Track and Field
The art of button mashing has been present in the world of video games for as long as anyone can remember. From hammering on your SNES controller in order to perform a Hadouken in Street Fighter II all the way to the present day, continuing this almost sacred of gaming traditions to the next generation. However, itís extremely rare to see a game developed completely around this old past time, but as a matter of fact, an entire series of games has made its living out of rewarding players who are able to button mash faster than their friends, now turned enemies. If you havenít guessed it already, itís Track and Field.
Available for 400 Microsoft points, players can revisit the game that gave many a SNES owner blistered thumbs and strained neck muscles. Its premise is simple; compete in a variety of events beating on the buttons or using the analogue stick to either build up speed or generate power to conquer each event and move on. The game unfortunately, is already at a distinct disadvantage before it’s even hit the start line, not to the fault of the game itself but the Xbox 360 controller. The buttons arenít very sensitive at all, which will give players using them a horrible time, and any kind of Ďtechniqueí you adopted all those years ago needs to be quickly forgotten, as the best way to get by in Track and Field is through use of the analogue stick. Moving it from side to side yields better results, but consequently, the satisfaction of feeling like youíre truly building up Olympian levels of speed and power are somewhat diminished by the subtle rhythmic sways of the analogue stick.
Some of the events are fairly straightforward like the 100 metre dash, for example. When the gun goes off signalling the start of the race, players must create as much speed as possible to finish within the qualifying times. The same rings true of the hurdles, but with the added task of hitting the action button (in this case, jump) as you approach a hurdle. On the other hand, some events are extremely vague in their description and there is never really a hint or suggestion given to the player on what to do. This comes in the form of the dreaded hammer throw and high jump, both making their presence felt right towards the tail end of the game. Because it’s so difficult figuring out what it is you need to do, it soon becomes a case of trial and error as to how players should go about tackling these events. Three fails and the game over screen rears its ugly head, sending the player straight back to the beginning, with sore hands and nothing else to show for your efforts.
There is an online mode to extend the life of Track and Field but due to button delays it really isnít something youíre going to want to try, and youíll find the bulk of the games lifespan spent playing with friends (up to four at a time). Thereís also the ungodly task of trying to get as high into the world leader board as possible, but with world records such as 0.27 seconds for the hurdles, only attempt to match these times if you have access to some kind of performance enhancing controller (or e-steroids as I like to call them). There isnít even any random drugs test afterwards.
Whether or not this is worth the 400 Microsoft points, is entirely up to how much fun you think you can squeeze out of a very limited game with next to no variety. It looks very dated, the sound is essentially non-existent and once youíve completed the events there really isnít much point in playing through again. Any game that turns your hand into a claw and gives you a nasty blister canít be any good, so be sure to hop, skip and jump as far away from this game as possible.
Three out of ten