I’m going for quantity over quality today, friends – why should I write an article about one game when I can cover nineteen games at once? That’s just economical, that is. Okay, sure, they’re only minigames. And a lot of them are very similar or even downright identical. And I could be playing WarioWare instead. I didn’t really think this through very well, so let’s get straight to it: here’s Dongsung Wonder Park and Para’s 1997 arcade grab-bag Got-Cha: Mini Game Festival!

I sincerely hope Noel Edmonds isn’t involved.
When I first started playing Got-Cha, I did wonder whether it had been made specifically for a real-world theme park. “Dongsung Wonder Park” definitely sounds like it could be an amusement park, and the game’s got that “festival” subtitle – and then there’s the game’s mascot.

I don’t think it’s ever given a name, but this lion thing shows up throughout the game and you’ve got to admit it really does look like the kind of mascot a theme park might employ. It also looks like a bunch of other things, so I’ve created a handy visual guide to this thing’s make-up.

Yep, that about covers it. On further inspection, it seems that Got-Cha was not affiliated with some mysterious Korean amusement park and is just an arcade game.

As mentioned above, it’s a collection of nineteen minigames that you can either choose to play one-by-one in an attempt to clear them all without running out of lives, or by selecting your favourites from a list. I know this because there’s an English voice over from a lady whose mood is hard to pin down. It’s definitely not the usually semi-psychotic exuberance I tend to associate with voice acting in mid-nineties arcade games… but neither does it sound bored, nor does it sink into House of the Dead 2 levels of unintentional parody. After hearing this lady’s voice a lot – she tells you the rules for every minigame, too – the best description I can come up with is “business-like.” If you’ve ever had to call a company who weren’t big enough to outsource their telephone messages and got Debbie from reception to record them, you’ll recognise the vibe of Got-Cha’s narration.

Right then, here we go with a look at all of Got-Cha’s minigames, each of which are explained in a brief pre-round screen. This minigame’s called Strike Dolls, a name which by rights should belong to an obscure Japanese fighting game with an all-female cast rather than this dull colour-matching challenge.
You can also see Got-Cha’s control set-up here. You’ve got three colour-coded buttons: red on the left, green in the middle and blue on the right. The majority of Got-Cha’s minigames involve pressing the correct colour at the right moment, so try to fix the position of each colour firmly in you mind. Occasionally red and blue work as left and right, too.

In Strike Dolls, you have to knock down the tower by hitting the button that matches the colour of the puck at the bottom of the tower. That’s all there is to it, and if you manage to completely knock down the tower the stage is cleared. You also get to see the mascot standing on top of the stack, and now that I’m seeing a full-body shot of it I’m regretting not including Footix, the mascot of the 1998 World Cup, in the genetic equation I posted above.
Of course, the most interesting thing about this minigame is the giant cat in the background, looming over the trees like an ancient god of the forest. Presumably it was included to distract from the fact that this minigame is boring. I wonder if it’s one of the developer’s cats.

More cats with Hungry Kitty, and also more big digitized photos of pets. In the interests of maintaining the delicate balance between the cat and dog factions, it’s a dog this time. Once again this is the most interesting thing about the minigame, because all you do in Hungry Kitty is hammer the buttons as quickly as possible to make the kitty eat the fish. I suppose it’s helpful that this minigame appears so early in the list, because your fingers haven’t had a chance to get tired yet.

Monster Madness is next, and Godzilla’s got a fresh new look! He’s destroying the city, sure, but once he’s defeated the citizens won’t need to rebuild – dozens of families can simply live inside Godzilla’s baseball cap. The brim is a ready-made veranda!
This is a colour-matching game, where you hit the appropriate button to have your bootleg Ghostbuster zap the red, blue and green (AKA Cool Original) Godzillas as they appear. Press the wrong button and you’re incinerated by Godzilla’s atomic breath. Don’t worry, it just makes you lose a point.

