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International Track & Field
Score: 8.0 / 10
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
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.
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.
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
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
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