Track & Field

Track & Field

Track & Field

Athletic endurance, pre-Wii.

Saliva isn't a particularly common ingredient in videogaming, yet it proved to be a damn-near essential component for some of Track & Field's most successful participants.

Faced with a coin-op control system that invited gamers to repeatedly beat two buttons in order to replicate the exertion of running a 100-metre race, a few resourceful types would use the liquid content of their mouths to lubricate said controls - then slid their hand across them in a manner that boys ordinarily weren't supposed to discover until their early teens. Who says video games lack educational content?

Track & Field was, then, the archetypal coin-op button grinder. An arcade-slanted athletics simulation which aimed to recreate the strenuous participation in six distinct events, using just three buttons. The Olympic-standard disciplines it demanded were the classic mix of brute speed and delicate timing; the former achieved by alternately hitting those aforementioned (hopefully clean) sprint buttons at alarming speeds. Timing, however - particularly with the brutally hard hammer throw - utilised the third button. This needed pressing for the correct duration of time and at the precisely required moment, or it was game over.

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Track & Field

Track & Field

Let the RSI epidemic commence!

Now and then, a classic pops up on Xbox Live Arcade that's every bit as life-affirmingly brilliant as it was when it very first came out. Track & Field (or Hyper Olympics as it was known outside of the US) is one of those games, and we couldn't be happier to have it back in our lives again. It was the first, and, somehow, 24 years on, it's still one of the very best. Even Konami itself has had trouble topping it.

The premise is about as simple as arcade gaming gets. You (and up to three other players) take part in a series of button-mashing athletic events with the idea to qualify for the next one and get a better result than your opponent(s). If you fail to qualify, it's Game Over. If you succeed, it's on to the next one until you eventually get knocked out.

Much imitated, rarely bettered

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XBLA Track & Field on Weds

Four-player in the running.

Another week, another blast from the past on Xbox Live Arcade - this time in the sheep of mutton-bashing sports-'em-up Track & Field from Konami [what? - Ed].