After Hours

Reliving an Olympics game from the Stone Age of DOS

The Olympic Games have always made good fodder for game makers. Here's a look back at a DOS-based Olympic spoof from the Stone Age of the PC: Caveman Ugh-lympics.

The Olympic Games have always made good fodder for game makers. Here's a look back at a DOS-based Olympic spoof from the Stone Age of the PC: Caveman Ugh-lympics.

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With the 2008 Summer Olympics finally here, a lot of attention is turning to Beijing. The Olympics have been a favorite target for game makers. Creators of computer games make realistic games like Beijing 2008 -- The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games.  They also make spoofs like Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games.

I recently saw an article on LiveScience.com that raised the question of whether modern-day humans could win an Olympic-style competition with our evolutionary ancestors.  The short answer was that in endurance competitions like marathons, we'd win hands down, but we would be ripped apart in wrestling games that relied on strength.

Combining the two trains of thought, I remembered an old game I had for my Tandy 1000 called Caveman Ugh-lympics. This was an old DOS game from Electronic Arts that allowed you to take cavemen and compete in a Stone Age Olympics. Some of the "sports" you could compete in included:

  • Clubbing --Beat your competitor brainless
  • Mate Toss --A misogynistic distance toss
  • Dino Vault -- Jump over the gaping jaws of a T-rex
  • Firemaking -- See who's first to harness the power of fire
  • Dinosaur Race -- See who can jockey their dino to victory
  • Sabertooth Tiger Race -- You don't have to outrun the tiger -- just your competitor

The game really is from the Stone Age of PCs. This is a pure DOS game. It will run in Windows, but not very well.

The manual is written with instructions for both PCs and the Commodore 64.  It came on 5 1/4" disks, so I had to convert them to get the screen captures. The game is so old it doesn't even support VGA -- the best resolution you can get is for EGA graphics. The sound support is -- ok, there IS no sound support. Unless you're using a Tandy 1000, the best you get is the simple beeps from the PC speaker. Input is completely keyboard based. There is no mouse support in the game at all. You can use a joystick if you have one, but that's about it.

There is no installation program for the game. It doesn't even come with instructions for how to install it on a hard drive. The instructions in the game deal only with playing the game from a floppy drive. It wasn't too hard to copy it to a hard drive and make it work though.

You won't mistake the graphics for anything nearly photo realistic. EGA limits the screen resolution to 320x200 with 16 colors. It makes for good cartooning, and that's about it.

The game isn't copy protected, nor does it require a key-disk to play. Instead, at the beginning of the game, you're asked to pull elements from the included manual.

The game play is pretty simple. The hardest part on a new PC is getting the keyboard to respond properly. Because the game was designed in the mid-80s, it doesn't always detect the key codes coming from modern computers. CPU speed differences don't seem to matter however. It plays as well on my production machine as it does on my old Tandy.

Check it out.

I've created a Photo Gallery that shows the game along with the accessories that came with it. Check it out and also take a look at the more modern Olympic games that are available today. You can really tell how ancient Caveman Ugh-lympics is by comparison.

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