as well as the company jingle.
You could choose to compete as one of eight countries; France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, the United States and a United Team made up of athletes from twelve former republics of the former Soviet Union, which is to say all minus Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania. who opted to compete under their own flags.

In the real world of the Olympics, the United Team only appeared at the Summer & Winter Games of '92, but wasted no time in resuming something of a rivalry with the USA across the medal table and getting one over on them with the final standings showing a 45-37 win on golds, plus a total haul of 112 when including silver and bronze, next to America's 108.

A reunified Germany also entered Barcelona 92 for the first time since 1964 in Tokyo, finishing third in the overall medal table, for what was the last time the Summer & Winter Olympics were staged together in the same year. Politics & sport are never the easiest of bedfellows, though the relationship rumbles on even today. Fittingly enough the Barcelona Games were also the twentieth anniversary of the 1972 Munich event, unfortunately remembered as much for the associated Palestinian massacre of eleven Israeli athletes and their coaches as the action in the events - see also Steven Spielberg's Munich from 2005 for an account of Israel's attempt at retaliation through Operation Wrath Of God.
In the virtual world of Olympic Gold, the computer-controlled atheletes from Germany tended to dominate the archery events, as each had been programmed with their own strengths and weaknesses depending on their country. For instance, Italians would be stronger with swimming, Russians on pole vault, Americans on sprinting and so on. Among three difficulty levels (club, national and Olympic) their were noticeable differences as the computer-controlled athletes were actually capable of breaking world and Olympic records at the higher levels, becomming almost impossible to beat, while achieving only mediocre results on lower levels.

And although Barcelona 92 would see 257 different events across 25 sports (in a range of 34 disciplines), Olympic Gold, despite offering the option to compete in "Full Olympics" only included 7! The aforementiones archery, 100m sprint, hammer throw, 110m hurdles, pole vault, 200m freestyle swimming and 3m springboard diving.
Much like Hyper Olympics / Track & field from 1984, Olympic Gold uses button mashing as the main part of gameplay for mostg events (aside from archery and diving), with a slower-paced rhthm needed to master swimming. So gameplay was pretty much instant to pick up, even if it did take some time to master some of the controls if you wanted to achieve gold.

Diving was perhaps the most redesigned event, unlike most titles of the time where the player simply has to "click-a-long" a predefined sequence of buttons, Olympic Gold actually gave the player the ability to control their own jumps. This means that one could indicate a jump and make one completely different, resulting in 0.0 notes. However, with practice it's perfectly possible to reach marks above 9.0 even for jumps rated 3.5.
But with only Sega owners getting a chance to experience the first Worldwide Officially Licensed Olympic video game title (Hyper Olympics having only been awarded the official badge for Japan), the consumer market was limited. Fittingly enough, given that the 2022 Winter Olympics are about to get underway, it was the frosty companion to the Summer tournament which saw Olympic gameplay reach a wide variety of platforms and systems.

And so it'll be Norway '94 for us next. Bring a big coat for Winter Olympics. Brr!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad