Summer Games II (US Gold/Epyx) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


Summer Games II
By U. S. Gold
Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #5

Summer Games II

The familiar figure of a bronzed muscular athlete strides boldly into the stadium, bearing lighted torch in hand, to the sound of the Olympic theme. He leaps elegantly up the steps to the podium, pauses and sets the Olympic Flame burning. A flock of white doves are released and fly gracefully up and out of the Stadium, to the skies and freedom. So begins the first day of the Olympic Games... So begins Summer Games II!

This is one of the first of US Gold's freshly acquired batch of Epyx games to be released in this country and is the long awaited sequel to the highly acclaimed and popular Summer Games, as marketed in Britain by Quicksilva. Summer Games has been widely accepted as the greatest of the multitude of sports simulations available, since its release nearly a year ago.

Unlike most of the genre, Summer Games didn't rely on heavy (and sweaty!) joystick waggling sessions (apart from the 100m dash, but that's only one event). Each event had its own original control method that made each of the eight different events challenging and fun to play. There were a number of options to increase enjoyment of play and up to eight people could compete against each other. Summer Games II takes all of these elements and adds to them.

As with Summer Games there are eight events to compete in for up to eight competitors with improved, and more, options. A menu of eight (9 on the disk version), compared with six on the original, appear on screen and can be selected by joystick or keyboard. You can compete in either one, some, or all of the events, or practice. One or two joysticks may be used (for head to head play) and there is a high score table of world records that can be viewed at any time, as any world records achieved are saved to disk for posterity (or to show off to a few people). When using two joysticks, the program utilises the same 'intelligence' utilised in Pitstop II, ie any player can use whichever joystick port they so desire by simply pressing the button of the stick they wish to use. It is also possible to see the opening ceremonies again, or even the spectacular closing ceremonies. Another option, only present on disk, is the ability to merge it with Summer Games so that you can play a mammoth sixteen events in one go!

Each event takes up a large amount of memory and so has to be individually loaded in via disk or cassette. The disk version takes up two sides of a diskette with four events to each side (the computer prompts you as to which side of the disk is to be used). When practising an event you can play away to your heart's content and have unlimited goes in a row, but any mega-records achieved won't be saved to disk. If you compete in events, on the other hand, each game you play is a sort of one-off, but at least any cool scores will be saved out (for scoring details, see panel piece). And after all that - onto events...

Triple Jump

The first of the eight events has you hopping, skipping and jumping your way to the record books, beneath the critical eye of an enthusiastic crowd and the sweltering heat of the stadium. The whole thing is seen from a spectator's point of view - the track and other members of the crowd are visible along with a few bits of sports equipment left lying around and the flags of all countries along the edge of the stadium.

The event starts with your athlete poised for action and swaying with anticipation, his shadow mimicking his lively motions. A piece of music is played as he limbers up, before a press of the fire button sends him on his way, the screen scrolling with the player as he pounds down the track. As soon as the player hits the line, four deft moves of the joystick are needed - one for the hop, the skip, and the jump. A further push is required to give extra boost in flight. Critical timing is of the essence and quick judgement and reflexes are necessary. A successful jump results in a roar of approval from the crowd and an instant replay on a small monitor at the top of the screen.

The judges will declare a fault should you overstep the line or perform a movement too late. In competition you are given three attempts to prove your worth, in practice mode you can jump as many times as desired.


The second event on the list has you rowing your way to victory against the computer or another player. You are initially presented with a split screen view of two boats (similar to Pitstop II except this is a plan view) along with a jaunty piece of music. As with Pitstop II you can select to be either the top or bottom player by pressing the fire button when instructed. After a quick ready, set, GO! countdown, the race is on.

The course is 250 metres and must be completed in the quickest time possible. The joystick is used to row, with left/right strokes to raise the oars and to push them through the water. A good rhythm is required throughout the race in order to excel. Both screens scroll with each player as he or she makes their way down the course, past the distance markers and buoys (which bob up and down as the boats pass)! Each player's course time is displayed next to a speedometer which shows the player's speed.


