The urge to compete is irresistible. Don't you feel you need to pit your fitness and skills against others? Don't you need to win at everything you do? If not, then you're probably a normal, well-adjusted person. However, if you are manically competitive you might be willing to travel all over the world in order to beat people at exciting and obscure sports. This selection of four games lets you do just that.
There are four sports which you'll have to master if you want to reach the top of Epyx's high score table. The first is good old BMX riding (remember that?). It's not a case of tackling the traditional half-tube this time, but pedalling along an incredibly perilous track, littered with railway sleepers, bales of hay and vertical drops.
The track scrolls in a sort of 3D towards the top left hand corner of the screen. You, controlling your speed and direction, must successfully get to the end of the course in the shortest possible time. You have three lives, losing one every time you tumble off the bike. The best way to complete the course is to go as fast as you can, doing wheelies whenever you reach an obstacle to bounce over it. If you do come off, you'll either start at the beginning or half way through, depending on how far you got before the tragic accident.
Having proved how incredibly talented at BMXing you are, it's time to get on a plane and fly to Switzerland (or, conceivably, Austria) to strap on your skis and go, er, skiing.
You start in a shed at the top of a fiendish slalom course. Dig your sticks in, push, and you're off. Again, you control speed as well as left and right movement. Speed is still of the essence. You view yourself from in front and above, so the angles are easier to judge. The only problem occurs if you let your speed build up too much. You won't be able to get through many of a gates, and will end up smacking into a pole. You lose a life and lie there for a few seconds, dazed.
The controls are suitably skiddy; you'll be hammering the joystick or joypad to get round some of the trickier switchbacks. And it is so frustrating when you see a flagpole looming up right in your path. It's possible to miss out some gates. You don't get any points for doing this, but you'll stay on your skis until you reach the bottom.
Having survived that with only minor breaks, dislocations and frostbite, you'll want to travel to a warmer part of the world. What about Hawaii? Yeah! Everybody jump in the water because the surf's back in town! [Eh? - Ed].
You must ride a huge wave, doing tricks, flips and other brave manoeuvres to gain as many points as possible. Again, you'll have to be quick because the wave is beginning to break. If you get caught in the curl, you'll tumble off, smacking your head nastily on the sea-bed and losing one of your lives.
There are a number of moves you can attempt on the crest; the harder and more impressive they are, the more points you'll get. Simple backward flips look a bit pathetic, but if you keep doing a lot, your score gets to be quite respectable. Or you can try flying off the top, twisting in mid-air, then slipping back down the wave. It's very tricky and requires practice, skill and the ability to swim.
Having developed a taste (albeit salty) for aquatic competition, you then travel back across half the Pacific to Mexico. There you decide to jump off some very high cliffs into approximately fifteen feet of water. People who do this find it hard to get comprehensive life insurance, because it is a tad risky - those rocks are sharp and can certainly have your eye out if you're not careful.
You control the angle of the diver; you can either drop straight down, in which case you might collide with the rock-face whizzing past mere inches away, or a select a flatter trajectory ending in a belly-flop which hurts a great deal.
Points are awarded on whether you manage to enter the water cleanly, and whether you strike the bottom of the rock-pool before surfacing.
A large pelican sits on a rock next to the pool and watches all your efforts. If you are too pathetic, he covers his eyes with his wings. It's certainly a nice touch, and is well drawn to say the least.
The graphics are without exception very pretty indeed in all the events. They are fast and smooth as well, as we are coming to expect from the far superior cartridge-based software. It has to be said that in the skiing and surfing events, the sprites are not particularly large. However, they are very detailed and will impress the socks off you.
The sound might have taken straight from an arcade machine. It complements the gorgeous visuals perfectly, and really demonstrates what is possible with the new stereo effects. A tune plays throughout the events and spot effects punctuate the action at the salient points.
What lets down World Of Sports is - surprisingly - its "forgivingness". The events are all fairly easy to complete but if you don't succeed, you automatically go on to the next one anyway. This means that all you're doing is trying to get points rather than progress in the game. There are several differing manoeuvres which you can perform in each discipline, but they are subtle and difficult, so you'll probably end up just going as fast as you can, to get points that way.
The most startling thing of all about World of Sports is not the gameplay, which has been seen before, but the sheer quality of the graphics - it's hard to believe it's playing on an 8-bit Amstrad!
So, all in all, World of Sports is a distinct step up from the current crop of CPC games in terms of graphics and sound, but unfortunately lacks the real gameplay to accompany this feast for eye and ear. More events would have been nice, as would a bit more variety and length in each one.
Great, but not one to keep you absorbed for hours.