|CALIFNORNIA GAMES (EPYX)
|Ah yes, EPYX is best known as the company that started in 1983 making third party games and occasional accessories for darn near everything with a processor in it, and then making all those situational collections of minigames: Winter Games, Summer Games, California Games.....and of course, this is California Games. This is probably their best known game for the Atari.
California Games for the 2600 is one of those late releases, it came out in 1987, and it's a bit harder to find that some of the other games. I actually really like this one, not just for the nostalgia, but it's actually a pretty good play, even today in 2022. That said, it's not a common nor very talked about release. In California Games for the 2600, you get to pick your sponsors like Aussie, Casio, and Santa Cruz - which I believe is a part of the multiplayer function (pass the controller around) - and then earn scores in each game: Hackeysack, Skateboarding, BMX, Surfing - in that order. And the highest score after all 4 rounds wins. However, I don't think I've heard anyone who has reviewed this game or otherwise talked about it evern mention this functionality.Today, most people "in the know" would scoff at this release because here we are trying to run something released for a personal computer - on an Atari 2600 designed in 1975. So the idea that it can actully execute this as well as it does is actually quite impressive.
Cats Swiping the Screen - My Experiences
So I originally got this game sometime around 1990 with my first Atari 2600 system from - I can't remember if it was Kay Bee Toys or the Dollar Store (I also got Sea Hunt and Sea Hawk the same day) - but I reemember it was REALLY cheap and we got it at Peach Tree Mall. Anyway, California Games quickkly became one of my favorites for the BMX racing alone, but not for the usual reasons
First off, BMX was the first thing I could figure out how to play well enough to enjoy, but secondly, we lived in a crazy cat lady house, and so imagine this, a Console TV with six to eight cats all gathered around trying to swipe the "little man" on the BMX Bike off the screen. I mean, it was insane - I had cats LEAPING off the floor trying to swipe the BMX racer sprite as he flew over the horizon like some kind of screwed up version of the bicycle/car chase from E.T. That is a memory that gives me the best nostalgia for this game.
But, like most of these things, as I got older and did my research, I learned, and figured out how to play this game REALLY well - including the Surfing which when I was a kid SUCKED but now rules along with the rest. It's one of those Atari games you needed the manual to truly understand, 100% how it worked from a player angle. Basically, you start off selecting your "teams" - ie Aussie, Casio, Suncoast, etc.... - and then those teams act as your "multiple players". Basically, you play against your friends with your "sponsor" as your "team", and then you pass the controller between yourselves - sort of a way of having more than 2-4 players on a 2600 game without needing more than a single joystick.
Then I lost it with all of my 2600 games when I upgraded to an NES when the 4-switch woodie I originally had died. Another one of those "I chased it down for decades" things I guess. Finally I found a copy. One that I'd like to think is my old one (just like the Mitsubishi CS-1984R TV I had) based on how the label looks and my memories (it had SERIOUS Antiplaque and some yellowing). Either way, this ones a true permanant fixture along with the Pitfall cartridges.