"Any year with the Olympic Games is a good year for Olympic games. At least, that seems to be the idea behind New International Track and Field, A DS facelift of Konami's old Track and Field franchise. After lying dormant for eight years, the game made a sudden reappearance now that there were coat tails to ride on, namely those of Beijing. But do they really need an excuse to make another minigame compilation for the DS?"
Any year with the Olympic Games is a good year for Olympic games. At least, that seems to be the idea behind New International Track and Field, A DS facelift of Konami's old Track and Field franchise. After lying dormant for eight years, the game made a sudden reappearance now that there were coat tails to ride on, namely those of Beijing. But do they really need an excuse to make another minigame compilation for the DS?
The fundamental problem with the game is the same problem that's present in most similar games, there's just not enough content. Sure, there are a number of events you can do, everything from the 100 meter dash to rowing, which really isn't track and field, but alright. The thing is that they don't really feel different. New International Track and Field Has three types of command input. You can scratch back and forth on the screen, spin a wheel on the screen, or press the down arrow on the D-pad, and that's it. The closest the game ever gets to mixing this formula up is that you can use the B button instead of the down arrow if you're a lefty.
That's basically the game. New International Scratching Spinning and Pressing isn't a very catchy title, though. It's true that a small few of the events do change things up slightly by having you scratch back and forth to a rhythm instead of asking for carpal-tunnel inducing wrist-flailing. But when even the skeet shooting event just asks you to scratch back and forth on the touch screen, and automatically handles the vertical part of the aiming for you as long as you're on the right horizontal plane, there's a problem.
You'd think shooting a shotgun at flying discs and running a sprint would deliver substantially different experiences, but they don't. It becomes like playing a very stripped down version of Elite Beat Agents with a theme of stereotyped caricatures instead of music. Each event lasts all of about six seconds, too, with exceptions getting up to a minute in length. Wowee!
Another stumbling block is that the later events will often disqualify you, but never give you an adequate reason why. Each event is preceded with a 'how to' segment, detailing what buttons to press. The problem is that these little how to's never get around to explaining the details. They tell you that you have to push buttons and scratch the screen and spin a spinner, but they never tell you that you have to push those buttons at certain points in the animations. If you don't your character just keels over, maybe out of embarassment at your failure, falling flat on their enormous face and leaving you wondering why.
The only remedy to this is to fail repeatedly for seemingly no reason, and slowly puzzle out the solution through trial and error. The worst part is that failing an event also fails you out of every other event that you'd completed in the circuit you were doing. The circuits only come in blocks of four, so it's not a huge loss of time so much as it's a huge gain in frustration.
For all its initial hair-tearing anger induction, once you figure the events out, there's a certain amount of fun in going for high scores, but it just doesn't last. There are some fun extras that breathe a little longevity into it. One of said unlockables is Pyramid Head. Imagine Pyramid Head diving off of a springboard and twirling through the air only to splash into a swimming pool, arms flailing in a cheery expression of satisfaction at a job well done. If that doesn't make you smile at pure, delicious absurdity, you must not know who Pyramid Head is.
But those trimmings carry a short lived appeal as well. Unless you're the type who is completely obsessive about high scores, there's not much to keep you playing past that curious hour while you fiddle with unlockables. The game simply doesn't do enough, and what it does do it's not especially great at. Unlike the Olympics itself, this is rather forgettable.
Freelance review by Josh Higley (September 30, 2008)
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