SEGA has announced solid release dates for upcoming titles including Samba de Amigo and Valkyria Chronicles.
Some of us never tired of button-bashing with a bit of precision timing thrown in. Ever since Konami introduced the concept 25 years ago, I've been there, abusing my carpal tunnels to defeat improbable high scores. It's a curious addiction, and one faithfully re-enabled by SEGA and Eurocom's take on sport's age-old sub-genre. Timed to officially cash in on the impending arrival of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, SEGA's game is exhaustive. You take your pick of 38 sporting disciplines including track, field, aquatics, gymnastics, shooting, weightlifting, cycling, kayaking, judo and table tennis [and copying lists off the press release - Ed], and you can set up your own competition and play offline against up to three friends or online in a group of eight.
On the whole, Eurocom's take on the events occupies a logical middle-ground between Konami's button-mashing Track & Field/Hyper Sports approach and the considered, timing-based system favoured by Epyx's timeless mid-'80s classics Summer Games II and Winter Games. Beijing 2008 doesn't always throw out old-fashioned mechanics for the sake of it, however simple they may be, and at least a portion of the events remind us how much fun it is to look like a frothing lunatic in pursuit of computerised athletic glory.
Initial impressions are reasonably favourable. The presentation is slick, with a clean, uncluttered front-end, decent motion-capture and excellent facial detail. It's easy to get into whichever event you want, and intuitive to get a multiplayer competition going to your precise requirements - just as it should be. It's only when you have to press the 'skip' button four times to get beyond the drawn-out intro sequences that you start to arch a quizzical eyebrow.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl has headbutted its way to the top of the UK all formats chart this week, thumping previous leader LEGO Indiana Jones down to three.
SEGA has whipped out its calendar and put dates alongside its upcoming titles, including Sonic Unleashed, which will be out this November. However, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Empire: Total War both fall into 2009.
SEGA has signed up to do the official Olympics 2008 game for PC, PS3 and 360.