by William Thompson
reviewed on NDS
It all started with…
I’ve always liked athletics-themed games (well, sports game as a whole, I digress). I think I’ve played an Olympic type game on every system I’ve ever owned, dating back to the C64 classic Summer Games. I also have fond memories of playing Olympic Gold on a friend’s Master System II as well as on my Sega Game Gear console. Being able to win gold medals whilst competing against my friends, in a range of sports that I was never good at, was so much fun.
Of course, in those days, you only had the option of competing in six or seven events. With so limited variations, it was quite simple – albeit with a little practice – to be proficient in each event. Times have changed and now gamers want the whole ‘Olympic’ experience. They want to try out everything, not just the two running events and two throwing events as in the days of yesteryear.
Welcome to the “New” track and field
With the Beijing Olympics fast approaching, the hype surrounding the games is building. This, as you’d expect is the most opportune time for gaming companies to release their latest batch of athletic games. One of those games is Konami’s New International Track and Field. The ‘New’ in the title relates to the fact that this game has been released 25 years since Konami’s first athletics title, Track and Field.
As expected, New International Track and Field involves a series of athletic events that take place, unsurprisingly, on the track and the field. But the game also encases some watery events, target events and even some events that require gymnastic precision.
In all there are 24 sporting events included in the game, but unfortunately to start with, you can only play a limited number of these events. The rest must be unlocked as you play your way through the Easy level of the career mode. There are three levels of play in the career mode – Easy, Medium and Hard. Each must be completed before advancing to the next. In each level, there are six groups of events, each group containing four events. Successfully reaching the qualifying mark for each of the four events in the group results in the next group of four events being unlocked. Successfully completing the final group unlocks the next career mode level as well as a couple of the unlockable characters.
All the standard athletic-style game disciplines are included, such as the running events ( 100m sprint, 400m, 110m hurdles, steeplechase), jumping (long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault) and the throwing events (discus, shot put, hammer throw, javelin). Other lesser events have also been included such as target events (skeet shooting, double trap, archery), swimming (breaststroke, backstroke), gymnastics (vault, horizontal bar), diving (springboard, platform) as well as, cycling, weightlifting and rowing.
Controlling the play
With so much variation, you would think that there would be a large variation in the control system between each event. This is certainly not the case. Now, one might think this is a good thing. Similar controls make the game simpler to pick up and play. Sure, but after rubbing the stylus back and forth across the lower screen a gazillion times, you’ll find that it is quite the opposite. The stylus-waggling is used in over half the events in some way: speed for running and jumping, building up power for throwing. It can become tiring after some time.
OK, I can understand the stylus-waggling technique being used in most of the events where it is utilized, but a couple just don’t make sense. Archery is a case in point. In other games involving archery, there is normally a timed element as well as making an allowance for wind, so an accurate shot must be made in a relatively short period of time. This would have been far more preferable than the RSI-inducing stylus rubbing technique favored by the developers.
No Pros and Cons at this time