Wash Day works the same as the Strike Dolls minigame – hit the correct colours in sequence – except you’re going horizontally this time, controlling a maid who’s got to bring the laundry in before it starts raining. Sometimes the said laundry is the plug suits from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Having seen Evangelion, I can totally believe that NERV leader and terrible anime dad Gendo Ikari would be the kind of person to hire someone dressed as an anime housemaid to do his chores for him.

The wonderfully named UFO Witness is all about quick shape recognition. You wouldn’t have to work so fast if the observatory would just open their doors slightly wider, but doors that big must take a lot of power to open and space research is underfunded as it is without getting massive bills from British Gas. So, you’re forced to identify the spacecraft (or Santa Claus) through a very narrow field of view. It’s not difficult, and the most interesting thing about it is that the mascot looks even more like a bootleg Sonic the Hedgehog than before.

Spinning Pictures is about two things: spinning pictures and gratuitous panty shots. A picture of this underwear-flashing anime homunculus appears on the screen, gets covered up and is then rotated a few times at random. You job is to figure out what the rotated picture will look like when it’s revealed. That’s all straightforward enough, although I am confused as to why the last two minigames have included Santa-related content.

In The Write Stuff, Got-Cha’s developers clearly grew worried that the players would become too overwhelmed by the high-speed action, engaging gameplay and cartoon knickers that have thus far been at the core of the Got-Cha experience.  That level of sustained mental stimulation simply isn’t safe, so to protect you they included a minigame where you spell a three letter word by using the buttons to move a cursor left and right. Whew, what a blessed relief.
Seriously, though, I have to admire the cheek of any game developer who says “you know how you enter your name on the high score table? Well, what if we made that a minigame?” The irony is that Got-Cha doesn’t have a high score table.

Sky’s the Limit now, where two brooding anime pilots silently judge your attempts to keep your jet fighter on the runway by pressing the green button when it veers over the centre line. No, they’re not really judging you. It’s just that Got-Cha is a three-player game and that’s where the other two players’ planes would be if you had two friends. That seems unlikely, though. Two friends? C’mon, be realistic.

Is this minigame going to be about Kevin Costner movies?

Apparently not, unless Kevin Costner has played either an axe-wielding zombie or a young anime lady. I’m not sure which of those Kevin Costner performances I would prefer to see. Probably the anime girl. It would the greatest challenge of his acting career, after all.
As you can probably guess, this is a “shooting” gallery, where you press the colour of the doors to shoot as many zombies as possible without hitting the ladies. If you do hit the ladies, their shirts fall off and they hurriedly cover themselves off, presumably to trick horny weirdos to lose credits by shooting the girls on purpose. A cunning cash-grabbing trick by the developers, there, although it’s also a shocking double-standard. Why can’t I shoot the zombies’ shirts off? They might have terrifying malformations under there! Malformations, I say! Actually, on closer inspection I don’t think they’re zombies at all. Those joints seem to be skeletal in nature, or possibly exoskeletal.  Skull-faced axe maniac skeleton-insect-men? Got-Cha’s definitely got one thing going for it.

All the thrills of a Tiger Electronics hand-held LCD racing game in Rush Hour, plus yet more cheesecake anime art. I think that might be the same girl as the one in Spinning Pictures. They’ve got the same haircut, at least.
Rush Hour is a simple matter of avoiding the traffic by moving left and right across the three lanes, but it is one of the few games in Got-Cha that includes even the slightest element of strategy. You have to pass a certain number of cars to win, and you can make your car accelerate with the green button. The faster you’re going the more cars you’ll pass but the harder it is to avoid collisions, so there’s the faintest bit of risk-reward gameplay in there. It’s better than nothing, I suppose.

Rock Paper Scissors was bound to show up at some point, and here it is. I presume I don’t have to explain Rock Paper Scissors to you. The picture at the top cycles between the three options and then suddenly disappears, leaving you to try to remember what the last picture you saw was and then choose the correct counter-play. The hardest thing about this minigame is that the icons you choose from change order, so you have to pay attention to which one you’re selecting. You shouldn’t have trouble with this one unless you have narcolepsy that’s exacerbated by dot-matrix displays.

