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Platform

DS

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Konami

 

Developer

Sumo Digital

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

July 22, 2008

 

 

- 24 events

- Great multiplayer options

 

 

- Controls can hurt your screen without a skin

- Difficulty can be erratic

 

 

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New International Track & Field

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

track & field          track & field

 

Remaking classic games can be a tricky business. Many games of old have extremely simplistic controls and limited replay value, and then thereís that pesky nostalgia factor Ė an intangible that many publishers fail to respect. Iím very happy to report that Konami has managed to preserve the good about the original Track & Field while moving the series into the 21st century.

The 1983 original consisted of only six events that required you hit two action buttons back and forth to cause your character to run and then the action button (at

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- DS Game Reviews

- Sports Game Reviews

- Games Published by Konami

the right time) would trigger a jump or a throw. I can still hear the beating those buttons took in the arcade and remember almost snapping a joystick or two in half at home (in those days, unless you had the specialized home controller you had to rapidly move the joystick left and right to generate speed). It was one of those games that you loved to play for a period of time, but for me anyways the interest faded quickly.
 

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The New International Track & Field hits the ground running with 24 events that are unlocked in groups of six. In addition to the typical running events, youíre going to find shot put, archery, weight lifting, long jump and many more. Most of the events are good although you may find the difficulty quite uneven. The tutorial that explains how the events work isnít the greatest so unless itís very simple youíll probably find yourself performing very poorly the first few times around until you get the hang of it.

The controls are the biggest question on most peopleís mind. The good news is that you can choose from the old style double-button mashing mess to a new stylus alternative. You might be worried about what this will do to your DS (Konami assures us this is safe) but Iíd recommend you make sure you have a screen protector on. You rub the stylus back and forth and then most events require you press (and in sometimes hold then release) a button for the finishing move. I like the fact that theyíve considered both left and right handed gamers with their choices of buttons. The problem here is that unless you put the DS down on a table to play you might find it hard to even watch the action while you are madly rubbing back and forth and shaking your DS.
 

track & field          track & field


I also appreciated the subtle changes in the controls. Itís not always about how fast you can move the stylus from left to right as sometimes you need to generate a rhythm that takes your runner faster in the end. You can also use the microphone once to cheer on your character for an extra boost of speed. A clever addition that works quite well.

The game is packed with extra unlockables and homageís to both the original Track & Field and Konami itself. Youíll see Frogger advertising banners and enjoy playing with special characters like Solid Snake and Simon Belmont.

The game really shines when it comes to multi player. You can play against others that are nearby (with or without the game cartridge) or online. The online mode will even notify you while youíre playing a single player game that one of your friends has jumped online. Itís a no brainer for the bigger consoles but a pleasant surprise on the DS. Besides having a friends list you can also have a rivals list too.

Itís all tied in nicely to a special website that Konami has put together that includes the world records and has discussion forums and so on. Theyíve really tried to tap into the competitive nature of gamers and have done a great job doing so.

More than just a remake of a classic, New International Track & Field is quite a good game that uses the unique features of the DS and combines it with our desire to be competitive. It may not have an official Olympics license, but it truly makes you feel like you are a part of something special.

Syd Bolton has been button mashing for over 20 years and now runs the Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, Ontario. He also likes to sit in his ArmChair and survey his video game empire which has grown to over 5,500 games.

 

- Syd Bolton

(November 10, 2008)

 

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