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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Summer Games (Epyx/US Gold, 1984) - Part 2


In Part 1, we took a deep look at all the 11 versions' events and playability, leaving us to deal with graphics and sounds, and calculating the overall scores. With this entry, I shall take my leave for a well earned summer holiday, and hopefully leave you hungry for more. =D

And yes, that is a real Summer Games advertisement from 1984 - you just have to dig it! But now, let's try to bring this one to a conclusion...

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GRAPHICS

Similarly to my Winter Games comparison, I shall skip the loading screens, since they were already taken care of in Part 1 - not that they would have had much effect. Instead, we start again by taking a look at the menu screens, because it is basically where you will be spending most of your time, when you consider that the same colour scheme and layout will be shown between every event and in most other menu screens. And because the Atari 2600 version only has the country selection bit as the only menu screen, the signing in screens will be taken a better look at later on.

Main menu screens. Top row, left to right: Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga/Atari ST, Atari 400/800.
Middle row, left to right: Atari 7800, Sega Master System, Apple ][.
Bottom row, left to right: ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, NEC PC-8801.


You will notice an alarming number of differences between all the versions' options in the main menu, such as: the earliest versions, as well as some of the later ones, haven't got the "Compete in some events" option included, indicating that it was added only as an afterthought to all the subsequent games and conversions. But never mind that - we are supposed to be looking at graphical differences now. The APPLE ][ version is the only one that uses the previous event's (or in this particular screenshot, the opening ceremony) graphics in the background, with the menu window on top. In the long run, it might be the most pleasing to watch, but really, the original is the most recognisable one, so most of the conversions follow that form.

Signing in screenshots. Highlighted middle twosome: Atari 7800.
From top left clockwise: Commodore 64, Atari ST/Commodore Amiga, Apple ][, Atari 2600, Sega Master System,
ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, NEC PC-8801, Atari 400/800.


When you choose to compete in any number of events, you will need to sign in to compete. Clearly, the ATARI 2600 screen is the most basic version of them all, having only the countries to choose from - and I don't think I need to repeat this, but I will anyway: it's the only menu screen in the version. All the other versions have a name input and country selection screen, most of which are the same screen. Only the ATARI 7800 version has a different screen for typing in your name and choosing your country. Also, on the APPLE ][, the country selection bit has been curiously changed into a flip-screen system, 9 flags per each screen, and the Epyx flag is not in its usual place. Speaking of flags - just like the 16-bit versions have their US Gold flag instead of Epyx, the Atari 7800 version has an Atari flag. Anyway, this time, I will combine the menus and the signing in screens into one score to give them some sort of worth.


CEREMONIES

This is where the important part of the Graphics comparison begins. This is also the first thing that shows up after the loading screen - at least in most versions, and more importantly, the original version. You have to admit, in 1984, when you witnessed the opening ceremony for the first time, it was something really amazing and... well, properly ceremonial, I suppose. It was the first time in gaming history that something of this quality was presented to us in a sports game.

Dual screenshots of the Opening Ceremony, left to right:
Commodore 64, Atari 400/800, Atari 7800, Sega Master System.


I took the liberty of showing you two screenshots from each machine, where in the first one, the olympic torch is being brought to the podium to light up the olympic fire, and in the second one, the fire has been lit and a random number of doves are flying across the screen. Singularly, the original C64 version is the only one, in which the torch bearer is clearly a dark skinned person - all the others have a more caucasian type of a bloke running to the podium. I cannot tell, how big of a deal this caused in 1984, but had the game industry been so media-centric as it is today, it could have been a huge deal. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this must be the first black man in video gaming history! Also noteworthy to some might be that the running man is the first of its kind to be animated in such a way, later to be copied to games like Impossible Mission 1 & 2, Alien, Kane 1 & 2 and the 5th Axis. Otherwise, the stadium looks much like you would expect it to, and all the animated things look very fluent, if not exactly natural. But for its time, it was spectacular.

Both the ATARI versions in the above screenshots are more crudely pixelated, and the A7800 version is even missing the Pole Vaulting spot. Also, the animations aren't quite so fluent as the original, so they're already quite a bit less impressive. And you know, first impressions are very important. The SEGA version, on the other hand, has gone for a more realistic and clarity enhancing version, with lots of outlines in both the birds and the runner, and also the fire looks more like a traditionally animated fire. Also, the amount of detail in the background is quite impressive, even if it looks as tile-based as all the NES games I've reviewed so far. Still, not bad at all.

Dual screenshots of the Opening Ceremony, left to right:
Amstrad CPC, Apple ][, NEC PC-8801, ZX Spectrum.


These four follow a clear pattern - all of them utilise their own singular limited palette, and try to appear to their advantage as much as possible. Curiously, the APPLE ][ version shows the Pole Vault spot in a wrong way, but then I can't really say much positive about the palette, or the animation either. From these four, the one that gets the closest to the original is, quite expectedly really, the NEC version, even if it isn't necessarily the most pleasing of the lot. I'd say the most impressive one is on the SPECTRUM, with the animated flags that even change colours on top of the grandstand, although it has a unique twist: the torch carrier stays on the podium after completing his duty, unlike in every other version. As usual, the AMSTRAD version is quite as unimpressive as you would expect from it.

Just for demonstrational purposes, I will show you the screenshots for both Opening and Closing Ceremonies from both AMIGA and ATARI ST versions. If you can notice any notable differences, leave a comment, because I couldn't. Therefore, this is the only time I will show screenshots from both 16-bit versions in this entry.

Top half: Opening Ceremonies from Commodore Amiga (left) and Atari ST (right).
Bottom half: Closing Ceremonies from Commodore Amiga (top row) and Atari ST (bottom row).


As I mentioned in Part 1, the Closing Ceremony is exactly the same as you get in Summer Games II, so there's not much new here. Remember, the 16-bit conversion was released in 1992, seven years after SG2 was originally released. In the distant future, when I eventually will write the comparison of SG2, I will take a better look at the different versions of the Closing Ceremony, but for now, it's enough to know that it exists in both of the 16-bit versions of the first game.

What is quite interesting here, is that the Pole Vault spot is again missing from the Opening Ceremony, as it was in the A7800 version. As you see, the camera placement for Opening Ceremony is further away than for the Closing Ceremony, in which the Pole Vault spot is strangely now shown, so the Opening is either shown from the opposite side of the podium, or there's a clear continuity error. Also, the cauldron holding the Olympic Flame looks slightly different for each ceremony, so they didn't really think of this through. At least the torch bearer is more coloured towards the original version's ethnicity, and everything looks just updated enough to be still called the same game. Anyway, you can't really deny that what looks better, looks better, even with slight differences in minor details.

Before giving the first scores for the Graphics section, I would just like to make a note that the ATARI 2600 title screen counts as an opening bit as well, so I will show it here beside the scores just as a reminder of its glory.

1. AMIGA / ATARI ST
2. COMMODORE 64
3. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
4. ATARI 8-BIT
5. ATARI 7800
6. ZX SPECTRUM
7. NEC PC-8801
8. AMSTRAD CPC
9. APPLE ][
10. ATARI 2600


POLE VAULT

For the first event, the attention to detail regarding your athlete's animation is pivotal, but the screen size and the utilisation of the area is almost as important.

