Thursday, 26 April 2007

Athlete Kings Review


Now despite my love for the Saturn, I’ll freely admit that a lot of the games that bulk out my collection are not great. Virtual Hydlide and Blam! Machine Head are two new additions to the Saturn Junkyard Virtual Museum, that fall very distinctly into the “not great” category, (although to be fair Blam! Machine Head has a great opening sequence with some brilliant ‘ham’ acting.)


However, there are some Saturn games which stand up to comparison with some of their current peers. Sega Rally, (soon to appear in its third incarnation on PS3) is one of the finest driving games created. Daytona USA is not far behind. NiGHTs is such a good game that the announcement of its imminent rebirth on the Wii set the internet alight.


Side scrolling 2D Beat ‘em ups like the Street Fighter Alpha series or X Men – Children Of The Atom seem as fresh today as the day they were created.

House Of The Dead, Virtua Fighter and Dead Or Alive are all franchises that are still going strong, and Saturn games which are still great fun to play, despite their aging pixellated appearance.


Some of the most fun I’ve had in competitive play recently, came from playing Sega World Wide Soccer ’97 against my best friend (and beating him hands down to add to the fun…)

In short, these games stand the test of time, and are illustrations of the buzz one can get from Retro gaming.

But yesterday, I discovered a new giant in the world of the Saturn. Athlete Kings! This arcade port is a particularly relevant title at the moment as it is somewhat Wii like in its appeal. Whilst the remote is not swung about in motion sensor fashion, there is a degree of physicality to the game, that goes beyond the normal exertion employed in button mashing.



You see to power your athlete through his various decathlon disciplines, requires thumbs of fury. Huge, muscular thumbs. Steroid pumped, hulkish thumbs that can
hit the ‘A’ button at lightning speeds.

The game has four playing modes; Arcade, Decathlon, Practise and Two Player (or versus) Mode.


The events your athlete will have to compete in are as follows: Hundred metre dash, (hit the A button repeatedly as fast as you can to beat the qualifying time). You can also hit the “action button” (B) at the finish line, to throw that all important pose for your photo finish…



The long jump requires the same physical rigour as the 100 metre dash. This time however, hold the action button to jump. The longer you hold the button affects the angle of your jump, and therefore the distance. Step over the line before the sandpit and you’ve fouled so your timing is crucial!

The shot put, discus, javelin, pole vault and the high jump require basically the same controls, but with the shot put and the javelin, there is a pulse on the force meter that you have to catch at its highest level for maximum distance.



The 110m hurdles are hilarious, as the timing of pressing the action button is crucial and any mistake sees you colliding into them , time after time! The 400m and 1500m requires the player to run, but at the same time check progress against a stamina bar.

There is a brilliant element of pick up and play to the game, and non-gamers can enjoy it without any previous gaming experience. In this respect, it encompasses the spirit of the Wii and Nintendo’s desire to create ‘family oriented’ or party games. But this is Sega people, 100% Sega!



The graphics are luscious in Saturn terms, with smooth frame rates and animated cut scenes. I’d go as far to say they look almost Dreamcast like in their splendour. (The game was later reincarnated as a slightly more serious Dreamcast sports sim, Virtua Athlete 2K ) Presumably as the game play was so simple, it allowed the developers to go all out as far as the Saturn’s graphical abilities were able to go. Slightly comic in appearance, your athletes will flex if they win and throw a bitch fit if they lose…

Athletes include USA’s Rick Blade, Germany’s Karl Vain, Great Britain’s hugely Afro-ed Jef Jansens, Russia’s pervy looking Aleksei Rigel, Jamaica’s Femi Kadiena, Japan’s Joe Kudou, France’s Ellen Regiani and Li Huang … All suitably stereotypical game types!



All in all a genuine Saturn legend and a great game for a party! Athlete King, Father Krishna salutes you! Overall score 9/10! Superb!




8 comments:

Caleb said...

So was this once a "put your quarters in to play" game????


-Working on new posts for the Saturn Junkyard...

fatherkrishna said...

I think so yeah... quoting the blurb on the back of the box...

"...in a brilliantly quirky AM3 conversion that brings steel-hard competition to the home."

So yeah, I think so!

Ross said...

Bring on the new posts!

fatherkrishna said...

Ah Ross! Excellent to see you here!
just popping over to your place now...

DEITRIX said...

So you got that Wii yet..???? I want to hear your first impressions!

fatherkrishna said...

Yep I got the Wii... But I'm not not allowed to play it until my almost top secret 40th birthday on May 16th... (No - please I don't want a fuss...)
So no impressions as of yet...

The Elderly said...

...always wanted an international track and field game worth the effort, and without the risk of rsi, unless i can somehow redevelop my button mashing techniques.. and of course purchase a Sega Saturn

Anonymous said...

this game is so amazing!