From one of the easiest minigames to the one that I personally found to be the most difficult with Jungle Escape. It stars a gorilla in a helmet and lots of anti-personnel explosives, so I have to assume the gorilla works for a landmine-clearing NGO. Between this brave ape and Princess Diana’s ghost the world will be rid of landmines, but first you must guide the gorilla to the end of the stage. To do this you press the colour that doesn’t match the landmine in front of you – in the screenshot above, for example, you’d press either green or blue. Later in the stage things are complicated by there being two mines at a time, and I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve spent the whole game up to this point matching colours or because I’m an uncoordinated idiot but I found it very difficult to pick the right colour. This isn’t a complaint; it made a nice change to play a minigame that I had to actually think about.

Kitty’s Mousetrap sees the return of the fish-gobbling cat from earlier in the game. Having grown weary of an all-seafood diet, the cat has branched out into devouring mice after capturing them using an over-complicated mousetrap built to look like a bridge. A variety of mice scurry around on the bridge, and when a mouse is standing on a portion of the bridge that matches their colour you hit the button to open the bridge’s trap doors and send them plummeting into the bubbling cartoon cauldron that I assume the cat has set up under the bridge.
Not a bad little game, this one, as it’s not the by-now-familiar challenge to match colours as quickly as possible. Instead you’ve got to stay patient and try to keep an eye on each member of the mouse swarm, and it’s a welcome change of pace.

I mentioned WarioWare right at the start of this article, and School Daze definitely is the most WarioWare-like minigame to be found in Got-Cha. It’s another one where all you do is mash the buttons as quickly as possible. Doing so makes the muscular, gloved arm click a mechanical pencil, with the goal being to eject as many pencil leads as possible. Wait a minute, that was a WarioWare microgame!
I do like the comedic idea of clicking a pencil becoming a competitive sport played by men with arms that’d make Popeye jealous, though. It’s got all the entertainment value of cricket but you can play along in the comfort of your own home!

Bumper Cars now, where you use the buttons to turn your car left or right while trying to collect more flags than your opponents. Because the CPU cars can drive faster than you and are prone to ramming your vehicle across the field of play, I found a relaxed, zen approach worked best in this minigame. Just let the cars smash you around. You’re bound to end up near some flags eventually.

Okay, is that a Santa Claus themed bikini? I am no closer to figuring out what the deal is with all the Christmas stuff, but I can tell you this – that is a very poorly-drawn arse. Fur-trimmed pants, bulbous hips – I think this character was based on a He-Man action figure.

In Farm Guard, you have to pelt rowdy children with eggs to prevent them from stealing your precious melons. Yep, it’s another colour-matching shooting gallery thing, but mischievous children cannot compete with skeletal monsters or Godzilla, even if they have fashioned previously-stolen melons into crude helmets.

Part-Time Job is all about the game’s mascot being the world’s most irritating fast-food customer, swanning into the place and ordering dozens of very specific burgers that you have to build by hitting the correct button for each ingredient. It’s decent enough, I suppose, although for me the highlight was definitely when the mascot came in and ordered the tomato and lettuce sandwich you can see above. You’re making a mockery of the very concept of hamburgers, you maniac!

Bungee-jumping action in Off the Deep End, where you up the buttons to grab items on your left and right as you fall – items that include cakes, chocolate bars and whatever that thing in the screenshot above is supposed to be. A packing peanut, perhaps. Matters are complicated by the addition of bombs that blow up if you grab them. Maybe once he’s cleared out all the land mines that gorilla can get to work eradicating the menace of hovering cartoon bombs.

Finally – finally – we’ve reach the last game: Galactic Invasion. Press the matching colours to shoot down the UFOs. You could have figured that out for yourself, you’re an intelligent sort, I’m sure. That said, this game didn’t seem to work quite right, in a way I can’t quite pin down. There was a... delay to it, almost, made more noticeable by the fact that all the other minigames played nice and crisply. But none of that really matters. I still managed to emerge triumphant, Paris is saved for alien devastation and Got-Cha: Mini Game Festival draws to a close.