Screenshots of Pole Vault, left to right: Commodore 64, Atari 400/800, Apple ][, Sega Master System.


The original C64 version starts off slightly awkwardly, with some slight glitching in the pole sprite when your athlete arrives on the screen. Otherwise, the animation is perfectly easy to follow, and the hi-res athlete makes it easy for you to follow the results of your controlling. There is also plenty of room at both ends of the screen, so no chances have been left for interpretation. You also will have noticed that the athlete is of a more caucasian colouring, and will continue to be so from now on, not that it matters all that much. On the ATARI 400/800, the athlete is a little blockier, but otherwise everything the screen looks and animates much like on the C64 - the slightly darker palette is just a matter of taste, really.

Somewhere in the area of the previous two falls the APPLE ][ version, which tries to copy the colour scheme as far as it possibly can, but finally fails to deliver when colouring the athlete, who is very white apart from his black clothing. All the details are closer to the Atari version, apart from the clouds which are much cruder. Luckily, the animation is very good and fluent, albeit a bit slower than in the original. Almost opposedly to that, the SEGA version is very quick, but once you take off from the ground, the animation becomes surprisingly choppy and hard to follow, but still very quick. At least the background is very nice, and I believe this is the only version of the event, in which the clouds move.

Screenshots of Pole Vault: ZX Spectrum (top left), NEC PC-8801 (top right),
Commodore Amiga/Atari ST (bottom left) and Amstrad CPC (bottom right).
For Choice Software, the screen size of both SPECTRUM and AMSTRAD seemed to be a bit of a problem, because they couldn't comfortably fit everything on the screen. The mattress is only halfway on the screen, and so when you have jumped from the pole over the bar, your man always drops straight down due to the screen size, and it always seems like you are going to drop off the bar, even if you have safely gone over it. Although the Amstrad version is more colourful, the Spectrum version looks more comfortable with its limitations, and it runs more smoothly, too.

The NEC version is easily the worst of the lot. Animation is flickery and difficult to follow, the pole is a bit strangely positioned and animated, and even with the screen size, it seems to have more trouble getting everything work correctly than even the Amstrad version. Of course, the 16-bits look very nice, and just updated enough to feel you're playing the same game, but the ATARI ST version runs very choppily compared to the AMIGA version, and it's more difficult to time your actions. For this important reason, the original beats the ST.

1. COMMODORE AMIGA
2. ATARI ST
3. COMMODORE 64
4. ATARI 8-BIT
5. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
6. APPLE ][
7. ZX SPECTRUM
8. AMSTRAD CPC
9. NEC PC-8801


PLATFORM DIVING

In the second event, the clarity and attention to detail in animation are again very important, but what I consider the most important bit here is the visualization of gravity. Still, the colouring and clarity of background elements never hurt anybody.

Screenshots of Platform Diving, left to right: Commodore 64, Atari 7800, Atari 400/800.


Again, the C64 and ATARI 400/800 versions look staggeringly similar, with only some slight variations in colours - the Atari version being a bit darker of the two. Even the animation of your diver is so similar, it's useless to search for something to pick on. The only two things that I can think of that are noticable at all are the missing flags from behind the diving platform and the yellow colour replaced with pink on the Atari version. Otherwise, I'd say these are the ones all the rest are measured by, and it would certainly be petty of me to take away a point from the Atari version just because of these minor differences. It should be said that the way the dive is made visually, gives you a very good interpretation of gravital effect, although the position changes are quite instantaneous, so some feel of reality is missing, but it's 1984, so what do you expect.

Happily, the A7800 version isn't much worse off - only the cloudy background is a bit unstylish, and the diving platform looks a bit odd, like it had shadows hanging in the air. The palette is perhaps a bit closer to the C64, but there are less details here.

Screenshots of Platform Diving, left to right: ZX Spectrum, NEC PC-8801, Amstrad CPC.


On the SPECTRUM, your diver just falls down, he doesn't jump; and also, there doesn't seem to be much in terms of gravital effect. As usual, the controlled sprite is monochrome, and any collision with other colours causes it to partly change colour. In this case, it's not such a big deal, as you can hardly concentrate on the faster movement anyhow. The amount of background detail has been dropped a bit, having no clouds on the other side of the screen to minimize the amount of attribute clash, and there are no shadows on the ground from anything. Also, as before, the audience is mostly purple.

AMSTRAD's diver at least jumps off, like he's supposed to, but in a very angular fashion, and the sense of gravity makes really strange changes as you progress in your dive. It's not all that bad, though - the colouring and details are quite close to the original, even if the screen mode makes most of the more hi-res bits of the original more blocky here.

This might get a bit old to see mentioned, but again, the NEC version is the worst one of the lot, although perhaps not in every possible way. The animation is thoroughly inconsistent and choppy, which makes this event painfully awkward to play, but the background elements and colours are surprisingly okay, even if the display mode makes them difficult to look at for more than 5 minutes. It's always funny to see actual individual people sitting in the audience, instead of a mass of something that's supposed to represent a mass of people.

Screenshots from Platform Diving, left to right: Apple ][, Sega Master System, Commodore Amiga/Atari ST.


Although you couldn't possibly call the APPLE ][ version pretty with any sort of credibility, at least it has the gravity and jumping animation thing down quite nicely. Unfortunately, the animation speed isn't constant in the way you would expect it to, and it takes some time getting used to the fact that the diver also falls down quicker when he's in his most folded-in position, revolving around the quickest. So, although it feels as random regarding speed as, for example the Amstrad version, the Apple version at least has some aspects to the problem that you can learn your way around it.

The SEGA version looks pretty enough in a screenshot, but the animation is horrible. Although the dive starts off well enough, towards the end the animation gets not only less and less fluent and more difficult to follow, but also illogical compared to other versions, so you need to relearn how to control the diver because the animation is so different. Still, the backgrounds are nicely detailed and the colouring is very good.

You might be surprised, that neither of the 16-bit versions will not be hearing much fanfares, because the diving animations are completely wrong for two types of dives, namely the backwards one and the inwards one - in both AMIGA and ATARI ST versions. Also, although the backgrounds are fairly well made, they could have been so much better. You can see the flags in the background have some wind-affected shape in them, but they're not animated, even though they well might have been. The clouds don't move at all, and are boring copies of the same formation. Somehow, the whole event manages to look boring and unstylish, but at least the diver's animation is as good as the original half of the time, when it's correct. Well, the ST version has less frames than the AMIGA - or even most of the 8-bits for that matter, but it still feels right in terms of gravity.

1. COMMODORE 64 / ATARI 8-BIT
2. ATARI 7800
3. APPLE ][
4. COMMODORE AMIGA
5. ATARI ST
6. AMSTRAD CPC
7. ZX SPECTRUM
8. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
9. NEC PC-8801


4x400m RELAY + 100m DASH


Although both running events look almost exactly the same, some minor differences in details might need to be pointed out, so screenshots from both events will be shown in this case.