The javelin takes place in the stadium before the crowd. Unlike your average Decathlon style event, there's no joystick waggling required - well, there is some frantic button pressing involved.

Your athlete starts in a similar manner to that of the triple jump - poised to go, with a jiggle in his walk and a javelin in his hand and music in the background. A press of the fire button sets him in motion and rapid and persistent pressing gets him burning it over the cinders. As the athlete (complete with shadow) runs to the line, the screen scrolls with him and the javelin bounces in time with his stride.

The line approaches, and a well-timed tug of the joystick is needed to break his stride and send the spear on its path through the air. The angle of launch is determined by how long the joystick is held left. This angle is as important as the speed of the throw, if not more so - too high or too low a release will shorten the length of time that the javelin flies.

If you cross the line before throwing then you will have incurred a fault and the throw is void, but after a successful throw you will find the crowd more than a trifle appreciative. There are three throws in competition and as many as you wish when practising.


Horse riding on a computer? You bet! In this exciting event you not only control the horse but the rider as well! The object: get round the jumps without incurring faults against the clock. At the start a press of the fire button gives you a five through one countdown and... yeroff! Like the field events, this is from the spectators' view, the course scrolling right to left. A sense of depth is created through parallax movement in three sets of background scenery scrolling at different speeds. The scene is set by the various tents and waving, clapping, or jumping spectators. The jumps are detailed too, ranging from simple fences to walls, multiples, and water jumps.

Pushing forward on the joystick increases the horse's speed and to jump fences you can either press the fire button (medium jump) or push right (longer jump). Clipping a fence or landing badly will cause the horse to stumble and fall along with your rider. This incurs a minor penalty (your current number of faults is shown at the bottom of the screen along with the time taken so far). A quick press of the fire button and an increase in speed soon gets you on your way again though. To prevent the horse stumbling on landing you need to pull back on the reins using the joystick.

If you attempt to jump a fence too early or far too late, the horse will refuse to jump and your score is affected badly. After which you must turn the horse round and take another stab at the fence. Obviously, split-second timing, concentration and a cool head are needed, as is the case with all of the events.

The course must be completed within the optimum time of fifty seconds, since for each second over this time limit you incur one penalty point. If your time exceeds 100 seconds then you are disqualified. The same happens if your total points from faults exceed 99. At the end of the course you are shown exactly where you went wrong and course time is shown along with any faults gained along the way and your overall score (faults). The lower your score, the better, as this means that you incurred minimal faults and completed the course quickly.

High Jump

Yet another event that will offend the wagglers among you - no blood and sweat, just the tears when you shatter your personal best. The high jump presents you with the usual view of the stadium and your athlete poised eagerly and raring to go once you have selected the height at which you wish to attempt. The bar is initially set to 1 .5m and you can accept it or go for something higher, up to a maximum of 2.5m. Again the fire button sets your player in action, but this time continual pushes right with the joystick are required to get him sprinting.

As you pound down the track you can move nearer to, or further away from, the bar. When you actually reach the bar, a press of the button gets your athlete jumping, and a further push on the stick gets him sailing over. As you may have gathered, timing is crucial. Pressing the button too late means that you just run past the bar and get the chance to jump again (you aren't penalised for this, though). On clearing a height you receive due appraisal from the crowd and the bar is raised to the next height. You have three attempts at clearing a height and knocking the bar off from jumping too early, too late, or too low results in a fault (no DT bugs in this game, John). Practice mode, on the other hand, allows you to attempt any height for as many times as you wish.


Fencing is one of the three optional head to head events out of the eight, and is a sort of Exploding Fist with swords. The event takes place indoors and is viewed this time through the eyes of the referee, complete with his computer, VDU and even a disk drive! Either one or two players may take part, a droid taking the part of the second player in the one player option. When practising, this droid can be taken on at one of five skill levels - skill levels one to four (increasing in skill) and a random skill when the droid becomes slightly unpredictable.

