| Minilympics

If we went up against Linford Christie in a race, he wouldn't break into much of a sweat. But back in the day – the days of Daley Thompson's Decathlon on the Spectrum, to be precise – we could probably have given his index fingers a run for their money with our keyboard bashing skills.

Anyone over the age of around 26 will no doubt remember the joy of getting a javelin to disappear off the top of the screen, waggling the joystick so fast that at any point a BBC natural history crew with a high-speed camera could have burst into your room to record this incredible display of superhuman-like motor skills.

The same goes for Minilympics, where gold medals are awarded for being in possession of nothing more than a pair of flexible thumbs (and perhaps a mobile keypad suited to repeatedly hitting the numbers '4' and '6' as though your life depends on it). If, like us, your shot put skills at school were a little weak, thanks to Minilympics you can now be a world record holder. Just hammer buttons to build up speed, then press '2' to lob your shot put (preferably when facing in the right direction).

Of course, not every one of the game's 14 Olympic events is won by button bashing. In fact, a surprising number of them prove very different to play. In the shooting event, for instance, you use '5' when a crosshair is near the centre of a target to get the most points, and on the gymnastics high beam you press buttons as they drop down the screen, similar to a rhythm-action game.

For the triple jump, meanwhile, you need to build up speed then hit '5' at exactly the right time three times in a row to get a good jump, whereas in diving you time your approach, dive and spin properly to pull off a top scoring dive.

Essentially it's like having 14 different mini-games to play, all with (in the main mode) both Minilympic and world records to beat, as well as the competitors from nine other countries to out-score so as to make it into the top three and become a medal winner. That's plenty of incentives to perfect each event – something that takes quite a while to do.

Like a lot of other games made up of mini-games, though, some of Minilympic's events are better than others. Despite there being a lot of variety between them, there's still a touch too much reliance on hammering those two buttons – for the rowing, swimming and running events that's pretty much all you do. And while it might be a mechanic we're nostalgically fond of, it can feel a bit outdated and difficult to do on some mobile phones.

There is an Instant Mode which makes it possible to pick and choose which events you play but without the structure of the overall competition, playing events in this mode feels a bit pointless and is only really good for practising.

Talking of modes, there's no two-player option – not even pass-the-handset – which seems a considerable oversight in a game so well suited to competition and smashing one another's records.

Even without it though, Minilympics is still massively addictive for one person to play. It has cute cartoon visuals, the controls are largely spot-on and the difficulty level is pitched just right. To break a world record or get a gold medal you need to hit every button at exactly the right time – something that's achievable with practice. A pity that longer term play isn't guaranteed due to the lack of a multiplayer option but as far as Olympic-themed mobile games, this is still a medal winner.


Turns 14 Olympic events into 14 rather enjoyable mini-games. Winning medals and thrashing world records keeps you flexing those thumbs, but no multiplayer option is noticeable
Kath Brice
Kath Brice
Kath gave up a job working with animals five years ago to join the world of video game journalism, which now sees her running our DS section. With so many male work colleagues, many have asked if she notices any difference.