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California Games is a 1987 sports video game originally released by Epyx for the Apple II and Commodore 64, and ported to other home computers and video game consoles. Branching from their popular Summer Games and Winter Games series, this game consists of a collection of outdoor sports purportedly popular in California. The game was successful for Epyx and spawned a sequel.
Westwood Associates (Amiga)
David Wise (NES)
|Platform(s)||Apple II, Commodore 64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple IIGS, Atari 2600, Lynx, Atari ST, MS-DOS, MSX, NES, Sega Genesis, Master System, ZX Spectrum|
The events available vary slightly depending on the platform, but include all of the following:
Several members of the development team moved on to other projects. Chuck Sommerville, the designer of the half-pipe game in California Games, later developed the game Chip's Challenge, while Ken Nicholson, the designer of the footbag game, was the inventor of the technology used in Microsoft's DirectX. Kevin Norman, the designer of the BMX game, went on to found the educational science software company Norman & Globus, makers of the ElectroWiz series of products.
The sound design for the original version of California Games was done by Chris Grigg, member of the band Negativland.
Originally written for the Apple II and Commodore 64, it was eventually ported to Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari 2600, Atari ST, MS-DOS, Genesis, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Nintendo Entertainment System, MSX and Master System. The Atari Lynx version was the pack-in game for the system when it was launched in 1989. An ATARI XE version was planned and contracted out by ATARI Corp. to EPYX in 1988 but no code was delivered by the publication deadline.
|Atari 2600||C64||Master System||Sega Genesis||ZX|
|The Games Machine||92%|
California Games was a commercial blockbuster. With more than 300,000 copies sold in the first nine months, it was the most-successful Epyx game, outselling each of the four previous and two subsequent titles in the company's "Games" series. CEO David Shannon Morse stated that it was the first Epyx game to appeal equally to boys and girls during playtesting. The game topped 500,000 units sold by 1989, at which time Video Games & Computer Entertainment reported that sales were "still mounting".
Computer Gaming World recommended the game, calling it fun. Compute! called California Games "both inventive and charming". In a capsule review for STart, Clayton Walnum said California Games "isn't a bad package, especially since it comes free with the Lynx." He found the BMX and surfing events great fun but deemed the skateboarding event frustrating and said the foot-bag event is pleasant but quickly wears thin.
In 1996, Next Generation listed the "Games" series collectively as number 89 on its "Top 100 Games of All Time". The magazine stated that though the games had great graphics for their time, their most defining qualities were their competitive multiplayer modes and "level of control that has yet to be equaled". In 2004, the Atari Lynx version of California Games was inducted into GameSpot's list of the greatest games of all time.
A California Games television series was considered in the late 1980s as part of the Super Mario Bros. Power Hour, a one hour animation block of Nintendo focused video game adaptations. Concept art was produced for the project by DIC Animation City. Only the Mario and Zelda segments for the block were ultimately produced, airing in 1989 as part of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.
More recently the game was released for mobile phones in the Java format, and current rights holders System 3 CEO Mark Cale has stated that the game will be available in future as both a retail product and an on-line product for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. The Commodore 64 version was released for the Wii's Virtual Console service in Europe on April 11, 2008 and in North America on July 6, 2009.
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