Summer Games (Epyx, 1984)
The best sports game on the Commodore 64 and in my opinion in the entirety of the 8-bit era was not a baseball, basketball or football game but Epyx’s take on the olympics. Summer Games was the first in the series and coincided with the 1984 Olympic Games. While Summer Games was ultimately ported to a wide variety of video game and computer systems, it was developed first for the Commodore 64 and this is probably the most well known version. I don’t think any of the subsequent versions exceeded the Commodore 64 in terms of playability.
The game starts with choosing the country you want to represent. Up to eight players can compete, two at a time. You can choose to practice an event, compete in some events, or compete in all of the events. While the available events varied depending on what version of the game you were playing, the original Commodore 64 version includes the following events: Pole Vault, Platform Diving, 4x400m Relay, 100m Dash, Gymnastics, Freestyle Relay, 100m Freestyle, and Skeet Shooting.
While Summer Games is a reasonably fun game to play on your own, the real fun is competing with a group of your friends and the more the better. There is a pretty good balance of play mechanics spread throughout the vents. Some, like Pole Vault, depend on perfect timing. Putting you stick down at the right time and timing your release just right are paramount. In other events, like the 100m Dash, it’s all about how fast you can move the joystick. Each event offers its own subtleties in terms of control.
Epyx went on to create a number of games in this series including Summer Games II (which could be combined with Summer Games to compete in events across both games), Winter Games, World Games (with events such as Bull Riding, Cliff Diving and Caber Toss) and finally, The Games: Summer Edition and The Games: Winter Edition. These last two were remakes of sorts with some events that were the same as those in the original Summer and Winter games and some new events.
The original Summer Games for the Commodore 64 was re-released in 2004 as one of the games included on the C64 DTV. This was a joystick that plugged directly into you television and included a number of built-in Commodore 64 games. However, these are pretty hard to find now (or at least relatively expensive). The best way to play this game is with an original Commodore 64. It can also be done via an emulator but you really need and Atari style or similar joystick to get the most out of it. It’s just not going to be as enjoyable with anything else.
All screen shots above are from the Commodore 64 version.