The Snake Becomes The Key

Retro Gaming Humour

Pogostick Olympics: Says it all really.

In 1987, the gaming community was given its first and only pogostick simulator. The level of realism was staggering: You’d play with it for five minutes before getting bored, then leave it to fester in its box forever.

Have you ever looked through old school photos of yourself? It’s generally either an hysterical or terrifying experience, re-living scenes of friends parties and school discos, sporting a Donald Trump hairstyle accompanied by three conflicting pieces of clothing; a bright green shirt screwed into a pair of black tracksuit bottoms, finished off with a nice pair of scuffed shoes.
I’m digressing here because the same philosophy, I have recently discovered, also applies to computer games and this theory has never been more eloquently demonstrated than Pogostick Olympics, a game that having recently finished re-visiting, I’m seriously struggling to find any reason to merit why I wasted so much of my youth playing it.

The whole game is built around a stupid idea, which bravely, the game’s creators decided to embrace – emblazoning its theme over its box and title, demonstrating a brash confidence which I found myself respecting (rather oddly). It’s really a ‘get what you pay for’ scenario here. You should have only heard of this game if a) Your nan thought it sounded ‘cool’ and bought it for you for Christmas, or b) You have always had this weird desire to see pogo-sticking become an Olympic event. I can imagine the Olympic committee actually pondering with the idea of introducing the pogo-stick (a piece of equipment I have never actually seen anybody use in real life) in the hope it would inject some cool vibe into the precedings, but then after playing this game, killed the idea outright.

I would have loved to be in the boardroom when the programing team were brainstorming new ideas for their next project and landed on the idea of recreating an Olympic event that doesn’t actually exist. It really makes you wonder what other ideas had to fall to the cutting room floor, amid a background noise of tears, to make way for this game; such genre busting titles such as, Shopping Trolley Rally or Paper Aeroplane Foodfight…we can only guess.

The game hands out all the right clues that it’s going to be really bad experience. The loading picture is of a blonde guy in a white shell-suit, aloft a tiny winners podium. He is so largely out of proportion it would be scientifically impossible to get two other people on it. He’s also pulling the weirdest face – it kind of looks like he’s taking a big dump in his pants. This face, you’ll later discover, is the result of playing four seconds of this game.

Welcome home spaceman!

Luckily, the game only takes around four minutes to complete, so here’s a quick rundown of the whole game:

The first event is balloon popping. Ok, so first off, controlling your pogo-pugilist is like trying to give commands to a piece of carpet. Jumping height, speed and trajectory, is generally up to the discretion of the computer, so commanding your little guy to do anything other then sporadic jumping proves very frustrating. Every event has the same garish head hurting primary coloured background. It appears that in videogame land the Pogo stick Olympics draw quite a crowd. Millions of different coloured pixels travel from all platforms and game genres to come and watch the day’s five events unfold.

The second event is the hurdles, this is the most pointless of all the events. It is mathematically impossible to get through this stage without knocking down at least thirty hurdles. The runaway mine train mentality of your pogostick superstar, coupled with the fact that the groups of hurdles are too closely packed together, means that the event becomes a simple case of hitting the space bar whenever you feel compelled to do so.

The next event, the triple jump, is the most ridiculous of all the events on offer as you’re not given a clear indication when the three jumps actually begin. There’s crap strewn across the track, which you have to avoid, and the genius programmers decided to place a large bush just in font of the sand pit, which, if you should collide or clip as you pass, reduces your speed, to that of a piece of carpet which has been stuck down to the floor, and your recorded jump will measure a silly two centimetres…great.

The next event is the target shot, the most amusing of the five on offer. Here your player must shoot tiny arrows out of his nut sack and pop floating white balls which look exactly like the baloons but without a blocky pixel string hanging from them.

The final event is the obstacle course and allows you to hone all the skill you’ve acquired in the art of slapping the space bar at random intervals. It’s actually the best of all the levels, so the game does kind of finish on a high note; although confusingly, none of the different surfaces you land on seem to affect the speed of your character, so there’s no real point to it, you might just as well be a competing on a piece of carpet.

When you finish the game, which you can do about ten times in the same time it has taken to read this review, you are greeted with a pathetic congratulations screen – blue text on a black background. Sums up this whole brain bruising experience.


January 24, 2007 Posted by | S**t Sports, Stuart Hunt | Leave a comment