California Games

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California Games
California Games Coverart.png
European Commodore 64/128 cover art
Westwood Associates (Amiga)
Rare (NES)
Designer(s)Chuck Sommerville
Ken Nicholson
Kevin Norman
Kevin Furry
Jon Leupp
Artist(s)Jenny Martin
Susan Greene
Sheryl Knowles
Paul Vernon
Composer(s)Chris Grigg
Gil Freeman
David Wise (NES)
Platform(s)Apple II, Commodore 64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple IIGS, Atari 2600, Lynx, Atari ST, MS-DOS, MSX, NES, Sega Genesis, Master System, ZX Spectrum
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
Screenshot for the Commodore 64.

California Games is a 1987 Epyx sports video game originally released for the Apple II and Commodore 64 and ported to other home computers and video game consoles. Branching from their popular Summer Games and Winter Games series, this game consists of a collection of outdoor sports purportedly popular in California. The game was successful for Epyx and spawned a sequel.


The events available vary slightly depending on the platform, but include all of the following:


Several members of the development team moved on to other projects. Chuck Sommerville, the designer of the half-pipe game in California Games, later developed the game Chip's Challenge, while Ken Nicholson, the designer of the footbag game, was the inventor of the technology used in Microsoft's DirectX. Kevin Norman, the designer of the BMX game, went on to found the educational science software company Norman & Globus, makers of the ElectroWiz series of products.

The sound design for the original version of California Games was done by Chris Grigg, member of the band Negativland.


Originally written for the Apple II and Commodore 64, it was eventually ported to Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari 2600, Atari ST, MS-DOS, Genesis, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Nintendo Entertainment System, MSX and Master System. The Atari Lynx version was the pack-in game for the system when it was launched in 1989.


Review scores
Sinclair User8/10[4]
Your Sinclair7/10[2]
MicroHobby (ES)5/5 stars[6]
The Games Machine92%[7]
Zzap!64Gold Medal

California Games was a commercial blockbuster.[11] With more than 300,000 copies sold in the first nine months, it was the most-successful Epyx game, outselling each of the four previous and two subsequent titles in the company's "Games" series.[12][13] CEO David Shannon Morse stated that it was the first Epyx game to appeal equally to boys and girls during playtesting.[14] The game topped 500,000 units sold by 1989, at which time Video Games & Computer Entertainment reported that sales were "still mounting".[11]

Computer Gaming World recommended the game, calling it fun.[15] Compute! called California Games "both inventive and charming".[16] The game was reviewed in 1988 in Dragon #129 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4½ out of 5 stars.[17] In a capsule review for STart, Clayton Walnum said California Games "isn't a bad package, especially since it comes free with the Lynx." He found the BMX and surfing events great fun but deemed the skateboarding event frustrating and said the foot-bag event is pleasant but quickly wears thin.[18]

In 1996, Next Generation listed the "Games" series collectively as number 89 on its "Top 100 Games of All Time". The magazine stated that though the games had great graphics for their time, their most defining qualities were their competitive multiplayer modes and "level of control that has yet to be equaled".[19]


The game was followed in 1990 by California Games II, but the sequel failed to match the original's success.

More recently the game was released for mobile phones in the Java format, and current rights holders System 3 CEO Mark Cale has stated that the game will be available in future as both a retail product and an on-line product for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS.[20] The Commodore 64 version was released for the Wii's Virtual Console service in Europe on April 11, 2008 and in North America on July 6, 2009.[21]


  1. ^ "Sega Visions - Issue 1". Sega Visions. June 1990. p. 35. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2012-02-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Crash". 2017-10-15. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  4. ^ "Sinclair User". 2017-10-15. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  5. ^ "Computer & Video Games". 2017-10-15. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  6. ^ "MicroHobby". Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  7. ^ "The Games Machine". 2019-02-27. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  8. ^ "Zzap!64 100th Issue Pull-Out Special Page 5". Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  9. ^ MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 6, page 76, June 1992
  10. ^ Mega rating, issue 9, page 23, Future Publishing, June 1993
  11. ^ a b Worley, Joyce (December 1989). "Mega Hits: The Best of the Best". Video Games & Computer Entertainment: 130–132, 137, 138.
  12. ^ Maher, Jimmy (2015-06-19). "The Evolution of the (Epyx) Games". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  13. ^ Maher, Jimmy (2016-12-22). "A Time of Endings, Part 2: Epyx". The Digital Antiquarian.
  14. ^ Ferrell, Keith; Keizer, Gregg (September 1988). "Epyx Grows with David Morse". Compute!. p. 10. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  15. ^ Teverbaugh, Rick (October 1987). "Sports Scoreboard" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 40. p. 42. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  16. ^ Bobo, Ervin (November 1987). "California Games". Compute!. p. 40. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  17. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (January 1988). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (129): 32–42.
  18. ^ Walnum, Clayton (December 1990). "The Lynx Collection". STart. No. 39. Antic Publishing. pp. 66–67.
  19. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time". Next Generation. No. 21. Imagine Media. September 1996. p. 39.
  20. ^ "Blog Archive » System 3 CEO confirms upcoming original Wii downloadable games, new California Games included- What are you waiting for?". GoNintendo. 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  21. ^ "California Games (Virtual Console) Review". Retrieved 2019-10-28.[permanent dead link]

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