Sports Pack
Copyright/Publisher: Prism, Release Year: 1991, Genre: Various

Of the four 'sports' here, water polo is the only real one, simulated in the aptly named Water Polo (72%, Issue 31).

It's a strange game in real life, a bit like basketball with the players stopping to throw the ball over opponents' outstretched arms. The sophisticated control system allows three throw trajectories and even the addition of left/right spin.

Tackling is a bit tricky as you can only approach the ball-carrier from in front - tackling from behind is illegal and the ref blows his whistle for a free throw - if one player commits three fouls he's sent off for a while.

Playing against the expert computer team is hard, but there are six skill levels and a championship to contest. As usual with sports sims, though, the game really work best in two-player mode with its fast end-to-end action. It's not quite football, but good splashing fun.

A tad more sillier, but just as much fun, is Alternative World Games (86%, Issue 33). Its eight wacky events range from standard joystick wagglers like the Sack Race to true tests of skill such as the Pile of Plates where you have to carefully balance a pile of plates!

There are also some two-player events including the hilarious Pillow Fight. It's all great fun and beautifully presented with a practice mode and a brilliant options menu with each event shown on a separate little TV screen! Graphics throughout are impressive with neat cartoon sprites and some truly gorgeous detailed backdrops.

Silly Stunt
Stunt Bike Simulator (40%, Issue 42), on the other hand, is too silly to be remotely playable. The farcial first level has a riderless bike avoiding bollards on a horizontally scrolling road while the rider flies above on a hang-glider!

Pinpoint accuracy is required to drop him safely onto the bike's saddle within the tight time limit. This is followed by three Kik Start-style obstacle courses including bunny hops and flaming hoops to jump through. It sounds fun, but dodgy control means a frustrating lack of skilful play.

This is also true of Beach Buggy Simulator (21%, Issue 41), an incredibly annoying Moon Patrol clone. Your beach buggy can perform impressive leaps as it zooms over horizontally scrolling dunes, but for some reason it can't jump when going downhill.

This makes clearing the numerous rock and fires frustratingly tricky - and when you hit one your buggy takes an age to restart, wasting much of the tight time limit. Enemy helicopters make things even harder: you have a gun to shoot them, but it only fires diagonally upwards at a set angle - useless when careering towards low-flying choppers. Crude graphics and sound complete a very poor budget game over three years ago; now it's just an embarrassment.


SCREENSHOTS

RECOMMENDATION
Again you might as well just ignore the two poor 'Simulators' here and not let them put you off the fun twosome of Water Polo and Alternative World Games.


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