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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Retro Review Tuesday: Winter Olympics: Lillehammer 94

If you read our twitter account you'll know that I've been absolutely glued to the television during Olympic coverage (and that I'm late with adding this review because of that addiction). I don't normally care for televised sports much, but for some reason all that changes during the Olympics. I suddenly become the world's biggest fan of athletes I've never heard of and sports that often seem silly. Summer or Winter, it does not matter, I simply must watch any and all televised Olympic events. Since I like to cross my weird obsessions whenever possible, it's only natural that I've been collecting video games based on the Olympics for a long time. So, I thought it a perfect time to highlight one of these gaming gems and share it with the world. This week I bring you Winter Olympic Games: Lillehammer 94.


The year was 1993, owners of the Sega Genesis console had not yet been blessed with fantastic gaming achievements such as Clay fighter, Boogerman, and Madden 94 . They were craving some some new action. Something gritty, some real, something unlike anything else out there. Something OLYMPIC! Sure they had a chance at the summer games with Barcelona '92, but they wanted something so cool it was ICE COLD! They needed hardcore realistic sports action and they got it. It was time to strap into EXTREME WINTER EXCITEMENT!!!!!

According to this mao there was one heck of a worldwide earthquake in 1994


As you'd expect with an Olympic game you compete in Olympic events. You don't get to do all the Olympic events that were available at the time, but you do get to do 10 of them: Downhill, Giant Slalom, Super G, Slalom, Bobsled, Luge, Freestyle moguls, Ski jumping, Biathlon & Short track speed skating.


Controls vary from game to game. In general they're OK for everything that isn't a downhill skiing event. Fairly responsive and easy to use once you've figured out what they are. Admittedly figuring that out isn't always easy, I had to break out my original booklet for several of them. The downhill skiing events have very difficult to deal with controls, it's just the d pad, but even with the ability to change how you want your d pad to work, it's quite a feat to make it down a hill without crashing let alone making a qualifying time or even managing not to get disqualified by missing gates.

Soundwise, It's pretty meh. There are some surprisingly good tracks on a few events, but nothing really WOW worthy. The tracks are actually fairly complex so they don't get too repetitious, which is a big plus for a game of this period.

Graphics are graphics what you'd expect from a game made in 1993. They're not bad but they're not fantastic. You know what everything is suppose to represent and that's good enough. The exception being the bobsled and luge events. Those are actually pretty nicely rendered "3D" style graphics for the time period without any of the weird control issues usually associated with it.


Once you've gotten past the intro screen you hit the main menu. As far as the play modes go you can choose: Full Olympics and play all 10 games and will see Opening and closing ceremonies, Mini Olympics where you choose just the games you want to play with no ceremonies, or Training where you can train the events.

Before heading into any of the game modes I suggest checking out the options screen first where you'll want to put the difficulty on skill level 1 unless you're a complete masochist. Setting this game to easy does not make it easy, it makes it almost fair. You can also add another player if you feel so inclined in this screen, play with a sound test and show your international flair by changing the language. Just don't forget to adjust the difficulty for your own sanity.

These games are difficult to master even for a veteran gamer so your first stop should be to training to get a feel for them before attempting the Olympics. Once you start either of the Olympic events you can choose the country you want to represent, set your name and set the countries you want to compete against. No matter what country you choose or which name you put in for yourself you will instantly become the greatest athlete who's ever lived able to compete in EVERY SINGLE event offered in these games!

So assuming you're starting off in a full Olympics, in your role Mr. Super athlete (you can actually choose to be Ms. Super athlete but the sprites look the same) you start off on skis doing the downhill course. I really feel this was an unfortunate choice as downhill (and the other events like it, super G, slalom & giant slalom) is one the hardest parts of the game. You're very likely to run into the trees or one of the gates sending your skier sprawling resulting in what the booklet claims are "fatal injuries". It's OK though because you apparently hold on to conscious thought just long enough to see how the other skiers did as well. Very convenient.

Generally going down the mountain on your back is considered poor form

Luckily for those of us who just can't keep our dendrophilia* in check, the Norwegian Olympic committee kept necromancers on hand! So even though you may have died from fatal injuries while skiing down that first hill you can continue your Olympic dream and compete in subsequent events. Pretty much all the downhill events work this way: attempt to ski between the gates, crash into something, suffer horrific fatal injuries, see how much better every other country did, be resurrected, go to next event.

With some practice you can skip the whole crashing into gates and trees bit and just get to the bottom of the hill. However, getting to the bottom of the hill without getting disqualified and while making good time, takes quite A LOT of practice even on the easiest difficulty setting.

The other events on Skis work quite a bit differently than the downhill events and as a consequence are a bit more fun for the average gamer.

Ski jump is pretty much what it seems like it would be. You do a ski jump, that's it. It's got easy controls and is probably the event you'll be the most likely to learn to do well in. As an added bonus it's also the only one that doesn't completely disqualify you for crashing. If you fall on your first run you'll still get some distance points (though no landing points) and have the opportunity to preform your second jump.

Moguls while a little bit easier than downhill are a still hard. You jump from mogul to mogul occasionally trying to land a trick. Tricking looks cool but it often leaves you head first in a mogul. The booklet doesn't list falling into a mogul as fatal so while it will end your run and not earn you any points you can avoid the death and subsequent necromancy hopefully leaving you in a better less zombie-like state before competing in the next event.

