back to article Wetsuits, sunshine, bikini babes and a competitive streak: Epyx California Games

California Games from Epyx cooked up a successful franchise with its winning combination of sunshine, grazed shins, wetsuits and bikini babes. Indeed, its well-considered play mechanics, delivered with multiplayer action and some slightly twisted humour, soon cemented its cult classic status in history. Video from 2004 looking …

  1. Alan Bourke

    Ah yes ...

    ... fond memories of waiting an eternity for the C64 multiload tape version to load. It was good, but it wasn't Winter Games.

    1. Jedit

      "It was good, but it wasn't Winter Games."

      And Winter Games wasn't World Games, or Summer Games II. Great series overall, though, with the exception of California Games.

      1. WJames

        Re: "It was good, but it wasn't Winter Games."

        Nah, Cali Games was great. Maybe you just weren't cool enough?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Lamont Cranston

    I think the comment about the initially baffling controls is spot on.

    Mate of mine bought this, and we played it a couple of times, but swiftly got bored of watching our skateboarder fall off, or hacky-sacker drop his sack, and returned to playing Gauntlet.

    Sports games peaked with Daley Thompson on the Speccy (was that Hyper Sports?), and went downhill from there (if you couldn't win by hammering the life out of the keyboard/waggling the joystick until it broke, what was the point?) - until Speedball II arrived on the Mega Drive, of course.

    1. Alan Gauton

      Re: I think the comment about the initially baffling controls is spot on.

      Nah - Daley Thompson had his Decathlon, and then Supertest - published by Ocean. HyperSports was Konami iirc. published by Imagine (part of Ocean also).

      1. tsdadam

        Re: I think the comment about the initially baffling controls is spot on.

        Along with the utterly sadistic, completely impossible, Combat School

  3. tsdadam

    Reading the instructions = cheating??

    For those of us loading these games on tape, reading the instructions was the only thing to do while waiting for the Spectrum to scream the game into existence.

    Cassette inlays; gone but not forgotten.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Reading the instructions = cheating??

      Tape to Tape copy from a wealthier friend = no instructions.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Reading the instructions = cheating??

        "Tape to Tape copy from a wealthier friend = no instructions."

        I had significant problems copying Spectrum games. You needed a good tape copier and good quality tapes to get all the tones right, I think. I never managed it consistently anyway...

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Reading the instructions = cheating??

          >I had significant problems copying Spectrum games.

          You needed a 'Romantic Robot' module, mate. It was designed to dump the Speccy's RAM to tape, so progress in games could be saved, but it had a side effect:

  4. Jimboom

    Ahhh, good times

    I remember well this bit of software on my first PC. I didn't have a joystick and it made some games appear impossible to master when compared to my friend who did have a joystick. I still recall with frustration trying to pull tricks on the BMX and failing more often than not.

    Kids these days will never know that kind of frustration of only having 1 or 2 games available to you at any time and therefore you having to master it or not play at all.

  5. Gruezi

    Also in this genre and a firm favourite of mine...

    "Caveman Ugh-lympics" anyone?

    1. DaneB

      Re: Also in this genre and a firm favourite of mine...


    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Also in this genre and a firm favourite of mine...

      Ahh yes, great game (if you dont mind low rent fun!).

      I can clearly remember the Saber Tooth Tiger Race (i.e you raced away from the Saber Tooth Tiger chasing you and then up a tree (if you're lucky)), the Mate toss (sticks in my mind for when the cave lady in question got up and bonked you on the head with her club), and the Dino Race (because you just couldnt bloody well get the silly things to go where you wanted them to!).

      Good times!

  6. Adam 1

    These guys owe me a joystick after the control schemes they came up with.

    1. Jedit

      "These guys owe me a joystick"

      No, they don't. In fact, Epyx sports games were best known for not being joystick thrashers. Their preferred control systems were rotational and/or rhythmic.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A precursor to great games…

    Like Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball!

    1. DaneB

      Re: A precursor to great games…

      Think that's where the rendered bikini girls thing really got going?

  8. Haku

    Ahh the original Atari Lynx

    probably the only handheld gaming device that could now be re-classified as an offensive weapon!

    "Ello ello ello, what is it we have here in the back seat of your motor vehicle. An Atari Lynx without any games cartridges? You're nicked me laddo!"

  9. DaneB
    Thumb Up

    Sega MS

    Good call on the master system version, most were crap on that system but California Games was ace.

  10. b166er

    I seem to remember roller skating being the hardest challenge in this game. Akin to trying to do 4 rounds in Paperboy. Decathlon ruled supreme though. You could also bring down a bird with the javelin in that. The amount of right sleeve cuffs I wore out playing that game :D, especially long jump.

    1. DaneB

      Thought it was the Frisbee. HTF did you catch that thing?

    2. tsdadam

      Decathlon ruled supreme though. You could also bring down a bird with the javelin in that

      I think that was Track & Field.

      1. Darren B 1

        Ah the memories DT Decathlon on the Speccy.

        On the Javelin, if you got it right you would easily have beaten Jan Zelezny, Steve Backley and Fatima Whitbread with one arm behind your back.

        Oooo brings back memories, the good old Quickshot joystick with suction caps that detached from the desk mid flow in the 400m as your arm started to die.

        1. DaneB

          And the disappointment of Daley Thompson's face "going mouldy" as my Speccy tape got mangled in the player!

  11. mark 63 Silver badge

    couldve sworn this was EA games

  12. David Neil

    Cliff Diving?

    What was the California Games type game that had cliff diving as an event?

    1. DaneB

      Re: Cliff Diving?

      World Games? Soon to be a tabloid headline as well :)

  13. OrsonX


    Still got my Lynx and California Games cart. It was pretty poor even then....

    Had a few games, the only one of any merit was Todd's Adventure in Slime World.

    I'd have gladly swapped for a GB & Tetris.

    Nuff said.

  14. Gith

    'Ancient Surfer' on mobile platforms is a nice "expansion" to the cali games surfing stage i found :)

  15. khisanth

    I liked the fact on the C64 version you could choose your sponsor/clothing brand. Thus because of this game I have an affinity for Ocean Pacific t shirts :)

  16. Matthew 17

    Great game

    Not quite as good as Winter Games or Hypersports but spend a crazy amount of time on games back then.

  17. I Like Heckling

    The memories come flooding back.

    I too have fond memories of this game, and others like it on the C64. Both of the Summer games, Winter games, Track & Field and Hyper Sports and of course the one everyone seems to forget about Daley Thompsons Decathlon... which was one of the best sports sims around in my opinion... Sure it was a total joystick killer, I must have gone through 4 or 5 on that game alone... But it was the first game I ever saw that had a loading graphic that drew a picture on the screen as it loaded from tape... Stunning for the early 80's.

    But then I have very fond memories of the C64 and the hundreds of games I accumulated between 84 and 91 when i finally sold it on and replaced with an Amiga and an Atari ST.

    Cheap games like Kickstart I & II which cost £2.99 and provided hours and hours of entertainment, creating your own scramble courses and so forth.

    It's one of the reasons I have a MAME setup. :)

  18. WJames

    Okay so thats more than 2 hours lost to emulators. Damn you el reg :)

  19. Sandy Ritchie

    Still a proud owner of a Lynx

    3 up the attic, 1 MK1 and 2 MK2 models. Plus pretty much all games produces, except the Telegames produced ones (too expensive) at the time, although Telegames did provide me with a shack load of games. As did early days ebay and QXL before that. Fond memories of posting dollar bills in envelopes to USA and waiting weeks for acknowledged receipt and then months for games on a slow boat.

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