Track & Field was a great though shallow game when it burst through the ticker-tape in 1983, and to be honest, the basic concept hasn’t changed much in 25 years. Now, instead of mashing buttons to make your on-screen athletes achieve Olympic glory, you furiously scrub the stylus across the bottom of the touchscreen. Moves such as jumping hurdles, lobbing the discus and so on are handled either by tapping a separate area of the screen or by pressing a button. It’s uncomfortable and tiring, but winning still fills you with a certain sweaty satisfaction.
However, when you’re playing NIT&F in public, comfort is the least of your worries, especially if you’re a man. Imagine the scene: you’re on a bus, your DS is on your lap, and you’re hunched over it, furiously rubbing with your stylus, pausing now and again to catch your breath. You may be claiming gold in the 110m hurdles, but everyone near you will be convinced you’re in the grip of a self-abuse marathon.
So, public shame aside, how does the game stack up against other sports titles? Well, there are a wide variety of events on offer and a reasonable selection of characters to compete in them. As well as the standard genero-athletes you can unlock Silent Hill’s Pyramid Head and Castlevania’s Belmont and Snake.
Controls are painfully simple (although mind-bogglingly complex for one or two events) and you’ll happily breeze through the first hour of the game until your wrist feels as if it’s going to drop off. But once you’ve put the game down the first time, there’s no real draw to return. No complex story. No greater purpose to fulfil or mystery to solve: just a touchscreen to rub into oblivion.
Sure, multiplayer can get exciting for an hour or so if there’s a bunch of you competing (you and up to three mates can challenge each other), but when you’re going it alone, New International Track & Field is just as shallow as it was 25 years ago.
Jun 12, 2008