There’s not much of an ending, just a picture of a medal, the word “CHAMP” and, as mentioned, no chance to enter your name in a high-score table. You do get to see your individual scores for each event, though. This is, of course, utterly uninteresting in concept, although I did notice that you can see a picture of the zombie-shooting minigame and the enemy target appears to be a bloke in a trenchcoat rather than a monster, raising the possibility of different graphics appearing either due to randomness or certain circumstances…

...and I did indeed play a bit more and noticed that the mascot was replaced by a dancing anime girl on top of the stacks in the first minigame. I suppose that’s something that might help to keep Got-Cha a bit more interesting over time, and if you’re feeling industrious you can go through and try to find all these variations. Not me, though. I’ve had enough of Got-Cha for now, and probably forever. It’s not a terrible game, though. The games aren’t particularly interesting but they all work fine, and I know I say this a lot but this would probably be more fun if played in multiplayer – it certainly feels like that’s the intended way to enjoy the game. But I played it alone, naturally, and I found it to be okay. Some of the graphics were quite nice and I loved the narrator’s “please stay on the line and someone will answer your call shortly” voice work. It did make me think about Christmas in July, though, so it loses points for that.



I’m learning a lot of things during the current heatwave. I’ve learned that the fear of global warming adds a piquant quality to my usual anxieties. I’ve learned that my neck apparently contains twice the amount of sweat glands as the rest of my body combined. I also learned that playing videogames set in cold, snowy, Arctic locations does nothing to trick my brain into thinking I’m cold but what the hell, I’ve played them now so I might as well try to get an article out of it. So, here’s Sammy’s 1995 arcade slip-n-slide-em-up Extreme Downhill!

It’s difficult to see but there’s a skier behind that desert chrome logo and, yes, the extreme downhill of the title refers to downhill skiing. Which feels a bit like a tautology to me, surely all skiing is downhill? I know there’s cross-country skiing and biathlon, but I would contend that when you’re not going downhill you aren’t skiing, you’re walking with planks of wood tied to your feet, like that time I tried to run across the local fishing lake.

Semantics aside, skiing is what we’ve got. The crisp mountain air, the sibilant whisper of skis carving through powder, the figure-hugging lycra that will be forever entwined with memories of Ned Flanders’ arse; Extreme Downhill is one-hundred percent a game about skiing and very little else. Its two gameplay modes are Time Attack and “Story Mode,” which tells a story in the same way the instructions on the back of a box of washing powder form an epic poem chronicling the eternal victory of Freshness and Bounce over the dread forces of Blackcurrant Juice Stains.

There are four nameless skiers to choose from, each with their own strengths. Having not actually started the game yet it’s impossible to know whether I’ll be tackling a speed course or a winding course, so I suppose I’ll begin with the “For Beginners” guy on the left. He’s holding a giant french fry, he clearly knows what’s up.

Story Mode features eight courses of increasing difficulty, spread across the globe in locations famous for hosting skiing events, like Manhattan. The “story” part of Story Mode consists of little more than being told “hey, congrats, you won an event, now do another one!” until you’re the Monarch of Skiing and the frostbitten corpses of your enemies litter the trail behind you, so let’s get to making that dream a reality.

And we’re off. As you can see, Extreme Downhill is a top-down race against the clock. Ski well enough to keep your speed up and avoid crashing and you’ll reach a checkpoint, which will give you more time to reach the next checkpoint, and so on until you finish the course. You can also crash into these snowmen for a small amount of bonus time, which I’m fairly sure isn’t a real part of competitive skiing. I’d probably watch televised skiing if the participants received extra points for making young snowman-building children cry.

There are no other physical skiiers on the track at the same time as you – this is a pure time-trial affair – but you do get to see the “ghost” of the current high-score holder so you can gauge how well you’re doing. Given that this game involves skiing at 130 kilometres an hour along exposed mountaintops and over wooden bridges with no guard rails, it may well be an actual ghost.