Dual screenshots from the two running events, left to right: Commodore 64, Atari 400/800 and Atari 7800.


These two events are the most obvious proof of the fact that the original Summer Games was worked on in different units of a team. For one, the athletes are coloured white instead of a healthy pink of a normal caucasian person. Also, these are the only events in which a different font is used. But those aren't even nearly the most distracting features here. That honour belongs to the scrolling, which never really follows any of the athletes, and instead goes on in its own pace until the finish line has been reached.

Both of the ATARI versions above follow the original to some extent, but both have their own colouring. The A7800 version keeps more in context of the other graphics in the game in terms of colouring, but at the same time, looks closer to the C64 version. I'm kind of torn here, because although the A400/800 version is blockier, the events play much better due to the runners being on clearly different areas of the screen, instead of being slightly on top of each other. Of course, the original way looks better, but the Atari 8-bit version works better.

Dual screenshots from the two running events, left to right: ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Apple ][.


Both the AMSTRAD and SPECTRUM versions follow the very constantly moving CPU player that's on the spot for the entire duration of both events. Somehow, it manages to work nicely and simultaneously be superbly boring to look at, but it certainly cannot be called confusing. Spectrum's palette works much better in this case, and although the amount of detail isn't quite as high as on the Amstrad, the sprites are hi-res, and the background is quite a lot easier on the eyes, not to mention closer to the original.

Although the APPLE ][ version doesn't look any better than any other events so far, the screenshot doesn't really give the whole truth. Again, the track scrolls at a slow and constant speed, but the athletes have a less random style of movement than in the original, making it a slightly less unpleasant ordeal.

Screenshots from running events: Commodore Amiga/Atari ST (left), NEC PC-8801 (middle),
Atari 2600 (top right) and Sega Master System (bottom right).



Incredibly, all the best versions of these events have been clumped into the third screenshot compilation. Quite naturally the most pleasurable versions to look at are for the 16-bits, which, in addition to being the most detailed and coloured ones out there, also follow your athlete, which in itself would give these the highest spot. However, the AMIGA version beats the ST by a much more fluent scrolling. The SEGA version doesn't fall too much behind, really - it's easily the best-looking version of the 8-bits, and it also follows your athlete, but it suffers from slightly jerky scrolling. Even the ATARI 2600 version feels better than most other versions, although you can never really call it pretty - the scrolling, however, is spectacular, and the decision to separate the two athletes in a split screen setting should have been utilised for most 8-bit versions as well.

The only one from the picture above that doesn't quite pull it off is the NEC version, which somehow combines the good that the Apple ][ version has with the bad that the original has. I don't know how, but again, it's confusing. All the graphics look to be at the same time both hi-res and low in detail, it's a very strange combination and it doesn't really work all too well.

Although SMS and A2600 only have one event, I'm inclined to give them equal importance here, because there aren't all that many graphical differences in the two events to be considered important. So, here's the list...

1. COMMODORE AMIGA
2. ATARI ST
3. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
4. ATARI 8-BIT
5. COMMODORE 64 / ATARI 7800
6. ZX SPECTRUM
7. NEC PC-8801
8. APPLE ][
9. ATARI 2600
10. AMSTRAD CPC


GYMNASTICS

This event can graphically be somewhat compared to the earlier Diving event, as you will need to perform similar somersault-like movements before landing your performer. The difficulty comes in comparing all the different phases of the performance.

Screenshots from Gymnastics, left to right: Commodore 64, Atari 400/800, Atari 7800.


I cannot with good conscience call the original being animated too close to realistic, but perhaps slow-motion is a word to better describe it. However, requiring to take only one step before hopping on to the jumping platform is a bit too little, so there still is an element of unrealism when you disregard the slow-motion thing. But the realism really isn't the point here, because you need to be able to control your gymnast properly, and this is where the quality of animation comes in. Like in most of the other events so far, the sprite has been animated flawlessly and very fluently indeed, making it easy to follow in all the phases of the performance.

The ATARI 8-BIT version is a lot quicker than the C64 version, making it a lot more difficult to hop onto the jumping platform, and perform the mid-air somersaults. The C64 also has more natural-looking colouring, so it definitely has the edge there. Interestingly, the A7800 version has a slightly more stylised look to it - just enough not to notice without taking a proper comparative look at it. It also is closer to the original in animation speed, except for the post-landing balance act bit.

Screenshots from Gymnastics, left to right: Apple ][, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC.


On the APPLE ][ version, the animation is once again incredibly slow, except for one bit - the jump from the jumping platform to the horse. The colouring and overall quality of the graphics isn't very recommendable either, but it's easy enough to follow what is going on.

Impossibly, it's even slower on the AMSTRAD, which can be called a real feat. And it's constantly slow as well. It's slow enough to get bored with the event before you have finished your first attempt. This, I suspect, is because the conversion team decided that it's better to have all the animation frames instead of cutting them down and making it slightly faster. I do agree with that, because this event requires more precision than any other. Unfortunately, the quality of the graphics is as low and blocky as elsewhere in the game, and the colour scheme makes the whole thing look redder than you might imagine, considering all the blue and grey bits that take almost half of the screen.

What the SPECTRUM version shares with the Amstrad is the gymnast's starting point, which is outside the screen. This I can most heartily approve of, because it does add a little bit of realism to the event. What I am not so happy about here, is the attribute clash effect blocking you from using the very tip of the jumping platform, so it always feels like you will never get the chance to get as good a jump as you would wish to. But of course you do, it just looks like you won't. The same problem can also be found on the Amstrad version, although you can't see it there, so in a way, it's even worse there. Once again, your sprite is completely black, so it won't cause any colour clash, which I understand, but it looks less like a person this way. Also, the whole room feels more than a bit  inconsistent and way too colourful and mish-mashy for comfort. At least the animation is good enough, and even slightly faster than on the Apple.

Screenshots from Gymnastics, left to right:
Atari 2600, Sega Master System, NEC PC-8801 and Commodore Amiga/Atari ST.


As I mentioned in Part 1, the SEGA version's stupidly quick mid-air animation makes the event virtually impossible to play with any success, but at least you have three whole steps to think on your strategy. Still, the animation is rather good for what it is, and the graphics are as consistantly good in quality as we have come to expect. It's certainly not a winner, though.

From all the versions of this event, the NEC version has the animation of the gymnast the closest to what this event would look like in real life. Unfortunately, this doesn't translate very well to gameplay. You start from the left end of the screen, like in most other versions, but you are able to take as many as three steps before you need to hop onto the jumping platform. From the horse onwards, the animation is too damn quick for any regular person to follow, but with very good luck, you will be able to land a jump. It looks surprisingly good, though. The colouring is alright, and the audience looks fairly nice and relatively realistic in its colouring. Against my better judgment, I like this one's looks quite a lot, even if it makes the playability worse.

On the 16-bits, you are scarcely allowed to take even that one step, because your hop to the jumping platform is longer, and your gymnast doesn't even start from the far left end. Although the animation is very smooth in both AMIGA and ST, the performance is surprisingly different from all the other versions, because the gymnast will only fall in a very lightly descending angle, as if defying gravity with all her willpower. The speed is a bit closer to reality here, but only as far as still being comfortable to play. Of course, the event looks much nicer on the 16-bits than in any 8-bit machine, and I particularly like the way the audience feels closer to you here. It's just the animation that I'm not comfortable with.

