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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Track & Field

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While no one will mistake Track & Field for a game of skill, it remains a quintessential button masher that’s been duplicated numerous times without the same appeal of this 1983 classic. It’s a game that will cause carpal tunnel in record time, oddly enough as you set records in the events. With four friends over Xbox Live, this insane affair is well worth the cost.

While many will be familiar with the NES or numerous home PC ports, this Xbox Live Arcade edition is an update to the original arcade version. Most of the events carried over, though some may find the hammer throw to be new. The 100 meter dash, 110 meter hurdles, javelin throw, and high jump round out the roster.

These six events can be played solo, with computer characters, or with friends. Multiplayer extends over local play and online.

These are hardly accurate depictions of these sports. Your character, a multi-national mustached beast of a competitor, is controlled with two buttons. One you’ll mash on a few thousand times to get him where he needs to go, and the other performs an action such as a jump. The faster you hit the button, the faster he runs or the more power he has behind his jump/throw.

Updated sprites clean up the jagged edges of the original graphics (though it’s optional), and a slightly remixed soundtrack adds some fidelity to the music, while the grainy, unidentifiable voices remain for nostalgias sake.

True to the original, only two competitors compete at once. This holds true for online play with four players. Plenty of screen real estate is wasted on records and current times, and while true to the original, updating to let all four players compete at once would have added to the feeling of competitiveness. The same goes for other events such as the javelin throw. An option to either split the screen or let everyone throw at once would have cut down the time needed to complete the full set of events.

For $5, there’s enough button slamming fun to make this an easy buy if you plan to partake in the multiplayer features. Track & Field has always been about competing even if it’s only about the person with the fastest thumb. As a single player run, it’s not going to have the appeal.

Track & Field is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • Andrew Ogier

    Did you ever pass the Hammer Throw?

    Just had to correct you on a minor niggle in the article. Track & Field isn’t, and never was, a button masher – it’s all about rythmn. You could mash on the pad all day long and never get the records as well as someone who gets the timing of alternating the buttons and perfect launch angles.

    I agree with the rest of the review though.

  • You’re not required to alternate. Just jab the A button and watch what happens. Did it that way on the NES and that way on the Live Arcade. Never had an issue.