The controls are easy to learn, because there hardly are any. You turn using left and right on the joystick and there’s a button to slow down, although if you use the brake button at all in the latter half of the game you’ll end up running out of time. You’re limited to “steering,” essentially, and while that would be more engaging if Extreme Downhill was a gimmick cabinet where you controlled the action by moving two fake ski poles or something, it wasn’t. It was just a joystick, and as a result it already feels like a very limited game and I haven’t even finished the first stage yet.

Can we not use the phrase “last spurt,” please? Not when using table sauces, not during lovemaking, and not in this skiing videogame. Thanks in advance.

Having successfully negotiated the course and flattened a bunch of snowmen, our skier ruins this moment of triumph by acting like such a smug prick it’s a wonder the crowd don’t leap over the advertising hoardings and insert his skis into his body, sideways.

It took me quite a while to realise that “carrier” is supposed to be “career.” In my defence, I was still thinking about my skier’s victory pose in the first race and whether his extreme smugness made it more likely that his name would be Chad or Chet. I’m leaning towards Chad, but it’s definitely one of those two names. On top of that, I spent a few minutes trying to figure out what the “GLAND” billboard is advertising. Probably best not to think about it, honestly.

I switched to the female “all-rounder” character for stage two, which takes place in Canada. She’s about to land on a snowman in a manner that will be a) very uncomfortable and b) might mean she and the snowman are technically married.

Beyond the character I’m playing as, nothing much has changed. The stage still looks the same and plays the same, although there are a few sections where you can fall off the mountain now and also a couple of eagles flew past, which was the most interesting thing about skiing in Canada. There’s just not that much you can say about a game where all you do is turn around corners. This is especially true on the tighter bends, and it often feels like Extreme Downhill is happy to accept moving the stick left or right slightly to mean “well done, you perfectly navigated this treacherous hairpin turn.” There’s a feeling of distance between the player and the action on the screen that makes Extreme Downhill kinda unsatisfying to play. Put it this way – I managed to get surprisingly far into the Canada stage when I didn’t press the controls at all, with my character accelerating automatically and pinging around the corners like some especially gaudy pinball.

After Canada comes the Challenging Stage. It has no bearing on whether you progress through the, ahem, story, so don’t worry about scenarios like the one pictured above where I failed to line myself up correctly with the extremely dangerous rope bridge and launched myself off Big Idiot Mountain with the approximate velocity of a Tomahawk missile. At least the danger of these stages makes them more interesting than the regular levels, and it’s going to be real interesting for Jacques the fur trapper when a skier lands in the chimney of his cabin.

I cleared the Challenging Stage, but my victory was quickly forgotten when I noticed that sign at the back that says “Little Bastard” on it. That’s a bold advertising strategy, huh? I can see the commercials now. “Hey, you. Yeah, you, the dumb-looking guy with the bad haircut. Smoke Little Bastard cigarettes, you piece of shit!”
That’s not the only interesting bit of decoration around Extreme Downhill’s courses, either.

How about a big advertisement that says “GOD SAVE ME!,” that’s definitely interesting. I say advertisement, but it was clearly created by the spectators and erected as a plea to be rescued from this hell of standing atop a frozen peak and being forced to watch rich people slide down a mountain. Give it a few hours and they’ll be lashing a discarded ice skate to that sign to create a makeshift guillotine.

Oh, cool, we’re changing to football now? The 2018 World Cup was great, I can’t wait to play some tournament football on the biggest stage of them all!