And finally, the ATARI 2600 version. Needless to say, it isn't pretty, but it is a completely different sort of Gymnastics event than in any other version of the game. Therefore, I will give it a unique bonus point. Now, the screen is divided into two parts: the screen above shows you the male gymnast from the side, performing his tricks on the horse, and the screen below shows you his grip and balance on the horse. It's really a different kind of a deal here, so I'm not sure how to comment on this one any better. Why not have a go at it?

Basing the Gymnastics' graphics scores on reality might not be a very good idea, because it would only make every version look stupid, apart from the NEC version, which still isn't all that pretty, to be honest. So I will have to go for what's the most pleasing to the eye in the long run.

1. COMMODORE AMIGA / ATARI ST
2. COMMODORE 64 / ATARI 7800
3. ATARI 8-BIT
4. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
5. NEC PC-8801
6. ZX SPECTRUM
7. APPLE ][
8. AMSTRAD CPC
X. ATARI 2600


FREESTYLE RELAY + 100m FREESTYLE

As were the two running events, the swimming events are just as boringly similar to each other in graphics. Perhaps even more so, now that the ever-so important power indicator is not features in either event. So, the only difference between these two, graphically, is the other swimmer.

Screenshots from the swimming events, left to right: Commodore 64, Atari 400/800, Atari 7800.


I am not going to comment on the colours of water and sky, since neither really have a proper colour in reality, particularly water. What I care more about are the swimmer animations and the screen's scrolling. On the C64, both of these have been done supremely well, pretty much what I expected from the running events. The scrolling follows your swimmer as quickly or as slowly as you can swim, but keeps you within the screen's borders. The animation is very detailed, smooth, and nicely paced, making it easy to follow. What I also care about is what the audience looks like in the background, which in this case looks like a good, slightly off-balanced set of people with a mostly humane skin colour, even if they're very blocky, because it's old and 8-bit.

The ATARI 8-BIT version, in contrast, has people whose skin colour is grey, green or brown (well, brown is still very much acceptable, but the other two?). Also, your swimmer is purple instead of a healthy pink, so it looks kind of weird. The scrolling here is a bit jerky and slower than the original, but not too bad. However, the most instantly visible difference is the contestant info bar just below the timer, which neatly separates the screen areas in two sections, and although it looks good, I'm not entirely sure it's any better than the one on C64. Strangely, you are not told which lap you happen to be on in this version, which is somewhat of a slight bummer.

Clearly, the ATARI 7800 version takes more after the original version in colouring and background and info section designs, but there still is an inexplicable need for a cut line for separating the informational bits from the more graphic action bits. It also scrolls as well as the original, so I'm going to have to call it a tie between the two.

Screenshots from the swimming events, left to right: Apple ][, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum.


Both SPECTRUM and AMSTRAD have a similar problem: as you are reaching either end of the swimming pool, the screen slows down noticably, and it's harder to control your swimmer. Then again, as the screen stops moving, the swimmer throws his hands around faster, so the speed of the swimmer seems to be more related to the scrolling than your actions. For most of the time, the scrolling isn't bad at all - in fact, it's almost surprisingly good. The trouble is, the AMSTRAD version is a bit more blocky than any other version so far, but it's way more colourful and detailed than the SPECTRUM version. Sure, you get the water splashing on the Spectrum, but the Amstrad has some proper pool edges, clouds, lighting towers and even some differently coloured people in the audience, instead of just purple.

On the APPLE ][, you get a very strange combination of badly made things. The pool itself runs faster than the lane markings within the pool. Your swimmer throws himself around like there was no tomorrow, once you get him into a good rhythm, and once you get there, it's difficult to follow him because it's so fast. The amount of details is staggeringly low, and the bit of animation you get from your swimmer is either glitchy or just messy, I don't really know which is it. Also, the background doesn't move at all, so it feels very out of reality. I'd say it's the worst one so far.

Screenshots from the swimming events, left to right:
Commodore Amiga/Atari ST, NEC PC-8801, Sega Master System, Atari 2600.


Poor old NEC PC really doesn't stand a chance here, as its scrolling capabilities are poor - something akin to MSX quality. The graphics mode still isn't very easy on the eyes, but at least the colouring is slightly healthier than on any from the previous lot, and it's more detailed than either the Spectrum or the Apple version. The only thing completely missing from it is the timer, which, frankly, isn't too big of a loss in this case.

I'm quite happy with the colours in the SEGA version, but I'm not so sure about the excessive amount of details. See, even the audience members have eyes. The overabundance of water texture makes it look messy in places, and not necessarily all that realistic as it was perhaps supposed to be. At least it scrolls okay - not completely comfortably in less than full speed, but not nearly as bad as NEC.

As you would expect, the ATARI 2600 version looks exactly how you would expect it to look like, and it does work very nicely for the platform. The scrolling is very good and the animation is simple and clear, and the colours are very easy on the eyes. Unfortunately, because of the inevitable lack of detail and prettiness, it's not very pleasing to look at for a non-hardcore retroist. Still, it's easier to follow, and therefore, more tolerable than most of the previously mentioned.

As you would also expect, both the 16-bits look better than any of the other versions, but the ATARI ST version scrolls worse than even most of the 8-bits. From what I can tell, the AMIGA version represents the event at its very best in graphics - it has brilliant speed and beautifully smooth scrolling, not to mention all the colours and details that are also in the ST version. It's just that the scrolling does SO MUCH for this event, because it's otherwise so utterly boring.

1. COMMODORE AMIGA
2. COMMODORE 64 / ATARI 7800
3. ATARI 8-BIT
4. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
5. ATARI ST
6. AMSTRAD CPC
7. ZX SPECTRUM
8. ATARI 2600
9. APPLE ][
10. NEC PC-8801


SKEET SHOOTING

Whether or not you happen to enjoy this particular type of event, the level of enjoyment will most likely be determined by your own reaction time and the quality of your sense of vision. In these cases, the level of realism does not always play such an important role, but since we are speaking of a sport simulation game, one would assume that the rules of physics would be at least fairly well applied, if not completely realistic.

Screenshots from Skeet Shooting, left to right: Commodore 64, Atari 400/800, Commodore Amiga/Atari ST, Apple ][.


On the C64, the background is perfectly suited for the event, even if it's not the prettiest of the lot, because it never interferes with the main elements of focus. You need to be able to see a dark red skeet and a dark blue one as well, sometimes simultaneously. Since the background is very light and faint in colouring, as if beyond the forest clearing, the area was a bit foggy, you couldn't really hope for a better view - at least on an 8-bit computer. Note that the only brown thing on the screen is your crosshair. The AMIGA and ATARI ST are prettier, I grant you that, but the mountains in the background somehow mix with the blue skeet, making it difficult to see for a while. At least the physics are more or less spot on - even more so than in the original.

