And then there were eight! We're down to outstanding games any of which could be anyone's favourite sports game of all time. It was an exciting round of 16 and now we move on.
The four bouts are:
- California Games (Epyx) vs Enduro (Activision)
- Decathlon (Activision) vs My Golf (HES)
- Pole Position (Atari) vs Pete Rose Baseball (Absolute)
Super Football (Atari) vs Track&Field (Atari)
There no underdogs in this round, all solid performers who made it this far on merit.
1. California Games (Epyx) vs Enduro (Activision)
These two don't just share the same type of cartridge case. These are two great offerings from two pioneers of early home video and computer gaming. Enduro shows its flawless of execution of a racing game, which a great sense of motion and excellent control. The engine sounds rev the pace for the player. California games brings in its amazing later-generation graphics and sound. Yet the 16kb shows us some distinct games within CG while Enduro makes a phenomenal use of the 4kb on the cartridge. But this doesn't matter to the gamer. What matters is coming back to the game and playing the game for 10 or 30 minutes. California Games becomes a casual affair as the player is spolit for choice. Enduro just has the traction to grab and not let you go.
Winner by KO in the 3rd round: Enduro!!
2. Decathlon (Activision) vs My Golf (HES)
One very well-known title against an obscure PAL Australia-only title. Decathlon brings in 10 distinct events (some being variations of others), but it dashed into the market and preceded Track&Field and Summer Games on the VCS, setting the tone and the bar high for everyone else. Decathlon is indeed a game of stamina. Saving the 1,500m race for last usually meant that you wouldn't be playing the game unless you took a little break since you would then start with the 100m dash. It combines endurance and skill, almost like its real-life counterpart. My Golf brings in stunning graphics and the player control that would become the standard and still seen in modern versions of golf video games. It may have borrowed from Mean 18 from Accolade, but it delivers. Accurate club impact, great swing timing and proper course management are all key to the fun of the game. Head-to-head, you end up enjoying the round of golf more versus the taxing events in Decathlon.
Winner by split decision: My Golf!
3. Pole Position (Atari) vs Pete Rose Baseball (Absolute)
The arcade classic faces perhaps the best sports simulation on the VCS. Pole Position just motors along bringing the player into high-speed battle with overly sensitive cars (no damage here, just glorious explosions). PRB is the most detailed and computer-like sports game available on the 2600. It wouldn't surprise if it gets placed in the Hall of Fame one day. Pole Position has the accurate track as the original arcade version and a very similar feel (e.g. think the sharp turn where you cut through the grass). PRB is for the baseball aficionado, while Pole Position appeals to just everyone and always pulls you back for a quick race.
Winner by unanimous decision: Pole Position!
4. Super Football (Atari) vs Track&Field (Atari)
Two Atari games face each other and both of them are some of the most solid titles. Super Football is the best football game on the VCS and provides an extensive list of plays, an excellent view point not seen in any sports games, and fairly challenging AI (if you so choose). Great colours and decent animation, it would have been wonderful to see a soccer game in the same format. Track&Field has all six arcade events and allows you to race head-to-head against your opponent. You can even enter your initials like the arcade game. At the end of the day, Track&Field can be an exhausting affair (even with the cool controller) while Super Football is a fun game that brings some onfield action with a mix of strategy.
Winner by split decision: Super Football!
What a quarter-final, all the wins went to the 3rd round and three of them had to go to the judges! This is what we want to see in a competitive round. Both athletics games just ended up exhausting everyone, and California Games just ran out of supporters.
For the semi-final we are left with two racing games, a golf game and a football title.
The match-ups will be:
- Enduro (Activision) vs My Golf (HES)
Pole Position (Atari) vs Super Football (Atari)
We are certainly going to see an Atari title in the final, just too close to call at this point. All are excellent titles and great blend that would appeal to everyone.