By: Jared Black
For almost as
long as there have been home video game consoles, there have been
Olympic games to go along with them. While this isn’t technically
the official Olympic game (Eidos secured that license for Salt
Lake City 2002 for PS2/PC/GBA), it does a better job of
recapturing the games than any other winter Olympic game has done in
The game is
broken down into several gameplay modes, including Trial Mode,
Competition Mode, and Championship Mode (Men or Women). Trial Mode
can only be played by one player, and basically serves as a practice
mode to hone your skills in. Competition Mode is the multiplayer
mode, although sadly it’s limited to only two players (either
simultaneous or alternating depending on the event). Championship
Mode lets one or two players compete in a three-day multiple event
competition. Upon completion of this mode you’re given a password,
which can then be entered on the Internet to register your overall
ranking against players from around the world. Since most Olympic
events basically translate into mini-games, I’ll go over the
mechanics of each of the ten events separately.
– Control here is limited to steering left or right, pushing
forward to accelerate and "A" to edge/brake.
– Same as above.
K90 Ski Jumping
– This event starts out with the player pressing L + R at just the
right time to check the wind against a waving flag. Then you proceed
to hold down the L + R buttons to build up speed, releasing them at
the end of the ramp to jump. The L + R buttons are then used in
combination with up and down to balance the skier in the air, and
"A" is used to execute a successful landing.
K120 Ski Jumping
– Here "A" is used to check the wind, alternating the A
and B buttons is used to increase speed, and the L button is used to
jump and land.
Guided by a meter at the top of the screen, the L + R buttons need
to be pressed alternately to turn through the moguls. After hitting
a ramp, the control stick and the C stick are used in conjunction to
perform a variety of tricks.
– Surprisingly, the player has no control over where their boarder
goes during this event. Instead, when approaching each side of the
pipe A, B, X, or Y must be pressed to select the trick type, which
is then followed by entering the proper direction combinations in
the allotted time to pull off the trick.
– In the spirit of button-mashing Olympic games of the past,
simply press A + B as fast as possible to win.
– Alternately tap A+ B at the start to gain speed, then hit the L
button at the right times to make each of your teammates jump into
the sled in time. If one doesn’t make it, it’s an automatic DQ.
– Basically a slow and plodding version of bowling, curling
involves trying to deliver your stone into the target while blocking
the opposition. B sets the rotation of the stone, the control stick
controls delivery force, A makes the delivery, and alternating A + B
sweep in front of the stone as it’s delivered.
– Hmm…a game filled with mini-games from Konami…think they’d
find a way to put a DDR-type game in here somewhere? Figure skating
(females only) involves choosing from one of three songs (easy,
normal, and expert difficulties), and then pressing the correct
button when it reaches the Step Zone. Not terribly original, but who
universally, each mini-game is fairly difficult to master, and will
require a good bit of practice before the player can finish near the
top with consistency. However, the button mashers (Speed skating,
K120 Ski Jumping, and Curling) require incredible button-mashing
speed that will test even old-school shooter fans (like myself).
Surprisingly, I found Curling to be one of my favorite events. Not
only does it require a good deal of thought before each shot (lining
it up, setting the proper amount of force, accounting for other
stones in the way, altering the spin direction), but it also
incorporates good old button-mashing into the sweeping part. The
Figure Skating is also quite enjoyable (as you’d expect from an
DDR-inspired game), as are the Bobsleigh and Half-pipe Snowboarding.
the event, choosing the right athlete to use is critical to success.
There are a total of 16 athletes (8 female and 8 male), and each can
participate in any event with the exception of males in figure
skating. It is disappointing that Konami wasn’t able to include
the real athletes, but since these are generally lesser known it
doesn’t hurt the enjoyment of the game like it would with a
football or baseball game. Each has his/her own set of attributes,
and they really come into play with each event. Speed guys generally
don’t do that well in the Slalom Alpine Skiing (which requires a
lot of braking and cornering), while they’re much easier to use in
the Speed Skating. As you can imagine, this makes picking the right
one to use in Championship Mode especially important, since the
events cover a wide range of required skills.
aren’t too shabby, but it’s not a stunner. While the character
models are very nice with tons of polygons and excellent texturing,
the environments come off as rather flat and drab. Granted there’s
not a whole lot of variety in real life when everything is covered
in snow, but for example the bobsleigh event looks about as barren
as the tracks in F-Zero X. The advantage here is that the
events that require speed move really fast. The snow effects are
pretty average as well, but get the job done.
effects are pretty average, and neither stand out nor offend. The
soundtrack on the other hand is the best of both worlds, with some
awesome music during the Figure Skating event but mostly terrible
menu music. The rest is just filler and neither adds nor subtracts
from the experience.
- Above average
graphics and a solid framerate at all times.
selection of events, and Curling turned out to be much more fun
than I thought it’d be.
- Good variety
of gameplay, from straight button-mashers to DDR-inspired
- No official
Olympic license hurts the overall experience, as the gamer isn’t
able to emulate the success of their real-life hero(ine).
- It’s not
really the game’s fault, but the overall graphic package is
hurt by some pretty bland settings.
International Winter Sports 2002 is a solid sports game that,
despite the lack of a license, manages to capture the games better
than any other. As long as you don’t mind generic characters and a
high learning curve, ESPNIWS2002 (ugh) makes a great addition to
your GameCube library.