This Konami game series makes its first appearance on the Nintendo DS. This exclusive title celebrates the 25th anniversary of the arcade game, which then moved to the Nintendo console, then Game Boy and Playstation. This series even had an ESPN tie-in. As always, the series continues to expand with worldwide play, more events, classic characters and several unique interactions.
Players can use the touch screen or button controls with some consequences for each. First, rubbing the stylus back and forth requires a fast and light touch otherwise the screen will scratch. It even helps to turn the console sideways a bit in some events to ease the stress. Next, the buttons work for left or right handed players by offering the directional pad or face buttons, but both require some stressful button mashing. Both methods respond well – a big plus since they require considerable physical demands on the hands.
Players learn each event control scheme with visual tutorials during the events, so practice individually first before trying to qualify. Seasoned veterans could probably qualify the first two event sets, but the challenges and complexity gradually increase to make that gold medal all the more satisfying. Running events take a musical turn by requiring movement matching certain rhythms running then the familiar fast back and forth movements for the last leg. Voice capability is also used as players improve performance more with loud yells of whatever a player chooses (hopefully encouragement or the just standard AAGGHH!).
The single player career mode has unlockables (costumes, items) while the single event make very good practice. The challenge mode, classic mode and expert modes provide more variety. Don’t go all out to qualify – it’s moderately challenging, plus the comprehensive scoring helps players really shine in their strong events, which make up for any lags. Breaking records will require more effort, though.
Icons help distinguish the 24 events which include the 100 meter dash, javelin throw, hammer throw, long jump, 110m hurdles, high jump, rowing, archery, weightlifting and cycling. Each event requires varying learning curves (practicing in single events first is highly recommended). The skeet shooting event gets pretty fun while higher challenges await in the discus and diving. Gymnastics challenge on many levels while leaving some wiggle room for error. For example, player can land on their head, but can score high with six flips. Plus it’s fun to hear the athlete’s verbal reaction to their snafu. Even some outside events like swimming (the breaststroke and backstroke) even make their way into this track and field cache. Medaling in a set of events (six sets total) unlocks the next set.
Classic track and field characters embody athleticism (even some gigantism) with a good mix of male, female and fan favorites (unlockable in challenge mode) like Solid Snake and a few animal characters. Even the referee gets into the action. Players can also enjoy playing online through Wi-Fi connection in single and multicard competitions, which include game sharing from up to four players. Downloadable content, worldwide rankings (viewable at www.newtrackandfield.com) and online tournaments really opens up the competition as players improve in each event allowing for challenges and even team banding. Just be careful with the avatar choices – players who upload three inappropriate images lose their uploading privileges. Online players can also look forward to the upcoming Konami Cup.
Extra touches like the cheering fans, Chariots of Fire music theme remix and economical price ($29.99) make this retrospective title hard to resist. Some of the stereotypical characters reflect some negative aspects of the past, but the core game play gives players so much entertainment.
New International Track & Field is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Animated Blood, Comic Mischief, Language, Mild Cartoon Violence and Mild Suggestive Themes.