One of the best things to do during C64 month is to showcase the Commodore 64 games that really made an impression. That way, two purposes are served; I get to play some of my favourite games and I also get to point out some things that were great about the C64.
Summer Games II is a game that I played very early on, before I even owned a Commodore 64. I knew more than one person who owned one and they did all they could to make me jealous. Getting me to play Summer Games II certainly did the job!
I've always loved a good sports game. Earlier efforts, though fun, were expensive to play at home, because they invariably enjoyed smashing your joystick into oblivion as you tried to waggle yourself a few extra hundredths of a second or an extra half a meter. Torture!
Summer Games II changed all that. It featured a sensible control method, rather than joystick smashing, where your movements coincided somewhat with what your athlete was doing on the screen. It was refreshingly different to play, and you felt as though you could compete even if you didn't have a right arm like Popeye.
The most immediate draw, though, was the quality of the graphics. The definition and animation was stunning for the time. Right from the opening ceremony and the first event, the triple jump, you can't fail to be impressed. The athlete runs and leaps smoothly and realistically, way ahead of anything else that was around at the time. It was extremely impressive.
The events all played really well, although you had to suffer a multiload to get to each one. It wasn't too bad though, as long as you made a note of the tape numbers so you could skip any event you didn't like...Equestrian, I'm looking at you. Even that wasn't too bad though, once you got the hang of it.
Epyx went on to make several more "Games" games, some of which were possibly better than Summer Games II. But I believe their legacy may be defined by this game. It probably put their name on the map above any other and became the bar to which all other games had to attempt to reach. Most failed. Summer Games II was and is amazing.