Written by  :  Luis Silva (13622)
Written on  :  Jun 17, 2006
Platform  :  SEGA Saturn
Rating  :  3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars

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I've expected more

The Good

Gameplay is, for all that matters, pure arcade goodness. Some events are quite fun to play, such as Ski Jumping, Short Track (now with four competitors instead of an opponent and two "drones") and Speed Skating, and Cross Country sprint is well executed, but there are some problems with the camera which occasionally cost a second or two. Record breaking is every bit as fun, and in Ski Jumping it can be nerve-racking to spoil a very good jump while attempting to get a couple more meters to beat the World Record, but it's all part of the fun.

The Bad

You see, I have a theory. Some genres (such as Racing and Winter sports games, which is the case here) get better as technology advances. Winter Olympics is a complete disgrace, Nagano 98 is mostly unplayable, Salt Lake 2002 is a solid game, although the line between the demo and the game is thin and Torino 2006 was the first time in years the genre had a game that added something to the genre. Winter Heat, although many of the shortcomings can be explained by the arcade origins (the supposed limited 3D capacity of the Saturn can't explain - Nagano was a PSOne and N64 title and is even worse), some events like Downhill, Skeleton and snowboard are incredibly hard to control.

In my Athlete Kings' review, I whined about poor character design... and well, things barely changed here. While voice acting is marginally better, Stensson apparently was originally Canadian (with a maple leaf on the skeleton and "Sasquatch" written in the bobsled) and looks a bit older than the 30s described in the manual. And how can an athlete (Rigel) in his 30s have "limited international competition experience" ? I'm nitpicking, but they could have written better backgrounds.

Graphically, the game is a HUGE letdown compared to AK. While the prequel had some of the best graphics in the console, character models here are less detailed and more jaggy, there are insane amounts of flicker, and I can't figure out a single area where graphics had improved (other than the before mentioned four competitors).

The Bottom Line

Following the path of Athlete Kings, Winter Heat is not as enjoyable, not as goodlooking, and simply put, not as good as the prequel is. While it has a few good features on it's own, it adds virtually nothing to what was previously available, and some events are too frustrating for their own good, on most occasions because technology wasn't able to give a good representation (even for arcade standards) of the sport.

Try if you're a fan of the genre or of Athlete Kings, but be warned it can be very disappointing.