Still, it isn't quite as bad as on the ATARI 400/800, which has a dark blue skeet going against darkly shaded grey, blue and cyan background elements. If your monitor's luminance settings are low, you might not be able to see the blue skeet. There is no red one in the screenshot above, but it's not much easier to notice, since it's also of a very dark shade. Also, it doesn't help much that the event plays a bit faster than the original. At least on the APPLE ][, you can see the skeets quite easily, since they're both white with black outlines, but again, it's not quite as quick as the original, nor is it very pretty.

Screenshots from Skeet Shooting, left to right: ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, NEC PC-8801, Atari 2600.


Some proof of my point can be found in the second picture from the left in this line-up. The same problem troubles the AMSTRAD version as I said earlier about the Atari 8-bit version - you can't see the blue skeet very well against the blue mountains. It is there in the screenshot, inside the aiming circle, but you need to zoom in a bit to see it properly. The shadow below it indicates more clearly that it's there. At least the red one is very bright. But it all falls down with the messy look of the backgrounds, so it's not a very inviting place to be in. Fortunately, the SPECTRUM version has this problem dealt with in a very Spectrumesque fashion: make the skeets monochrome and give them only outlines, and also minimize the amount of background colours to make them less intrusive.  Works surprisingly well.

When you consider the amount of colours utilised for this event, one might find it surprising to notice that the Spectrum version is very close to the ATARI 2600 in this sense. The A2600, however, has very much blockier graphics and less detail, as it has the tendency to, but it also has more fluent animation than the Spectrum. Also, the skeet are again in two colours - this time a sandy light brown and a dark blue.

Once again, the NEC version takes the cake of being the weirdest conversion of the lot. The amount of colours is similar to the Atari 2600 and Spectrum, but the usage of them is very interesting, to say the least. You can even find some shades of green in the clouds, if you look closely enough. Also, the mixture of colours can be a bit disorienting occasionally, due to the graphics mode on the NEC. The skeets are both full black, which work fine, but they fly by quicker than anywhere else, and the one coming from the right switches its own gravity in mid-flight. It's just a very freaky combination of elements that don't really work together all too well.

1. COMMODORE 64
2. COMMODORE AMIGA / ATARI ST
3. ZX SPECTRUM
4. ATARI 8-BIT
5. APPLE ][
6. ATARI 2600
7. AMSTRAD CPC
8. NEC PC-8801


HURDLES and ROWING

The two Atari 2600 exclusive events: Hurdles (left) and Rowing (right).
There isn't all that much to say about these two exclusive events, actually. Hurdles takes after the A2600 version of 100m Dash in terms of graphics, and Rowing takes very much after the Summer Games II event from every other machine in every way, except that graphically, it's quite a bit blockier. But it's Atari 2600...


OVERALL GRAPHICS

Counting the overall scores for the Graphics section have been added in the order of appearance in the original game, starting with the ceremonies and then moving on to Pole Vault and so on. If any particular version has been given zero points in certain occasions, it's because the event didn't exist on the said version. The Atari 2600 conversion is a special case, since it has two unique events and a completely different version of Gymnastics, so it has been given some extra points for trying to participate in the contest in its own way.

Of course, this is just my view of how the graphics look, and others might take offense at it, because they have grown accustomed to their particular favourites. I'm just trying to follow simple rules of aesthetics and comparing them to the idea of the game.

1. COMMODORE AMIGA: 10+9+6+10+8+10+7 = TOTAL 60 = 10
2. ATARI ST: 10+8+5+9+8+6+7 = TOTAL 55 = 9
2. COMMODORE 64: 9+7+9+6+7+9+8 = TOTAL 55 = 9
3. ATARI 8-BIT: 7+6+9+7+6+8+5 = TOTAL 48 = 8
4. ATARI 7800: 6+0+8+6+7+9+0 = TOTAL 36 = 7
5. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM: 8+5+2+8+5+7+0 = TOTAL 35 = 6
6. ZX SPECTRUM: 5+3+3+5+3+4+6 = TOTAL 29 = 5
7. APPLE ][: 2+4+7+3+2+2+4 = TOTAL 24 = 4
8. AMSTRAD CPC: 3+2+4+1+1+5+2 = TOTAL 18 = 3
9. NEC PC-8801: 4+1+1+4+4+1+1 = TOTAL 16 = 2
10. ATARI 2600: 1+0+0+2+2+3+3+2+2 = TOTAL 15 = 1

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SOUNDS

I went to dig out the Internet a bit more than I intended to, and found myself browsing through the archived pages of the Epyx Shrine (RIP), and came across some interesting information that might have escaped a wider audience. Randy Glover, the alleged musician behind the C64 version, revealed to CyberGoth (the webmaster of Epyx Shrine) that he didn't do the music at all, and it remains unknown who did it. Instead, he is responsible for the swimming events. This, in turn, gave a lead to another revelation, that all the events were basically made by different programmers. Anyway, whoever the sound programmer for the C64 version was, kudos to him/her for creating something very iconic, even if most of it was rearranged from other, existing tunes.

What I didn't know while writing the comparison of Winter Games was the origin of the olympic theme song that plays during the opening ceremonies in all the early Epyx multisports games. The slow bit of the opening tune is an arrangement of Leo Arnaud's famous Olympic theme called "Bugler's Dream", originally written in 1958, and was first used in the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble. Take a listen to the original here. The latter half of the olympic theme song sounds like it could be from some sort of comedy cowboy movie, but I'm still looking for the connection.

As for the other tunes: the song that plays on the world records screen is an excerpt from Jean-Joseph Mouret's Rondo from the Symphony of Fanfares. Most of the national anthems representing all the flags in the game are there as well, but there are a few curious ones on the list. Instead of the Australian anthem, the game mistakenly plays the song "Waltzing Matilda" - although at least the NEC version has this correct; and the Russian anthem is falsely represented by the "International Anthem of the Communist Parties of the World", and although the Russian anthem has been switched for the 16-bits, it's another wrong one - an excerpt from Beethoven's Ode to Joy. Then there is the Epyx flag for anyone who wishes to represent the game company, which has its own theme tune taken from their earlier game, Jumpman Junior. The 16-bit versions play a different anthem for U.S. Gold, but I cannot seem to be able to place the short melody to any other game at the moment. But now that we're already getting to compare the different versions, let's do it properly one machine at a time like it was done for the Winter Games comparison.


COMMODORE 64

All the tunes are made in a three-tone orchestration of what should resemble a horn section, perhaps a trumpet, an english horn and a tuba, I don't know. Of course, in 1984, the programmers didn't yet have the knowledge to make it sound any more realistic, but it was enough to create an iconic soundtrack, that would be copied to later games in the series.

There aren't all too many sound effects, but you will get everything necessary, and most of them have been executed rather nicely.

1) In Pole Vault, you will only hear your athlete running down the lane, his landing on the mattress with a good low thud, the height bar dropping with a few pings and the audience applausing a successful performance.

2) In Diving, the only sound effect you will hear is the splash when your diver hits the water, the volume and texture of which depends a lot on your angle of hitting the water.

