As silly as it sounds, I wholeheartedly endorse the idea of Caveman Games. This Data East title takes all the excitement of the Olympic Games and sends it back in time thirty thousand years. With tongue firmly in cheek, Caveman Games attempts to give gamers a solid multiplayer experience with just enough humor to keep you entertained. Unfortunately none of the games are on par with Konami's Track & Field series, but that shouldn't keep you from having a good time playing Data East's crazy sports game.
Like California Games and Track & Field, Caveman Games is nothing more than a collection of sports-related mini-games. The fact that these mini-games are mostly comedy-based is inconsequential, since it all comes down to how much fun the overall package is. The good news is that most of the games are fun, though they certainly won't make you forget about all of the real world records broken at the Olympics.
The game sets up six different games, each of which challenging you in a different way. It all starts with Clubbing, a violent sport where two players stand on a small platform beating the tar out of the other person with large clubs. Then there's the popular Fire Start, which has you competing against another player to see who can start a fire the fastest. There's the Saber Race, which gives players a real reason to run as fast as they can. Mate Tossing is a fun variation on the hammer throw. The final two mini-games, Dino Race and Dino Vault feature more button mashing, racing and jumping games. Together the title gives you a solid mix of different sports, all of which are a lot of fun to watch the first or second time through.
The problem I had with Caveman Games is that the novelty wore off too quickly. Yes, the game is funny to watch and challenging the play (especially as a single-player going against the computer). But is that enough? The multiplayer mode gets old too quickly and there isn't enough content to keep Track & Field fans playing these parody sports. Couple all this with the fact that not every mini-game is fun and you have a game that aspires to be great, but is never as clever as it thinks it is.
The biggest problem with Caveman Games is that the game never explains what you're supposed to be doing. After running some experiments and mashing a lot of buttons I figured out just about everything I needed to know, but too much of the game was trial and error. This was especially bad in the Clubbing game, there are times when you can't tell who you're controlling and whether or not you're winning. Some of the racing games are also a mess. In fact, there are only a couple mini-games that control well enough to be fun with friends.
One thing that continues to impress me is the game's solid look. There's no question that you can tell the game is 8-bit, but the various arenas are full of amazing details that brings the game to life. For example, in the Dino Vault mini-game you run towards a dinosaur with something that resembles a poll vault. If you miss judge your leap you will be chewed up by the local T-Rex and spit into the ocean. On paper this doesn't sound all that exciting, but I was floored the first time I saw it. It's clear that some very clever people worked on this game.
There's a lot to like about Caveman Games. I love the graphics and its great sense of humor. I love the fact that most of these games are fun to play with friends over. I also love how silly all of the events are. But there's not enough in this package. The game is short and could have easily featured two or three times the amount of events. Still, the great sense of humor makes me suggest tracking it down, just keep in mind that some occasional bad controls and button mashing sessions could damper this potentially amazing extreme sports release.