Video Olympics

aka: 21 Video Olympics, Pong Sports
Moby ID: 11727
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Description official descriptions

Video Olympics is an action game containing numerous variations of the game Pong. Two players (or one player against the computer) control paddles on the screen and attempt to prevent a bouncing ball from getting past them. In the most basic game variations, each player has a single paddle and there are no obstacles on the screen. The other game variations add paddles and obstacles, and some are loosely inspired by various sports and change the playfield around, but the goal remains the same: hit the ball past your opponents paddle into the goal to earn points. A few of these variations are:

  • Foozpong: Each player controls multiple paddles which are arranged somewhat like a foozball table.

  • Soccer pong: Each player controls two paddles (representing one goalie and one player) and the goal is much narrower.

  • Hockey pong: The playfield is set up to resemble hockey; the goal isn't at the very edge of the screen, so the ball may bounce behind and around the goal.

  • Quadrapong: The goals are located along the top, right, bottom, and left sides of the screen. This game is played by four players, two per team with one person defending each of the four goals.

  • Handball pong: There is no goal, and two players take turns hitting the ball against a solid wall to earn points. One point is earned each time your opponent is unable to return the ball.

  • Volleyball pong: The screen is set up like a volleyball court with a "net" in the middle. Both players are along the bottom of the screen and need to bounce the ball past their opponent.

  • Basketball pong: Each player controls a paddle on the bottom of the screen, and attempts to hit the ball into their opponents basket at the top.

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Credits (Atari 2600 version)

Programmer
Cover Artwork

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 69% (based on 4 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.4 out of 5 (based on 22 ratings with 2 reviews)

Variations on a Limited Theme

The Good
Once you get some practice with the paddles, Pong isn't a bad game to play with a friend.

The Bad
Even though this game touts itself as having 50 variations, the games are all Pong. Pong has a tendency to get dull after a while.

The Bottom Line
This game packages eight different variations of the Pong game engine. It includes Pong, Soccer (Pong with a smaller hole to defend), Foozpong (Pong with several paddles), Hockey (Pong with the goal moved off of the edge of the screen), Quadrapong (Pong with all four sides of the screen requiring defense) and Handball (Pong with both people on the same side). The final two variations clearly use the Pong engine, but require bouncing the ball upward and over a net (Volleyball) or into a net (Basketball).

The games are not without play value, especially when multiple human players are involved. The different variations, moreover, add enough variation to keep the cartridge interesting for a few plays. In the end, however, each of these games is just Pong. And that's not enough to keep me interested for more than a half hour or so. The final two games are, while creative uses of the Pong engine, not especially playable. You may wish to note that only one of the game variations on this cartridge provides a computer (or robot) opponent. This may not be the cart for you if you lack friends.

Atari 2600 · by eratik (105) · 2008

It's just like Pong, with a twist.

The Good
Old timers will remember Pong with nostalgia, as it was the first game video game released by Atari in 1972 for the arcades. This version follows the same principles. With the use of a Controller knob, you move a paddle that hits a ball back to the other side. But Video Olympics has new features that allow you to change the speed or the angle of the ball. Whether you play alone or with up to three other players, the games provide some entertainment. The cartridge mentions 50 games, but you have to keep in mind that a game for one, two or four players, with the option of changing the angle of the ball instead of the speed counts as 8 games. However, the games are inspired by sports such as tennis (or ping-pong, from which the original Pong may have taken its name), soccer, hockey, racquetball (even if the game was called handball, it has nothing to do with the Olympic sport of the same name), volleyball and basketball, or by games such as the Foozball table (also called Babyfoot in some countries).

The handball game is a little bit like Pong, except that instead of a net, the ball bounces on a wall. It's fun for a while, but we soon switched to the other games. The hockey and the soccer simulations are quite alike. They both feature the same variations, namely the number of players, the angle and the speed of the ball (or the puck), the ability to catch it and the number of paddles on the field. The difference is mainly in the layout of the players and in the position of the goal. And in the hockey game, the puck can go behind the goal. Foozpong is quite similar except for the number of paddles involved. Playing one-on-one or in teams is equally challenging because you get to control two rows of paddles. It almost felt like the table version, though there is nothing like the real thing.

I was surprised by Quadrapong. It's a team game that requires four players who try to shoot the ball in one of the opponents' goals. It seemed boring at first, but once you get passed its aspect and start to master the speed or angle button, you may spend lots of hours sharing two square feet with three other people, happily looking at a dot bouncing on a screen.

Finally, volleyball and basketball share some features as well. They can both be played by two or four people. The ball does not move in a straight line, but it bounces up and down from one side to the other. So unlike all the other games, the point of view is from the side instead of top-down and the paddles move from left to right. In both games, you have the option to jump to the ball or, in basketball only (in volleyball, it's forbidden by the rules, of course), you can catch the ball. Again, these two games are better played in teams and have lots of replay potential.

The Bad
Like Pong, you may only move the paddle on one axis, so whatever game you pick, the action is quite the same, but only the Pong game can be played alone.

Even though the movement of the paddles are ridiculously simple, I found that the Jump feature should be smoother so the paddles don't snap up and down. I understand that for a perspective effect in the team games of volleyball and basketball, one paddle on each side has to be smaller, but it can be a little more difficult for the players who get them. And the volleyball game would have been a little more realistic if we were allowed to go on both sides of the screen, but I guess programming had some limitations in those years.

The graphics are extremely simple and only the movement of the ball and the position of the paddles make the difference between each game. If not precisely for the variety of games and for the colors, Video Olympics is not aesthetically very far from the original Pong. As for the sounds, no real improvement either except for the beeps that don't get stuck on a single note.

The Bottom Line
Despite the looks of the game, the different variations provide many hours of fun and can prove to be very addictive. No wonder its predecessor had such success. Who said that simple is bad after all?

Atari 2600 · by RobinHud (68) · 2005

Trivia

References to the game

Video Olympics is briefly featured in the 1984 Swedish comedy film Jönssonligan får guldfeber (The Jönsson Gang Gets Gold Fever) along with another classic, Pole Position. At the beginning of the movie, the game is shown on a pocket TV and used to explain what a chip is. Later, Video Olympics can be seen running on what appears to be a Casio FP-1000/1100 personal computer.

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  • MobyGames ID: 11727
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Servo.

Additional contributors: LepricahnsGold, CalaisianMindthief.

Game added January 21, 2004. Last modified June 1, 2024.