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California Games II Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 30%
California Games II
California Games II California Games II California Games II California Games II
  • Review Score:

  • D+
The beauty of the original California Games was how it turned normal, everyday activities into a fun mini-game collection that perfectly represented the Golden State. I'm talking about BMX biking, hacky sack, Frisbee, roller skating, etc. These are the sorts of outdoor activities that help define California, all in one simple package. It may not have been a very good game, but the original California Games makes a lot of sense to me.

California Games II, on the other hand, completely bewilders me. It's not that the four sports included in this collection -- hang gliding, snowboarding, body surfing and skateboarding -- can't be found in California, but they don't seem as iconic as what was in the first game. This mini-game compilation could have just as easily been titled Hawaiian Games or even Florida Games.

California Games II (Sega Master System)

Much like the first game, California Games II requires players to practice each sport until they get it right. You may get the basics down, but each of these sports involve staying alert and knowing exactly what you're doing. The hang gliding challenge is the perfect example. Launching your character into the air is easy enough, but staying up and gracefully landing is a whole other story.

By contrast, the skateboarding mini-game is easy to control right from the beginning. This challenge has you tricking off of a long, winding half pipe that resembles the bonus stage in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The idea is to gain enough speed to jump on each side, all while racing forward and around corners. At the end of the event each of your tricks are tallied up, giving the player a satisfying score. It's simple; all you have to do is dodge the narrow sides of the tunnel entrances.

In the first game you rode the waves of the Pacific Ocean; here you body surf your way to victory. Considering the grandeur of hang gliding, body surfing feels like a huge letdown. Yet again, the game suffers from questionable controls and a frustrating goal. The graphics also hurt this sport, since you're little more than a dot on the screen.

California Games II (Sega Master System)

The final sport involves snowboarding, a questionable entry in California Games II. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of skiing and snowboarding in California's beautiful mountains. However, this has been a series about enjoying the sun's hot rays and it's awfully hard to do that when there's all this snow around.

None of these mini-games hit their mark. Either they are too complicated for their own good or too shallow to be fun. The controls are all over the places, and there's little incentive to play these sports for more than ten or fifteen minutes. The graphics are also bad, especially when compared to the first game. It's not that the original California Games was a masterpiece, but at least it captured the spirit of the state. No wonder we never saw a California Games III.
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