Gold Medal Challenge on NES gives a Lighthearted Olympic Games Experience

With the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (in 2021) set to start next week, I couldn’t help but reminisce about some of the Olympic video games I played growing up. Some were good and others were absolute gems!  

While today’s kids are relegated to the Mario & Sonic series, I was fortunate enough to experience more variety. Today, let’s revisit the 1992 NES classic, Capcom’s Gold Medal Challenge!

Gold Medal Challenge featured a multitude of events spanning across the track, field, pool, and weightlifting mat. Though missing some fan favorites like gymnastics, diving, and team sports, this Nintendo game featured an impressive catalog of 18 events:

  • 100 meter dash
  • 200 meter dash
  • 400 meter dash
  • 4×100 meter relay
  • 110 meter hurdles
  • Long jump
  • Triple jump
  • High jump
  • Shot put
  • Javelin throw
  • 100 meter freestyle
  • 100 meter butterfly
  • 200 meter individual medley
  • 100 meter backstroke
  • 100 meter breaststroke
  • Vault
  • Weightlifting
  • Marathon

This was all from Capcom, a company best known for games like Street Fighter, Mega Man, Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, Devil May Cry and many, many more!

Gold Medal Challenge Banner

What made Gold Medal Challenge fun?

Set in the local multiplayer video game era, Gold Medal Challenge allowed for an unheard of 8 human players to compete using one of the 12 countries available. The athletes were cartoon style and the sound effects were fitting. Solo events were completed by passing the controller and races were handled by 2 players at a time. Combine that with the ability to get through all of the events in under a couple hours and you have the recipe for the perfect party game

Some of my favorite events were the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter individual swimming medley and the long and triple jump. Still, possibly my favorite event was the marathon which was completed over the course of several stages. By controlling your runner’s pace and managing their stamina you did your best to come out on top. During the check-ins an announcer would review the current standings. No lead was safe when a runner got tired!  

Most events in Gold Medal Challenge involve you mashing the buttons as fast as you can to build up power or speed and, if the event called for, executing a perfect angle throw or jump to maximize distance. Longer events required management of stamina as well. 

Is Gold Medal Challenge worth a try?

While this game certainly doesn’t set any records or win any awards, it succeeded in its goal. Giving gamers of any skill level an ability to smash some buttons and laugh at big-headed athletes on the quest for gold! If you happen to find yourself in front of a NES and Capcom’s Gold Medal Challenge, gather some friends and conduct your own 1992 Olympics. You’ll thank me later!

Have you tried Capcom’s Gold Medal Challenge before? What is your favorite Olympic-themed video game? Join the conversation by leaving a message in the comments section, below!

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