- Publisher: US Gold
- Developer: Tiertex
- Release: Super NES/Sega Genesis/Sega Game Gear, 1994
- Genre: Sports
- Players: 1-4 Alternating
- Save: N/A
- Super NES/Genesis: Common, US$5-10
- Game Gear: Moderate, US $5-10
Some of you readers, especially American readers, may remember the '94 Winter Olympics for the rivalry between American figure-skaters Tanya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, where the former had the latter knee-capped only for the gold medal to go to Ukraine's Oksana Baiul. The video game doesn't give you a chance to re-create this little event, however; it boasts 10 events across 6 sports. There are 4 skiing events (Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, and Slalom), 2 sledding events (Luge and Bobsleigh), plus Freestyle Skiing, Ski Jump, Biathalon, and Short Track Speed Skating. They are presented in three different modes: Full Olympics, where all 10 events are played in a set order; Mini Olympics, where you select which event(s) you wish to play; and Training, where you can practice an event as often as you need.
|The way the skiing events are designed, it's too hard to react to the gates in time,|
and the penalty is too steep if you miss one. (Genesis version shown.)2
The Moguls event is equally punishing in that it requires the most precise timing to land your jumps safely, but at least the round ends immediately if you do crash. It wouldn't be so bad, except there's very little indication of what will constitute a successful jump until it's too late. That's the same problem I had with the Ski Jump; of the many actions you must take in order to perform a high-scoring jump, there's little to no indication of what commands you have to input and when you have to do them. But not all the events are downers. My personal favourite might be the Biathalon, possibly because you're actually given a timing meter for you to gauge your strokes against. Plus you get to shoot targets! Okay, so they throw off your aim by simulating muscle fatigue, but at least the penalty for missing a target is relatively light -- just an extra 10 seconds added to your time. Now why couldn't they have just done something like that for the skiing!? The Luge and Bobsleigh events are also considerably more playable, since there's no opportunity to crash, but the track is so narrow and the turning controls so slippery that scraping along the walls and haemmoraghing speed is an inevitability at some point. And finally, there's Short-Track Speed Skating, which boils down to a functional but tiring button-mashing contest.
As with that other Olympic-like game I reviewed a long time ago, Winter Olympic Games is unforgiving in its difficulty. But it's not hard in all the same ways; there are no qualifying barriers you have to pass before you can continue. On the contrary: even if you do get disqualified from an event, the game just moves you on to the next event. Well, what if I want to try it again? Granted, that's how it works in the real-life Olympics; if you don't win, you just move on with the program and your life. But maybe I'm feeling a little ashamed of my performance and would like to save face. Why won't you give me that little quantum of solace, game?
|For some reason, the Game Gear|
version (shown) is easier.2
Control: 2 medals out of 5
Design: 3 medals out of 5
Graphics: 3 medals out of 5
Audio: 3 medals out of 5 (SNES/Gen) / 5 medals out of 5 (GG)
The Call: 55% (D+): SNES & Gen. / 60% (C-): GG
1 The Soviet Union dissolved before the Winter (Albertville) and Summer Olympics (Barcelona) of 1992, but as the Soviet Republics had already been training together, they competed as the Unified Team.2 "Winter Olympics: Lillehammer '94 (1994) screenshots". MobyGames. http://www.mobygames.com/game/winter-olympics-lillehammer-94/screenshots.