3 and 4) In the running events, you will hear a couple of low beeps for the countdown, before you are sent off with the starting pistol; and while you're running, the timer beeps a high note every second or so. When you cross the finish line, you will hear a strange circus-like fanfare, which doesn't really fit the game, but then again, the running events differ in many other ways as well from the other events.

5) In Gymnastics, you will hear the gymnast's feet hitting the ground, her taking off from the jumping platform and also a different little "tick" sound from taking off from the horse. If you land successfully, you will hear a similar sound to her taking a step, and a nice round of applause. If you land unsuccessfully, you will hear a loud noisy smack/thud. If you miss the jumping platform, you will hear a clear fault beep, like it was coming from a squeezable horn.

6 and 7) In the swimming events, you will hear a couple of high beeps before the starting pistol
will send you off. The only other sounds are a splash when one of your swimmers enters the water, and another sort of watery noise when you swim.

8) For Skeet Shooting, you get a part of a hunting fanfare to begin the event, and the following part of the same hunting fanfare to end the event - these are played with a single beepy tone, which probably is supposed to be representing a trumpet. The only other sound is your gunfire, which is loud and clear enough.


ATARI 400/800

The opening ceremony is a bit different here. The instrumentation doesn't resemble a horn section quite as much as on the C64, and due to the sound types used on the Atari, the music sounds to be playing a bit lower, although it isn't. Also, the latter half of the opening tune is slightly faster than on the C64, and utilises pause notes for percussive effect. But basically, the idea in the execution of all the music is very similar as on the C64. The world records anthem seems to be missing for some reason.

In the sound effects department, this version is quite a bit less impressive.

1) Pole Vault only has two effects: one thud for falling on the mattress and one double-ping for dropping the bar.

2) The splashes in Diving are similarly done as on the C64, but the sound quality is a bit darker and slightly noisier.

3 and 4) Both running events start off similarly to their C64 counterparts, but instead of getting a beeping timer, you get running feet thudding from all contestants on the screen.

5) In Gymnastics, your gymnast's running thuds are as if she was running on a pile of fluff, but taking off from the jumping platform is more powerful as it's supposed to be. Landing unsuccessfully plays a thud noise mixed with a low beep indicating a fault. Landing successfully plays a faint thud, followed by a round of applause, like in the original. If you miss the jumping platform, you will hear a similar horn tone as is played on the C64, but this one fades in and out slower.

6 and 7) The swimming events have no sounds whatsoever.

8) No fanfares, just a very sharp and kicking gunfire sound, which I do like better here than on the C64. But it's another one of those "too little, too late" types of things.


AMSTRAD CPC

We are back to the more familiar rendition of the opening tune here, but the main instrument sound is more bell-like. Due to the way the bell-like sound plays, the latter part of the opening ceremony tune feels a bit laggy. Or, it could be that it is programmed in a bit sloppily. Well, the sloppiness doesn't bother as much as missing tunes, and happily, the Amstrad version has the world records tune in.

Here we have our first of the lot to have a sound effect (another bell-like sound) to play in the menu screen, every time you move the cursor. It manages not to bother, so it's not a bad addition. The in-game sound effects, unfortunately, aren't much different from the Atari 8-bit version.

1) Again, Pole Vault has two effects, but they are different this time: tapping sounds for your athlete's running, and a high-pitched ping for choosing options before your attempt.

2) For the Diving event, you will only get one type of a splash, which plays every single time when you enter the pool. There is no different kind of a splash for entering the water in a perfect posture.

3 and 4) The running events only have a countdown, a starting pistol bang noise and a low-pitched ending "fanfare", if you like to call it that, in which four 8th notes of the same pitch play back-to-back. Of course, one could argue that there is one other sound in these events, which plays every 10 seconds, but it's the same ping sound that is played before the starting pistol.

5) In Gymnastics, the tapping noise for your gymnast's feet hitting the ground is the same tapping noise that plays when you take off from the horse. It's quite similar to the running noise from the C64. The only other sound is a low "bip" when you take off from the jumping platform.

6 and 7) The swimming events don't even have a starting pistol - the countdown is just three high-pitched beeps. Entering the water causes a mightly splash, and swimming plays out some short noises that resemble hitting a snare drum with a brush. But still, it's not all that much less than what you get in the original, and it's quite a lot more than what you get on the Atari 8-bit.

8) The hunting fanfare is back in the Skeet Shooting event, but it's not quite right. Also, the gunfire sound doesn't sound much like gunfire. But there is one sound effect more than in the original - a short high-pitched beep every time you call for a new target.


ZX SPECTRUM

What I love about the Spectrum version is that there is no music, and very little sound effects as well - saves me the trouble of writing about it as much as about the others, although a lot of text is inevitable. It has that downside, however, that this will not have a very positive effect for the end results.

1) Pole Vault is the first bit where you can actually hear any sounds at all, and even there it's just one tick-sound for two things: choosing options and for your athlete running.

2) Platform Diving has two effects: a high-pitched tick-sound for choosing the dive type (if you happen to be in practice mode, that is) and a combination of a few really short notes that, when put together, cause a "blurp"-like noise.

3 and 4) Again, there are only two effects in the running events: a low-pitched "blurp" noise and a high-pitched "blurp" noise, both of which are used in the countdown, and the lower one has also been used for marking every 10 seconds passed.

5) Gymnastics has a spectacular five short "bip" tones: a mid-pitched one for your gymnast's feet hitting the ground, a low one for jumping off the jumping platform, another tone from between the previous two for taking off from the horse, and a very high-pitched "bip" for landing. If you land awkwardly, another mid-pitched "bip" will play. The fifth one is for landing unsuccessfully, and it's the lowest one of the lot.

6 and 7) The swimming events only have a countdown, which features two high-pitched "bip"-notes and a strange combination of another high "bip" and a lower "blurp" type sound.

8) Skeet Shooting has the highest quality sound effect of the entire Spectrum version of Summer Games, and that is the gunshot blam-noise. It really is quite good - much better than the gunfire sound in the original and the Amstrad versions, at least. The only other sound is a high-pitched tick noise for calling a new target, much like the one on Amstrad.


NEC PC-8801

Somehow, even though Summer Games for the NEC PC-8801 was released the same year as Winter Games, and converted by the same company as Winter Games, this game manages to sound slightly less plastic and is certainly more ear-friendly as a whole. All the music still sound a bit wonky, but not nearly as unpleasant as in Winter Games. The opening tune is a bit too fast compared to the C64 version, but otherwise, the horns actually sound more like horns here. Of course, it depends quite a lot on your personal opinions whether this is better or worse, but one thing I could point out is, that this version sounds less forceful and olympic than the C64 for whatever reason. I think it's just the texture of the midiesque instruments here. The national anthems do sound a bit better, though. Unfortunately, this is another one of those that do not have the world records tune.

As you might already suspect, the sound effects are quite midiesque as well.

1) For Pole Vault, you almost get a similar set of sounds as in the original: running, landing on the mattress and applauses are here, but the bar falling down is missing.

2) Diving has only one type of splash, which strangely sounds a bit metallic.

