Funny hat not included.
Well, folks, the Winter Olympics are long over. The snow has melted and the athletes have all gone home. Now, through the miracle of modern technology, you are able to play all your favorite winter sports in the comfort of your own living room.
Though the Saturn has stopped being produced, we here at Game Revolution feel the need to still inform you, gentle reader, of games that are still worth playing. Winter Heat falls neatly into this category. With eleven different events for you to play and some of the nicest looking polygonal characters we've seen, Winter Heat shows people what the Saturn is capable of when it has good programmers.
The graphics, as I said, are pretty nifty. Done by the same folks that brought you Decathlete, the designers did a bang-up job with the characters. As for the rest of the graphics, it is sort of a mixed bag. The snow doesn't look very good, but the ice looks great. You can even see your character's reflections in the ice. The view is remarkably dynamic, never staying in one place for a long period of time. In some events, the camera will rotate around the athlete while you are controlling him. Why couldn't other Saturn games look this good?
Winter Heat has eight characters to choose from, each fully rendered with an astonishing amount of polygons. One problem I had was that there was no generic character. When playing the bobsled event, your partner in the bobsled is this weird blue lined figure. Though I imagine that this saved programming time, I think it would have looked a lot better if the character at least looked human.
The events themselves are very much in the Track and Field spirit (ie he who pushes the buttons fast enough, wins). There are eleven events: Speed Skiing, Downhill Skiing, Slalom, Ski Jumping, Aerial Skiing, Speed Skating (long and short track), Cross Country Skiing, 2-man Bobsled, Snowboarding, and Skeleton (Kinda like the luge, but headfirst. Mmmmm, intelligent.) Though some of these events are not actual Olympic events (every time they demo Speed Skiing, someone gets killed), they are all a lot of fun. There's something appealing about seeing your friend plow headfirst into the snow while attempting the Aerial. One sport I wish they had included is the Biathlon, where you cross-country ski, shoot targets, then ski some more. How else is Latvia ever going to get a gold medal?
Each event has different controls, but the game kindly tells you the controls at the start of each event. Some events feel like you should have had a little more control. In the Slalom, you can't even steer the character; your job is to keep his speed up and make sure he hits the gates correctly. These controls make the game more of a sports simulation than an actual sports game depending on the event. Although it is easy to score well on your first attempt, it is really hard to master some of the events.
All in all, Winter Heat is a pretty good game. Though the control is a little constricting in some of the events, it works well with the theme. If you enjoyed Decathlete and love the Winter Olympics, than Winter Heat is the game for you. Now that the Saturn is no longer being produced in the US, you should be able to find this solid title at a remarkably low price. Anyone who wants a good solid game to play on their Saturn won't be disappointed by Winter Heat.