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cover

 

Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

989 Sports

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q3 2004

 

 

- Dance Mat support

- Kinda fun with a bunch of people

 

 

- A vast majority of the game is lame button mashing and simplistic reflex tests

- No character customization

 

 

Review: Salt Lake 2002 (PS2)

Review: Sega Soccer Slam (GC)

 

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Athens 2004

Score: 5.6 / 10

 

Chances are, you're not participating in the Olympics over in Athens. For years now, game publishers have felt your pain, and have made firmly sure that you can participate vicariously through your video game system. And thus, it's a tragedy that these games still haven't evolved beyond Track & Field-style button mashing from two decades ago. And if you're too young to remember Track & Field? Think of those minigames in Dead to Rights and Star Fox Adventures that no one liked and you'll get a good idea of the entirety of Athens 2004.

 

athens 2004 review           athens 2004 review

 

The standard track and field events involve pounding the X and O buttons until you either get tired or bored. In the hurdles event, you'll occasionally press the L1 button to jump over stuff. In the longer track and field events, you simply moderate your speed with the analog stick. The swimming events are pretty much the same, except you need to press L1 occasionally to breathe. Other events, such as the long jump, pole vault javelin, and weight lifting, require button mashing followed by stopping the power bar at a certain point.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading that previous paragraph, because that's actually more fun than playing the game. For all intents and purposes, these are just variations on the same tedious theme. And for some reason, the instructional videos for these games are only accessible in the practice menu, so you'll need to wade through some rather confusing text if you want to find out how to play them in-game.

 

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At least some of the events aren't completely terrible. Both the Rings and Archery games require steady positioning of the analog stick, and the Skeet Shooting is a decent test of reflexes. Far and away the most interesting the Floor Exercises Women tournament, which is actually Dance Dance Revolution in Olympic clothing. I am not even kidding. There's only one song and you get a gymnast in the background, but the arrows, timing and font are almost exactly the same.

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Which brings us to Athens 2004's only redeeming quality the dance mat support. Not only can you use this for the Floor Exercises game, but several other events, such as the track and vault events, are compatible as well. This way, you can relive your memories of the Power Pad and World Class Track Meet on the NES, which is good for an athletic workout. Unfortunately, you're going to need a somewhat decent mat if you want to play these games, as the cheap mats slip far too much to really be effective. But get several highly caffienated people together, and all of a sudden an otherwise worthless game becomes some heavily amusing party entertainment.

 

athens 2004 review          athens 2004 review

 

The presentation is pretty bare bones, with a clean menu populated with those charmingly weird mascots. Graphically, the background graphics are reasonably good, although the character models look a bit off, especially in the faces. While there are plenty of characters from all around the globe, a character customization option would have been nice. Most of the game is silent except for the orchestrated title theme, some random generic techno, and the blather of some inane British sports commentators.

 

So, these Olympics games are always just a product of committee thinking without any real effort going into the actual game, and this holds true for Athens 2004. But at least the dance mat support lends enough to the experience to make it something different and worthwhile -- at least for a rent -- and turns it into a fine workout too. If you don't own a mat, it's not worth it to subject your poor PS2 controllers to the punishment known as Athens 2004.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(August 7, 2004)

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