Codex Gamicus

California Games is a 1987 Epyx sports video game for many home computers and video game consoles. Branching from their popular Summer Games and Winter Games series, this game consisted of some sports purportedly popular in California including skateboarding, freestyle footbag, surfing, roller skating, flying disc (frisbee) and BMX.

The game sold very well, topping game selling charts for winter months. It also got very positive reaction from reviewers. Many consider California Games to be the last classic Epyx sport game. After this game, the staff in Epyx changed. The game was followed in 1991 by California Games 2. The sequel didn't match the original's success.


Several members of the development team moved on to other projects. Chuck Sommerville, the designer of the half-pipe game in California Games later developed the game Chip's Challenge, while Ken Nicholson the designer of the footbag game was the inventor of the technology used in Microsoft's DirectX. Kevin Norman, the designer of the BMX game went on to found the educational science software company Norman & Globus, makers of the ElectroWiz series of products. The sound design for the original version of California Games was done by Chris Grigg, member of the band Negativland.

Easter eggs[]

California Games contains a number of easter eggs:

  • On some random occasions, there is an earthquake during the skateboarding event, causing the H of the Hollywood sign to fall down (The remaining "OLLYWOOD" might also be a reference to the ollie skateboarding trick.)
  • Players can hit the seagull (named 'George') in Footbag. Hitting the gull grants more points.
  • A shark or a dolphin or a seagull occasionally appears in Surfing after a player falls off the board. If the shark comes the iconic theme from Jaws plays briefly.
  • When practicing Flying Disc, if the player repeatedly fails in his attempts to throw the disc, a UFO appears and abducts the catcher.


Originally released for the Apple II and Commodore 64, this game was very lucrative for Epyx and was released for several other platforms over the years. It was eventually ported to Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari 2600, Atari ST, Atari Lynx, DOS, Sega Mega Drive, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Nintendo Entertainment System, MSX and Sega Master System.

More recently the game was released for mobile phones in the Java format, and current rights holders System 3 CEO Mark Cale has stated that the game will be available in future as both a retail product and an on-line product for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. The Commodore 64 version was released for the Wii's Virtual Console service in Europe on April 11, 2008 and in North America on July 6, 2009.


The events available vary slightly depending on the platform, but include all of the following:

  • Half Pipe
  • Roller skating
  • Surfing
  • BMX
  • Footbag
  • Flying Disk


Team sponsors for California Games include Epyx, Costa Del Mar, Kawasaki, Santa Cruz, Ocean Pacific, Casio, Auzzie, Spin Jammer, Maxx-Out, Milton Bradley, Jetski and Ray-D-O. Sponsors are pending on the platform.


The game was reviewed in 1988 in Dragon #129 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


External links[]