3 and 4) The running events now have an additional sound effect for faulty stars, which is a low boop tone. They also have two tick sounds (in octaves, low and high) for each passing 5 seconds, I think, but I can't say for sure, since the NEC version doesn't have a timer on the screen while you play. Otherwise, the original sounds are there as well, circus music and all.

5) The gymnast's running noise has an interesting quality to it, since it sounds like you were walking on a wooden floor with rubber shoes. I am unable to describe what the jump from the jumping platform sounds like, but I know that in some old DOS games, this specific sound effect has been used for explosions. Taking off from the horse has the same sound effect as your running, but the last sound effect here is the applause, which sounds like throwing water on a hot sauna stove.

6 and 7) The swimming events do not have sound effects for the countdown, but instead there is a strange noise for jumping off from the starting platform. As usual, there is that noisier splash effect for entering the water, and again, there is that water splashing on a hot sauna stove effect for swimming. If you have no idea what that sounds like, come to Finland and go to a proper sauna.

8) The hunting theme is back in the NEC version of Skeet Shooting, although the latter part is played in the wrong key. Also, while the shooting sound in itself is quite alright, it has a strange tremoloed reverb effect that follows the initial bang noise.


APPLE ][

This is sort of what you would expect from an early DOS game - beeper all the way. Actually, this is also the sort of soundtrack what you would almost expect from an early Spectrum game as well, but slightly more refined and less noisy. Unlike on the Spectrum, though, you can hear the opening tune on the Apple ][, as well as renditions of all the national anthems, even if it's not too much to speak of.

1) In Pole Vault, the only sound effect you will hear is a thud when you land on the mattress. Well, there is that sound for dropping the bar, but it's the same thud noise.

2) In Platform Diving, the only sound effect, once again, is a splash-like sound when you hit the water - only this time, it's quite a bit shorter and snappier than in any other version.

3 and 4) In the running events, the only sounds you will hear are the two low bips and the gunshot in the countdown.

5) Gymnastics has only one sound effect - a noteless tick, which is played for every possible action.

6 and 7) The swimming events also only have the countdown to hear, but at least it's a bit different from the running events' countdown.

8) Like on the Atari 400/800, there is only the gunfire sound in Skeet Shooting, but here it's not much more than the splash-like noise in the Platform Diving event.


ATARI ST

Being a 16-bit machine, you might expect a great advancement in sound quality and all that, due to better technology. And of course, the ST version sounds more wholesome and instrumentated than any other version so far. However, the opening ceremony has a different tune, that is only loosely based on Bugler's Dream. This one also has a drum machine that plays some sort of disco beat for the melody, and it doesn't really fit in well with the theme. The closing ceremony has a ballady sort of abbreviated version of Ride of the Valkyries, which is strange, and also very much different from the original C64 rendition of the tune from Summer Games II. And since the world records list is gone from the 16-bits, so is Mouret's Rondo. At least the national anthems sound fairly nice, only here, they feel like being played on a piano-like instrument, instead of a horn section. Having more space and memory for more music, naturally the 16-bit versions make use of this opportunity, although it's not by a whole lot, since it's only Pole Vault and the running events that feature a new original tune, and it's the same polkaish in all three occasions.

1) Pole Vault has familiar tapping sound effects for running, a good thud for landing on the mattress, and the only one of its kind - a fault ring signal instead of a dropping bar ding-ding noise. As a point of interest for the detail enthusiasts: the applause is only played when you perform a successful pole vault in competition mode, not practice.

2) For Diving, you only get one type of splash.

3 and 4) Strange "blurp" sounds for both countdown and for every second passed. Starting pistol is also there for the countdown, and you also get the strange circusy finishing tune, which has a darker quality here than on the 8-bits.

5) Tapping sounds for steps; funny springy noise from the jumping platform; fault noise is two low beeps in different pitches; loud thud for landing badly; applause sounds more like an ocean wave.

6 and 7) Three similar "blurp" sounds for countdown, one big splash for entering water and two different splashy noises for swimming.

8) Hunting theme and gunshots, both of which are very well made.


COMMODORE AMIGA

As usual, the Amiga version has the same basic idea and the same "enhancements" as the Atari ST version, but all the samples sound clearer and just plain better. The opening ceremony has the same tune with a fairly similar drum track addition, but the closing ceremony also has some drum "enhancements", which, to be honest, I prefer less than the drumless version on the ST. As with the ST version, Rondo is missing due to the missing world records section. There is a noticable difference in the national anthems: there is a fourth voice for the horn section. Also, the new original tunes for Pole Vault and the two running events sound a bit better due to better quality instrumentation.

1) Pole Vault has otherwise a very similar set of sounds as the ST version, but instead of a fault ring signal, you get a more natural cling sound for dropping the bar.

2) Diving has only one type of a splash sound.

3 and 4) Low-pitched ticks and a gunshot for countdown; higher-pitched ticks for every passed second. The finishing circus tune is back to being of a more regular kind, but still feels out-of-place.

5) Gymnastics again has tapping sounds for running, and more akin to the original, a low beep for fault, but then taking off from the jumping platform sounds like your gymnast is actually grunting some sort of effort noise. Bad landing causes a soft and low thud, and a good landing will only give applause if you get high enough scores.

6 and 7) For the swimming events, you get three similar "blurp" sounds for countdown, one big splash for entering water and a smaller splashy noise for swimming - so it's actually a bit less than on the ST.

8) Skeet Shooting: Hunting theme and gunshots, both of which do their job, but are strangely downplayed.


ATARI 7800

Although the A7800's conversion team probably had good intentions, the end result is bafflingly bad. Either that, or the version I found from the internet is faulty. During the opening tune, the A7800 starts spewing out some very random sounds from one of the channels, which is either a hardware problem or a programming problem, but a problem nonetheless. We are thankfully spared of this bad sound chip behaviour for the most part, since this version has no national anthems or world records table. And I am thankfully spared again of some writing, since the A7800 hasn't got all the events.

This version is one of the rare ones that have some sort of bleepy sound effects for using the menus, but in this case, you only get a bleepy sound for making a selection. As for the events...

1) Platform Diving is the first event here, and it has been blessed with two different splash effects.

2 and 3) For the running events, we get a good set of proper countdown effects - very clear beeps and a gunshot. When you are running, the timer reminds you of itself every 10 seconds (or 1 second in 100m Dash) with a small high-pitched bip. Once both athletes have finished, you get to hear a completely unique ending fanfare for the event, which, for my money at least, is quite a lot more fitting than the original.

4) For Gymnastics, you get a fairly basic set of sounds: tapping sounds for running, a low thump for taking off from both the horse and the jumping platform, a two-note fault noise, a short and strange bloopy melody for a bad landing (which would be more at home in Montezuma's Revenge), and a very unconvincing applause sound effect that sounds like someone played a sample of it from tape and stopped it at the middle.

5 and 6) For a change, you get a proper countdown for the swimming events (similar to the earlier one in the running events), and I noticed at least three types of splashy sounds, if not four.


ATARI 2600

The opening fanfare sounds surprisingly similar on the A2600 when compared to the A7800 version, only here it sounds less glitchy. Also, on the A2600, you only get the first part of it, but I should think it comes as no surprise. Also, the winner of the olympics gets played an ending fanfare, but that is all the music you are to expect from this version.

