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Review: New International Track And Field - Nintendo DS

by Steven Williamson on 26 June 2008, 10:06

Tags: New International Track And Field , Konami (TYO:9766), DS, Sports

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qanwm

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Online multiplayer is where it's at!

It’s not all about running though and in many events, including hurdles or triple-jump, it’s a mixture of speed, determination and timing as you combine this arm-aching movement with the press of the action button in order to launch yourself over a hurdle or vault, or throw a hammer or javelin down the field.

Konami has also incorporated the DS microphone into the gameplay, allowing you to shout words of encouragement to your character. It’s a nice idea, but I challenge anyone to put a sentence together whilst they’re grimacing with pain and concentrating so hard to get the timings right. The only expression of encouragement/pain I managed to scream was ‘Ahhhhh!’.

Aside from moving your hand frantically left and right to run and pressing the action button, some events also require you to hold down that button until you reach the optimal angle to throw or jump. When you need to combine all three things together, for example in the triple-jump, it’s a stern test of speed and timing.

Visually, the game is a far cry from the early days of Track & Field with sharp character design, slick presentation and a rigid menu system. Konami has chosen to take a cartoon-style approach with colourful characters on the track and in the stands. In special challenge mode, there’s also the chance to play custom built scenarios as past Konami characters such as Solid Snake and Pyramid Head from Silent Hill. It’s a nice touch, which will appeal to fans of the developer and it also gives the game that retro feel.

There’s also plenty of unlockables, including character costumes and accessories. In the single player mode this seems pretty pointless, but you can bring your ‘pimped up’ character into online multiplayer mode, so it’s a chance to show off to players from around the world.

International Track & Field also has some bad points, such as having to re-start a stage from the beginning should you fail on one of the events. When that event is the third one, it’s pretty damn annoying. There’s also a lack of innovation when it comes to the control scheme and for many of the events you’re just repeating the same actions. Okay, so this is essentially a port of the original, but it would have been nice to see some variety, the likes of which was achieved with great aplomb in Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games.

There are a few events that break that pattern, such as skeet shooting where you control a target and the vault where you need to use timing and then move your stylus rapidly in a circle to somersault, but overall the control scheme is basic.

Where International Track & Field really shines however is with its online component. There’s a fantastic set of options which adds vast replayability. Throw in four player online battles, global leaderboards and then tie it all in with Konami’s new Track & Field community site - where you can join teams, take on other teams, win trophies and take part in tournaments- and you’ve got one of the most complete and excellent online multiplayer games to have graced the hand-held.

In terms of actual gameplay, Sega did it better with Mario & Sonic At the Olympic Games, with more variety and a smoother control system. However, Konami has done well to capitalise on where Sega failed, with a solid online component.

International Track & Field will certainly be my choice of multiplayer DS action over the summer. If you haven’t got Wi-Fi though, there’s a much better option out there (see Mario & Sonic ).

Captures the retro feel of the original
Great presentation
Online multiplayer!!
Community website integration

Very basic gameplay, lacks innovation.

Mario & Sonic may pip Track And Field to the post in single player, but multiplayer is outstanding!

HEXUS Awards

HEXUS.gaming Recommended
International Track & Field – Nintendo DS (7.5/10)

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