Game Review: Track & Field
Track & Field

Track & Field Title Screen

  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami
  • Released: April 1987
  • Game Type: Sports
  • Players: 1 or 2 [Sim]
  • Product Number: NES-TR-USA
  • Rarity: D (Common)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 8

    Box Scan
    Track & Field Screen 1 Track & Field Screen 2

    In 1983 Konami gave birth to the Olympic sports genre when they released Track & Field in the arcade. The game allowed up to four players to compete in a mini-Olympics and it introduced the concept of button-mashing, where you hammer the action buttons to make your charater run, jump, and do other things like throw javelins. It became a classic hit and several sequels followed such as Hyper Sports, plus many other companies tried to use the button-mashing formula with varying success to this day. It was a no-brainer that Track & Field made its way to the NES, so let's see how this competition fares on the gray box.

    This Olympic title features eight events, and one or two players can compete in two skill levels. Five of the eight events are from the original arcade game (100m Dash, Long Jump, 110m Hurdles, Javelin Throw and High Jump; the Hammer Throw is absent), and three events are from the arcade sequel (Archery, Triple Jump, and Skeet Shooting). You play all eight events in a certain order, though you can choose which event to start with and go from there. Most of the games are played by mashing the A Button rapidly to make your athlete run across the screen. Some events like the jumps and the two field events have you using the buttons to build up speed, before pushing Up on the D-pad to set the angle of your jump or throw. Others, like Archery and Skeet Shooting, have you pushing the buttons at the right time to shoot at targets. You score points in each event based on your performance, but each event has a minimum qualifying mark that you must reach in order to stay in the competition. If you reach the qualifying score, you move on to the next event, but if you fail, the game ends.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    The graphics are pretty decent and do a good job resembling the arcade original. The venues have a nice look to them and the characters, though a little on the small side, still look good and have smooth animation. They even have nice reactions after each event depending on how you do. The crowd cheering and flashing in the background after you pass an event is a nice touch as well. The sounds are also pretty good. You get some decent sound effects, such as your runner's feet hitting the ground or the crowd cheering, though a few sounds such as when you shoot an arrow in Archery, can get on your nerves. There are a few nice music tunes, including a great opening theme on the title screen which gets you in the mood for the Olympics. Just don't expect to hear any of the voice clips from the original game.

    The controls work very well, especially since they follow the arcade original which had only three buttons: two run buttons and an action button. Mashing the A button and pushing Up to adjust your angle is pretty easy to do with a little practice. The porgrammers could have used the B Button as another run button, but it's no big loss.

    Challenge & Playability:
    Track & Field is arcade fun at its finest. This game is very easy for anoyone to jump into and pretty addicting as well. All the events are a joy to play, though some like Skeet Shooting can get a little frustrating at times. This game is even better when two players compete for tbe best score. However, as a Olympic game it doesn't quite compare to other deeper titles, such as Capcom's Gold Medal Challenge. This is mostly meant to be an arcade port, so there's not much in the way of playing modes, just the two skill levels. If you pass all eight events, you just play through them all again, this time at a higher skill level, so there's no ending until you lose. It can also get a little boring playing the same eight sports over and over; a few more events wouldn't have hurt.

    So despite coming up slightly short in the 8-bit Olympics, Track & Field is still a decent multi-sports title and succeeds as an arcade port as well. Komani did a commendable job in bringing the arcade classic to the NES and fans of the original will feel at home here. Even though Gold Medal Challenge does offer a better Olympic experience, if you just want simple arcade action on the track, then Track & Field still deserves a spot on your medal podium.

    - Review posted on August 21, 2008