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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #11: Summer Games I & II

I can hear the MIDI fanfares now

Released in 1985, Summer Games II, and its immediate predecessor, Summer Games, were likely responsible for more destroyed joysticks than any other entry in the Commodore 64 pantheon. The first game included pole vault, diving, 100m sprint, gymnastics, swimming, and skeet shooting. It was glorious, especially when you jerked your stick back and forth so fast as your runner strained for a swifter time on the track that you heard the tell-tale snapping of some internal plastic mechanism, signaling another trip to Ames or Radio Shack for a new controller. These games relied entirely on quick-twitch dexterity and wrist stamina, making them a perfect match for pubescent boys in dimly-lit basements.

The sequel added to the fun with triple jump, high jump, rowing, kayaking, javelin, fencing, cycling, and equestrian. If we'd spent the hours we logged playing these games practicing one of the actual events, we might have made the real Olympics. It was crazily competitive, yet also had its moments of levity, such as being out of the medal running on your third platform dive and deciding to lay down the perfect cannonball. One of the greatest aspects of this franchise was the inclusion of national affiliation, allowing you to select from among a couple of dozen countries your pixelated athlete represented, their anthems blaring in MIDI glory. Hilariously, you could compete for the game designer, EPYX, which had their own flag and song too.

I'd get my hands on a Commodore 64 just to play these games again, but I can't seem to find an Ames or a Radio Shack.

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