Compete in the age old games of hacky sack and half piping...
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I'm Gaming Jay: Youtube gamer, let's player, fan of retro games, and determined optimist... Join me in this series while I try out EACH of the video games in the book 1001 VIDEO GAMES YOU MUST PLAY BEFORE YOU DIE, before I die. The game review for each game will focus on the question of whether you MUST play this game before you die. But to be honest, the game review parts are just for fun, and are not meant to be definitive, in depth reviews; this series is more about the YouTube gamer journey itself. From Mario games to the Halo series, from arcade games to Commodore 64, PC games to the NES and Sega Genesis, Playstation to the Xbox, let's play those classic retro games that we grew up with, have fond memories of, or heard of but never got a chance to try! And with that said, the game review for today is...
Platform(s) Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari 2600, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, NES, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Master System, ZX Spectrum, etc.
I never played California Games growing up, but I heard of it. It was one of those games that existed on EVERYTHING. NES, Commodore, DOS, Sega systems... the game was everywhere! And I do recall people speaking fondly of it as kids.
California Games is essentially a series of sports-based mini-games. From surfing to hacky sack, half piping to boardwalk roller skating, the game isn't so much about serious sports as much as its about "cool" alternative sports inspired by the Californian lifestyle of the 80's youth. And in that respect, the game is a nostalgic look back at the 80s.
As far as gameplay, the mini-games are fairly simple and fairly tricky. There really isn't much depth to many of the games, and the controls are usually no more complex than one or two buttons being pressed at the correct point. When this game came out, such controls and complexity were not that unusual, and in fact the game was ahead of its time in that it offered so much variety of gameplay with the different mini-games in addition to allowing you to compete with friends or teams of friends. So its not all bad here. But that said, by modern standards I did not find the gameplay to hold up all that well.
Ultimately, California Games is a classic. Indeed, its sheer recognizability is a testament its popularity in the 80's. That said, beyond checking it out for its old school charm, I wouldn't recommend this one too widely.
➙ Must You Play It?
California Games is definitely a classic game that many know from their childhood. And for nostalgia's sake, this may actually be a game worth trying. However, the game is essentially just a handful of mini-games, and said mini-games do have tricky controls and are quite simple. So ultimately, this may be a game you want to try to say you did, but I don't see modern gamers finding lasting gameplay here.