The first sound effect is in the country selection menu, when you select a country. It's a very atariesque blip, and you are going to hear quite a lot of it in this version.

1) Hurdles has a surprising amount of sounds, to be honest. You get the countdown, which actually has a different sound for each of the three bits of it. Then, both athletes on the screen have their own running sounds, along with all the tumbling on the hurdles and jumping over them, and this all finishes off with the very familiar "Charge!" jingle.

2) The same countdown and "Charge!" jingle can be found from the second event, which is a 100m Freestyle swimming event. In addition to those, you have two watery sounds for entering the water and for swimming, and of course, a bloopy short melody for a faulty start.

3) Surprisingly, Skeet Shooting has the hunting theme tune, and a fairly nice shooting sound. Uniquely, when you manage to shoot down one of the clay pigeons, you get a very glassy breaking sound, which is a nice surprise, if not exactly fitting.

4) 100m Dash again has the already familiar countdown and finishing jingles, plus the inevitable feet tapping sounds from all the running.

5) The fifth event is Swimming Relay, so the same sounds are here as are in event #2.

6) Gymnastics on the A2600 are very strange indeed, and its sounds are no more normal than the event itself. The majority of time you will probably be hearing in this event is the fault noise, unless you really know what you are doing. I sure don't. If you land successfully, you will hear another "Charge!" jingle, but if you land unsuccessfully, you will hear a metallic thud of sorts.

7) The Rowing event utilises some of the same sound effects from earlier events: a watery splashy sound from the swimming events, and the very familiar countdown. At least the event doesn't end in the jingle.


SEGA MASTER SYSTEM

Finally, we end this bit with the Sega version, which has a lot more to offer than you would expect. First off, the game starts with a title screen, which already has a tune exclusive for the Sega version. It also plays in the menu screens, so you will be hard-pressed to find a quiet moment. The opening ceremony at least has the familiar tune, but even that is much faster than the original. All the events have an opening fanfare as well as a cheery rocking tune - a unique one for each event. I suppose these new rocking tunes were more important to include than all the events, or even all the countries, since you only have 8 countries to choose from. At least you can hear all their respective national anthems, unlike in some of the other versions. I'm not entirely confident in speaking about the in-game sound effects, because the music on top of the effects was so much louder that I could scarcely notice that there actually were any sound effects, so it's nearly as good as not having any. They are there, though. The most audible sound effect is the loud splash in Platform Diving and 100m Freestyle. Which reminds me, the most irritating thing about this game's soundtrack really is the opening fanfare for every event, since you cannot start the event before it is over.


OVERALL SOUNDS

I will have to place the original C64 version to the top simply for being the only one that has all the music and sound effects that the game is supposed to have, even if all of them are not quite the best available. Although the top 3 might seem a bit odd, my reasons for choosing that order were the relative closeness to the original version, and not getting too much wrong in the conversion process. The reason why I placed the 16-bits so low are because of the lack of respect towards the original chosen Olympic fanfares for the game, and a slightly questionable choosing of instruments. The same goes for the SMS version, which has just too much music, most of which has very little to do with the theme of the game. Finally, although the Spectrum version has no music at all, at least it has more effects than the Apple ][ version, some of which are quite enjoyable. Too bad there never was a 128k version for the Spectrum released, that would have been interesting.

1. COMMODORE 64
2. AMSTRAD CPC
3. NEC PC-8801
4. COMMODORE AMIGA
5. ATARI ST
6. ATARI 400/800
7. ATARI 2600
8. ATARI 7800
9. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
10. ZX SPECTRUM
11. APPLE ][

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THE FINAL COMPLETE AND COMBINED OVERALL RESULTS

Just for the sake of continuity, let's take a look at the 1984 Summer Olympics. It took place in California, the same state that Epyx had their headquarters - although the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, whereas Epyx were located in San Francisco. A minor detail, but still. So, I suspect there might have been a great communal spirit for creating this very groundbreaking sports game. All of the events in Epyx's two Summer Games titles were events that had been part of the 1984 Summer Olympics programme, so I'm quite certain there was a straight influence right there. Some of the other events left out from both Summer Games titles were later included in other sequels in the series, such as weightlifting, cycling and archery. But now, let's move on to the calculations.

You might remember from my Winter Games comparison, that calculating the end results in this case is quite tricky, mostly because of the multi-event based system, but also because some versions of the game feature less events, or even more confusingly, different events altogether. So, without further ado, let's get cracking...

PLAYABILITY:

1. COMMODORE AMIGA: 7 points.
2. COMMODORE 64: 6 points.
3. ZX SPECTRUM: 5 points.
4. ATARI ST, ATARI 400/800 and ATARI 2600: 4 points.
5. AMSTRAD CPC and APPLE ][: 3 points.
6. NEC PC-8801 and SEGA MASTER SYSTEM: 2 points.
7. ATARI 7800: 1 point.

GRAPHICS:

1. COMMODORE AMIGA: 10 points.
2. ATARI ST and COMMODORE 64: 9 points.
3. ATARI 400/800: 8 points.
4. ATARI 7800: 7 points.
5. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM: 6 points.
6. ZX SPECTRUM: 5 points.
7. APPLE ][: 4 points.
8. AMSTRAD CPC: 3 points.
9. NEC PC-8801: 2 points.
10. ATARI 2600: 1 point.

SOUNDS:

1. COMMODORE 64: 11 points.
2. AMSTRAD CPC: 10 points.
3. NEC PC-8801: 9 points.
4. COMMODORE AMIGA: 8 points.
5. ATARI ST: 7 points.
6. ATARI 400/800: 6 points.
7. ATARI 2600: 5 points.
8. ATARI 7800: 4 points.
9. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM: 3 points.
10. ZX SPECTRUM: 2 points.
11. APPLE ][: 1 point.

OVERALL:

1. COMMODORE 64: 26 points.
2. COMMODORE AMIGA: 25 points.
3. ATARI ST: 20 points.
4. ATARI 400/800: 18 points.
5. AMSTRAD CPC: 16 points.
6. NEC PC-8801: 13 points.
7. ZX SPECTRUM and ATARI 7800: 12 points.
8. ATARI 2600 and SEGA MASTER SYSTEM: 11 points.
9. APPLE ][: 8 points.

So there you have it. It might not come as much of a surprise to see the Commodores represented so well here, since the game was originally made for the C64. It actually surprised me to see how badly the Amiga version is regarded, considering that the game actually plays more smoothly for the most part. Perhaps it's just that I wasn't accustomed to any of the versions all that well before making this comparison, so the Amiga version felt initially the most comfortable for some reason. Whatever. You know which one works the best for you, so you might as well stick with it, but you should never dismiss the other versions without trying.


Now, to end this huge ordeal with the proper note, I will leave you with a link for a track from the great Quincy Jones, who wrote this piece of music called "Grace" for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics as a Gymnastics theme.

And with that, I bid you all a very good July.

Hope you liked this massive comparison, and have enjoyed this first year of FRGCB!
Comments, suggestions and corrections are as welcome as ever, but I will probably not be answering until August.

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