Why watch live ski jumping from Sochi in 2014 when you can go cross-country skiing in a video game from 1991 instead?
If you’ve been watching the coverage from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, you’ve probably seen plenty of teenagers demonstrating a mastery of strange sports that you will likely never have a chance to play in your life. But if your hankering to ski with a rifle strapped to your back is as overwhelming as ours, fret not; check out our quick retrospective of Olympic video games that give you the chance to compete in all the bizarre events of the Winter Games.
Game: Olympic Decathlon
Studio/Year: Microsoft, 1981
Olympic Event: Opening Ceremonies
You can’t begin your own, personal Winter (video) Games decathlon without a little pomp and circumstance. Sure, Microsoft’s 1981 sports offering is full of awful chiptunes, primary colors, and stick figures doing things that sort of resemble Olympic sports, but at least all five of the Olympic rings were present...which is more than we can say for Sochi.
Game: Winter Games
Studio/Year: Epyx, 1986
Olympic Event: Biathlon
In case you haven’t been paying close attention to the Sochi games, the biathlon is a combination of cross-country skiing and shooting; easily the most oddball combo in Olympicdom (though we might understand if you were shooting at a bear or a Siberian prisoner instead of paper targets). Epyx’s video game recreation consisted of a well-timed button-press for shooting and a seemingly endless series of back and forths on the joystick as you cross-country skied uphill, ALL THE TIME.
Game: Winter Challenge
Studio/Year: Accolade, 1991
Olympic Event: Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing isn’t exactly a weird sport (or rather, no weirder than any kind of running), but translating it to a video game seems particularly unimaginative, especially when Nintendo’s Power Pad wasn’t involved. Accolade’s Winter Challenge wasn’t more challenging than on-the-clock button-mashing. So, basically, if you and your friends had a stopwatch and a joystick, you didn’t even need this game to recreate it.
Game: Alien Olympics 2044 AD
Studio/Year: Ocean, 1994
Olympic Event: Laser Skeet
No, laser skeet is not the newest single from LMFAO (we think), but it is the strangest of the games included in Ocean’s 1994 daydream about the future of the games. Twenty years later, we’re only 30 years from 2044, and if laser skeet doesn’t take the world by storm within the next decade, we’ll be more than a little disappointed.
Game: Nagano Winter Olympics ‘98
Studio/Year: Konami, 1998
Olympic Event: Snowboarding
In 1998, snowboarding’s legitimacy had finally risen to the level of being considered worthy of its own Olympic event, and we were all for that addition. What we couldn’t support was its inclusion in a Winter Olympics video game. With games like 1080 Snowboarding absolutely crushing it in the graphics and gameplay departments at the time, Konami should’ve kept the snowboarding mini-game in their skin-tight, Lycra pants.
Game: Salt Lake 2002
Studio/Year: Attention to Detail Studio, 2002
Olympic Event: Men’s Two-Man Bobsled
In an ironic move, the only Winter Olympic video game made by a studio called “Attention to Detail” left out almost every good winter sport in the game. Instead, the game focused almost entirely on skiing...except for the baffling two-man bobsledding, ensuring that we’re reminded every four years that there are few athletic competitions out there that do gentle homoeroticism better than the Winter Games.
Game: Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympics
Studio/Year: Sega, 2010
Olympic Event: Curling
No matter how much we’ve enjoyed watching it, we’ve never been fully clear on the way you play Curling. (Is “play” even the right word…?) What we do know is that if you put Bowser on the rink and let us control his sweeping with a Wii-mote, we will mop the floor with you. Or should that be “sweep the ice with you?” Whatever. You’re going down.
Game: Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Studio/Year: Sega, 2014
Olympic Event: Dream Snowball Fight
Yeah, we’re never gonna see Snowball Fighting in the Winter Olympics, but man, would that not be the coolest event to watch on TV? We can just imagine the super slo-mo replays when Team USA takes on the Russians in a Cold War grudge match. We can dream of a glorious day like that, but until then, we can watch the Italian team of the Mario Brothers live out the awesomeness in our stead.