What is it that people get up to in California? From my own limited knowledge I'd guess at games of beach volleyball in thongs, running along beaches in orange swimwear and roller-blading while listening to David Hasselhoff on their iPods.

But it seems I could be mistaken. Because California Games X contains none of these activities in its roster of California-based pastimes.

Instead, it goes for free climbing, BMX biking, breakdancing, sky surfing, skateboarding and in-line skating, all of which sound infinitely more energetic than what would probably be in a UK Games X selection - ten-pin bowling, pool and binge drinking.

However, while California Games's events might sound adrenaline-charged, not to mention wide-ranging, playing them isn't quite as involved as you're led to believe.

That's because every one relies on a similar play mechanic, which is pushing the buttons that correspond to scrolling directional arrows on the screen.

This essentially makes the game much like a rhythm game, just without the music. Most events call for a certain level of timing, however, since you score more points for hitting a button at exactly the moment an arrow turns green.

There is some variety between the events. Free climbing, for instance, comes with a 'grip bar' which fills a little when you hit an arrow at the right moment and empties a little when you miss one. If you let it empty completely, your climber loses his grip and drops off the rock.

Meanwhile, in the BMX biking game you have to hit arrows when they appear next to ramps, then quickly hit more arrows as they appear to do a bike trick. The skateboarding is much the same, but with the addition of a bar you also have to stop when it's in the green section in order to get height off the ramp in the first place.

This arrow-hitting structure works perfectly well. And with three difficulty levels to choose from in Tournament Mode the toughness of each game is pitched to offer just the right challenge.

The drawback is that it's still a bit repetitive. Despite the slight mixing up of when you have to hit the arrows and how many you have to hit and when, it's still just a game based around pushing up, down, left and right when you're told to.

Your fixation on these arrows also renders most of the game's visuals - which are fairly nice - redundant, since you can't really watch what's going on because you're so busy concentrating on which button to press next.

Because the game's six events are quite similar, and because there are only three near-identical ways to play them - Tournament, Practice and Single Event - the game doesn't feel that weighty either.

The Tournament mode is the only one that offers any sort of challenge, by giving you imaginary competitors to go up against whose scores you need to beat on a high score table. It also gives you the goal of coming first and unlocking the game's sixth event.

The rest is quickly exhausted in terms of appeal. California Games X comes with a decent enough collection of games, but its chances of matching the Hoff in terms of longevity are pretty slim.