Like that person at work who says “you have to be crazy to work here”, Crazy Athletics – Summer Sports and Games isn’t crazy at all. It’s a lot of things, but crazy is not one of them.
It’s expensive. That one caught our eye immediately. At £16.74, this had better be a compendium for the ages. With Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 surprising us all by posting an Olympic best, it’s also got some stiff competition. So, does it justify the cost and beat it’s rival? Does it heck. This could have been £5.99 and we’d be calling it poor value.
It’s incomprehensible. For a game that uses all of two buttons, this one came as a surprise. Each event has an instruction card that outlines the event, but they are uniformly rubbish. None of the game’s quirks are outlined: this is a rhythm action game with no timed music and just A and B inputs. Press early and you will get a minus score, which is bad. Press late and you will get a plus score, which is also bad. You are looking to get 0, or as close as dammit, and getting an OK is the equivalent of a Perfect or S Rank. Because 0 and OK are the international language of perfection, obviously.
Each event will have a very small deviation from the pattern. But they won’t be explained either. On the long jump and high jump, if you get the first button press wrong, you will be disqualified. Why this disqualification ‘beat’ is at the start, rather than when you hit the board on the long jump, for example, is beyond us. You will have failed before you’ve even started the run.
It’s repetitive. You’d imagine that swimming and the javelin would be wildly different, wouldn’t you? As it turns out, they’re almost identical in what you have to do. Ian Thorpe could have got so many more gold medals if he’d known. You press A and B in different permutations and that’s it. Not exactly crazy.
It’s ludicrously unforgiving. That person who posts videos of themselves acing Dragonforce on Guitar Hero will probably be okay, but the rest of us are going to fall flat on our face with Crazy Athletics – Summer Sports and Games. It’s not because the button presses arrive in a blizzard; it’s because you have to be pixel perfect with every press. Get one wildly wrong, a -40 or a +40, and that’s effectively a failure for the whole event. It sets you targets that are incredibly hard to achieve, and they’re difficult from level three onwards on the game’s Single Player mode.
As an example, take the chase events that form the ‘bosses’ for the game’s campaign. You have five lives, and you lose a life if you get +20 or -20 or beyond. Ignoring the extreme precision that you have to consistently hit, the first button presses happen immediately after the starting pistol has been fired. There’s no grace period; the buttons suddenly appear and you have to anticipate them. Imagine that happening on Guitar Hero. We failed the first two button presses on every run of the bosses, and just had to conserve our remaining three lives.
It’s shallow. When you consider that all the events feel the same, you need some different modes, or fun new ways to play. But you have a single player campaign, which is linear so will inevitably cause you to get stuck on an impossible level, and you have multiplayer. This is all of the ten events, available off the bat, for two to four local players. Some of them are pass the pad, while others are simultaneous play. But there’s no option to create tournaments or anything more than one event at a time. There’s no online multiplayer, no leaderboards, no Olympic records to try to beat.
It’s better in multiplayer. That’s the saving grace of Crazy Athletics – Summer Sports and Games. When you’re not competing against impossible scores, the skies clear a tad. All you have to do is be less rubbish than your mates, and that’s somewhat achievable. Clearly, the repetition is still a problem, but you can post 3m jumps in the long jump and still have a chance of winning.
It’s got a decent indie soundtrack. In a classic example of focusing your resources in all the wrong areas, there are 100 songs by indie artists, and the quality bar is pretty high. But, while they’re well and good, they’ve got nothing to do with the button presses, and we found ourselves incorrectly pressing buttons to the music’s beat.
It’s not worth your time or money. Crazy Athletics – Summer Sports and Games always had a high bar to clear by slapping a £16.74 price tag on itself and going up against some stiff competition. But it keeps plowing into hurdle after hurdle without even attempting to jump. It’s lacking in variety, immediacy, friendliness and stuff to do.
‘Crazy’ Athletics, this isn’t. Lazy Athletics is far closer to the truth.
You can buy Crazy Athletics – Summer Sports and Games from the Xbox Store