I love Olympic games or sports game compilations. I spent a lot of my youth playing Olympic Gold and Daly Thompson’s Decathlon for example. Button mashing and joystick waggling, each event would have a variation on a control scheme and invite multiplayer RSI. Crazy Athletics has a very different approach to its track, field and swimming pool events by turning the game into a rhythm and timing game instead. It sounds great in theory but the design of this game doesn’t correlate at all.
Crazy Athletics has 100, 200 and 400 meter sprints, 50 and 100 meter swims, 400 meter hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot put and javelin. You’d never realise it though because they all play identically. Instead of each game of theme having its own control scheme, Crazy Athletics does away with all controls and places a rhythm chart in each players lane. The problem is that rhythm chart isn’t tailored to anything at all. It will be one of ten unlockable motifs you’ll unlock in the 70 event single player campaign. I was playing on PS4 and PS5 as I bought the cross buy version and at the start its simply tap X as the marker hits the spot. Then you get to press and hold X for a bit. Soon you’ll add in square and then triangle but ultimately you’ll be asked to repeat the same 5 button riff over and over again. The sole thing that changes in each event is what the technical button does. On PlayStation that was circle and it lets you launch a high jump or if you tap just before or after the beat, it’ll let you long jump or throw without a foul or start running after the pistol fires.
That’s it. That’s the game.
I didn’t realise that every single event would be the exact same button presses, with the exception of circle. The one event that feels mildly tricky is the hurdles because the circle speeds in at a different pace to the rest of the buttons. It was here I discovered that Crazy Athletics cannot handle you pressing two buttons at the same time. Even if the chart demands it. Ridiculous. What’s worse is that nothing you press correlates to the onscreen action. I’d time the circle button press perfectly and my character didn’t even jump the hurdle. It is a mess.
Much is made of its huge indie music roster and I must admit the soundtrack is largely great… if you can get a chance to hear it. The game selects tracks at random but seems intent on using the same ten tracks over and over again. As events rarely last longer than a minute, you’ll get used to the opening verse and chorus of those songs quickly and never hear the rest of it. The rhythm elements never match a songs BPM – its doing its own thing. Lovely soundtrack, utterly disconnected from the gaming experience.
Some of these major issues are lessened when you play multiplayer but because the basic premise is repeat the same five button presses over and over again, it gets stale quickly. Nothing feels unique or different. The PS4 version also ran into flashy and glitchy UI too in throwing events where it is trying to recalculate your throw if you miss a button mid flight. All in all, I cannot recommend the game at all.
The one saving grace is the soundtrack. If you buy the game on Steam, you get 101 songs from indie artists and whilst I’ve heard many of them in other games too, getting the tracks as MP3’s is a great deal if you spot this game on sale. The rest of it is not worth your time and that is an unfortunate shame.
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