Released in 1984 as ‘Hyper Olympics ‘84’ this sequel to the phenomenally successful Track & Field was converted to the humble Spectrum in 1985, where I picked it up in my youth as part of the awesome Konami Arcade Collection (Yie Ar Kung Fu! Green Beret!).
Unlike its predecessor, which as the name suggests, focused on the athletics side of the Games, Hyper Sports would take a more eclectic approach, with events as diverse as Swimming to Skeet Shooting to Weight Lifting.
Games like this are fortunately not reliant on looks, the gameplay carrying them through.
Still, it doesn’t look too bad. The colours of the arcade cabinet have largely been lost in translation but other than that, graphics are serviceable.
Animation is generally pretty good too, with just the occasional flaw. Take for instance the triple jump; your man sprints up to the board but as he gets close to the launching point, he suddenly stops running, instead gliding the last few metres until you hit the jump key.
But everything works and the visual limitations simply add to the nostalgic flavour.
You know what to expect here. This is an old fashioned button masher with no apologies offered.
Despite that, the events offer a degree of variety, from the stamina test of the swimming and weight lifting, to the timing and reactions of skeet shooting.
The pole vault is missing compared to the original arcade version but all other events are present and correct. They break down like so;
Swimming: Be careful not to false start then bash the keys as quickly as possible to set your man off. A quick tumble turn at the end of the pool and then fight off wrist fatigue as it’s a sprint finish back to the end. And don’t forget to breathe!
Skeet Shooting: Take aim as the clay-pigeons come flying out of the traps, the pace quickening as you progress. Miss a shot and your target shrinks, making the next shot harder. Complete a flawless round and watch out for a surprise come flying across the screen for a perfect score.
Vault: Adding a touch of elegance and class to the proceedings, sprint your way to the apparatus and time your jump just right. Then, whilst performing a handstand, time your release off the vault and spin your way to glory, remembering to end with a flourish to get that high score.
Archery: Line up your shot and time the release and angle of the arrow for maximum score. Make sure you take account of the wind!
Triple Jump: A variation on an old favourite. Charge down the runway and time your jumps, not forgetting the optimum angle of take-off (45 degrees FTW!).
Weight Lifting: Show off your muscles by power lifting your way to glory. Bash the keys to lift the bar, then try and maintain your posture for the all-important three green lights.
The events won’t take you too long to play through, the qualifying standards generous enough that you will progress through each event within a couple of attempts. Complete them all and the game loops back round with increasingly more stringent qualifying targets. Even when you’ve seen it all though, the game retains that quintessential addictive quality that keeps you coming back for more, to shave a second off your best time or hit that perfect score.
Things do not start promisingly. When you dive in, you are prompted to enter your initials, accompanied by an ear splitting ‘tune’ that sounds a bit like TV static filtered through The Matrix.
But once the game gets going, we are into safer territory. A trumpet-like blast signals the start of each event, the crowd cheering enthusiastically each time you achieve the qualifying standards as your results are read out. And even when you fail, your spirits are lifted by some jaunty music, followed by what sounds like Alvin & The Chipmunks humming Chariots of Fire.
Playing this again, it is tempting to sneer at the simplicity of it compared to modern games. But for all the technical limitations, Hyper Sports retains that one essential ingredient that separates all great games; it is quite simply fun. Stick a copy of this in front of a gamer of almost any age and I defy them not to have a great time playing.