I remember watching Carl Lewis at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, his fifth Olympic games. His performances weren’t on the same level as when he was younger. With some luck, or perhaps I should say with some misfortunes for those better than him at the time, he won gold in long jump, his fourth Olympics gold medal in the same event and the tenth Olympics medal. When somebody was trying to pull off something very hard on the field, we used to say: “You’re not Carl Lewis!” I’m not sure how much his name is known nowadays, but back then everyone knew who he was.
Carl Lewis’ Go for the Gold is basically a decathlon game. You get to compete in ten events, either against your friends or the computer. You get the medals for each event, but the best one in all events is also being rewarded. There are always six athletes competing and up to five can be controlled by players. You can practice each event before competing and you should probably do so to familiarize yourself with the controls and gameplay. The six athletes differ only in appearance; the final result depends on your skill only. Carl Lewis pops up only to advise you if you do something wrong.
Interestingly and perhaps unexpected, the game tries to simulate the athletics a bit rather than simply focusing on speed and reflexes. This is not a typical “keep pressing a button as fast as you can until you break either your hand or your controller” kind of an athletics game. The developers chose an interesting approach in separating different actions. Successful performance in each event requires skilled combinations of these actions. Instead of simple running, there are keys for left and right foot separately. You can still run using only one key, but it will be inefficient. Also, there are keys to jump, throw or push, turn or spin, to get set and to stop as well. So, the javelin event for instance requires you to get set by lifting the javelin, run, throw and then stop before reaching the foul line. The actions for the long jump would be to get set, run, jump before the foul line and then when you fall on the ground, press jump again so the athlete falls forward instead of on the back. Running events require you to get set before the gun is fired and then simply run till the end, with jumping in case of hurdles.
More about Features
There are also few nice touches added. For example, in long jump you can use your legs while in mid-jump to gain a few centimeters more, like athletes really do. In high jump and pole vault, you may control your legs and arms or turn your body. You may perform properly without these details, but you are trying to break the record aren’t you? You also have to take care of your energy, since you need enough energy to last through the day. The competition is split into two days. You get some energy back between events, but still need to think in advance, especially since the last events on each day are running (400m and 1500m). You might need to run slowly and engage in sprint only at the end. There are also a few humorous details in the game, present here just for fun, without affecting the gameplay.
At the start, you're presented with the option of creating a new game or reloading an existing one. This gives you the possibility to have different games with saved progress and records of athletes. It comes very handy if you are playing with different friends so you need to keep the separated records.
If you prefer some skill over only pressing the running button fast or rapidly moving the joystick, this game can turn out to be very interesting. It offers everything you need to play with your friends. The graphics and movement perhaps could be a bit better even for 1990 and the few beeps of the PC Speaker surely aren’t on the desired level. Still, the focus is on the gameplay and it may provide fun for some time. A definite must try to all sport fans.