The evolution of water effects

California Games (1987, C64 version)
The impression of surf on the wave in California Games is convincing, in a cartoony sort of way. The wave is made of tiles that depict different amounts of 'splashiness'. Move them in sequence and the 'wave' breaks realistically, chasing the player and even creating a semi-transparent tube for those 'I am a surfing god' tunnel moments. At the end, the whole wave breaks at once and you get eaten by a shark. Just like real life then.

Above: This is the C64 version of California Games. It's actually not that bad!

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.