The bout takes place on the 'fencing piste'. A timer in the bottom right of the screen counts down from three minutes, and the first player to score five hits against their opponent within this limit is declared the winner. There are a wide range of manoeuvres at your disposal and all must be used to their full to become proficient at this event. You can move towards or away from the other player, thrust, parry (block) and perform defensive sweeping motions. Attacking moves are easily performed by holding down the fire button and moving the joystick. Defensive moves are obtained without the aid of the button.

If two players hit each other simultaneously then the hits are nullified. When a player retreats too close to the edge of the piste, a hit is scored against them. The number of hits scored against each player are shown on the referee's computer screen in the form of a mini table along with the player's name and nationality. If both players have tied at the end of the allotted time limit then a sudden death fence-off takes place - the first player to score a hit is declared the winner. If neither player should accomplish this, then both are assessed a 'loss'. Strategy plays an important role as well as the essential speed of thought and quick reactions.


This is the only event that comes nearest to actual waggling - a sprint cycle race over a 200m course. The display is twin-screen similar to the rowing event, each display seen from a spectators' point of view. The two cyclists appear in both displays (one red, one blue) while a fitting rendition of Flight of the Bumble-Bee buzzes merrily along. After deciding which player is which (by pressing the respective fire button) you are given a ready, set, GO! countdown.

At the bottom of each display is the player's name, a speed bar and an arrow that spins round representing the movement of the peddles. This is where the real skill comes in, as you have to rotate the joystick in time with the arrow to get your rider's leggies pounding furiously. Simply keeping up with the arrow gives you a constant speed, but to attain high speeds and good times you have to 'lead' the arrow by rotating the stick just ahead of it. 'Leading' or 'lagging' too much may cause the cyclist to stop pedalling altogether! This is easily done if you're not careful, and so the utmost concentration is required to maintain steady high speeds. Each view of the track scrolls along with the respective cyclist who both bob up and down convincingly as they zip along the course, passing buildings, distance markers, running tracks, and other such things. The first person to cross the line in the shortest time is the winner.


This is probably the most taxing and frustrating of all the events as you battle your way downstream in the perilous waters, through the long and winding course, to cross the finish line in record time. Although there isn't any frantic waggling involved, paddling your kayak efficiently demands a high degree of mental and physical strain.

The course, viewed from above, is several screens' length, the banks being littered with waving spectators, various buildings, and other befitting scenery. The kayaks (a sort of canoe) are steered through fifteen sets of 'gates' spread along the course, in as quick a time as possible. This isn't as easy as it may appear since the river is very fast flowing and it's very easy to get drawn off course. There are also several little islets that get in the way and must be avoided.

Three different types of gate are used, each composed of two flags, one of which is always red. The red flags must be kept to the player's left otherwise a twenty-second penalty is incurred in conjunction with a little beep. Penalties are also given if a player goes through the same gate twice. Most of the gates are of the DOWNSTREAM NORMAL variety, ie the player goes through them facing down-stream, but there are DOWNSTREAM REVERSE gates (steered through facing backwards) and UPSTREAM gates (pass the gate, turn, and go through facing upstream).

You paddle the kayak through pushes of the joystick. Forward paddles you in a forward direction, back backwards and so on, and each stroke is accompanied by a splash or two to complement the fast flowing sounds of the river. This sort of control proves very realistic and effective, as a single push for each stroke is required - holding the joystick in any one direction doesn't get you anywhere!

Once you cross the finish line you are shown a mini map of the course along with a comment on how you fared at each gate. Any penalties picked up along the way are shown against the respective gate and are totted up at the bottom of the screen. The total points gained through penalties are added to the overall course time to give your final score at the bottom of the screen.

