Tuesday 8 September 2015

Track and Field (NES review)

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Released: 1987

Track and Field is an Olympic-themed sports game that was released as Hyper Olympic in Japan.

There's a total of eight events that include the 100m Dash, Long Jump, 110m Hurdles, Javelin Throw, Skeet Shooting, Triple Jump, Archery and High Jump. You can play either against the CPU or with a friend and the game lets you select the opening event of each competition. To successfully pass each event you must reach the qualifying number that's highlighted at the top of the screen; for example, in the 100m Dash you might have to cross the finish line within 13 seconds. Beating all of the events in a row loops them with tougher qualifying criteria. The control scheme is simple but works brilliantly as only the A button and Up on the d-pad are required. The gameplay is highly addictive as you try to beat the top scores and the event line-up is fantastic. Most require speedy button mashing (i.e. 100m Dash) while others also need some precision to make sure you don't cross into foul territory and forfeit an attempt (i.e. Long Jump). In some events like Javelin Throw you'll also want to release your javelin at the perfect angle (45°) so timing is a big part. What makes Track and Field extra enjoyable is that it also has skill based events that ditch the controller bashing. Archery features wind that you have to take into account when launching your shots at the target. Another tricky one is Skeet Shooting where you have to fire at airborne targets in both directions using the d-pad and the A button. All control superbly and are an absolute joy to play. Minor downsides are that there's no way to save your high scores or event records and there's a few cut-scenes missing from the Arcade version.

Track and Field is a true test of your gaming skill and although it's fun in single player mode it really shines in the multiplayer environment. Each event is perfectly executed and the game constantly pushes your speed, reactions and accuracy to the limit while still being a complete blast at all times.

Random trivia: A sequel called Track & Field II was released on the NES in 1988.

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