Aww, we’re still skiing. Boo.
We’re in Italy now, and despite being on a completely different continent the stages still look the same. I know there’s only so much you can do with snow, but baffling billboard aside once I’d played a couple of stages I felt like I’d seen everything Extreme Downhill had to offer.
It was around this point that I realised Extreme Downhill isn’t a skiing game at all. It’s a rally driving game with the cars replaced by people who thought falling down the stairs wasn’t an interesting enough way to break their spine. Seriously, you could replace ChadChet with a Subaru Impreza and the game would be identical. It’s got the same arrows that tell you when a corner is coming up as most rally games, it’s all about sliding around corners and beating the clock… it’s difficult to find a full list of the games made by Sammy but I would not be surprised if they released a rally game a year or two before Extreme Downhill that plays very similarly.

The German course features billboards of buff, shirtless men. God, what I wouldn’t give to be shirtless in a snowstorm right now. I’m being serious, this heatwave is literally killing me. I don't do well in hot weather, I look like a plastic bag laying in an oily puddle.
The billboard is advertising something called Troosers, which is, of course, Scottish for trousers. You know, like the famous Scottish song about troosers. That’s why it says “loose fit,” you see.

Onward to America, which is where the different characters came into play. After several failed attempts at clearing the stage with the all-rounder character, I switched to Mr. Winding Course and immediately set a new course record. The thing is, I don’t think I played much better. I did everything I did before except it worked, and the only reason I can come up with is that Mr. Winding Course loses much less speed when turning. I’m not sure it’s even possible to complete the later stages with the slower characters, which makes the fact you can only switch characters once you’ve spent a continue bit of a kick in the balls.

The mountains of Japan are home to cowboy billboards advertising, I dunno, cowboys themselves? Hey, someone’s got to look after all those cows you have, am I right? This cowboy might have a hat and an eyepatch, but that’s not fooling me: I’m ninety-five percent sure that this is actually a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger, specifically when he’s pointing a gun at someone in a Terminator movie.

I’d class falling off a mountain as “extreme downhill”, yes.

The final course is in Norway, the birthplace of skiing (I assume). The course is tough, but perhaps not quite as brutal as I was expecting it to be. Extreme Downhill is a strange one, difficulty-wise. The character you choose seems to make a massive difference, and stages often have one or two vicious obstacles or turns in the middle of the stage that can make or break your run.

For example, had I slightly misaligned my skier and fallen off this bridge, that would probably have been game over, and learning the course so you know when these hazards are coming up is definitely the key to good times. I mean good times on the leaderboard, not “good times” as in fun, which Extreme Downhill is rather lacking. A major problem is that you can’t see where you’re going. Seriously, look at the screenshots and remember that your skier is travelling pretty bloody quickly and you’ll seen realise that there’s no way to see what’s coming up in the next half-second. The “camera” really could have done with been pulled back a bit, because as it stands all the player is doing is responding to the arrows as they appear. Am I saying that Extreme Downhill was originally designed as a test for intelligence in laboratory goldfish, where they were rewarded with food pellets if they could correctly nudge a lever when the appropriate arrow was shown to them? And then one of the researchers came back from a skiing trip and said “hey guys, this might sound crazy but hear me out...”? I might be. I just might be.

It’s not all bad, though. The snowmen are cute, the weirdo billboards are entertaining enough to stop me regretting that I played the game. Oh right, good things about the gameplay. Well, it’s definitely fast, and straightforward enough to pick up and play for five minutes of high-intensity eyeball stimulation. It works, for the most part, even if it does feel like the game’s guiding you around corners. It’s probably the best skiing videogame I’ve ever played, and I trust you’re all clever enough to work out the reasoning behind that statement.

“King of Hills” was also the title inkjet-printed onto the King of the Hill DVD box set I ordered from AliExpress.

And then the game crashed during the ending sequence, which seemed pretty appropriate.
At the beginning of this article I said Extreme Downhill is a game about skiing, but it isn’t, not really. It’s a game about going fast and occasionally slamming face-first into a billboard with a shirtless man on it. It’s definitely an arcade game, I’ll say that much. I can’t imagine a home console port of Extreme Downhill: this is a game all about big graphics, big speed and gameplay so shallow you’d struggle to drown a chinchilla in it. I didn’t much enjoy playing it, but I did enjoy experiencing it, even if it did call me a Little Bastard.

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