The Video Games Of The Olympic Games: Olympic Summer Games (Atlanta 1996) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Video Games Of The Olympic Games: Olympic Summer Games (Atlanta 1996)

Chris Morley heads Stateside.
Time now for another look at an Olympic game of Olympic Games past - Atlanta in 1996 is our stopping off point for Olympic Summer Games. But unlike the actual festival of sport for that year, all but two of the ten events on offer here have a basis in track & field; the 100 metre sprint, 110 metre hurdles, pole vault, high jump, long jump , triple jump, javelin and discus, with archery and skeet shooting available the only non track & field events included.

Unlike the Lillehammer '94 video game Winter Olympics, there are no major differences between each event on different platforms, so whether you had a Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Sony Playstation, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive or the short-lived 3DO Interactive Multiplayer you could join in with the virtual Olympic fun. A version was developed for the Sega Saturn too, but despite being completed it never matarialised for commercial release.

Once booted, Olympic Summer Games gives you the choice between three difficulty levels and eight preset athletes;and nationalities before entering events. Paul from the United States, Chris from United Kingdom, David from Canada, Kevin from France, Gary from Spain, Colin from Japan, Ian from Germany and Jon representing Finland. Fortunately if you weren't exactly inspired by the dull choice of pre-set names available, you can customise them to your liking!
How you played the included sports varied; in the sprinting events there are two qualifying rounds, and only the winner (out of four competitors) passes to the next round. On long jump, triple jump, discus and javelin each player has three attempts; the best 10 progress to the final and have three extra attempts. The best result overall wins. In high jump and pole vault, there are not qualifying rounds; the players jump in turns until missing three consecutive jumps.

Despite the format being similar across all platforms, the experience varied greatly - as did the reviews! GamePro magazine gave negative reviews to both the Genesis and Super NES versions, criticising the bland, simplistic graphics, shortage of sound effects, repetitive music, and the lack of variety in the gameplay of the different events. They did, however, praise the graphics and animation of the Game Boy release, but criticised the sound effects and said the gameplay was uninvolving.

The August 1996 edition of Next Generation contended that the SNES version was...
"...buried behind substandard graphics (even for 16-bit standards), Olympic Summer Games features the multiple player gameplay that made Track and Field so popular."
The reviewer continued to describe the gameplay's demand for a combination of intense button pounding and precise timing to be both an effective challenge and a traditionally fun experience, and scored the Super NES version three out of five stars (the same score also awarded to the 3DO version).

Electronic Gaming Monthly scored the PlayStation version 6.5 out of 10...
"Individually, some events have their moments. Overall, though, this game needs more training before competing against world-class competition like International track & Field."
It wasn't just that Olympic Summer Games had to live up to comparisons to the classic arcade game Track & Field, it was also fighting for console time against a variety of other Olympic-themed video games back in the summer of 1996. This was possibly the only time a mascot got its own linked game, Izzy's Quest For The Olympic Rings giving the first ever such character not designed to pay homage to a famous national animal or indeed anything even remotely resembling a human being the chance for an outing of its own.....

And as Game Informer noted, it was definitely one for the kids.
“With the upcoming XXVI Olympiad in Atlanta, Georgia, comes a new mascot named Izzy. Izzy lives in the Olympic Torch along with many other strange characters. He is an ambitious teenager and has asked the elders in the Torch if he could leave and compete in the 1996 Olympic Games.

The elders informed him that he must collect the five Olympic rings scattered throughout the four lands of the Torch. Then and only then could he go to compete.

You assume the role of Izzy and begin the journey to find the five rings. Three of the rings can be found on the normal levels, but two are hidden in Bonus Levels called "The Elders Challenges". The challenges can only be reached when you clear a level within a given amount of time shown on a medal timer toward the top portion of the screen.

Izzy has many talents that will help you to collect the rings. He is a master of morph and can become a javelin, an archer, a hammer  twirling helicopter, a baseball player, a swashbuckler, a skateboarder, a hang glider, a rocket, and a skilled diver.

Using these skills along with his powerful leaping ability, you must collect many items, such as Medallions, that give him life or Bonus Torches.”
None of which of course made it into the parent event.
The 1996 Games also brought Olympic Soccer to the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, Sega Saturn, and DOS., enabling such virtual-maneuvers as back-heel passes, one-two plays, bicycle kicks, and diving headers as you aim for Olympic glory. Digital Spy remembered that...
“Visually, Olympic Soccer hasn't aged well, but the graphics were certainly passable at the time. It was colourful and the action was fluid, though the crowd looked like they'd been steamrollered into their seats.

While the sound effects may have been of dubious quality, the commentary was far from it, providing many a highlight. The man tasked with voicing the action was none other than BBC Radio's Alan Green, a commentator known for his outspoken views and cutting remarks.

If the goalie made an error, for example, Green would chastise him with: "Even my nan could have saved that." He would also point out that players involved in a fracas would not be exchanging Christmas cards. At half-time, meanwhile, he would either celebrate the fact that the first 45 minutes hadn't sent him to sleep, or inquire over the whereabouts of his cup of tea.“
Feel free to grab your own cuppa before we jump to 1998 for Konami's Nagano Winter Olympics '98.

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