The final event on Skis is biathalon, where you ski for awhile and then shoot at some targets. Then you ski for awhile and then shoot at some targets. After that you....well, I think you get the idea. Biathalon I think is impossible to really screw up on, you can just get a really crappy time. The cross country skiing portion controls simply enough but when shooting, your Athlete aims like he's pounded roughly 50 shots of the highest quality grain alcohol available prior to hitting the course. Each missed shot costs you a 1 minute penalty, though aiming one good shot takes about as long. On the upside it's at least not a fatal event.

Ya Dead? Yeah Mon.

But not all of our extreme winter sports are on skis, they're also on sleds! So in come bobsled and luge. Bobsled and luge are probably the easiest to master and most fun events of the entire game. They're additionally the best animated as well. In addition to the cool looking and very innovative for the time period 3d style courses, I personally am a little bit enamored with your butt in the bobsled animation. It rivals the pinky demon bottoms in the original Doom for best but detail in an old school video game.*ahem*Putting that aside, they are easier than the skiing but it's still not easy to win, and you are very likely to flip over on to your head. It's just that it's more of pleasant defeat rather than the soul crushing defeat the other events can offer.

I'm clearly not particularly good at this event

But if you don't like Skis or sleds, you've got one more chance to find your happy place, Short track speed skating. It's a fairly easy to deal with event, button mash and avoid the other skaters who can and will knock you down if you don't move out of their way. Like the others it's nigh on impossible to master, but it's one of the easiest events to successfully complete especially since the other skaters can fall down independently of you and get disqualified.

Once you've finished the competition you'll get to see your standings as compared to the rest of the competing countries and then be treated to a medal ceremony (if you did well enough in all the sports to earn one) and the closing ceremony. It's enough to bring a tear to your eye.


Being that I go out of my way to purchase and play games based on the Olympics I know that this isn't really a bad example of one. It's actually better than most of the vintage ones I've played. However, most people who attempt to play this game aren't going to see it that way. It's impossibly hard and doesn't really inspire you to take the time to master it's more poorly planned out games *cough* downhill skiing *cough*. That being said the not so poorly planned out games can be a lot of fun especially if you're playing head to head with a friend. While it's nice to play a sports game that isn't just a generic baseball, football, basketball or soccer clone, sadly there isn't enough going for it make this game something I'd really recommend. It is an interesting novelty title though and quite a challenge. So it's worth picking if you consider yourself a hardcore vintage gamer. Anyone earning the gold here would certainly earn my respect.


* love of trees

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Februrary Coupon Code, 20% off!

So I know it's awfully late in February to have a coupon code, but between making a last minute trip to Washington DC earlier in the month (and almost being stuck there because the record snowfall!), family obligations, a cold and unhealthy addiction to Olympic coverage, I'm behind.

However, I haven't been completely useless I have added some new goodies to the shop in the past couple days and am offering a substantial 20% off coupon just put in Feb20 at checkout.

Not sure what you want to get cheap? I suggest the following recent additions:

Mario Kart figure! Jen and I have been ridiculously addicted to Mario Kart Wii as of late, so we could just have mario kart on the brain, but we think this little mario is one of the coolest small figures we currently have available. And at just $3.50 before the 20% discount is applied, he's quite affordable for any collector. As a bonus he rolls pretty well so you can use this to play with your cat (or dog) in geeky style. Not that we'd uh...know from personal experience with ours or anything...cough.

So maybe you're not much of a figure collector. Maybe you'd like something a bit more festive. We just passed Valentines day and maybe your true love didn't get you what you really wanted so you want to splurge on something you actually like. Or maybe you just want to buy yourself some awesome geeky jewelry and don't need anyone else doing anything for you. For you fierce independent people we have an awesome Sailor Moon Enamel Necklace!

This is a hard to find officially released necklace and unlike Some of the items that were only released in north America, it's actually pretty cool. In fact it's so cool they didn't even need to get the color of her boots correct! It's a large and high quality pendant with a brightly colored cute enamel image of Usagi and Luna. I've seen a lot of previously unseen sailor moon Jewlery on eBay lately, but this piece is larger than what I'm seeing offered there and I think was produced in smaller number as we've only seen a handful of necklaces in this style. This is really a perfect piece for a sailor moon fan and as sure to get noticed at cons and other geeky gatherings. She's just $13.60 with the coupon code.

And if neither of those things interests you there's always some one of kind production cel art from Street fighter! We've got loads of street fighter cels right now, because last month we bought a big lot and after adding some choice pieces to our personal cel collection we've got several nice shots left over we'd like to send home to new collectors.

I'm probably completely biased because I am an unabashed Vega fangirl, but I think this is easily one of the best street fighter pieces we have for sale. If I didn't already have one just like it in my collection there's no way it'd be available and in fact if this one stays unsold for too long, I'm probably going to keep him for myself like a greedy dragon perched atop my treasure horde. $25 is a small price to pay for a piece of everyone's favorite matador and with the current coupon he's only $20 so grab him for your collection before month's end and I change my greedy little mind.

If for some reason you don't like any of that cool stuff there's lots more to check out we've got over 200 items in stock right now and I'll be adding more throughout the week (mostly vintage toys and costume patterns) Assuming of course I can tear myself away from Olympic coverage...



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