Winter Heat

Moby ID: 20711
Arcade Specs
Buy on SEGA Saturn
$155.00 used on eBay
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Description

Winter Heat is the home conversion of the DecAthlete (also known as Athlete Kings) sequel, replacing decathlon by Winter sports. Competition (in Arcade, Saturn or Practice modes) includes 11 events featuring eight athletes of different nationalities - Li Huang, Karl Vain, Joe Kudou, Ellen Reggiani, Aleksei Rigel and Rick Blade are joined by B.B. (replacing Jef Jansens, who appears as a secret athlete) and Johann Stensen (instead of Femi Kadiena).

The game is a typical Winter-sports game, in the line of those released by Epyx but with a more arcade feel. The events include: Speed Skiing:* A simple dashing event where the goal is to descend the hill as fast as possible (in speeds over 200 km/h). Action is reduced to mash the button to gain speed.

  • Ski Jumping: Composed by four parts: The run up (mash the button to gain speed), the jump (selecting the angle), the flight (mash the button to gain extra length) and the landing (pressing the action button too early will lose valuable meters, too late will cost the jump).

  • Downhill: A simplified version of the real downhill event. It's impossible to miss the gates, and the challenge is to get a strong start-up, keep a straight path not losing speed hitting the fences and hitting the action button to jump hills perfectly.

  • Short Track Speed Skating: A straightforward event where the directional pad controls the direction of the athlete along the speed button to control the pace. As the event runs for over 40 seconds, it's possible to hold second position, making the opponent cut air resistance which allows the player to reach fastest speeds with less button presses.

  • Skeleton: The first event in the ice tunnels, it requires a fast run-up followed by a strong entrance in the tunnels. By pressing the action button it's possible to slow down the sled and make more controlled turns, or the athlete can fall from it, which not only loses time but also requires a small run-up.

  • Slalom: Just like the Downhill, it's impossible to miss a gate in the Slalom. After an initial sprint the player has to press the action button to approach each flag in the best way possible. Hitting the button too early or too late will make the athlete hit the flag, losing valuable time.

  • Aerial: An event similar to the Ski Jump. Instead of offering a "click-along" version, the player starts by setting the difficulty of the jump, and then three parts follow: in the run-up, the player sets the speed by mashing the speed button, followed by the jump which sets the strength (by pressing the action button) and when the athlete leaves the launch ramp, the player must mash the speed button once again to complete the jump. To complete a jump, the player must fill each section of the jump bar by making enough button presses

  • Bobsleigh: In all similar to the Skeleton, except there's no option to slow down.

  • Speed Skating: Another simple button-mashing event but with a twist: speed must be controlled on the turns, or the athlete will slip out losing a few seconds in the process. The speed can be controlled by a color graph above the power bar.

  • Snowboard: A mix between the Slalom and Downhill. There are several gates to be passed, plus two jumps. Unlike the other two events, it's possible to miss a gate, which carries a one second penalty for each missed.

  • Cross Country: The stamina-influenced event. There's a long track with some hills that can be taken for advantage, as during downhill slopes it's possible to gain a lot of speed without losing stamina.

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Credits (SEGA Saturn version)

68 People (60 developers, 8 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 84% (based on 12 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 2 ratings with 1 reviews)

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.

SEGA Saturn · by Luis Silva (13443) · 2006

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Luis Silva.

Arcade added by chirinea.

Game added January 10, 2006. Last modified March 27, 2024.