Competing And Scoring

Before competing in the games, each player must select a country he or she wishes to represent. There are eighteen to choose from (as in the original), each with their own national anthem, which is played on selection but can be listened to all the same. Amongst the flags are good old GB, some European countries, and a special Epyx flag (complete with national anthem). At the end of each event an awards ceremony is held where the names, countries and scores of all competitors are listed in order of merit and are awarded medals and points accordingly (Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, worth five, three and one point(s) respectively for the first three places, assuming enough people took part). The Gold Medal winner's national anthem is then played before moving on to further events or the Champion Ceremony.

This ceremony comes once all the events have been completed. The total number of points for each player is added up and the results of the competition are announced in true Olympic fashion - the runners-up are displayed first through to the overall champion (along with their respective scores), backed with the sounds of some suitable music. Once the winner has been declared, their national anthem is played again taking their ego trip to its final dizzy heights.

Once all this is out of the way, the Closing Ceremony takes place - a crowd full of anticipation looks across the stadium to a darkening skyline and the distant figure of an approaching jet-man, to the sound of Ride of the Valkyries. The figure nears as the sky turns black, floodlights flicker into action as the Olympic Flame flickers for the last time and slowly dies away, traces of smoke marking its once prominent position. The figure waves goodbye, saluting the end to an exciting day of spectacular games (play) and the Epyx blimp passes over an amazed crowd. The music departs with the blimp to give way to a stunning display of fireworks and a fitting rendition of Tschaikovsky's 1812 Overture. So ends the Olympic Games... So ends Summer Games II.


Just when I thought the sport simulation was becoming nothing more than a boring waggle, Epyx release the greatest thing to ever grace a diskette. The graphics are absolutely incredible and the animation has got to be seen to be believed - it really is amazingly life-like. The multitude of nifty little tunes seems never-ending and the sound effects are first class. Each of the eight excellent events stand up well on their own, but together...!

This superb combination of outstanding graphics, wonderful sounds and enthralling and addictive gameplay put Summer Games II in a class of it's own. ZZAP! has given a number of worthy Gold Medals so far, but never has there been a game quite like this - it almost deserves TWO!! There isn't a single superlative throughout the Complete Oxford Dictionary that can do justice in describing it. Summer Games II doesn't LOOK set to become a classic - it IS!


After Gary's little comment about the game there's nothing much to say - he seems to have swiped all the superlatives listed in the complete Oxford Dictionary (and Lloyd Mangram's Long Word Dictionary is far too expensive for me)! I thoroughly agree with what Gary has said and this really is a sports simulation to end all sports simulations. The graphics are photographics and the sounds are excellent, with more tunes contained within the game than I've ever heard - and they're all superb too! The only other thing I can say is that if you don't have this in your collection then you're wasting your C64. This piece of software reaches the very pinnacle of C64 programming to date!


This program is absolutely stunning. This is simply THE best sports simulation yet seen on ANY home computer. The feel of the events are all absolutely superb and the game is so addictive that you just want to play it for hours and hours on end. In fact, the only reason why I was dragged away is because Lloyd trotted in and told me that I'd be sacked if I didn't write this. What happened then? Lloyd parked himself in front of it and played it until I had to go home.

We've all been playing this solidly for days and days and there's been much hassle and aggression over who has the current records. Julian has been in a foul mood ever since I broke his kayaking record and I thought Gary was going to kill him when he smashed his triple jump record. Mind you, Gary got his revenge when he beat Julian's equestrian record with a clean sheet. All I can say is that seeing is believing and disbelief is profanity.


Presentation 99%
A wealth of options and brilliant touches all around.

Graphics 97%
Excellent backdrops, unbelievable sprite definition and animation.

Sound 96%
Eighteen excellent anthems plus a host of other superb tunes, unusual and realistic FX.

Hookability 98%
Immense addiction from the word GO!

Lastability 97%
Eight taxing events for up to eight players and the urge to constantly improve upon records.

Value For Money 98%
A tenner seems a meagre price to pay for such superlative stuff (plus the 'merge' facility).

Overall 97%
The sports simulation to end all sports simulations.