Something different for midweek. Everyone is familiar with the fantastic original California games from Epyx released in 1987. It was released on many home consoles and computers around at the time. Many fun hours were spent playing the flying disc , surfing, foot bag and a host of other events. Even to this day if you have a group of friends around, California Games is still a great crack, but what about the sequel?
I have to admit, i missed this first time around. Looking through a bunch of articles years back i couldn’t believe Epyx made a sequel. I guess with the success of the first game a sequel was inevitable but it seemed to fly under the radar for me. Released in 1993 California Games II was released on multiple platforms like the original although this would have been a late release for the NES and Sega Master System and an early game for the SNES and Mega Drive in Europe. Naturally excited to give California Games II a whirl i couldn’t wait to play what i thought would be a whole host of new events and what must be a bigger and better game! Oh boy i was in for a shock!!
OK, the Sega Master System version of the game starts off well with a nice theme tune, title screen pops up and I press the button to start the game. Cant wait to see the events on offer here i thought to myself as i was greeted to this events selection screen (Be prepared)
Yep, California Games II in all its event screen glory! I mean Sheez just look at it! I cant believe Epyx treated us to a whole host of “FOUR” events to choose from. Its less than the original game! Not only that, this Master System version is missing the Jet Ski event which judging from videos online seems to be the best event. When you do recover from such a selection of events to choose from you will notice that the rather oddly shaped surfer dude will point to the event you want. Not only does he point, but he keeps every part of his body still apart from his arms. Maybe he is actually a robot surfer sent here from 1984 to destroy all possible fun from this game!!
Event 1 Skateboarding
The original game had an awesome half pipe game which took a bit of getting used to but was enjoyable all the same. In California Games II you get a 3d style cross section of a long half pipe. Think the bonus stage from Sonic 2, this was done with fun in mind and a great little two player bonus stage. This on the other hand is just plain boring. No music and plain visuals, you get no enjoyment from playing it.
A map on the right side of the screen lets you see when you will go through a complete part of the pipe. You are greeted with a basic black screen in which you can skate round in a full circle. You can pull of tricks like the original game but the event lacks any real excitement or style. To top it off when you fall off you get to watch another horrific graphic of the robot surfer dude.
It just wastes time as you have to look at it for a while before it disappears. Also what is he doing on the side of a cliff? i was in a skate park a moment ago?
Event 2 Hang Gliding
A different event up next, in this one you have to wait for the best time to launch yourself from a cliff edge using a windsock in the background as a guide (otherwise you just fall to your death in an instant) If successful you need to keep the hand glider in the air by pressing up and down with the aim of making it to the other side of the water, turn round at the opposite cliff (im guess there are wind currents there?) and back again. As a bonus you need to drop what looks like red balls into life saver rings below you floating in the water.
Again what could have been a fun event is let down by the controls and just plain uninteresting to play. If you get good at this event i guess you can just go back and forth dropping the balls in to the life savers until you crash or the time runs out.
Event 3 Body Surfing
OK not the best event in California Games but still is was kinda fun once you got the hang of it and was sometimes a good decider in the competition mode if your mates were all pretty good at the other events. Body Surfing in California Games II just plain stinks.
Im shocked this is the same company that released California Games. The lack of visuals and control again let this event down. Once you finally get the hang of riding the wave, you have to dodge floating objects in your way. As the obstacles come towards you at a fast pace you wont last to long before you ditch and land in the water. Oh no music either whilst playing this event too.
Event 4 Snowboarding
To start the event off you need to fly your snowboarder up the mountain and drop him off at the top. Believe it or not this is not that obvious at first and you do get some amusing images the snowboarding bouncing down the mountainside (It should be funny should it? 🙂 ) Once you get the hang of this part the event starts properly
This is a fairly ok event and the best of a bad bunch for me. You have to dodge obstacles as you fly down the mountain on your snowboard. Much like the rolling skating stage in the first California Games. Again the control and level design just feels a little cheap and you will be falling off a lot, trust me.
I come away from California Games II thinking this could have been so much more. I would have felt cheated if i had paid money for this back in 1993 with pocket money as its worse than the original game. A lazy poorly executed sequel but with a catchy theme tune sums up California Games II on the Sega Master System. With the SNES having better graphics and improved sound with the added jet ski event i still feel the same about this game.
Overall stick to the original, its more fun and it has foot bag, yes where else can you kick a ball at an unsuspecting sea bird and feel happy!
Yes hit the bird, hit the bird!
Thanks again for reading this blog and thanks again for all the likes. Very much appreciated and please take a look at the rest of VGR2016 blog