Epyx was quick to jump on the Olympic bandwagon back in 1984 with Summer Games. The box sported the neon line art that Epyx loved to use on the packaging for their early titles and was the kind of arcade action that the company had created a reputation for alongside their RPGs.
The events were turned into small bites of arcade goodness that included swimming, pole vaulting, and even skeet shooting. Players could even pound the left and right cursor keys during the 100m dash as if they were playing Konami’s Track & Field. There were nine of these to compete in and eight players could take turns going for the gold in each.
You could either practice each event, or compete full on. You can even pick which country you represented which, given that it came out in the eighties, included the feared USSR. Each flag even had a snippet of its national theme to go with it. One unusual thing is that the flag selection layout apparently differed depending on the version. For example, in the screenshot to the right from the Commodore 64, Japan and Epyx are where West Germany and the Netherlands would normally be on the Apple.
Picking any one country didn’t give you any specific advantage, though it was a great excuse to practice that Russian accent you had been saving up for years with friends when playing as the Soviets.
The game could be played with the joystick, or with the keyboard, and players would take turns battling over their best times and shooting scores. The Apple II could even use a mouse.
Visually, the game boasted a slick degree of animation smoothness back in the day considering the state of graphics back then. And music-wise, it had everything from the Olympic theme to an ending ceremony congratulating you on your wins – or close calls.
Summer Games would eventually be ported to a huge number of platforms over the years from the Apple II all the way up to the SEGA Master System, Windows Mobile devices, and even the iPhone and be the start of Epyx’ successful “Games” series. While not as “realistic” as the ad below touts, it succeeded in proving that anyone could enjoy the spirit of being a virtual Olympian.