Epyx was well known for its series of sports games for home computers. One of their best titles was California Games and they surprised many of us when they chose to port the game over to the Atari 2600. Though the game only has four of the six original events, the game is very well made and captures the magic of the events superbly.
In California Games one to eight players can compete in four California sports: foot bag, half-pipe skateboarding, BMX bike racing, and surfing. The game opens with a colourful title screen and then moves the patient to a screen where the player must select one of the eight sponsors: EPYX, DELMAR, JETSI, StCRUZ, OP, CASIO, AUZZIE, or SPINJM. The event is then started and, one all the players finish, a ranking screen appears. One cool thing is that a rendition of “Louie, Louie” plays to mark the end of each event. California Games is truly an impressive bit of programming for the 2600. Not only do the sport events play well, but the games have some very impressive graphics. In foot bag you will see pine trees unlike anything you’ve seen done on the 2600 and the clouds in the sky even move as if wind were blowing. The characters in most of the games are multicolored, well animated, and have some nice touches (when the biker falls, you’ll see “circling birds” over him). If you’ve never played California Games on the 2600, you owe it to yourself to get this title. It is one of the best games ever made for the system.