Now available on: Virtual Console, PSN
Between the bronze medal performance of the official London 2012 game and the typically British weather, we've found ourselves yearning for sunshine and a good sports sim. Step forward California Games and brighten up our summer.
Developed by Epyx in 1987, the game followed in the footsteps of the studio's Summer Games and Winter Games series, borrowing many of their hallmarks. It debuted on the Apple II and Commodore 64, but it's the subsequent NES port that sticks in our mind.
All of these mini-games had a simulation feel to them with a dash of arcade playability. Factors such as physics had to be taken into account when tackling that half-pipe in skateboarding, or negotiating a wave while surfing, but the approach was tongue-in-cheek.
The developers showed off their collective sense of humour with a dozen quirky Easter eggs scattered across the sports. For instance, players who repeatedly botched the frisby event were abducted by aliens, and Jaws the shark made a cameo appearance in surfing accompanied by an 8-bit rendition of his iconic theme. During footbag, it was possible to hit a seagull, a feat which earned players extra points.
California Games proved to be a big hit among fans and critics alike when it touched down on Apple II and C64, inspiring Epyx to bring the game to a host of new platforms, including the 16-bit Sega Mega Drive and the handheld Atari Lynx.
Many gaming commentators cited California Games as Epyx's last truly great sports game before extensive staff changes shook up the studio. This was reflected in the game's early-'90s sequel, California Games 2, which was generally considered an inferior follow-up.
In closing, California Games remains a charming and fun sports sim, so if you want to inject some much-needed sunshine into your typically British summer, it's certainly one to consider.
Do you have any fond memories of California Games? Write a comment in the space below.